Euromedia February March | Page 17

also helping ,” he advised . PACK . The major satellite broadcasters each continue to offer hundreds of channels to tempt viewers , but again it is the ‘ usual suspects ’ which dominate . In the pay-TV arena , OSN is making some dramatic changes to pricing and the channels on offer . New services have come on air targeting kids , sports fans , South Asians and Filipinos . A tenchannel Ultimate Sports Pack now includes three new channels – OSN Sports Action 1 HD , OSN Sports Action 2 HD and OSN Sports 5 HD – featuring new programming and localised Arabic content .
OSN is also overhauling its pricing structure , and with some commentators talking about “ prices being slashed ”. In truth , the creation of ‘ OSN-lite ’ bundles only reflects what almost every other pay- TV operator is doing . Prices for OSN packs will now start at AED / SAR79 (€ 20 ) for 32 channels , with customers able to customise packs with a selection of sports , movies and entertainment channels , according to budget . The announcement comes after last year ’ s OSN senior management changes , which saw the appointment of Martin Stewart , former DG of Spanish cable operator ONO ( and at one stage a senior staffer at BSkyB ), as OSN ’ s CEO . TRENDS . Constantinos Papavassilopoulos , a senior analyst for IHS Markit , in a research note , says he believes the new pricing and customised package offers are long-overdue and a direct response to some worrying trends in subscriber churn numbers and not helped since late 2015 when OSN ’ s archrival beIN Media added entertainment to its already hugely strong premium sports content . “ OSN has been losing customers since 2015 , and a new team has been hired to rescue the operator . OSN ’ s churn levels have almost doubled since 2014 from around 16 per cent to 30 per cent in 2016 ,” he advised .
“ For instance , in Egypt and Jordan , the OSN introductory package is now between 19 and 48 per cent less expensive than the beIN Media equivalent . Even OSN ’ s medium-tier packages have very similar prices to beIN Media ones – for instance in Morocco and Algeria , OSN medium-tier packs are only 5-10 per cent more expensive than beIN Media ’ s . Only OSN ’ s premium packs remain considerably more expensive ,” he noted .
Time will tell how these changes affect subscription numbers – and churn , and whether the new South Asian and Filipino
“ We are looking at LEO and MEO , and very seriously .” - Khalid Balkheyour , Arabsat bundles make a meaningful difference to viewing numbers . PORTTFOLIO . There are other green shoots of new developments , and one area is YahLive ’ s fast-expanding portfolio of Farsi channels . CEO Sami Boustany at YahLive says that its 52.5 degrees slot is working extremely well in gathering new viewers , and now tops 300 channels . “ We have now reached a critical mass , and we will shortly be releasing fresh research data which shows that we are now firmly placed as the Number 1 Farsi-language operator . Last year we wanted to try and do much the same , and bring together on one satellite all the channels going to the Maghreb . I can confirm that we now carry more than 80 channels having added 50 channels in January 2017 , mostly private channels and mainly targeting Algeria ,” he added .
Boustany admits that his satellite ( owned in a JV between YahSat and SES ) is late coming to the North African region : “ But we have one clear advantage over our competitors , which is to be pragmatic . We know that viewership was widely distributed via several of our competitor operators , not least Eutelsat , Arabsat , and the others . What we have managed to do is to create a simple ‘ hot spot ’ for the region , as we did with Farsi speakers . We have even managed to bring in smaller OTT operators where the budgets are smaller and to convince them to be on satellite . Consequently , we now have a very nice selection of private channels , and we ’ re working on bringing the public channels onto the platform and consolidated into one orbital position .” YahLive says that it will shortly embark on a major marketing and publicity campaign . “ We are ready to go with this when the time is right , but we wanted to be certain of having the correct number of channels . We think we will be at the right point during Q2 , once we have a few more channels under our belt . Ideally , we are targeting more than 100 by the end of this year ,” says Boustany . COUNT . As to how many channels YahLive was now carrying , Boustany admits it is a fast-moving number . “ Our channel count changes almost every week . In Farsi , we have more than 100 channels , and in total our East beam includes more than 300 channels . More than 200 are exclusive to us . However , it is also worth remembering that we also suffer a little churn , when channels drop out , but the core is very stable and the overall trend is up . But to be absolutely transparent , it is worth remembering that competition