OSN unveils online premium video service
Rebecca Hawkes
| 19 May 2014
The Middle East's new premium over-the-top (OTT) Internet video service, Go by OSN, is to be priced from US$10 per month, the Dubai-based pay-TV operator announced on Sunday (18 May).

The Netflix-like service is available to fixed Internet users or those using Wi-Fi, or 3G and 4G mobile broadband across 22 countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The service is currently available on PCs and Macs, smartphones and tablets, and the company says it will soon be launched on connected TVs and gaming consoles.

Dual-device screening will also allow subscribers to stream two different shows on separate devices simultaneously.

"With the launch of Go, not only is OSN setting another benchmark, but we are creating a platform that reflects the changing viewing habits of consumers across the region," said David Butorac, chief executive, OSN.

"With Internet users across the region expected to reach over 400 million by 2015 and over 200 million people in the region currently below the age of 25, the potential for online TV streaming is tremendous. With Go, we are creating a new entertainment choice for those who traditionally have been depending on online video channels for content that is often illegitimate or low quality."

Internet connectivity in Qatar is about 86%, and the UAE will have around 90% connectivity by the end of 2014, according to OSN. Smartphone penetration now stands at 79% in Saudi Arabia and 72% in the UAE, with mobile Internet access achieved through smartphones believed to be 84% and 83% respectively, according to IPSOS Digital Landscape 2014.

OSN is offering a seven-day free trial of Go, which will provide licensed content from Hollywood studios such as Disney, DreamWorks Animation, Paramount and Sony, and box sets of hit TV series. Egyptian, Khaleeji, and Turkish shows will also be available, with exclusive series during Ramadan. More than 200 Arabic movies will also be available on the OTT service.

During the Go launch event, David Butorac also told reporters that despite recent comments by OSN's major shareholder KIPCO, an initial public offering (IPO) was not imminent.

"The shareholders are looking at the options that they have for the future and one of those is to approach the equity markets. But, as it stands today, we have no active plans or timetable," Butorac said.

"We're generating significant free cash and so there are no current funding needs for the company."