YahLive to broadcast Saudi channels in HD

Updated 14 December 2012

YahLive to broadcast Saudi channels in HD

The CEO of YahLive, the UAE-based satellite broadcast platform, has confirmed that his company will soon broadcast the six Saudi TV channels in high-definition (HD).
In an interview with Ibrahim Naffee, Mohamed Youssif said the investment made in the broadcast technology of Saudi TV channels will ensure that Saudi TV remains at the forefront of the country’s move toward HD and delivers the very best quality signal to viewers. HD offers a true “being there” experience, Youssif said.
“YahLive will have 50 channels broadcast at 52.5E by the end of 2012 and many more in early 2013. Dubai Media Inc., Abu Dhabi Media, Saudi
TV and MBC are among the Arab channels that have been transferred to HD broadcasting technology. In addition to broadcasting these Arabic channels, we are supporting the conversion of their broadcast platforms to HD, enabling them to make a much quicker conversion than they would make otherwise,” he said.


Can you explain the role of technology in supporting the media? What are the advantages of HD in this field?
Technology drives social development. From the innovation of the printing press to the advent of radio and television, technology has facilitated communication and the widespread timely dissemination of information. Media have been at the forefront of each wave of the technological revolution, whether it is radio wave transmission or satellite distribution.
We are now witnessing the next generation of development in broadcast technology with the conversion of channels from standard-definition to high-definition. This is the next step in the 20-year technology cycle that first saw analogue signals progress to digital.
The momentum behind the conversion of television channels to high-definition is staggering, both globally and here across the Middle East. First, the consumer electronics industry drove adoption of HD-ready television sets, and now we are seeing the adoption of the technology by broadcasters to ensure that viewers at home receive the true HD experience — the best possible quality of picture and clarity of sound.
To facilitate the development of high-definition TV in the Middle East, the YahLive platform provides the meeting ground for HD broadcasters and viewers as the home of HD across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Uniquely, all channels broadcast on the YahLive platform are exclusively in high-definition, offering viewers the latest quality HD channels from a single dish pointing at the Yahsat Satellite at 52.5 degrees east.
The rapid adoption of HD as the television standard by broadcasters — and demanded by viewers — can be shown by the speed with which broadcasters and viewers adopted the MPEG-2 digital standard. It was first available across the Middle East in 1995 and now more than 40 million TV households across the MENA region are viewing digital transmissions.

How do you evaluate the investments in the media technology field in the Gulf region?
It’s surprising that the move to HD did not come sooner and faster. That’s why at YahLive, we have created the regional HD ‘hotspot’ to speed up the delivery of high-definition channels to television households across the region.
Prior to this, there was no single destination for high-definition, which made it difficult for viewers to understand where to get their HD content. Equally, broadcasters did not see the value in investing in upgrading the facilities to broadcast in HD, because they didn’t see the demand.

Can you describe your deal with the Saudi channels to transfer them to HD broadcasting technology? What is the value of this deal?
We are delighted to have the opportunity to broadcast the six Saudi TV channels — Saudi 1, Qur’an Kareem, Al-Sunnah, Al-Ekhbariya, Al-Thaqafiya, and Sport 1 in HD.
The investment that Saudi TV is making in its broadcast technology will ensure that it remains at the forefront of the country’s move toward HD and deliver the very best quality signal to viewers. HD offers a true ‘being there’ experience.

How many Arab channels have been transferred to HD broadcasting technology?
Dubai Media, Inc., Abu Dhabi Media, Saudi TV, and MBC are among the Arab channels that have been transferred to HD broadcasting technology. In addition to broadcasting these Arabic channels, we are supporting the conversion of their broadcast platforms to HD, enabling them to make a much quicker conversion than they would make otherwise. YahLive will have 50 channels broadcast at 52.5E by the end of 2012 and many more early in 2013.

Do you think the HD technology will dominate TV broadcasting?
In some areas of the world, like Europe, the US and Japan, SD broadcasting is no longer being accepted by consumers, so yes, HD technology will dominate television broadcasting globally.
As consumers start watching television in HD, they will see the limitations of SD and no longer be able to accept anything less than the best content in the purest HD. While initial HD adoption has been slow in the Middle East compared with that of the US and Europe, we are seeing real momentum from broadcasters in making the upgrade to their transmissions in partnership with YahLive.

How do you see your operations in the Middle East and North Africa to support HD broadcasting technology?
As a joint venture company with SES, a global satellite operator with over 50 satellites, and Al Yah Satellite Communications Company (YahSat), we have local knowledge and operations plus a global footprint, which allows us to anticipate industry trends and deliver real solutions.
We are constantly adding valuable broadcasters to our satellite through uplinks in Jordan, London and Cairo. We are also partnering with major telecom networks like Etisalat for content delivery. Broadcasting at 52.5 degrees East, our beams cover the Gulf and North Africa giving us the flexibility
to uplink from any beam and
regionalize their broadcasters offerings to any coverage area.


Blessing in disguise: How pandemic was a catalyst for Saudi SMEs to change

Saudi Arabia’s consumer behavior was transformed during the lockdown as soon as malls and stores were ordered to shut their doors, creating a frenzy among consumers. (SPA)
Updated 20 September 2020

Blessing in disguise: How pandemic was a catalyst for Saudi SMEs to change

  • E-platforms played a crucial role in SMEs’ survival
  • COVID-19 transformed people’s shopping habits

JEDDAH: Saudis continue to shop online despite the government easing the COVID-19 lockdown, with the surge in e-commerce prompting small and medium-sized enterprises to adapt.

E-commerce saved global retail markets from collapse and stopped consumers from having to go out during the first wave of the outbreak. However, SMEs were the most vulnerable to the pandemic’s consequences and e-platforms played a crucial role in their survival.
Saudi Arabia’s consumer behavior was transformed during the COVID-19 lockdown as soon as stores were ordered to shut their doors, creating a frenzy among consumers although they were quick to adapt. SMEs were also forced to adapt, not only to accommodate the growing demand for online shopping but to ensure they survived with minimal losses.
Marion Janson, the chief economist at the UN’s International Trade Centre, said in June that around 20 percent of SMEs globally may not survive the pandemic.
A recent report from Visa revealed increased anxiety among merchants in Saudi Arabia, with 67 percent of small businesses noticing a decrease in average consumer spending.
Many Saudi consumers started shopping online for the first time, primarily for essentials. The Visa report showed that two-thirds of the Saudi consumers surveyed said that COVID-19 led to their first online grocery purchase, while 59 percent made their first online purchase from pharmacies.
“With the confusion at the beginning, we didn’t know what was acceptable and what wasn’t,” said Dr. Suhad Zain, a government employee in Jeddah. “Can we risk going out to shop for our daily needs or not? We needed to be sure that everyone in the house was safe, including the driver, and not expose ourselves to the invisible menace that changed our lifestyles. Most of our groceries were obtained online, from produce to water bottles to even appliances and leisure items. It had to be done, even though we needed time to accept the new change.”
Fear of the virus is expected to change the way consumers behave forever. “It became more convenient even after the lockdown was lifted,” Zain added. “After a few months we got used to it and, as a family, it became our new preferred means of purchase.”
Such conditions were a catalyst for online commerce, according to the Visa report, with 38 percent of merchants in the country reporting the introduction of online offerings as a direct result of the pandemic while more than half had an e-commerce presence before the pandemic.

Two-thirds of the Saudi consumers said COVID-19 led to their first online grocery purchase, while 59% made their first online purchase from pharmacies. (GettyImages)


The report also said there was a surge in e-commerce, a preference for trusted brands, a decline in discretionary spending, and a polarization of sustainability. Consumers have a larger basket, but reduced shopping frequency, and will shift to stores closer to home. A change can easily be detected in Saudi consumer behavior.
But the shift to online commerce, with cash transactions being replaced by digital payments, has negatively influenced cash-only retailers and presents a tough challenge to these merchants, who have to understand the shift in consumer behavior and adapt accordingly and urgently.
“Saudi business owners currently face multiple challenges that they need to deal with when they want to shift to e-commerce, some of them even lack the knowledge of how technology could benefit them and what options it could offer,” Talal Abdullah, a business development and marketing consultant, told Arab News.
“Also some will need to find a technical partner to successfully transform to e-commerce and, most importantly, they need to revisit their business model canvas to determine how they want to employ this technology for the best of their businesses.”
In order to overcome these challenges, Abdullah suggested that business owners look for the right technical partner based on their new model.
“If they fail to find a suitable technical partner, then they need to set a clear budget for the application or website they need to set up. But before reaching out to any company that offers support with these technical services, you must get in touch with real clients of these companies and inquire about their business and how they deal with them.”
He added that seeking assistance from technical consultants or owners of similar projects could cut down on time and effort. Joining business accelerators and incubators, as well as entrepreneurship and technology communities, could help with expanding knowledge and relationships and contribute overall to a smoother transition.
But these changes have their costs too, imposing new financial burdens on an already weakened business due to the pandemic and the time required to build and adapt a new business model that targets a completely different group of customers. It is a serious challenge for many small retailers.
Abu Mohammed has been in the retail business for 20 years. He used to have frequent customers who came in for a specific type of clothing with a certain price range. But, with the lockdown, he could hardly sell anything.
“I began targeting a different kind of customer in the past couple of years where I was importing new clothes and selling them through Instagram and e-commerce websites,” he told Arab News. “However I still cannot completely substitute my current store with a completely virtual one. That needs time and money to build a reputation.”
He said the lockdown had been a harsh experience for him and that he recognized the need to expedite his old plans to transform his store into an actual brand, since people were gradually moving toward online shopping from well-known brands.
“This transformation is not going to be easy at all,” he added. “It will need a good marketing plan and well-spent money not only on tools but also staff. It is a completely new experience, however. I know e-commerce is here to stay and it is our only way forward. Otherwise my work for years will gradually vanish. This crisis could be a blessing in disguise, who knows.”