For more than a decade, regional entertainment giant OSN has gone through transformation after transformation. A merger in the early aughts, major partnerships with global studios that catapulted the network into the premiere category of entertainment, and one of the most exclusive content libraries saw OSN become a household name in the region.
Enter the streaming wars. As the global entertainment and content sharing landscape began to change rapidly, OSN, and companies like it, were faced with a decision to pivot their focus on SVOD to weather a storm of rising competition, changing consumer habits, and a need for greater flexibility – both in regional markets as well as internationally. With a global pandemic accelerating these factors in an unexpected way, it became clear that the company needed to undergo yet another transformation to keep up with the changing needs of its customers.
“The change in technology really affected the landscape and customers…now you can watch [content] anywhere you want, on any device you want, anytime you want,” says OSN Chief Executive Officer Joe Kawkabani, who took the reins of the company and its strategy in April 2022. “That has been great for the customers, but what this meant for us as suppliers was that we needed to adapt and change our business and the way we operate to provide this experience.”
After a merger saw regional players the Orbit Group and Showtime Arabia come together to form the Orbit Showtime Network, or OSN, in 2009, the company quickly rose to become a leading entertainment hub for viewers in the Middle East and North Africa, particularly for customers looking for a diverse selection of shows, movies and content from the West and internationally.
Partnerships with global studios like NBC Universal, Sony and Warner Brothers, now Warner Bros. Discovery, followed to bring more options and exclusivity. OSN became the place to watch these series at the same time as their US premiere, a staple that set the network apart from many of its regional competitors in the decade following the merger.
But as streaming entered the playing field and technology in the sector skyrocketed in advancement within a short amount of time, the company had to shift towards a new model, starting with the introduction of its streaming service Wavo in late 2017. The product, one of the most significant in the company’s history at the time, underwent a series of upgrades and changes to fit the needs of the market, as well as OSN’s loyal customer base. With a brief stint as OSN Streaming, the company’s flagship streaming platform became OSN+ in March 2022.
“OSN+ is our younger, more accessible product that we launched in the region with a new look and a new mindset,” says Ashely Rite, VP of Marketing & Growth for OSN. “It has been a very successful launch and we have just been building on that growth for the past year, with added improvements across our product experience and content offering.”
The platform has seen accelerated growth in the year after its rebrand, seeing a more than 25% increase in viewership. In March, the brand solidified its place as the home of HBO content after a multi-year deal with Warner Bros. Discovery expanded on earlier deals to bring more exclusive content to the streaming service. The network went even further in 2022 by offering a new home product powered by Android and new linear user experience, and a fully dishless offering for the first time in the company’s history.
“I think what we will see in the future is the alignment of two factors, one is consumer demand and the other is technology enablers,” adds Ellis D’Rozario, Vice President of commercial Sales at OSN. “Those two things will find a way to use digital to go about satisfying the need of anytime, anywhere and any device.”