OSN to launch Nickelodeon HD and Nick Junior on January 5

Viewers can look forward to seeing Nickelodeon favourites such as Spongebob Squarepants, Dora the Explorer and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, plus a host of new content.

Spongebob Squarepants will be dubbed in Arabic or feature Arabic subtitles. Courtesy Nickelodeon
Powered by automated translation

Kids’ TV in the region is about to get a welcome boost with the announcement of the launch of two new locally programmed channels on the OSN Network on 5 January – Nickelodeon HD and Nick Junior. All content will be either dubbed or subtitled in Arabic, and the Dubai office of parent company Viacom will take responsibility for ensuring the local relevance of the programming in partnership with OSN. OSN and Viacom will also launch a new music channel, MTV Live, on the same day.

OSN already broadcasts seven children’s channels, but Emad Morcos, OSN’s Senior VP, insists there is room for more: “We ran a lot of audience research at the beginning of 2014 and learned there was a lot of appetite for additional children’s programming. We’ll be launching a localised app and web page in English and Arabic to support the channels too, and putting the content on OSN Play. Later in 2015 we’re looking into streaming Nickelodeon live on Play.”

While vewers can look forward to seeing Nickelodeon favourites such as Spongebob Squarepants, Dora the Explorer and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Viacom executive VP Raffaele Annecchino hopes the channel can offer something a little different to its rivals: "Nickelodeon is a channel with a strong educational property, and it values having fun. I think this distinguishes us. It'll be the first time we've had the channel totally localised in Arabic from our Dubai office, and we'll also have the digital application. We're also looking to bring the channel to kids outside of TV, through music events and festivals. Twenty-three per cent of the Gulf population is under 15, so clearly you are serving a large part of the population."

One concern of many parents in the region is the number of US kids shows on local screens, and this is something Morcos says the new channel will be able to address: “ We broadcast across 24 countries and we have something for everyone. There is a lot of action-driven content, and that works well in certain markets. But there are other markets, like the UAE, where people are looking for a much softer approach to children’s programming. We’re constantly gauging what the audience wants to watch and looking to improve. If we’re hearing from audiences that a more educational approach is desired then we can look at ways of tailoring to our audience, both through the programming and the app.”

While content will initially come from Nickelodeon’s vast existing portfolio, Annecchino predicts that locally made content could also enter the channels schedule in future, both in terms of new, locally made kids shows, and content from Nickelodeon-themed events in the region.