OSN: “Quality is the key driver… along with the edginess of the subject matter”

We speak to Khulud Abu. Homos, SVP Programming at Dubai-based satellite TV operator OSN.

What television genres typically perform well for OSN’s multichannel satellite network across the Middle East and North Africa?

Similar to any pay-TV platform, movies are the driving genre. When it comes to Western content, as a sub genre, action and crime thrillers are drivers within all categories of content. Not to forget reality talent shows, formats and specials. Arabic content is a bit different, with drama series being the key drivers.

The availability of the latest content also plays a key role in the popularity of any genre of content on television. Keeping with the global trend, most of the young audience download their favourite shows as they premiere in the US and around the world.

In 2011 we promised our audience to be the first window on all content, and offered around 44 shows on the same day as they aired in the US, whereby viewers’ consumption of our shows actually doubled or tripled in some cases.

What are the major considerations for OSN when acquiring new content?

Quality is the key driver… along with the edginess of the subject matter, as well as content being brand new, exclusive and of high production value. New content must, most importantly, be unique and contribute to subscription growth.

We offer more than 5,000 hours of new pan-Arab TV series and shows that originate mainly in the Gulf, Egypt and Syria, in addition to five exclusive Arabic movie channels.

The majority of our Western content originates mostly in the US and a few in the UK. US content acquired from Broadway Video, Freemantle, Endemol, and Comedy Central has been well received. UK content from Granada ITV is also popular.

Which of OSN’s shows are drawing in large audiences across the Arab world?

Talent shows like American Idol have been very popular and we are getting the same hype from our audience around X Factor US. Also, edgy shows like the HBO hit drama Games of Thrones kept viewers on their seats for weeks as we offered it the same day as HBO’s broadcast in the US.

On the Arabic content side, the Egyptian comedy Keid Al Nassa and Al Kibeer, and pan Arab dramas like Al Za’een, Adam, and Muwatel X have gained large viewership.

OSN is also leading with producing and commissioning more pan Arab and regional productions, with a focus on quality and edgy content. Challenging the norms, new productions like Hindustani are generating substantial viewer interest.

What are the key factors affecting the TV industry in the Middle East and North Africa?

The advent of digital technologies provides a wealth of opportunity in consumer choice. This will drive innovation in technology, such as HD and 3D, as well as expansion into wired and wireless devices. Consumer demand for aggregation of content to a variety of new and exciting devices will provide great challenges and opportunities for broadcasters and content owners alike.

The growth of locally relevant content is also key to the continued success of channels and platforms in the region. OSN remains committed to be at the forefront of development of both technology and content platforms and programming.

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