A new study conducted by a team led by Imad Bou Hamad, assistant professor of statistics and data analytics at the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business (OSB), has determined the major factors that influence mass media consumption patterns in Lebanon.
The study has found that political orientation, religion, income and educational levels and geography play a central role in affecting consumption of Lebanese audiovisual media.
“Media industries in Lebanon have a remarkable contribution to the Lebanese economy,” said Bou Hamad. “However, there is a paucity of scientific, empirical, and quantitative research on media consumption in Lebanese society.”
Bou Hamad studied the consumption patterns of the eight main Lebanese TV channels, namely, MTV, LBCI, Al-Jadeed, Al-Manar, OTV, Future, NBN and the state-run television TL. Data collection took place throughout the main cities and villages of the six Lebanese governorates and included 784 respondents.
Respondents provided information on their consumption levels of each channel, political orientation, religious backgrounds, demographics (education level, income, occupation, etc.) as well as on their program preferences.
MTV occupies the top spot in terms of heaviest usage nationwide, according to the study. Tied in second place are LBCI and Al Jadeed, with relatively similar scores. Also tied for the third spot are OTV and Al Manar, followed by Future in fourth and NBN in fifth. State-owned TL’s low score affirmed that it is not a major channel.
“The Lebanese perceive MTV to be the best channel for entertainment while they perceive Al-Jadeed to be the best one for news,” concluded the study, whose findings will be presented at the Fifth Asian Conference on Media and Mass communication 2014, to be held in November in Japan.
Additionally, the study found that income and educational levels are inversely correlated to consumption of Al-Jadeed programs, whereas they were directly proportional to consumption of MTV programs.
Meanwhile channels that are affiliated with political parties are the least consumed, according to the study.
Finally, the study noted a significant new trend: Viewers under 30 prefer their tablets to their TV sets.
Even though half the people surveyed were between the ages of 18-28, the heaviest viewers were those above the age of 30,” says Bou-Hamad. This points to a trend among teens of seeking entertainment via digital and social media.
Furthermore, in statistical terms, the score attributed to MTV usage could at most be considered “moderately high,” noted Bou Hamad. This further confirms that Lebanese TV media, although a regional industry leader, has witnessed dwindling viewer numbers, as more and more people make the transition from traditional media to digital. “This could pose a serious threat to the TV industry in years to come,” Bou-Hamad warned.