House of Cards ‘among highest viewed’ in Mideast

In the Middle East, OSN aired the first episode of the second season Wednesday

Hind Mustafa
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American TV political drama “House of Cards” has gained major popularity in the Middle East, the show’s regional broadcaster told Al Arabiya News.

The show’s first season ranked “among the top 10 series shown between April and June [of 2013] on OSN Play,” a spokesperson for OSN told Al Arabiya News.

House of Cards “is definitely one of the highest viewing shows” of OSN in the Middle East, said the spokesperson, who declined to be named.

The show can be accessed on movie-and-tv show streaming site Netflix, albeit using proxies if you are in the Middle East.

“People [in the Middle East] would wait to watch it on a big screen and in high definition with their family or friends… that makes a big difference when you really want to watch something and truly enjoy it. Yes you might want to download it, but we show it so close to the U.S. airing [time],” the source said.

Declining to disclose

The ratings for the show, however, remain unknown. Both OSN and Netflix said the show has been a success but declined to disclose ratings.

Netflix has an estimated 30 million subscribers in the United States, but it remains unclear how many of them watch the House of Cards.

“Thanks for reaching out. We do not give these statistics out publicly,” Netflix told Al Arabiya News in an emailed response.

The new season was anticipated by millions of fans, including President Barack Obama. “Tomorrow: @HouseOfCards. No spoilers, please,” @BarackObama tweeted last Friday.

In the Middle East, OSN aired the first episode of the second season Wednesday night, prompting a reaction by viewers who expressed their delight on social media platforms.

Signs of success

OSN said the “feedback we receive on social media, and the requests we get from our customers” are a sign that the show is a success.

Film critics in the region find another reason behind Arabic viewers’ interest in the Middle East.

“Arabic viewers are aspiring to know the reality about politics, so they may have found an alternative for that in American drama,” Tarek al-Shenawi, an Egyptian film critic told Al Arabiya News.

Despite that House of Cards does not notably delve into the States’ Middle East policy, Shenawi thinks Arab viewers watch it to gain some insight into the regional political mysteries they see in Middle Eastern countries.

“The lack of Arabic series which truly respect the mind of Arab viewers is what leads audiences towards other productions, even if these don’t directly reflect the reality of the Middle East,” Ali Abu Dhabi, another Egyptian film critic from said.

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