Television network OSN is launching a new digital platform called Asli, which will air fun and edgy content that is short to medium length, in a number of different languages, it announced on Tuesday.
These include Arabic, Urdu, Hindi, Turkish, Swahili and other languages, whilst all content will feature English and Arabic subtitling.
Asli will be free to watch on OSN’s online platform WAVO from early 2018. Its programming will be similar in style to the more youthful kind of local content currently found on the internet, but with the resources, reach, and backing of OSN.
The network says that genres will include travel and culture, comedy, music, art, podcasts, food and sports.
Speaking at a press launch, chief executive of OSN, Martin Stewart, said: “We strive to continue to reshape the entertainment landscape in this region ... Asli [is] an online curated publishing platform, where content creators can license and showcase their unique work to reach a vast audience.”
Crucially, added Ismat Abidi, producer of Asli and legal counsel to OSN, content creators will license their content to the network while “retaining the intellectual property rights and full creative control of their work.”
In August, Gulf News reported that OSN was eyeing more high-end Arabic language content to appeal to its largely Arabic-speaking subscriber base.
On Tuesday, Stewart said in an interview that such premium, HBO-style Arabic content was on its way, with new content out later next year, in 2018.
Asli, which will be less highly produced, may eventually overlap with the premium content that OSN has in the works, however. “I think that there’s going to be crossover,” said Stewart, adding: “I don’t know where all the [content creators] we’re singing up are going to go in their career, I just want to give them a platform to see where they can go.”
If some of those creators went on to become the long-form film makers and series producers of the future, he said, “then great … if they carry on making great short form video and audio, that’s great as well.”
Some of the region’s content creators who will initially be featured on Asli include Kerning Cultures, What Doesn’t Suck, and Waastaa / Halla Walla.