By Rob Morris
Customers can now view extra programmes for free, 24 hours after two companies merged.
Pay TV provider Showtime Arabia has announced that its subscribers will have free access to Orbit content from Monday, just 24 hours after the two companies merged.
The company said its customers across the Middle East and North Africa can view Orbit programmes for a promotional period ending late August.
Channels that Showtime viewers will now be able to watch include Super Movies, America Plus and Super Comedy.
The same arrangement is in place for Orbit customers who can now view Showtime content, such as Showmovies 1, Showseries, E! Entertainment and Showcomedy.
“We promise maximum entertainment, great value for money and simplicity of choice for TV viewers across the region,” said Showtime CEO Marc-Antoine d’Halluin.
“By taking immediate steps to give current Showtime and Orbit viewers not only the best but everything that Hollywood has to offer, this should leave viewers in no doubt that the merger is good news for them.”
The English Premier League will be available to current Orbit subscribers through Showsports 2 when the 2009/10 season starts on August 15.
All Orbit and Showtime channels will be added to both formats’ electronic programme guides. The pay TV providers’ websites will also carry programme listings for all 70 channels.
On Sunday, Showtime Arabia and Orbit announced a merger to create the “biggest Pay-TV platform” in the Middle East and North Africa.
The newly-formed company is an equal partnership offering 70 exclusive channels featuring new movies, sports, Arabic content and international shows.
You neglected to mention that Showtime lose the rights to English Premiership from the end of the 2010 season, since Abu Dhabi TV have outbid them for the subsequent three seasons. This leaves the combined Orbit/Showtime package seriously devalued - the Premiership was surely the jewel in Showtime's crown. With Al Jazeera scooping up the Champions League as well, it will be interesting to see how their rivals respond. Ff Showtime tries to increase my subscription rate as a result of adding Orbit channels which are of no interest to me, my cancellation will be winging its way to them without delay. I doubt I would be alone in doing so.
I am a Showtime subscriber. This morning BBC Prime with great shows for my children had been replaced by Orbits "Goodmorning America" which has a completely different target group than BBC Prime (at least during the morning hours). These "extra" Orbit channels have not added ANYTHING but caused irritation and frustration. I fully understand that (but not why . . . ) a few subcribers like Goodmorning America but it should be broadcasted on a separate channel - not kicking a highly appreciated channel that I have paid out in favour of a channel that I have not asked for or even want! SHOWTIME: Kindly change re-instated BBC Prime ASAP. Thanks!
This is where you're wrong Harry. Showtime did lose the EPL but Abu Dhabi are NOT allowed to broadcast the EPL Free to Air (This is one of the EPL conditions clearly mentioned in their contract). So the only solution would be is for Abu Dhabi to agree with Showtime/Orbit to broadcast it - Don't think that anyone can out bid Showtime/Orbit not even ART. They have become such a big group that it is virtually impossible to even try and break them.
Orbit viewers stand to benefit more from the merger, so their subs will probably increase the most. I don't think they'll be able to justify a subs increase for existing Showtime customers, but then what choice do you have with a monopoly?
With reference to Bala's comment about losing BBC Prime. It too disappeared from my Showtime channel (No.4 here in Kuwait) and was replaced by an American channel but if you look through the channel guide you'll find some channels have merely been relocated to other no's. BBC Prime is now on channel 124. I'm sure it's there you'll just need carry out a search. Hope this helps. BTW, excellent news on the merger.
It does not matter if they merge. They still have primarily old programs on the stations and all stations are showing much the same content. How many stations can you show CSI Miami and The Closer on at almost the same time. Also how many times do they have to repeat programming in the same month. Why can they not adjust the broadcasting times also so that instead of movies starting late at night as per KSA time, they save the content for the UAE and commence it as a reasonable time, eg If a movie or show starts at 9 pm KSA time, why cant it start at 9pm UAE time. Broadcast delay is a feature that all stations have. We pay for a substandard service in the UAE. It seems that it is all about money rather than giving the consumer what they want!
Hopefully Showtime and Orbit will do a complete reshuffle of programmes / channels to streamline things, update content and avoid duplication. I think the principle behind the merger is great, as I'm a Showtime viewer and will now be able to get The History Channel, for example (and Orbit viewers will get BBC Prime.) It's a good opportunity -- let's hope they capitalise on its full potential.
There is nothing new about this merger except creating a monopoly that would further offer substandard services which has no differentiation among the different channels.
Johan, you should do your homework. Abu Dhabi intend to implement a suitable system and add channels; they appear to have every intention of wanted to be a broadcaster. If they sell on Premiership to others, it begs the question of Showtime/Orbit buying games from them to sell PPV - otherwise how will they recoup the cost?
I haven't noticed any difference in the channels available on my Showtime package, how do you access these additioanl channels? Also I haven't lost BBC Prime or gained an American channel in it's place.