Over the past few years, streaming services have become a staple part of our lives and since the pandemic forced us to retreat to our homes, we’ve all been turning to entertainment hubs to keep us going. Big-name brands like Netflix saw an increase of 36 million subscribers join their platform over the course of 2020 and now, with the possibilities of the industry opening up, we’re seeing an increase in particular niches being explored.
Today, we’re going to tell you a little bit about a streaming platform that has taken the industry by storm. Equipped with a powerful product and innovative leaders, their mission is to provide the Muslim Community with a platform that will not only give us positive Muslim representation but also goes the extra mile by championing Muslim creatives.
Meet USHUB TV (pronounced ‘As-Haab’), the fastest-growing streaming platform created by Muslims, for Muslims, available on multiple devices including iPhone and Apple TV. The name itself is derived from the Arabic word ‘أصحاب’, meaning companion or a collaborator, which is simply the perfect way to encompass USHUB as a brand – a companion for their subscribers and a collaborator for their creatives.
USHUB aims to portray a positive reflection of the global Muslim Ummah in order to highlight our community’s diverse cultures as well as the religion as a whole. It breaks away from the harmful stereotypes imposed on us via the West and emphasises respect, tolerance and acceptance. We’ve all seen the toxic ‘representation’ forced onto us by other platforms, haven’t we? From Netflix characters uttering “bismillah” before knocking back a shot to Muslim women taking off their hijab the second a mediocre white boy looks in their direction, is anyone surprised that Muslims have completely and utterly lost their faith in this idea of representation in the mainstream?
This is why a platform like this is necessary – to tell stories from our community that have not yet been told and to make space for all of our voices regardless of our race, ethnicity or background. USHUB emphasises the idea that we are all connected through the art of storytelling and religion and the combination of the two is our greatest strength.
“For Muslims worldwide, we don’t have enough opportunities to be able to see content that resonates with us, is familiar to us, and have chances to create content that genuinely explains our experiences and narratives,” says USHUB’s COO, Sohaib Ali.
“As Muslims, we need to be able to tell our stories safely and grow our communities’ abilities to become storytellers and active participants in media in general while at the same time understanding there is particular nuance in our religion and the many different cultures of those who practice it. As a platform, USHUB aims to provide that space for Muslims to connect with their cultures and religion.”
USHUB promotes popular movies such as 3000 Nights, a Palestinian classic that tells the heart-wrenching story of a Palestinian newlywed who is wrongly accused of aiding a teenage boy for a crime he allegedly committed. It also includes more niche shows, such as Islam Channel’s Mosques From Around The World and Halal Kitchen with Great British Bake Off alumni and chef, Ali Imdad.
And we can’t forget to mention MVSLIM’s personal favourites, can we? Shows like Women Like Us and Boys Night Out aren’t your typical round table discussions about general, western topics. Throughout the episodes, a variety of Muslims come together to discuss issues that the community have differing opinions on in what is supposed to be a light-hearted yet informative debate. Well, as “light-hearted” as topics like polygamy and ‘halal’ dating can possibly get.
One of the great things about the platform is that it caters to whatever vibe you’re feeling even if you’re not quite sure. Maybe you’re in the mood to watch some travel vlogs? There’s a section for that. How about shows telling the stories of Black Muslims? You can find that on USHUB too. Well, what about a kids section? There’s plenty of content under that specific category and for all different age ranges too! Whatever you’re in the mood to watch, we can guarantee that USHUB has pretty much got you covered.
The goal of the streaming platform is to establish an ecosystem for Muslim creatives and filmmakers by giving them an opportunity to display their work on in a way that not only connects them to a wider Muslim audience but also showcases it in a respectful manner. For example, if there are any marketing or visual requirements that the creator wishes to have, USHUB takes the time to honour that, whereas other platforms might not consider that small, yet crucial detail. The platform places importance on doing their work justice while at the same time also giving their subscribers an amazing viewing experience.
In order to do this, USHUB takes the time to get to know their directors in order to help the audience get more of an insight into just how much work goes into creating entertainment. On the website and across their socials, the USHUB’s Artist Spotlight is dedicated to revealing the ins and outs of the creative process and it includes advocating for some of our favourite Muslim filmmakers.
“At USHUB, we understand what it’s like to be an emerging filmmaker needing to roll money from one project to the next project; that being said, we are always looking to make sure our filmmakers are adequately compensated for the projects that we are conversing with them about how we can help them for their upcoming projects whether it be monetarily, through production support, acting as a connector for them to other opportunities, etc.” Ali explained. “Whether or not our filmmakers find success on our platform, one of our goals is to increase the overall visibility of Muslim filmmakers globally to continue to have our people speak on our stories and experiences.”
The most recent pick was Imran J. Khan, who is responsible for directing the movies Prom (2016) and The Drone and the Kid (2017). Other great Spotlight picks include Justin Mashouf, Nadia Shihab and Susan Yussef. This feature just adds a sense of familiarity and closeness between content creators the audience members – it really gives depth to the platform as a whole.
Now, what does the future look like for such a rapidly-growing company?
“In terms of our future, our singular goal is to become the centre-piece for Muslim creators of all mediums. To be able to connect, assist, fund, and create for our community is the beginning of where our brand is headed,” Ali said, adding that “original content” was their prime focus.
“Our goals and direction are the same. We want to be creating original content, content that is invigorating and resonates. We want to eventually affect culture with our content and allow young emerging filmmakers to see an avenue for them to break into filmmaking and media creation in general. We hope to be able to host camps for up-and-coming filmmakers, content incubator systems, collaboration spaces, and development programs. As far as content goals we know we will be the leading Muslim streaming service that will bring multiple tiers of content to our community. Children’s animation high-end series, narratives, documentaries, award-winning projects are where we see the future of our content.”
USHUB hopes to continue breaking barriers in the filmmaking industry and create room for Muslim creatives at the forefront of creative conversations.
Join them on their journey in redefining the entertainment industry.