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16 Jul 2024 18:47

Meet the Leader

Media-Avataar Leadership Talk- Q&A with Nadine Samra, Chief Business Officer OTT-Weyyak.com at Zee Entertainment

Weyyak employs two business models: Advertising-Based Video-On-Demand (AVOD) and Subscription-Based Video-On-Demand (SVOD). Weyyak’s viewers primarily come from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regions, with the majority hailing from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iraq, Egypt, and Morocco- Nadine Samra, Chief Business Officer OTT-Weyyak.com at Zee Entertainment

Here’s the full Q & A:

1. Can you tell us a little more about Weyyak first to kick off this interview?

Weyyak was launched in 2017 with the objective of entertaining the Arab audience wherever they are, offering the best drama content and the most enjoyable user experience possible. This goal was pursued by curating a vast and exclusive collection of Indian content from ZEE, dubbed into Arabic. Additionally, the platform provided a diverse range of Egyptian, Pan-Arab, and Turkish content, all in one convenient location. Weyyak is accessible on all platforms, including iOS, Android, the web, and all connected TVs.

In its six years of operation, the platform has successfully attracted over 3 million users who enjoy its extensive content library. These users are spending at least one hour per session of their precious time viewing Weyyak’s content.

Weyyak employs two business models: Advertising-Based Video-On-Demand (AVOD) and Subscription-Based Video-On-Demand (SVOD). Weyyak’s viewers primarily come from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regions, with the majority hailing from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iraq, Egypt, and Morocco. This dual approach has proven to be a highly effective strategy and a key driver in propelling the platform’s rapid expansion.

2. What are the key aspects influencing the dynamics of the Middle East OTT Platform Market?

The MENA region is a growing market in the OTT business and is very attractive to both global and local players. Establishing a presence and capturing a share of the viewing hours of the Arabic audience is a primary strategy for all media companies. This intensifies the competition and elevates it to a very high standard. Such competition only has a positive impact on the OTT market, resulting in increased production of high-quality original Arabic content, content diversity, enhancement of the user experience, and competitive subscription offers and pricing.

3. Tell us a bit more about your flagship shows and your new programming initiatives?

Our flagship shows have always been and continue to be our exclusive Indian dubbed into Arabic content. Our main objective is to bring the best of the Indian dramas to the Arab audience and be the go to online destination for this market. Some of the new attractive titles at the moment are: Nesa La Yokharn, Hayat Qalbi S4, Rihlat Lakshmi S2.

This is also complemented with high-quality original productions that have high affinity with our audience. Some of our recent shows are: Yawmi box, and Leila andi bil beit.

4. Throw some light on demographics of Weyyak consumers?

While the Indian content is popular across Arab households globally, it does have higher popularity amongst GCC nationals equally split between females and males aged between 18 to 45. The same demographics apply to the remaining top MENA markets such as Egypt, Iraq, and Morocco.

5. Can traditional TV and streaming services co-exist going forward?

I believe that entertainment viewers are searching for the best content to watch and will follow it wherever it is available. Traditional TV and streaming services serve as means to access this content.

While traditional TV remains the preferred medium for an older target audience, it will continue to coexist with streaming for the foreseeable future. The simplicity of TV and the flexibility of OTT platforms cater to different audience segments and their current entertainment content consumption habits and preferences.

6. In the broadcast and digital media industry, you find fewer women in leadership positions. What are your views on this?

I believe that there is a shortage of women in leadership positions across all industries, not just in media. Many companies are making efforts to promote women to leadership roles, but it seems that they have not yet reached the expected levels. Women face more challenges at work in general, and in order to advance women, we need to provide them with opportunities and the right level of support. The responsibility for inclusion and the advancement of women in the field falls on all leaders and should not be limited to company mandates alone. Once leaders commit to offering women opportunities and providing them with the necessary support, we will begin to see a significant improvement in this regard. Throughout my career, I have encountered and heard about biases against women, and it is the responsibility of everyone to reject and disregard these biases in their decision-making processes. I have mentored women throughout my career, helping them reach director and senior manager positions, and I believe that every investment made in this regard was worthwhile. I have also seen examples of women who have made a fundamental difference in the way work is done.

7. To succeed locally, you need stories that are relevant. What are your thoughts on this?

There is a saying that great stories can travel the world. While this is true in some cases, I believe that there are great stories that are only relevant to a niche audience and cannot easily transcend boundaries. In the Arabic-speaking diaspora, it is essential to have a deep understanding of the culture to produce locally appealing stories for your audience. Arabic viewers consume a variety of content genres from around the world. Striking the right balance between local narratives and international productions is a challenging task. In my opinion, business priorities and platform objectives should guide these decisions.

8. How have things changed with the lockdown and pandemic?

The lockdown and pandemic have had a significant impact on us, driving accelerated growth in terms of user acquisition and viewership for Weyyak and the rest of the OTT market. In terms of daily operations, it remained unaffected, with our team working fully remotely throughout. Since its launch and over the past couple of years, we have assembled a team of highly creative and ambitious individuals who are dedicated and committed to Weyyak’s vision of becoming the leading Arabic OTT platform globally. Despite the spike in viewership during the pandemic, the business faced challenges due to advertisers cutting budgets and shifting directions due to uncertainties. Looking back at the pandemic, there were many lessons learned by everyone, and it accelerated the digital transformation for all industries.

9. On a personal note, what have been the highlights of your career so far? Your key learnings?

It is quite thrilling for me to work in an industry that is highly dynamic and utilizes cutting-edge technologies to establish its presence. I have worked with industry leaders, learned from them, and together, we have influenced the shape of the OTT business in the MENA region. I have learned that change is the only constant in media. To stay at the forefront, you have to adapt, evolve, and change on a daily basis. I have learned that people hold immense value, and trust is the only way to retain and bring out the best in them. Leading and coaching people to create digital businesses is my passion.

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