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Al Jazeera aims to integrate social media into its operations

Studying options to charge subscribers or stick with its existing advertisement model

Gulf News

Dubai: Al Jazeera is weighing options to either go in for subscription revenues or stick with its existing advertising model.

“We will not do this at the expense of our customers. If we know that we will lose our customers then we will not start charging,” Taahir Hoorzook, head of new platform development, distribution and licensing department at Al Jazeera, told Gulf News.

Al Jazeera’s main priority is “customers” and “we are studying options to make revenues. We are also looking at advertisement and this may be a better option,” he said.

The independent broadcaster, owned by the state of Qatar, charges $50 per year and $10 per month to watch Al Jazeera Sports TV channels +1 to +8 and $35 (Dh128.45) per year to watch Al Jazeera Sports TV channels +9, +10, HD1 and HD2.

During the Arab Spring, Al Jazeera’s online viewership per month grew more than 1,000 per cent.

“Our next phase of growth will be through social media. We will become more social with our users. This way we can know what the users’ likes and dislikes.”

All devices

Not only that, he said, “we can also get information through users’ social media accounts. We are available on all devices including Microsoft’s new operating system.”

Al Jazeera has a strong presence in the Middle East region.

“We would like to set up an office in Syria if we get permission. We may set up a channel in Turkey by end of next year. We opened an office in Tunisia recently.”

According to Hoorzook, the future of content is over-the-top (OTT) TV service. There is a quality of service in IPTV, but in OTT the quality of service is not guaranteed.

The telco operators “have an opportunity to negotiate deals with OTT providers in bid to reach bigger audiences. People are watching more content on OTT and watching pay TV. The challenge for content providers is to decide what content should go for IPTV and what content for OTT,” he said.

People will be ready to pay a fee only “if they can watch on any device. They will not pay to watch only on the television,” Hoorzook said.