Once there were three fierce rivals competing for pay-TV loyalty in the Middle East. In July 2009 Showtime and Orbit merged their competing services into the Orbit-Showtime Network (OSN). Now Arab Radio & Television (ART) has placed its five leading entertainment channels onto the OSN system.
ART Aflam 1 and 2 plus ART Hikayat 1 and 2, as well as ART Cinema, will now be available to OSN’s pay-TV subscribers. “The addition of five ART channels to the already existing line up of 75 channels is a further confirmation of our commitment to provide OSN subscribers with the most diversified range of entertainment, information and educational programming in the MENA region,” said OSN CEO, David Butorac. “The five ART channels will be added all packages that include Arabic channels,” he said.
ART was the 1993 pioneer as far as pay-TV in the Middle East was concerned, followed almost immediately by Orbit and Showtime.
But all three systems struggled to make any meaningful progress in a region beset by piracy and the attractions of hundreds of free-to-air channels.
However, these additional ART channels, while useful, do not now represent 100% of the pay-TV market. ART itself exited from its expensive sports coverage two years ago by selling its sports rights to Al Jazeera Sports. Consequently, new pay-TV entrants include Al Jazeera Sports, Abu Dhabi Sports and the Al Majd group of 10 stations.