MENA’s media landscape grows smaller; OSN closes Movies Festival channel
Since 2016, the Middle East Media sector has changed dramatically: 7Days, Saffron Media, OK! Middle East and Stylist Arabia have closed; Emirates 24/7, Khaleej Times and Abu Dhabi’s The National newspaper have cut jobs; and, GN Media has silenced four radio stations Radio 1 and Radio 2 , Josh and Hayat.
OSN has now contributed to the descent, recently announcing the closure of its Movies Festival channel.
The channel launched in 2014 and provided viewers with an unfaltering stream of international content, including regional TV premieres of films such as Hidden Figures and the Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and had also, in recent years, played host to live coverage of the annual Oscars ceremony. Over the weekend, the channel was taken off the air, taking many viewers by surprise, especially as many who subscribed to OSN, as part of their Etisalat or du package, were seemingly not informed of the changes, Abu Dhabi’s The National newspaper reported.
Customers who attempt to view the channel now see a ticker advising them how to access the content online.
Emad Morcos, OSN’s chief content officer, insists that the move would not mean the end of quality non-blockbuster movies on the OSN schedules, and that the OSN Movies Festival content would be redistributed to other channels in the OSN stable, telling The National, “OSN is providing its customers with even more convenience and choice by moving all the critically-acclaimed OSN Movies Festival HD films to one of its highest viewed channels, OSN Movies HD, to expose these award-winning movies to a bigger audience.”
In addition, Morcos added that subscribers would also be able to access the former channel’s content via a new folder in the broadcaster’s OSN Play service, an online streaming service which is offered free of charge to existing OSN subscribers, as well as via the pay-tv platform’s on-demand service: “These movies are also available in a dedicated ‘Movies Festival’ curated folder on OSN Play, the companion app for OSN subscribers, and OSN On Demand to watch anytime, anywhere,” Morcos added.
“OSN is investing heavily in the digital delivery of content to meet the changing ways in which customers consume entertainment. This move means that independent and award-winning film on OSN is digitally accessible and convenient for fans to explore and enjoy on any device, anywhere at any time, and at no additional cost.”
OSN did not give a reason for the decision to close OSN Movies Festival.