OSN to launch HBO channel, Saturday Night Live Arabia sketch show


Rebecca Hawkes

| 13 October 2015

Pay-TV operator OSN will next year launch a channel dedicated to HBO-produced shows that will air across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) at the same time as their US debut.

OSN First Home of HBO HD will carry globally popular dramas such as Game of Thrones, True Detective, Girls and Veeop, as well as documentary, factual and entertainment content including satirical news show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

The channel, due for launch in early 2016, will also be added to OSN's On Demand service, offering more than 2,000 hours of HBO content, including more than 1,000 hours of complete-series box sets.

"We are on course to set history in 2016 as OSN transforms the entertainment scene in the region with a never-before showcase of award-winning content. The finest in world TV, all in one network. That is what the OSN-HBO team assures," said Charles Schreger, president of programming sales, HBO.

The MENA pay-TV operator has also announced a raft of Arabic programming, including the launch of Saturday Night Live Arabia, a regional version of the long-running American comedy sketch show.

In total, 2016 will see over 50 new and exclusive shows, plus 70 continuing series, premiering on OSN. Over 25 award-winning shows will premiere at the same time as in the US.

A fourth Arabic-language channel, OSN Yahala Cinema HD, will also be launched in 2016, carrying new releases from the world of Arab cinema.
Other new local content includes Kosem Sultan, a spin-off of the Turkish hit Hareem Al Sultan, Arabic adaptations of US shows Prison Break, Mad Men and Ugly Betty, and the return of Who Wants to be a Millionaire with George Kurdahi.

"While connectivity has redefined how TV is enjoyed globally, one of the new trends in the industry is how audiences look for regional content that they can relate to. We are bringing more regional flavour with the widest assortment of Arabic programming next year," said Khulud Abu Homos, ‎executive vice president - programming & creative services, OSN.

The MENA pay-TV operator has also extended its deal until 2020 with Warner Bros for "first and exclusive access" to some of the Hollywood studio's film and TV titles. A new channel, OSN Movies Family HD, will be home to a greater range of family-friendly films.

Finally, OSN has unveiled its OSN Store, a buy and keep, electronic video shopping platform, where customers can purchase and store films in HD for unlimited future viewing.