RIYADH: Regional entertainment network OSN has announced plans to double its investment in Arabic content next year through the launch of OSN Originals.
Dedicated wholly to regionally produced content, OSN Originals marks another milestone in the company’s journey following a brand relaunch and the Disney+ Originals partnership announcement in April, and also represents a new era of content resilience for OSN, serving the evolving tastes of the people in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
Under the OSN Originals umbrella sits the recently launched third season of “A’adet Regala,” the comical food reality TV show “Yalla Neta’asha,” and the Syrian war drama “No Man’s Land” in partnership with Fremantle.
On the new season of “A’adet Regala,” show producer Saliee Waly, said: “OSN Originals is designed with themes and hot topics that create buzz both on-air and online, exciting existing and newer, younger subscribers to engage in the new water-cooler moments that today occur in the social media space.
“This is what this show is all about, featuring heated debate reflecting much of what is thought but not spoken about often in our region and shines the spotlight on these topics, igniting conversation both offline and online.
“Having celebrities feel comfortable enough to share what’s on their minds is what makes this show truly authentic and different to the rest,” Waly added.
Set in the Middle East – mainly Syria – “No Man’s Land” focuses on the humanitarian aspects that people in the region can relate to, while shedding light on angles that have never previously been portrayed or told before on the big screen.
Amac Us, vice president of sales for Fremantle in the Middle East, Africa, and southeast Europe, said: “We identified OSN as the right partner to take the gripping Syrian war drama ‘No Man’s Land’ to the region. Starring an international cast, ‘No Man’s Land’ is an emotional and fast-paced drama with a story that is very close to the hearts and minds of local audiences.
“We’re proud of this unique collaboration with OSN which will bring this high-end production to the Middle East as an OSN Original series.”
Most recently, OSN has announced the latest addition to the OSN Originals roster, “Curfew,” a feature-length Egyptian film directed by one of the stalwarts of Egyptian cinema, Amir Ramses, which will be premiering at the Cairo Film Festival in December.
Ramses, who is also the artistic director of El Gouna Film Festival, said: “The time is now for our local stories to be celebrated. Middle East audiences have evolved, and so have their tastes and expectations for regional content.
“It’s been an honor to be selected by OSN and in turn be provided with a platform of millions of viewers across the region. The soon-to-be-launched ‘Curfew’ will be showcased on OSN as the first feature-length film under the OSN Originals umbrella.
“There is a strong demand for Arabic content that provides quality production values, gripping storylines, and themes that reflect the world regional audiences’ experience today.”
With more than 1,500 hours of Arabic-language content currently on the platform, OSN’s vision for 2021 will focus heavily on Arabic content, split between acquisition and Original production. By the end of next year, Arabic and Original productions will represent 25 percent of all content on OSN.
Patrick Tillieux, chief executive officer of OSN, said: “As one of the largest players in the regional entertainment industry, we bear a unique responsibility to give our audiences content that resonates and taps into their passions and aspirations. Audience demands have evolved, and OSN Originals was borne from the need to meet these demands.
“We truly believe in the importance of local content and OSN Originals is further testament to our commitment to this. We have structured this as a long-term strategy and priority focus that will translate into a library of unique never-seen-before and never-told-before stories from the region.”
Rolla Karam, OSN’s interim chief content officer, said: “We are on a mission to bring content that is exciting, closer to home, and has the power to move our audiences.
“The guiding principle of our content strategy is to be inclusive enough to embrace the diversity of our audiences across the region. Whether it is a scripted or non-scripted piece of content, the story and its relevance to the region will determine its originality.”
OSN Originals will support regional producers, screenwriters, and talent, providing opportunities to connect with audiences across OSN’s network in more than 20 countries. OSN Originals represents a long-term strategic direction for the entertainment network, following months of research into the wants and needs of the regional customer.