OSN boosts South Asian content with Pehla buy-out

Rebecca Hawkes | 03-09-2013

Middle East pay-TV operator OSN has acquired South Asian platform Pehla Media and Entertainment, bringing extensive Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Tamil and Malayalam channels to the Dubai-based broadcaster's bouquet.

Pehla, now known as OSN Pelha, will function as an integral unit of OSN for South Asian content delivery. Among its assets are the broadcast rights for the ICC cricket including the cricket world cup and a strong selection of Bollywood films.
Sony, Star Plus, Sun TV, Zee TV, Geo TV, ARY Digital, Asianet Middle East, Colors, Gemini TV and Kairali, as well as Asianet News, Dawn News, NDTV 24x7, Times Now, Aaj Tak, CricOne and Ten Cricket will now all be delivered by OSN across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
The deal, for an undisclosed sum, was reportedly part-funded by internal cash reserves and partly by debt.
"This acquisition builds on OSN's growth strategy to explore opportunities for market consolidation bringing greater economies of scale and operational efficiencies to offer great value entertainment for subscribers," said David Butorac, CEO, OSN.
"Appealing to millions of South Asian expatriates, OSN Pehla now gives us the opportunity to reach out to one of the largest demographics in MENA, serving as the ultimate entertainment destination for all segments of the region's population."
With almost 40 South Asian channels added to its bouquet, OSN now offers subscribers nearly 140 television channels - with Arabic, western and Filipino content already well represented.
According to Reuters, OSN had 734,000 subscribers at the end of 2012, of which 29% were in the UAE, 24% in Saudi Arabia and 14% in Qatar.