Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, inaugurated Cabsat, the leading content management platform in Mena and South Asia, at the Dubai World Trade Centre. Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/ Gulf News

Dubai: Social media platforms are growing in the Middle East and North Africa at an enormous pace and they are foraying into the television space.

The dynamics of TV watching is changing globally to make it more active and interactive as many people want to participate in the programmes rather than be passive viewers.

Youtoo, a US-based software company supplying end-to-end interactive TV and gaming services to the television industry, is bringing the social TV experience into the Middle East and North Africa region by setting up a base in Dubai.

“Social TV allows viewers to directly interact in real time with TV programming using video, pictures, voting and social media for people to experience themselves on TV in full broadcast HD quality from the web or their mobile device. This revolutionary software changes the way everyone views and interacts with television,” Christopher Wyatt, founder and CEO of Youtoo Technologies, told Gulf News.


Betting big money

He said the social element is set to take the industry by storm as TV networks are betting big money on this technology.

Many broadcasters have integrated social media platforms into their TV platforms for enhanced customer experience and interaction. Twitter and Facebook are racing towards the TV market because of its massive global interest and because of the significant revenues.

According to a research and consulting firm Markets & Markets, the global social TV market will grow from $151.14 billion this year to $256.44 billion by 2017.

“It is unbelievable where this industry is headed, especially the technology that is making it happen,” he said.

A couple of prominent investors from the region have invested in setting up Youtoo Technologies Middle East.

“We are working with the biggest names in media in the Mena region to introduce interactive TV to the market,” said Saud Al Twalah, CEO of Youtoo Technologies Middle East.

He said this is the next generation of SMS TV and it’s a “game changer” for the region.

“Everyone wants to be on TV, and now using our technology, they have a chance. From a mobile phone with a camera or the show’s website people can be on TV in seconds by recoding an HD quality video that is automatically sent to the producers or host,” Wyatt said.

Viewers can vote using a mobile app available on Android and Apple app stores, Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook or other social media. Viewers can see the results live on TV, without waiting a day with traditional SMS voting.

“We call it a 360 degree experience which uses mobile apps, social media and show websites to drive viewership and new revenues for TV networks,” he said, adding that the subscription fee ranges from Dh12 to Dh20 a month.