DUBAI: Regional TV and streaming company OSN announced last month that it would be going fully “dishless” as it unveiled an upgraded version of its OSNtv box, additional channels and new content.
In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Devrim Malak, OSN’s vice president of strategy, explained the reasons for the landmark move and what it means for the future of the company’s services.
“Since the launch of our streaming product, a lot has changed in the region,” said Malak. Lifestyles have evolved, she added, and as a result so have content-consumption habits and so people want more “flexibility in their viewing” across devices, whether mobile or TV, and across platforms, whether streaming or linear broadcasting.
The new, Android-powered OSNtv box merges the worlds of linear broadcasting and streaming, enabling viewers to consume both through the same device. In some ways it is “literally the start of pivoting the whole business to streaming,” Malak said.
OSNtv now gathers all of the services the company offers in a simple plug-and-play device, solving the problem of people having to switch between devices to consume different kinds of content, she explained, and reimagines linear broadcasting by enabling viewers to consume “live” TV on demand.
The world of linear broadcasting traditionally has been restricted to a set schedule. Although programs could be recorded to watch later, linear TV viewers who forgot to set the recorder risked missing out. Now they can watch content on demand whenever they like, regardless of schedules.
“Time is the most valuable currency in the world,” said Malak, and OSN is “super aware” of its consumers’ needs, which means it is adapting its offerings to match their evolving lifestyles instead of the other way around.
OSN has also launched three new channels: The flagship OSNtv One; OSNtv Showcase Classics, which will feature HBO favorites; and OSNtv Now, which brings together the best of OSN W and OSN Living and is designed to cater to a younger audience.
“Channel lineup is an important part of our portfolio,” said Malak. “So it’s important we have the right channels for different demographics and also adapt our offerings based on the expectations of our customers, as well as the market.”
OSN has contracts with a number of major global producers, including ITV Studios, NBCUniversal and Warner Bros. Discovery, but felt its full library of content was not being utilized to its full potential, Malak explained.
Therefore the company decided to create a space for this content through “high-performing channels” because “it’s all about making sure the right audience and right content are coming together in the right place,” she said.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the growth of the streaming market, resulting in new, international players gaining a foothold in regional streaming. OSN, however, remains unfazed by this, according to Malak. In fact, she said, competition is good because “relativity is important” as it gives consumers a chance to compare services and see where the value lies.
“Even with new or international brands coming in, our position or perception, or the place that we have in people’s minds and hearts, hasn’t changed,” she added.
Content remains key, Malak said, adding: “We are very selective, and we have very high standards when it comes to content. It’s at the core of what we’re doing.”
This is partly why the company has not gone all out on the development of original content, she explained.
“We’re not producing a lot of things just for the sake of producing them,” Malak said. “We have a perspective: If we’re doing something, we need to be different than the others.”
Therefore the company is not focusing on volume when it comes to original content.
“We have a long-term investment plan and it’s on track,” Malak added. “We are trying to find stories that we believe we should be telling, and not anyone else, and we should be telling them the way that we want to.”
As the company moves toward a future with an increased focus on streaming, Malak said the new OSNtv offering “represents an evolution of OSN’s investment into streaming with linear capabilities, but not exclusively” and that the company will “continue to offer a range of products, including satellite connectivity.”