Facebook makes reality TV its new weapon for web supremacy

Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 17 October 2018
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Facebook makes reality TV its new weapon for web supremacy

  • The company’s head of video Paresh Rajwat said Facebook Watch was now available across the world
  • MTV boss Chris McCarthy predicted that Facebook Watch was going to “create a whole a new genre of shared reality TV”

CANNES: Facebook said Wednesday it was reviving the pioneering MTV reality show “The Real World” as its secret weapon to lure viewers away from YouTube.
The social media giant said it was also trying to harness the formidable online power of the “cute kitten” factor with a new show called “World’s Most Amazing Dog” on its new Facebook Watch platform.
Users who think their pooch is cute enough to be a contender can enter audition videos from their phones, it told TV executives at MIPCOM in Cannes, the world’s top entertainment showcase.
The company’s head of video Paresh Rajwat said Facebook Watch — which began to be rolled out in the US last year — was now available across the world, with “the time people spend on it increasing by 14 times since.”
“The Real World” was one of the first “social experiment” TV reality shows when it aired in 1992, spawning others like “Big Brother.”
It turns on the moment when “seven strangers put together stop being polite and start being real,” said Facebook’s content and strategy chief Matthew Henick.
Three versions of the new Facebook variant of the show will be launched simultaneously in the US, Mexico and Thailand.
Users will be able to “co-watch with their friends and interact with the contestants,” stealing a march on its Internet rivals, Henick told the gathering in the French Riviera resort.
Rajwat said Facebook Watch was “completely open” and was already being used by broadcasters, with new contestants on Germany’s “X Factor” recently being introduced to fans on the platform before they made their TV debuts.
He said its interactivity means “watching videos doesn’t have to be a passive experience... with friends able to co-watch together in real time.”
A new service called “Watch Party” allowing “people to watch and comment all at the same time” has already been used on celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s “Veggie Challenge,” he added.
A Facebook Watch show called “Sorry For Your Loss” about a “young widow struggling to put her life back together has led to long meaningful conversations about dealing with grief,” Rajwat said, with many users “offering help to people who lost their beloveds. This is where Facebook is different,” he said.
MTV boss Chris McCarthy predicted that Facebook Watch was going to “create a whole a new genre of shared reality TV,” and help shows lift off when it was “harder and harder to break through with more and more content” out there.


Spotify launches in the Middle East and North Africa

Updated 14 November 2018
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Spotify launches in the Middle East and North Africa

  • Services would now be available in 13 Arab markets including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt
  • Spotify also launched its ‘Arab hub’ collection of playlists of Arab music on Wednesday

DUBAI: Spotify, the world’s most popular paid music streaming service, officially launched in the Middle East and North Africa on Tuesday.
The company said services would now be available in 13 Arab markets, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Morocco but not Libya, Iraq, Syria, or Yemen.
Spotify has been unofficially available in the Middle East for several years via accounts usually registered in other markets such as Europe.
Claudius Boller, who previously worked in the region with Universal Music Group, is Spotify’s managing director for the Middle East and Africa.
Boller told Reuters Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Morocco were expected to drive regional growth, pointing to the Middle East’s youthful population and high smartphone penetration.
Spotify will charge per month for its premium service 19.99 riyals ($5.33) in Saudi Arabia, 19.99 dirhams ($5.44) in the UAE, 49.99 Egyptian pounds ($2.8) in Egypt, and $4.99 elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa. Its free service is also now available in the region.
Spotify also added the Palestinian territories on Tuesday. Its services have been available in Israel since March.
Spotify also launched its ‘Arab hub’ collection of playlists of Arab music on Wednesday.
The Swedish company, founded in 2008, listed on the New York Stock Exchange in April. Before the launch in the Middle East and North Africa, Spotify’s music streaming services were available in 65 markets, according to its website.