Inspired by the success of TV channels like MTV and VH1, a new company has launched Qatar’s first online TV platform, combining homegrown talent, satire and comedy, in a fresh take on traditional video content.
According to the founders of SnapTV, which launched in April, the channel aims to fill a void in the market, which is currently saturated with amateur videos, those that are news-based or produced for marketing purposes.
Speaking to Doha News, Carlo Yan, a 30-year-old Filipino expat, explained:
“There is a big lack of ‘info-tainment’ (options) in Qatar, but (considerable) demand. (People want to know) where to go and what do here in Qatar, and that’s what we hope to (provide).”
Yan first tested his idea in 2011, when he attempted to start up an online channel called MePinoy to provide online video content to Filipinos across the Middle East.
But lacking funds, talent and local connections, the project didn’t take off.
Three years later, in 2014, Yan decided to try again, and partnered with media house WS Production to help start up the project using internet at the main platform.
The nine-year-old media house was founded by Walid Sakr, a Lebanese expat, and focuses on movie and advertisement production, equipment rental and other film-related ventures.
Since its launch, the online TV channel has created some 40 episodes, each around two to six minutes long, focusing on local nightlife, sports, music, art and creative scenes in a style similar to shows on popular international infotainment channels like MTV and VH1.
Sports Hub, for example, aims to blend adventure and sports together, while Chill & Plug showcases new local artists and musicians, featuring their music, interviews and live performances.
The Totally Random Show, a self-proclaimed “show to showcase total randomness,” is a hodge-podge of tech reviews, pop-culture references, viral videos, movies, events and parodies.
Other shows include Snapshot, where Doha-based photographers and creative heads are profiled, and Fashion Plus, where local fashion news, models and designers are featured.
One of the more humorous offerings is News Quack, a pseudo-news broadcast show headlined by “VJ Sanu,” an assistant cameraman at WS Production, where residents are asked at random to answer funny or obvious questions.
The diverse team, with staff hailing from Nigeria, India, Lebanon, Mexico, Russia and the Philippines, also creates creative video pieces for companies looking to showcase brands, products and new services to the local market.
They also broadcast live shows from major venues around town during Ramadan and Eid.
While the channel has managed to gain a steady following over the past few months, garnering some 4,000 to 7,000 views daily, attracting Qataris has proven difficult, Yan said.
“It’s very hard to please everyone. We have a hard time trying to have local Qatari viewers. One of our flagship programs is YOLO, where we cover entertainment and community happenings.
It’s a semi-reality series that lets you not only see but experience the events, parties, concert and happenings around the Middle East, and we’ve found that some people in our target audience feel that Snap TV is too liberal for featuring clubs and parties.”
However, the group does try to advocate social change and spread positive messages through their programming.
One of the shows, Quitters, follows a group of smokers as they try to get help and quit smoking.
Other challenges, Yan added, includes finding advertisers to offset the costs of hiring talent, and producing and filming the shows, all of which are currently borne by their parent company, WS Production.
In the future, the group plans to create more original content, reality shows and interactive talk shows, and to expand their content across the GCC by hiring video correspondents in different countries contributing to the channel.