Six months after two of the Middle East's biggest pay-TV players merged to create the region's largest industry operator, the entity has been given a name: OSN, the Orbit Showtime Network. It has also emerged with a new look, a new package of channels - including The Food Network and BET (Black Entertainment TV) - and the region's first parcel of high-definition channels for satellite pay-TV.
"When Orbit and Showtime merged in 2009 we promised to deliver the best pay-TV platform in the Middle East and North Africa," said Marc-Antoine d'Halluin, the chief executive of OSN. "Now, in less than six months, we are thrilled to unveil OSN, a single platform that offers even more western and Arabic premium content than ever before on its exclusive 75-channel platform. We continue to push boundaries and lead the industry by launching the region's first high-definition bouquet and the region's first western channel fully dubbed into Arabic."
E-Vision, Etisalat's cable provider, launched a high-definition package last year but it is available only in the UAE. OSN's package is one of the most significant steps to date towards a commercially viable high-definition industry in the region. Another highlight of the new broadcaster's package is OSN Arabia, which offers Hollywood movies and television series such as House MD and CSI NY dubbed in Arabic.
OSN Variety includes popular western programmes such as Jimmy Kimmel Live, Good Morning America, The View and the Martha Stewart Show. The programming tries to take advantage of the exclusive rights that OSN has signed with major studios including Warner Bros, Paramount, Fox, Disney, Sony, MGM, Universal and DreamWorks, as well as television brands such as Disney channel, Sky News, Discovery Network and National Geographic.
The newly formed company also inherited the rights to the English Premier League, formerly held by Showtime, although they will transfer to Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC) later this year. ADMC, which owns and publishes The National, has not yet announced its plans for the rights. OSN offers subscribers 75 channels through eight packages. Its parent company is Panther Media Group, which is owned by Orbit Group and KIPCO, and registered in the Dubai International Financial Centre.