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Sun 31 Jan 2010 10:20 PM

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OSN set to launch with eight new channels

Launch comes less than six months after merger between Orbit and Showtime.

Orbit Showtime will launch eight new TV channels – including three in high definition – on Monday as part of its new look.The Dubai-based pay TV network will officially re-launch as OSN on Monday, less than six months since the merger between Orbit and Showtime was announced in August 2009.

“We are launching the very first bouquet of high definition channels in the region,” said OSN CEO Marc-Antoine d’Halluin at a press conference on Sunday.

Subscribers can receive these new channels once they have been sent a new high definition box – the first of which are being sent out in the next few weeks.

However, the process could take up to nine months before every subscriber has received their box, he said.

“It’s not a box that you can buy in the market,” d’Halluin said. “We will only be providing these boxes to new and existing subscribers only.

“It’s going to take six to nine months to complete because we’ve got hundreds of thousands of subscribers.”

The three new high definition channels are OSN movies, Nat Geo World HD and Discovery HD, while the five new standard channels are OSN Variety, Food Network, BET (Black Entertainment TV), Discovery ID and OSN Arabia – the region’s first 24-hour Western entertainment channel dubbed entirely into Arabic.

The first new Hollywood release to be shown on OSN Arabia is 300, starring Gerard Butler. Twenty five castings were held before the right Arabic voice was found for Butler’s character, said Khulud Abu Hamar, senior vice president of programming.

Not only will subscribers be able to choose whether they watch a movie in Arabic or English, but they can have it with or without subtitles, under the new system.

One hundred new movie releases will be shown each month, as well as 1,000 older films across 12 movie channels, Hamar said.

She said subscribers could be able to watch the current smash hit, Avatar, in high definition, on the network in six to eight months.

D’Halluin refused to say how much the total re-launch, including all the new high definition decoder boxes, cost but said he was confident of recovering the investment.

“We expect to recoup the cost of the re-launch simply by growing our subscribers because we’ll have content that’s unique. Not everyone speaks English, and some people will want to watch movies or series in their own language,” d’Halluin said.

He denied that the loss of the English Premier League rights to Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC) at the end of the season, and Al Jazeera's win of the FIFA World Cup 2010 rights, would harm subscriber numbers.

“It makes no economic sense for us to compete with the states of Qatar and Abu Dhabi. We don’t have the same resources. But we bring a lot more value in a different kind of content than sports," d'Halluin said.

He added: “We don’t carry only the Premier League. We carry lots of other sports that we will continue to carry.”

Arabian Business: why we're going behind a paywall

Arjun 10 years ago

Alas, until n unless they come up with something like only 350/- dhs monthly all this HD, 1000 movies a month and languages we cant even understand nor would want to watch, packaged @ a neat price of 3,600/- annually. Yes they will be having packages starting from 79/- dhs in which you will get all the FTA channels......he he imagine buying a decoder from Carrefour and watching all them for free. All the best.

selvaraj 10 years ago