OSN to move Dubai call centre overseas

Expansion in Jordan and Egypt will create new opportunities and boost OSN’s support for subscribers across Mena, says CEO

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 12:  OSN CEO Martin Stewart speaks on stage ahead of the Asli, presented by OSN panel discussion on day seven of the 14th annual Dubai International Film Festival held at the Madinat Jumeriah Complex on December 12, 2017 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images for DIFF)
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Leading regional pay-TV provider OSN will relocate its Dubai-based call centre operations abroad, the company's chief executive told The National on Thursday.

“In the third quarter of this year, we will transfer our call centre operation from Dubai to Jordan and Egypt, where our operational costs are significantly lower but the same quality of service can be delivered," the chief executive of Dubai-based OSN Martin Stewart said in an emailed statement.

"We’re offering full assistance to all Dubai-based employees with the option to relocate to either Jordan or Egypt."

The expansion in Jordan and Egypt will create several new opportunities for Jordanians and Egyptians while strengthening OSN’s support for subscribers across the Middle East and North Africa region, he said.

"This move will not impact our customers in any way – they will continue to receive a seamless and exceptional experience.

"We have been implementing strategic initiatives to strengthen our operational efficiency and to optimise costs. Accordingly, we implement routine management decisions – as in any organisation - that are aimed at strengthening resource utilisation as we continue to focus and invest in a digital future to meet the needs of all customer segments in the region and, we are confident of achieving this vision,” Mr Stewart said.

OSN is majority owned by Kuwaiti conglomerate Kipco, which hasn’t published OSN subscriber numbers since Q1 2016 when subscriptions fell from 1.15 million to 1.03 million.

The Kuwaiti firm reported a net profit of 5.64 million Kuwaiti dinars (Dh68.4m), or 1.53 fils per share, for the first three months of 2018, an increase of 11 per cent over the 5.07m dinars in same period last year. Operating profits before provisions reached 23.5m dinars compared to 23.6m dinars a year ago. The company also reported a 13 per cent rise in its total revenue from operations during the first quarter of 2018, at 171m dinars from 51.5m dinars reported for the same period in 2017.


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OSN has dramatically extended its offering to viewers in recent years, investing heavily in digital platforms such as its free-to-subscribers OSN Play service and the recently-launched, contract-free Wavo streaming platform. OSN has invested in region-specific packages for viewers from the Indian subcontinent and The Philippines, and recently launched its ASLI Studio and streaming service aimed at local film makers. This year, the company also teamed up with digital rival Netflix to offer a hybrid set-top box, which allows viewers to access both services, and combine their bills for the two.

"For OSN, this [Netflix] deal can logically be seen as a first step in the direction of enhancing its partnership with Netflix and extending it into the joint production of local content for the Mena audiences," IHS Markit said in February. "It must be noted that no such announcement was made but production of local, Arabic, content is vital for future growth in the region."

OSN satellite subscribers will experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.3 per cent between 2017 and 2022 growing from 841,000 to 1.5 million in that five-year period, IHS Markit forecast at the time. For the same five-year period, Wavo paying subscribers will grow with a much higher CAGR of 72.3 per cent: at the end of 2017 they were just over 40,000 but at the end of 2022 they will have reached around 617,000, it said.

Separately, OSN closed its Movies Festival channel. The channel, which launched in 2014, was taken off the air over the weekend. Customers who attempt to view the channel now see a ticker advising them how to access the content online.

Emad Morcos, OSN’s chief content officer, said the Movies Festival content would be redistributed to other channels in the OSN stable.

“OSN is providing its customers with even more convenience and choice by moving all the critically-acclaimed OSN Movies Festival HD films to one of its highest viewed channels, OSN Movies HD, to expose these award-winning movies to a bigger audience,” he said.