x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Etisalat adds some YouTube bite to its new TV offerings

Etisalat struck a deal with Google to broadcast YouTube¿s video library in the latest upgrade of the UAE operator¿s next-generation television service.

YouTube fans throughout the world giggled as a little English boy learnt the valuable lesson of not sticking his fingers in his baby brother's mouth.

Charlie Bit My Finger! and its sequel Charlie Bit My Finger Again! - the latter with more than 275 million views, according to YouTube - are among the most famous videos shared on the website.

Now UAE viewers will be able to have little Charlie's demonic smile beamed straight to their televisions after Etisalat struck a deal with Google to broadcast YouTube's video library in the latest upgrade of the UAE operator's next-generation television service.

"What we're showing now is the core services that will be released in the first phase, which should be available by the middle of next month," said Khalifa al Shamsi, the senior vice president of consumer marketing for Etisalat, on the sidelines of the Cabsat conference in Dubai.

"We'll have the rights to use to link to the YouTube videos. Anything that YouTube gives us through their [programming interface], we created an application for it. We're the first in the region to do this."

The YouTube feature will be one of several additions to be rolled out to Etisalat's eVision customers next month.

They also include an applications store, the ability to control your TV through your mobile device and a pop-up balloon that shows up on the screen whenever you receive a voice mail or text message on your phone.

A redesigned interface for the TV's "personal video recorder" feature will no longer focus on specific times, but rather "now", "next" and "later".

The UAE's two telecommunications operators are upgrading their TV and internet services to try to keep existing customers and attract new ones ahead of the nationwide rollout of their shared networks.

It is understood that du, the second telecoms operator, is also in the process of upgrading its television service.

Although executives declined to comment about their upgraded version, a "go back" feature, allowing viewers to go to the start of a programme if they come in late, is tipped to be included.

Mr al Shamsi said the Etisalat apps store would allow TV watchers to download a variety of applications including newspaper articles, weather updates and an airline check-in service.

"The app store is going to be very big for us," he said. "We've got a lot of people developing applications for us."

Google declined to comment.

dgeorgecosh@thenational.ae