The View From QITCOM 2012 – Social TV In The Arab World
But first a little set-up: Doha is well on its way to becoming the next Dubai. The economy is booming and there are buildings going up everywhere you look. In places, it looks a lot like the suburbs of Dallas or Las Vegas circa 2004, where entire towns seemed to spring up out of the desert overnight, symmetrically designed and carefully landscaped.
In the Arab world, social TV means spreading news stories via YouTube, Twitter and other social networks, and vetting those tweets and clips for the TV news, where it’s also given context.
With so much going on in the region and a dearth of credible, uncensored news sources, it’s only natural that organizations like Al-Jazeera use social news as a primary tool.
There’s also a timeliness factor to their stories: where an entertainment channel can rely on catch-up viewing, reruns and creating a story arc that’s easily caught up to in a couple of “binge” settings, a news story has a very limited shelf life.
In both regions, social TV and the advent of the convergence have made it easier for independent content creators to begin to break the norm. Using YouTube channels and fledgling OTT networks, they are offering viewers a greater choice of content and allowing them to spread that content via their social networks. One of my co-panelists, Johnny Dabeet runs a production company out of Amman, Jordan that has launched a very successful comedy series called “Bath Bayakha” on YouTube and is looking for a way to distribute it via OTT networks. Word about the series has spread virally and Dabeet’s hope is that as series like his become more successful, established broadcasters will begin to realize that the Arab world is ready for more sophisticated content.
But the social behavior that helped launch these series is not going away, and, if anything, will become more of a force in the Arab and Latin American worlds as locally produced content continues to flourish and expand.