Saudi telco inks Google deal to bring YouTube to TV

Saudi Telecom Co CEO says YouTube Invision service is a first for the Middle East region
Saudi telco inks Google deal to bring YouTube to TV
By Andy Sambidge
Fri 01 Jul 2011 10:02 AM

Saudi Telecom Company (STC) and Google have announced a new service to customers which allows them to search for and watch YouTube videos on their television.

The YouTube Invision service is a first for the Middle East, said Jameel bin Abdullah Al Molhem, STC's CEO.

He added that customers subscribing to the company's Advanced Interactive Television Service (Invision) will be able to view and search for videos on YouTube for free by using the television screen.

More than 100 million Arabs log on to the YouTube network every day, according to Google.

STC officials said the launch of the service would "set forth a qualitative leap in the Saudi home" and would change the "concept of TV viewing".

Al Molhem said the Google partnership was part of the company's efforts to upgrade the Invision service "by enriching its content with more unique bundles of modern services that have never been launched before in the market".

Al Molhem said STC would continue developing its Invision service to meet the increasing demand of customers.

He added that the next development period will see the launch of services such as e-learning and e-shopping, which will allow customers to order shopping and have it delivered straight to their home.

Al-Molhem said that STC is planning to invest in its fibre optics network.

Currently, 50,000 homes are connected to the network with projections that this number will double by the end of 2011.

The network that currently covers the main cities of Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Jubail, and Al Ahsa, will also be expanded to cover many other cities and villages.

Arimr Kesisoqlu, director of Google Middle East and North Africa, said: "More than 100 million Arabs log on to the YouTube network every day, and about 11 million users go online at an average of 136 minutes per day representing 40 percent of the kingdom's population.

"These users can now enjoy YouTube's visual content via new technologies that no one has beat us to before."

He added: "We intend to deepen our relations with STC and believe that together, we can make a difference in the Kingdom in a way that customers can feel this change and see the value of the exclusive features introduced to them."

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