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appointed in Sangeeta Desai .
Faisal Al Ayyar , chairman of OSN ( and one of Forbes Middle East ’ s Top CEOs in the Mid- East ), commented : “ The Board is delighted that Sangeeta has accepted the position of Interim CEO , which will increase her involvement with OSN as she works towards the Board ’ s vision for the Company as a leading entertainment hub in the region . Sangeeta has a proven track record
OSN ’ s CEO history
• Sangeeta Desai , appointed in August 2021 , following on from …
• Patrick Tillieux joined OSN in November 2018 , taking over from …
• Martin Stewart ( ex-Sky / FA ) who joined in June 2016 , taking over from …
• David Butorac ( ex-Sky / Astro ) who joined in October 2010 , taking over from …
• Marc-Antoine d ’ Halluin ( ex-Canal +) who joined Showtime in December 2006 , taking over from …
• Peter Einstein ( ex-MTV ) who was founding CEO at Gulf DTH-Showtime from January 1997 .
in successfully leading large-scale company transformations , scaling businesses , navigating disruption , and growing global brands . She brings with her a unique combination of strategic , operational , and financial expertise , having led global media businesses for over a decade bolstered by an early career in private equity and investment banking .”
Observers of OSN ’ s long history can only hope for her success . But the signs are challenging . Officially OSN is owned by Panther Media Group Ltd , and part of Kuwait Projects Co ( KIPCO ). OSN / Panther is still on KIPCOs books as an 87.6 % owned ‘ Asset held for sale ’. According to KIPCO ’ s accounts , revenues at OSN are still under pressure although – speaking in April 2021 - it expects a financial turn-around at OSN in the second-half of 2021 . PIONEER . MBC Group has again pioneered growth and variety for viewers , not least with the launch of its Shahid VIP service in 2020 and enhanced during the year and helped by Covid lockdown . “ We were in position , at the right moment , with having this completely revamped service app ,” commented Adriaan Bloem , head of digital infrastructure at MBC . “ In November 2020 , Shahid VIP became available worldwide , and witnessed a 60 per cent increase in uptake in the US and Canada as well .” Bloem was
“ Satellite TV is going to be very strong in this region for a very long time .” speaking at the Dubai Tech Leaders Panel . He confirmed that Shahid had grown “ ten-fold ” during 2020 .
Bloem also firmly backed satellite as a delivery mechanism . “ Satellite TV is going to be very strong in this region for a very long time , mostly because people outside of the large metropolitan areas still have very bad Internet connectivity . People don ’ t care whether they are watching linear or streaming content . They expect the same quality .”
He cited complaints from some users who depended on terrestrial delivery of OTT signals from MBC . Bloem spoke of one customer who complained that Shahid suffered poor video quality . Bloem told delegates that MBC looked up his analytics and discovered that the user was in a small mountain village in Lebanon , on a mobile connection that was not even 3G . “ People don ’ t necessarily know that this is very hard to achieve . As far as they are concerned , if the satellite TV just works , the app must also just work – like magic . They don ’ t realise that we have to do a lot of things to deliver the same high quality as satellite TV . For example , in the UAE , delivering video streams is not a problem but it ’ s a different story in Egypt , Iraq , or North Africa , who are mainly still being served by CDNs in Europe . We are working on changing that and ensuring that to get content locally , they are served locally . But to do that , we have to work with five different CDNs , two different cloud providers , and then build our own CDN for key telcos .” FUTURE : At the ASBU-sponsored event , Bloem looked to the future , saying : “ The previous wisdom was that people want to watch entertainment on their mobile phones . Sure , but they also want to be able to lean back on their sofa and watch TV . I think it won ’ t matter to people whether they are watching on an app or on traditional TV . So increasingly in the next five years on that side of things , I think we will be breaking down walls between what is AVoD , SVoD and TVoD , and between what ’ s linear and what ’ s on-demand and what ’ s live , because to users that ’ s not really relevant anymore – they just want to watch content when they want to watch it . There are different ways of achieving that . I ’ m looking forward to working on that .”
The prospects for 2022 will be discussed by every visitor to CabSat in Dubai . The consensus is that 2021 could have been much worse . 2022 will be better , but it is this relentless optimism that has driven MENA growth over the past 20 years and there ’ s no reason to believe that Covid has slowed this optimism .
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