QSoft Group, YouTube’s largest partner in MENA (Middle East and North Africa), is launching Tube Star Network to hunt down the next Arab stars. QSoft currently garners more than 4.5 billion video views from the current 1.5 million videos across their 500 channels.
Most know QSoft because it produces and owns Bassem Youssef’s show, Al Bernameg, which began on the YouTube based network. Currently, Youssef’s channel is the largest YouTube channel in the MENA region with 30-40 million viewers tuning in weekly. In comparison, the final episode of American Idol garnered only 22 million. While Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, which the Al Bernameg show is modeled after, averages 10 million weekly.
There is huge potential in the Arab world for new upcoming stars and a massive audience. Especially since Youssef’s Al Bernameg show was just removed from broadcast this week due to controversial statements he made about the current military regime while the CBC network maintains it was due to contract issues.
The chief executive of QSoft, Tarek El Kazazz, assured Al Bernameg would go back on air by specifically stating, “the show is not cancelled,” but “it is put on hold.” He clarified that they are “in negotiations with the channel and will announce the results as we soon as we’re ready to do so. In the meantime, “Bassem will focus more on the promotion of Tube Star Network.”
The opportunity provided by Tube Star Network, is the same Youssef had in the beginning. In fact, his show started with just videos under ten minutes posted on YouTube. Later, it grew into a 26-minute television broadcast. By the second season the show was a full hour long.
According to El Kazazz, they expected around ten thousand views in a week but instead had five million views within two months. Obviously, YouTube is a platform that generates an audience and Tube Star Network has been set up to specifically capture the next potential Arab stars.
In an interview with Al Arabiya, El Kazzaz said, “there can be other Bassems and it doesn’t have to be political. It could be social satire, lifestyle, cooking, sports, whatever.” He then noted, “we can definitely get someone like Youssef in sports. So let’s say over the next three years we’re looking for maybe another three Bassems in different genres.”
Arab star candidates should submit short clips to the Tube Star Network website where users will vote for their favorites. There is an algorithm in place that monitors the number of views, shares and watch times. Qsoft will pick the top 10 finalists and produce a five-minute television pilot for each.
All users are required to have a YouTube channel that will link to the Tube Star Network. Then, there are only three guidelines: contenders must be 16 years old, resident of MENA region and video submitted before the cycle deadline.
El Kazzaz encourages candidates to apply by assuring them that “Qsoft is all about finding talent on the internet.” Furthermore, “Bassem was a prototype to tell people we can discover talent and commercialize and upgrade and maintain that talent. This is what QSoft is about, discovering and developing talent and helping it trend globally.”
Finalists will be provided with training to be successful with pitching and constructing business models around their idea. Also, information and education about the legalities of production and intellectual property rights will be offered.
In the interview with Al Arabiya, El Kazzaz confirmed QSoft’s investment in the Al Bernameg show: “We own the rights of the show, his advertising, book deals, his tours. We handle everything all the way from Al-Bernameg to his taxes. And he does it with love; he likes working with us because we really take good care of him.”
“We are going shout out to everyone, ‘you can be something’. We’re going to give them a clear-cut path to a media success story,” said El Kazzaz.
Everyone is encouraged to apply and demonstrate his or her talent for a show with episode potential. Meanwhile, the online hunt for the next Arab stars of the future continues. If you are in the region and have an idea, head over to the Tube Star Network and link your YouTube account now.
By: Cayce Manesiotis