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Disney+ content to make exclusive Middle East debut on OSN
[DUBAI] Walt Disney's Disney+ content will be available for the first time in the Middle East and North Africa on regional pay television and online streaming service provider OSN from April 9.
Dubai-headquartered OSN has signed a "long-term" exclusive distribution rights agreement, OSN chief executive Patrick Tillieux told Reuters by telephone, declining to disclose further details.
Disney+ original programming, including hit show 'The Mandalorian', will be available on OSN's pay television and online streaming services in 17 regional markets, including Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The online streaming service costs US$9.50 a month.
It is the first time content of Disney+, Walt Disney's streaming service, has been distributed through a third party provider, OSN said.
"We currently do not plan to launch Disney+ as a standalone service in the region in the near future," Walt Disney Regional Lead Amit Malhotra said in a statement. (see amendment note 2)
The deal is likely to intensify competition with the likes of Netflix, which has a strong regional presence.
OSN secured the exclusive Disney+ rights following a 2019 restructuring in which the company, with revenue of about US$500 million a year, shed more than 60 per cent of a workforce of 2,300.
"We have come out of a dark period," Mr Tillieux said.
He said he was confident in the business outlook for this year even though the company was no longer able to sell and promote products in shopping centres closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, with more people staying home, pay television and online usage have surged and online sales have increased over the past two weeks, he said.
The pandemic has also forced OSN to market the launch of Disney+ content entirely online, cancelling traditional outdoor advertising plans as few people now leave homes.
"We are pushing heavily on... digital," Mr Tillieux said.
OSN's majority shareholder is Kuwait's largest listed investment company, Kuwait Projects.
Amendment note: The headline of a previous version of this article stated the Disney+ platform is launching in the Middle East. However only Disney+ content is being made available in the region, and not the platform itself. The article has been revised to reflect this.
Amendment note 2: A previous version of this article stated Walt Disney did not respond to an emailed request for comment. It has later responded and stated it has no plans to launch Disney+ as a standalone service in the region in the near future. The article has been revised to reflect this.