How Justin Bieber got his start: YouTube mania taking over Saudi
Youth and elders in Saudi Arabia are really getting into YouTube. (Image: Arab News)
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Saudi youths would rather watch their favorite shows and series online rather than wait for them to air on television. Some say they can control the timing and skip ads while other reluctantly admit YouTube drove them away from family time.
Until only a few years ago, television meant family time. However, in this fast-paced age, that is no longer the case. Everybody is always on the go with countless commitments and no time to sit down with the family and enjoy a TV program together.
YouTube provides users with a platform where they can share, experiment and create. “I really enjoy watching music, movies and TV series online because I can share my favorite clip with my social media friends,” said Ziad Saleh, a high school student. “This way I can also see what my friends are interested in and it is the fastest way to update myself with the latest videos and clips,” he added.
One of YouTube’s secrets to success is the direct and close interaction that vloggers (video bloggers) have with their audience. “On vlogs you get to see how people are living. It is like an amateur reality show and they usually share cooking recipes, makeup tips and other instructive videos that help us everyday,” said Sarah Suroor, a stay-at-home mother.
International celebrities such as Justin Bieber and local celebrities such as comedian Badr Saleh all started their career on YouTube. “Saudis are hungry for entertainment and they are constantly looking for something new. When Saudi comedians started filming YouTube shows we were very much attracted to them and we started following them,” said Lamees Zahrani.
YouTube has not only captured the youths’ attention but the older generation is drawn by the website too. Nafisa Mujeeb, a housewife, said, “I use YouTube to watch my favorite series because the episodes come out earlier on the website. It takes a week before the episodes air on TV.”
YouTube’s easy accessibility works to its greatest advantage. Now, that technology is always in your hands, so is the website, whether you are home, in the car or at the store. “The best thing about YouTube and other video websites is that you can watch it any time and anywhere as long as you have Internet access. It is best for those like me who travel a lot because you can still watch your show and you don’t have to be sitting in front of a TV,” said Abdulaziz Hammad, a businessman.
According to 7-year-old Hamza Shahid, the best part of watching his cartoons on YouTube is that he can skip advertisements and pause and be in total control of his video.
No matter how fancy or prevalent the website may be, television remains irreplaceable. At the end of a long day, all you want is to sit back and watch whatever is on the old box without having to browse videos or go through the hassle of staying updated with the latest video trends.
In a recent Arab News interview David Butorac, CEO of OSN, said it is a popular misconception that people are drifting away from watching TV and are more attracted to online videos. “People who said the digital media would kill broadcasts are wrong because there has never been a time when more money is invested in TV content like now,” he said.
“For the first time in history, big Hollywood producers and directors are appearing on television and the reason is there has never been more money and more content going into television. The amount of time spent watching television is more than ever before,” he added.