TV advertisers target Ramadan

Men gather to watch a movie on television after they break fast during Ramadan in Bahrain.

TEXT OF STORY

Bob Moon: The Muslim holy month of Ramadan is under way. Muslims around the world will fast during daylight hours, breaking the fast after sunset. In the Arab world, there's lots of TV watching to be done, and advertising dollars to collect. Ben Gilbert reports from Beirut.


Ben Gilbert: Ramadan is a TV advertisers dream. It's like Thanksgiving for 30 days. Twelve hours of fasting builds a big appetite for dinner, then it's time to veg in front of the TV. Advertisers are taking advantage of all those eyeballs by sponsoring big budget mini-series.

Three hundred satellite channels operate in the Arab world, competing for $800 million a year in TV advertising revenue. And the stakes this month are huge: 20 to 35 percent of advertising revenues come during Ramadan. The biggest show for the past two years was "Bab Al Hara," about a Syrian Family in the 1920's. Saudi citizen Haitham Kamal is a big fan of the show's simple themes.

Haitham Kamal: It's nice, because all people good, everything is nice. You can clearly see this guy good or bad.

Nostalgic and traditional TV Shows are some of the most popular during Ramadan, when Muslims concentrate on their spiritual lives.

In Beirut, I'm Ben Gilbert for Marketplace.

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