DUBAI: The way media is consumed has changed, the CEO of Middle East satellite provider Orbit Showtime Network (OSN) told Arab News.
“The world of today is changing rapidly. The way you use or consume movies and series is fundamentally different from the way your parents were using it,” Patrick Tillieux said.
In the wake of streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu, home entertainment consumption has been redefined. No longer do viewers need to follow a set schedule to watch their favourite TV shows. Streaming platforms have given viewers control of what to watch, when, where and how. Whether it be on a Smart TV, mobile phone on the daily commute, or a tablet during that nine-hour flight back home for the holidays.
As a traditional company, with 25 years in the market, Tillieux — who was appointed CEO last year — says the regional network had to adapt to these changes in order to survive in the industry.
“We go from the old world of linear to the new world of non-linear viewing,” Tillieux said, explaining that “linear” is the old way of viewing movies and series in a set time schedule, pre-planned by the TV network, while “non-linear” is having the option to pick anything to watch at any time.
In response to these changes, OSN introduced its own streaming platform WAVO with a soft launch in 2017 and an official relaunch in April this year to coincide with the release of season eight of the internationally-loved show, “Game of Thrones”.
“It is a huge transformation of how we look —here internally — at how we bring our content, our movies, our series, to potential customers and to our subscribers,” Tillieux said.
Currently, WAVO features content from some of the world’s biggest studios, including Disney, Sony, Paramount and Universal.
Aside from giving viewers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region a platform to view “Game of Thrones,” WAVO has also given the Arab world access to shows by US network HBO shows such as “Big Little Lies” and “Ramy”.
Tillieux, who first started his career in the construction industry before switching to media, says OSN prides itself as a trusted brand in the region.
“We understand very much what the region wants and doesn’t ... we are good at bringing content that is relevant and exciting for the region and at the same time respectful,” he said.
“We dare to be a little bit edgy with bringing Ramy on our service,” he added, referring to the US series about a young second generation Arab growing up in America who is struggling to define the boundaries of his cultural and religious heritage.
One of the features on WAVO includes dubbed shows. Tillieux says that OSN uses their own data to pick specific shows that they believe will do well to dub.
According to Tillieux, viewers for the TV series Chernobyl — a dramatization of the true story of the nuclear disaster in modern day Ukraine — doubled after it was dubbed in Arabic.
However, Tillieux says current WAVO viewers “ain’t seen nothing yet” and should gear-up for new and exciting content coming in early 2020.
“Look at WAVO as a ramp-way today to a bigger offer that’s coming from OSN sometime early next year,” he said, explaining that over the past year, OSN has been improving the technology of the platform and its interface.
Those who signed up for an account in 2019 will keep their set price (prices vary from country to country in the MENA region), however new subscribers in 2020 will pay a higher price, as the “content will be richer,” Tillieux explained.
Tillieux also says as Saudi Arabia is a “huge consumer” there will be more content to the Kingdom.
Since September this year, OSN has been dubbing certain children’s shows in the Saudi dialect.
“I think Saudi Arabia is changing a lot these days, it’s good what is happening, it is good for Saudi society ... movie theaters are opening so we come at an age where strangely enough content becomes more important than it used to be,” he said.