Yahoo Middle East is set to stream the Al Jazeera news channel on its website later this year, in a continued drive to increase both local content and online traffic, according to Abu Dhabi newspaper The National.
The full financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed but the news follows a deal inked in July with the Saudi media conglomerate Rotana, which allows Yahoo Middle East to stream Rotana’s videos, films, TV and radio on its new Arabic Video Network Channel.
Yahoo Middle East is also reportedly in discussion with the BBC and Abu Dhabi Media Company, to further bolster its video offering to online visitors, and subsequently its online advertising revenue.
Ahmed Nassef, vice president and managing director of Yahoo Middle East, told The National: “There’s a big focus with our content to get together with regional players to get as much content as possible.”
Helwa, a channel aimed at women, will also be streamed on Yahoo Middle East, according to the report, along with content from two Egyptian newspapers, Al Youm Al Sabea and Al Dustoor. An Arabic version of Yahoo’s own entertainment site OMG is also planned.
“Yahoo has a lot of global content and we have a lot of global rights for content. Our challenge is looking at our English offerings and repurposing that on Yahoo’s Arabic property,” Nassef told the National.
Yahoo Middle East was formed by the acquisition of the Jordan-based Arabic portal Maktoob in November 2009 for a figure rumoured to be around US$100 million. Both Google and MSN are already established in the Middle East.
All are now keen to get a slice of the healthy revenue increases forecast for regional Internet advertising. Indeed, Ahmed Naseef told Gulf News last week that Yahoo’s online revenue in the region went up by 60% in 2009 compared with the previous year.
Consultants Booz & Company forecast that online advertising in the region is expected to triple its share of the overall ad sector by 2014 – albeit from a low base rate.