Showtime Arabia, Orbit announce TV merger

Pay TV companies to form Mideast giant, offering 70 exclusive movie, sports channels.

Showtime Arabia and Orbit announced on Sunday a merger that will create the “biggest Pay-TV platform” in the Middle East and North Africa.

The newly-formed company is an equal partnership that will offer 70 exclusive channels featuring new movies, sports, Arabic content and international shows.

New customers can subscribe to packages featuring Showtime and Orbit programmes, while existing subscribers will be able to either retain or upgrade their content. The company will offer HD channels, video on demand and other interactive services.

“Showtime and Orbit were pioneers of the region’s pay-TV market and we’ve both been calling for consolidation of the market for some time. Joining forces in this way is good news for customers, staff and the regional television industry,” said Faisal Al Ayyar, vice chairman of Showtime Arabia parent company KIPCO.

“The new company will, for the first time, allow us to maximise the value of the two strongest regional TV brands. It is a turning point for the industry. It will unlock the potential of the market across MENA and realise the significant benefits of this unified platform. The new company with its two brands is poised for an exciting period of growth.”

Marc-Antoine d’Halluin, Showtime chief and now CEO of the newly merged company, said the deal was a significant step for the region’s pay-TV industry.

He added: “The new company will continue to run its core operations and corporate functions from Bahrain and Dubai, bringing together experienced and talented employees who are tasked with extracting significant synergies and delivering the best value from this merger for all our stakeholders and customers. We look forward to updating the market on this exciting merger and future plans.”

Details of when and how subscribers can update their packages were not revealed.

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Posted by: Robert

OSN's shoddy customer service is wearing thin.

It's been 3 days now (Jan 8, 2010) with no reception on any channel (decoder boxes across the ME are stuck at the SETUP menu!). Their web site provides a fix that does absolutely nothing. The signal strength on the final menu registers ZERO.

Just like their telephone hot line - ZERO employees pick up - regardless of which number I call - or how long I wait.

And their hideous new decoder on-screen menu system has poorly designed, hard to read screens with tiny print on harsh-white backgrounds. I get eyestrain and headaches after just 2 minutes of using it.

I've complained to OSN to improve this ergonomic disaster to no avail. What a shame to buy a new HD color TV capable of beautiful color - just to use a decoder like this.

Now after 3 days of no satellite reception - at least my headaches are gone.



Posted by: Del

Showtime, I DO care about EPL; I am an avid fan and the reason I subscribed is because I DON'T want to follow the matches in pubs, bars and shisha places. What am I supposed to do now?

Posted by: AD

And BTW: Showtime already have the Showbox, a Ti-Vo like recorder that comes free for Platinium subscribers or at a charge for others. You can even see entire TV seasons episodes whenever you want (Show-on-demand). True about HD though. The region has been way to slow to start implementing it, but at least it started.

Posted by: AD

I'm a Showtime subscriber since 2001 but I took a brake some times ago because of some technical problems but also because they loose certain channels and TV programs to Orbit. I have been hoping for some time that they merge, as it has happened everywhere in Europe. I don't have to sacrifice certain programs when I can see them all in the same package. It is also not true that Showtime does not offer discounts and loyalty programs. They do, but you have to be a long time subscriber and guess what: Ask and negotiate one! I reconnected the service recently and got the same price I was paying before, which was already discounted, and the prices has increased even further. I don't care about EPL and the most avid EPL fans follow the matches in Pubs, Bars and Shisha places anyway.

Posted by: TV Fan

Orbit has always offered more stable programming, at least in Kuwait. Showtime - which is managed by Global - Kuwait has terrible customer service and hires unwisely, lots of low pay Egyptian workers whose answer to any customer enquiry or complaint is 'take your card to have it checked at Dajeej headquarters' Showtime Kuwait is abysmal. I cancelled my subs a year ago, because really the transmission wasnt that stable and their decoders were much lower quality than the Orbit ones. If this new company is to survive in an era when customers alreayd get the latest shows on MBC, Dubai 1 etc - and when young kids download torrents with the latest shows from the states and when piracy is rampant with home deliveries of the latest shows on DVD - then it needs to: 1. Reduce prices considerably (in Kuwait they charge 250KD plus for a premium package - thats like $700 dollars which is rediculous) 2. Offer HD quality television like the US and Sky 3. Offer a top of the line cable box similar to TIVO 4. Improve customer service and put ome kind of 'loyal customer program' (no matter how may years you sub to Showtime they never offer discounts or loyal programs)

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