Digital Broadcast Power List-Wadah Khanfar
Since becoming director general of Al Jazeera Network in 2006, Palestinian Wadah Khanfar has transformed the broadcaster from a successful regional news channel largely misunderstood internationally, into one of the world’s most recognisable media brands. The Arabic and English language news services have gone from strength to strength landing major scoops, securing big-name presenters and more recently making distribution in-roads in North America.
The real achievement for Al Jazeera during Khanfar’s reign, however, has been its move into pay TV.
The network’s sports channels already boasted a raft of high-profile sports content with the UEFA Champions League the jewel in the crown. The US $1 billion purchase from ART of television broadcast rights to this year’s FIFA World Cup and a host of local football leagues, provides Khanfar with a stable of content that should transform the fortunes of Al Jazeera Sports.
With advertising revenues thin on the ground, Khanfar’s side-step into the world of pay TV could prove a master stroke.
The emergence of an open pay TV platform (instigated by ART) means those who desire premium sports content can now pay additional subscriptions to ADMC and Al Jazeera. The resultant lower prices that pay TV operators can offer for their baseline packages could spark an increase in uptake across the region, giving the industry a much-needed boost.
Thanks to Khanfar, Al Jazeera is ready to reap the rewards.