YouTube, now commonly accepted as the world’s most watched broadcaster, is seeking to encourage more content from the MENA region.
Of the many global new media companies to open regional offices in the UAE in recent times, perhaps the most significant for local content producers could prove to be Google, or more specifically – Google, which became the parent company of YouTube in a 2006 takeover.
Time and time again at industry events, panel discussions and conferences we hear that online video site is now the world’s leading broadcaster. Recent phenomena Gangnam Style alone clocked up 690M views by the 9th November 2012, a feat that few traditional broadcasters can equal, even when combining TV views, repeats and online views all at once.
Of course, the flip side of this is that much of YouTube’s content still consists of cats in amusing situations and children performing poor cover versions of their favourite pop stars’ efforts. It’s certainly true that the quality control associated with good quality traditional broadcasters is absent from the YouTube model.
It’s difficult to predict exactly what may ‘go viral,’ though the received wisdom is that viewer power should act as quality control in itself – if your content is rubbish, no one will watch it, goes the theory.
Admittedly, that doesn’t entirely explain how a video such as You Bit my Finger, formerly the most watched YouTube clip of all time, achieved around half a billion hits, was ranked number one in the Time Magazine 50 Greatest Viral Videos of all time list and earned English parents Howard and Shelley Davies-Carr a sum estimated at anywhere between US$100,000 and US$800,000 in the process.
It just goes to prove that there’s no accounting for taste, and the video remains the most viewed on the site that is not a professional music video.
For Robert Kyncl, Google’s global head of content partnerships and the man with overall responsibility for YouTube, all content is good content, and on a recent trip to Abu Dhabi he explained that his next task is to increase the amount of content created for the site in the MENA region.
Every day, 167 million videos are viewed in MENA, putting the region in the number two spot in the world behind the US and ahead of Brazil and Western Europe. Despite this, however, only one hour of YouTube video is uploaded in the MENA per minute.
Kyncl adds: “In the Middle East we are seeing a couple of trends. Five percent of our global revenue is coming from the Middle East, which is fantastic and is a very significant number. But only one percent of the content is local, so we have this great gulf between consumption and content, which we should try to fill.”
He is hoping he can start at the top with government organisations and large regional brands.
Dubai’s ruler HH Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum launched his own YouTube channel in February this year and Kyncl says he hopes this will trickle down to users: “We need to stimulate the user community to be more active and upload and create great channels that represent their interests.
We haven’t done enough of that,” he concedes, but says he is determined to raise the region’s profile and see more residents in the Arab world follow Psy’s example and become the next global YouTube sensation.
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