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Sun 12 Jul 2009 04:46 PM

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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.

Arabian Business: why we're going behind a paywall

Ali 11 years ago

"Joining forces in this way is good news for customers" How is it good news? With no serious competition Orbit and Showtime have a virtual monopoly on pay TV in this region. And still no news from ADMC about the football - they won't be able to get Orbit and Showtime to try and outbid each other now. It'll be interesting to see what they do with it. I don't hold out much hope of them doing a better job than Showtime currently are.

Ahmad 11 years ago

This will all depend on whether they offer new products or not. Their revenues have been going downhill, so this may be a a merge due to losses rather than the aim to improve the TV sector. Here's another article I came across: http://www.techabia.com/2009/07/paytv-orbit-and-showtime-arabia-merge/

Original Joe 11 years ago

So if I am not happy with my Showtime subscription, what other options do I have now that Orbit is combining with Showtime? I guess Showtime can increase prices as they like and we will all just have to pay them.

Christian 11 years ago

Focus on HD and give this at competative prices that we not have to download iligal cards, HD is the future for the paying customer

Omar Shamma 11 years ago

This is not surprising news. Both entities are I suspect facing difficult times. I have never subscribed to any pay TV offering primarily because ALL the content (documentaries, movies, news, sport) are available on free to view channels such as the MBC and Rotana channels, Dubai One, Jazeerah Sports, Dubai Sports, etc. True you have to put up with the advertising, but I find it the same as putting up with the repetitive "trailers and coming attrwactions" advertising of the pay TV networks themselves. If this new combined pay TV entity is to prosper it has to provide services that the customer wants. For example they could allow subscription to individual channels and not "packages". I personally like to watch National Geographic Channel. However I am not prepared to pay for the whole "package" of channels that includes National Geographic. In the UK I can subscribe to individual channels. I can "mix and match" specifically those channels I want to see, without paying for any I will not watch. Mr. Marc-Antoine d’Halluin will do well to read "The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More" by Chris Anderson if he is to understand the future of his industry. "Wake up and smell the market"...its a new world for pay TV.

TV Fan 11 years ago

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)

AD 11 years ago

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.

AD 11 years ago

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.

Del 11 years ago

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?

Robert 9 years ago

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.