OSN sees big growth since stamping out piracy

Region's largest pay TV network says subscriber base up by over 30% since clampdown

The region’s largest pay TV network says it has been able to grow its subscriber base by more than 30 percent since stamping out piracy two years ago.

Orbit Showtime Network (OSN) switched to a more secure platform, which meant changing the set-top boxes in homes and deploying better satellite receivers, in December 2010 to prevent people from hacking into its service and watching content for free.

OSN CEO David Butorac said the updated technology had completely ruled out piracy and had had a significant impact on the company’s revenue growth.

In 2012, the number of subscribers increased by 30 percent.

“It made a significant growth impact,” Butorac told Arabian Business.

“One of the key reasons we fight piracy is not just people hacking our signals, it’s also in recognition of getting governments and consumers to recognise that intellectual property crime is actually not victimless crime.

“People think it’s okay if they watch a movie for free, and if Tom Cruise doesn’t get another couple of bucks, so what, he can afford it.

“Actually, what it stops us doing as an industry is investing in the growth of production capacity.”

Butorac said there was wide scope to increase television production in the Middle East, which is generally centred in only a few countries such as the UAE, Lebanon and Egypt.

“One of the things we’d love to see here in the region, particularly in the Gulf, is a much more enhanced production facility,” he said.

“That doesn’t come just by building a production facility, it comes by building a skill set. That needs investment.

“Piracy stops [broadcast companies] from growing to a point where we can start building those skills and that’s something we can put back into the industry if we can overcome piracy.”

Butorac said government regulations existed but there needed to be tougher enforcement in some countries.

“Regulations are there, they just need to be executed,” he said.

“We get great assistance particularly from the UAE and Saudi governments and they recognise the power of this.

“We have to get past this concept that nobody’s really getting hurt. As an industry, I think we’re really able to demonstrate that people are getting hurt and it’s the industry that’s getting hurt and if you can overcome that, that will allow us to grow.”

OSN, which is based in Dubai and owned and operated by Panther Media Group Limited, a subsidiary of KIPCO and Mawarid Group Limited, does not reveal its subscriber numbers but it was reported that hundreds of thousands of new set top boxes were required for the switchover.

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