Dubai-based OSN signs partnership with Netflix

Netflix boasts almost 120 million users globally, but has been relatively slow to pick up subscribers in the Middle East, figures from last year show. (Reuters)
Updated 18 February 2018
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Dubai-based OSN signs partnership with Netflix

LONDON: The broadcaster OSN has signed the Middle East’s first partnership deal with US entertainment giant Netflix, signaling a shift in the region’s media landscape.

Customers of pay-TV service OSN will be able to access Netflix movies and TV shows using a new OSN box that will be launched around June of this year. Additionally, customers will soon be able to pay for their Netflix subscription through their OSN bill.

“Our partnership with Netflix marks a bold first step for industry collaboration and integration,” Martin Stewart, CEO of OSN, told Arab News.

The Netflix partnership comes amid “a shifting global media landscape that sees demand for relevant and exclusive content across multiple platforms continue to grow,” OSN added.

François Godard, an analyst at Enders Analysis, said the infrastructure of the Middle East meant the OSN-Netflix deal made sense.

“When you are in a region where broadband penetration is lower, where payment systems are less developed, it makes more sense to (partner with) an established player,” he told Arab News.

“Netflix is very opportunistic company. They believe in their model, so they are not afraid to partner with other people. We may see deals like this more in the future — why not a deal between Netflix and Sky (in the UK)?”

Change may be taking place, but Netflix has been slow to chase the MENA market, where it has seen relatively sluggish growth in subscriber numbers, according to figures published last year.

The content streaming service had only managed to attract 137,000 paying subscribers by the end of 2016 in the MENA region, according to analysis by IHS Markit. The research firm estimates that number for the region will rise to 1.29 million by the end of 2021.

IHS Markit told Arab News in July that “Netflix needs to sign deals with telcos and mobile operators for direct operator billing. This is crucial for markets like MENA and already other (video) operators (like STARZ Play Arabia, icflix, Shahid Plus, Seevii) have inked relevant deals.”

Globally, subscriber numbers are looking more rosy. Last year Netflix raced through the 100 million subscriber mark, and it now boasts almost 120 million, with its market capitalization now standing at $120 billion.

The Netflix Nasdaq-listed share price has almost doubled year-on-year, standing at $278 in after-hours trading.

“The future of the entertainment industry in the MENA region will be shaped by providers who offer value and choice at every turn,” said OSN’s Stewart.

Maria Ferreras, VP for business development for EMEA at Netflix said, “With this regional partnership and thanks to hundreds of Netflix’s original titles slated for 2018, OSN’s customers will be able to seamlessly access and enjoy all the best entertainment in one place.”

The new partnership follows a recent announcement that saw OSN partner with Lamsa, an Arabic-language children’s “edutainment” platform.

OSN confirmed to Arab News that it is continuing to explore similar opportunities.


Hong Kong economy cools as trade tension mounts

Updated 16 November 2018
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Hong Kong economy cools as trade tension mounts

HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s economic growth slowed in the latest quarter and the government warned it could face headwinds from US-Chinese trade tension and higher interest rates.
Government data Friday showed the Chinese territory’s economy expanded by 2.9 percent over a year earlier, down from the previous quarter’s 3.5 percent.
Exports rose 5 percent over a year earlier, but the government said the impact of trade tension and weaker global demand “has begun to surface” and is “likely to become more apparent in the near-term.”
The government said Hong Kong also faces a drag from higher interest rates. The Hong Kong dollar has a fixed exchange rate with the US dollar, which requires the central bank to raise interest rates along with the US Federal Reserve even though economic growth is slowing.