x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Yahoo to bring Al Jazeera to its regional website

Yahoo has struck a deal with Al Jazeera to publish the Qatar-based TV channel's broadcasts on its site. The deal is Yahoo Middle East's latest partnership after an agreement with the Saudi media giant Rotana to publish more exclusive content to try to boost online traffic and advertising revenue. Ahmed Nassef, the vice president and managing director of Yahoo Middle East, said the bilingual website should start publishing a new version in the fourth quarter of the year, offering its users customised, local information.

Mr Nassef said international interest in the Arab world was such that "there's a big focus with our content to get together with regional players to get as much content as possible". Terms of the deal between Yahoo and Al Jazeera were not disclosed. Representatives from Al Jazeera could not be reached. Yahoo bought the Maktoob portal in November for US$164 million (Dh602.3m), leading to the creation of Yahoo Middle East. It was the first Arab company to be acquired by a major internet player.

Hosam el Sokkari, the head of audience for Yahoo Middle East, said the Al Jazeera deal represented another step in achieving the company's goal of becoming a leading global provider of content. "It's not just about Al Jazeera's content," he said. "It's about a portfolio of content providers that would offer a comprehensive [package] to our audience." He said more deals were expected to be announced soon, as Yahoo's talks with the BBC and the Abu Dhabi Media Company, the owner and publisher of The National, were progressing well.

Mr Nassef said content from two Egyptian newspapers, Al Youm Al Sabea and Al Dustoor, would be included on the site, as well as Helwa, a channel dedicated to women, and an Arabic version of OMG, Yahoo's entertainment site. "Yahoo has a lot of global content and we have a lot of global rights for content," said Mr Nassef. "Our challenge is looking at our English offerings and repurposing that on Yahoo's Arabic property."

The region's online advertising is expected to more than triple its share of the overall ad sector from 4 per cent last year to 13.4 per cent by 2014, recent research by the consultancy Booz & Company shows. Recent estimates valued the sector at about $90m last year, up from $65m in 2008. A source at Yahoo Middle East said the company had about 40 per cent of the region's online advertising market.

Mr Nassef said Yahoo's Cairo editorial team was generating between 40 and 50 "content packages", in the hope of raising advertising rates. "In our experiences, people are very attracted to content-focused verticals because they perform better [for advertisers] and they are more likely to interact with adverts," he said. dgeorgecosh@thenational.ae