SuperStar pays off for mobile operators

The true winners of the summer’s Arabic ‘SuperStar’ contest would appear to have been the region’s mobile operators, with over US$4million estimated to have been gleaned from votes sent into the show.

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By  Richard Agnew Published  August 26, 2003

The true winners of the summer’s Arabic ‘SuperStar’ contest would appear to have been the region’s mobile operators, with over US$4million estimated to have been gleaned from votes sent into the show.

According to research house, Arab Advisors, the total number of GSM users who voted through SMS and voice would have been more than 5million of the total 6.5million votes over the programme’s duration.

Considering that the share of GSM subscribers out of the total GSM and Internet users in the Arab world is around 79% and that the average cost for SMS and voice calls to the voting service was around US$0.78 per minute, over US$4million would have been generated in voting revenues alone.

Voting revenues from Superstar, the Arabic version of American Idol, are divided between three groups according to certain pre-defined percentages.

The beneficiaries are Lebanon-based satellite television station, Future TV, mobile operators, and the mediators between both parties, such as Global Call.

“SuperStar and its massive voting revenues (not to mention its revenues from media sponsorship) are a prime example of how GSM operators can leverage the TV content of many of the satellite TV stations in the Arab World,” says Jawad Abbassi, Arab Advisors founder and president.

“Creating TV content and an audience-jury model would create substantial revenues to GSM operators, hence increasing their level of ARPU in the long run. Due to the competitive nature of the GSM industry, many operators have lowered their tariffs and hence their ARPU levels were significantly affected. Superstar is one block in the quest to steady ARPU levels. Future TV and the rest of the major content providers in the region must surely be feeling their importance,” Abbassi adds.

According to Future TV, 80% of the votes cast in the semi-finals came from Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, where the three finalists came from.

The final voting session, where the Jordanian, Diana Karazon, won 52% of the votes, saw a total of 4.8 million votes cast through the internet, SMS and cellular calls.

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