OSN and U.S.s Viacom expand exclusive agreement, increasing entertainment content offer in the Middle East
· Paramount Channel, Nicktoons and Teennick added to Viacom's growing portfolio on OSN
21 March 2017
Dubai, UAE – OSN, the region’s premier entertainment company, and Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN), part of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIAB, VIA), one of the leading multimedia entertainment companies in the world, expanded their distribution agreement to make even more incredible channels and exclusive content available for OSN customers in the Middle East. The partnership adds three new channels for OSN subscribers: Leading global kid’s brand Nickelodeon launched NickToons on Feb 15th, and a Teen Nick On Demand channel, while VIMN’s iconic Paramount Channel, the fastest growing brand in the VIMN International portfolio, is set to launch on OSN on April 15, 2017.
“It is great to be able to share more good news about VIMN’s growing business in the Middle East,” said Raffaele Annecchino, President & MD, VIMN SWEMEA. “I’m very pleased to have reached another exclusive agreement with OSN for three new channels: NickToons, TeenNick and Paramount Channel. After launching the first Paramount Channel ever just five years ago, the MENA version will be the twelfth in the world, expanding the Paramount Channel reach to more than 94 million households across nearly 100 countries. The Paramount Channel in MENA is the next step forward in this rapid expansion and a very important launch. In addition to that, the launch of Nick Toons and Teen Nick reinforce our commitment to this market. In MENA, we are applying our Glocal strategy, which combines international brands and properties with local productions, as we’re doing with Comedy Central with Ridiculousness and Comedy Central Presents, and I hope to do more in the future involving other brands in our portfolio.
“The partnership with OSN has been the key driver of our success in this region. Together we continue to find effective ways to expand the presence of the VIMN brands and deliver great content to audiences across the region. The expanded agreement reinforces VIMN’s position as a key provider of international branded content across OSN’s platforms.’
Emad Morcos, Chief Content Officer, OSN, said: “Continuing to deliver on our customer-first approach as part of #newOSN, we’re delighted to expand our partnership with VIMN to increase the choice of only-on-OSN entertainment for our subscribers. The three new channels, in addition to the offering already available, give our viewers access to the very best entertainment from around the world. With most of this amazing entertainment also available on OSN Play, customers can choose how and when they enjoy their favourite shows and movies. The new channels brings even more value and choice and we will continue to expand our unmatched entertainment offering for the region.”
Paramount Channel, the fastest growing brand in VIMN’s international portfolio, will offer audiences a rich variety of blockbuster movies, contemporary series, and behind-the-scenes features, while the new NickToons linear channel features family-friendly animated content in English and in Arabic, including Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness, Tuff Puppy, and the series Monsters vs. Aliens. The new Paramount Channel will be introduced at the 2017 CABSAT Congress in Dubai on March 22.
TeenNick is a digital library of Nickelodeon favourites, including iCarly, Sam and Cat, and Victorious, subtitled in Arabic and curated specifically for teenagers who can access the exclusive channel via OSN’s On Demand platforms, OSN Play and OSN On Demand.
VIMN now distributes 9 brands in the Middle East exclusively on OSN including Nickelodeon HD, NickToons, Teen Nick, Nick Jr, Comedy Central; a Spike branded block – VH1, MTV Live HD; and soon Paramount Channel; with content available on the On Demand and OSN Play services and the NickPlay App and dual-language localized websites.
The launch of Paramount Channel (ch 34), Nick Toons (ch 358), and Teen Nick (OSN Play, OSN On Demand) expands VIMN’s portfolio with OSN to eight channels, alongside Nickelodeon HD (ch 355), Nick Jr (ch 356), Comedy Central (ch 207) with a Spike branded block, Vh1 (ch 303) and MTV Live HD (ch 300).
About Viacom International Media Networks:
Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN), a unit of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIAB, VIA), is comprised of many of the world’s most popular multimedia entertainment brands, including MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, Paramount Channel, Channel 5 in the UK, VH1, VIVA, COLORS, Spike, Game One and Tr3s: MTV, Música y Más. Viacom brands are seen globally in more than 3.2 billion households in approximately 170 territories and 40 languages via more than 200 locally programmed and operated TV channels and more than 550 digital media and mobile TV properties. Keep up with VIMN news by visiting the VIMN PR Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/VIMN_PR. For more information about Viacom and its businesses, visit www.viacom.com blog.viacom.com and the Viacom Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/Viacom
OSN is the region’s leading entertainment network with the rights to broadcast into 24 countries across the MENA. The company is owned and operated by Panther Media Group, registered in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and has two shareholders, KIPCO and the Mawarid Group Limited.
OSN has a history of providing exceptional value for customers with its focus on exclusive and in-demand content, and innovative digital platforms for anywhere, anytime access.
With over 150 channels, OSN’s strength is its unbeatable range of exclusive programming led by its long-term partnerships with studio majors including Disney, HBO, NBC Universal, Fox, Paramount, MGM, Sony, DreamWorks and Warner Brothers.
65 HD channels mean OSN is the home for premium and nowhere-else content in Arabic, English, Filipino and South Asian languages. OSN broadcasts the latest content at the same minute as in the US, including popular series, blockbuster movies, and the best sports events. In addition, OSN also provides entertainment content for devices such as laptops, tablets and mobile phones via its OSN Play and Go online TV service, offering movies, series and sports on the go.
OSN has been at the forefront of digital technology innovation in the Middle East introducing the first Digital Video Recorder HD, OSN Play, an online TV platform, an internet-enabled satellite receiver and recorder and OSN on Demand, the region's first VOD service.
OSN also expanded its language services when it acquired Pehla Media & Entertainment, offering around forty channels in a variety of South Asian languages in the MENA region, with content such as Bollywood movies and cricket, including the ICC Cricket World Cup.
OSN’s ambition is to deliver entertainment everywhere for everyone, which is informed by the company’s three key pillars: A customer-first approach, unrivalled exclusive content and unbeatable value.
Additionally, via GulfNews.com:
MTV plays the high note with upcoming app launch
Viacom fires up with 3 new pay TV channels on OSN platform, including Paramount and Nickelodeon version
Dubai: MTV is going to have a new avatar — as a music app. Viacom, which owns the iconic music video channel, plans to introduce a regional version of the My MTV app within the next six months.
And this is part of an orderly transition that the US media giant plans to have to offer content to regional audiences on both TV and any other platform that draws in significant numbers. It has already done so with the kid-focussed Nickelodeon, a move that has “proved successful”, according to a top official.
“There’s consumption and growth in movement towards mobile and web platforms, and we want to be in a position to lead in both the linear [content viewed principally on TV] and non-linear [everything outside of TV] channels,” said Raffaele Annecchino, managing director of Viacom South Europe, Middle East and Africa. “We will follow up the MTV app with one for Comedy Central and others.”
Choosing MTV for the second app launch does make a lot of business sense. Its traditional audience of the young — and even the young at heart — is among the fastest to migrate to getting their content fill on mobile platforms and when on the go. MTV’s TV version continues to have a committed following in some of the Gulf markets and Lebanon. (In the US, the brand is going through some major makeover in terms of content programming and the like.)
Meanwhile, Viacom is all set to launch three new TV channels to the mix that it already offers via pay-TV provider OSN. This includes Paramount, a HD-based offering of movies from the US studio bearing the same name and part of the Viacom portfolio. “It will be a combination of brand [that is, Paramount] and the content [all the movies it has helmed],” said Annecchino.
“It’s about story-telling and curation — apart from the movies, there will be behind the scenes commentary.”
On the curating side, there will be a lot to pick and choose from, given that Paramount Studios has been making films for more than 100 years. Of more recent vintage, it has been behind ‘Fences’, which netted Viola Davis a best supporting actress Oscar, another Oscar-nominated ‘Arrival’ and the Brad Pitt-vehicle ‘Allied’.
“In this region, we are still seeing growth on pay-TV,” said Annecchino. “We are the biggest international content provider on the OSN platform and we will continue to expand on both linear and non-linear ways with them. That includes OSN’s Play and Go platforms. At this moment, it’s agreed that OSN will remain our exclusive partner.”
The other two channels being launched are Nickelodeon spin-offs, targeting defined demographics within the kids’ universe. Of late, brand Nickelodeon has been getting a lot of air time outside of TV as well. Standalone Nickelodeon stores have opened in the Gulf, selling merchandise from the many hit shows and characters. There is going to be a theme park in Dubai, which will keep the flag flying high when it opens late 2019.
For that matter, even Paramount will have its banner up in the Dubai sky, with the branded hotel and serviced apartments project well under way. Another case of branding and content mixing well.
TV still ruling charts in region
* Pay-TV is expected to reach 19.52 million homes by 2022, with revenues of up to $4.12 billion. Globally, three-in-four adults watch at least one movie a week, and 82 per cent of them do that only at home. And 92 per cent of respondents in the Middle East watch films on television, making it the most popular platform, according to Viacom findings.
* Worldwide, 83 per cent of adults between 16-54 agree that they love watching movies. In the Middle East, the percentage is even higher, with 89 per cent reporting that they love watching movies.
Also, via The Hollywood Reporter:
Viacom's Paramount Channel to Launch in Middle East
Viacom International Media Networks' fastest-growing brand, coming to the U.S. next year, is already available in a dozen countries and reaches more than 94 million households.
Viacom's Paramount Channel is coming to the Middle East and North Africa next month.
The company's Viacom International Media Networks unit will launch what it says is its fastest-growing brand on April 15 in partnership with pay TV giant OSN. The channel will be available in English and with Arabic subtitles.
Among the Paramount Channel content lined up for right after the launch are the likes of Ghost, Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction and Mean Girls in an "I Love That Movie" primetime slot, Whitney Houston TV biopic Whitney and BBC miniseries Our Zoo.
The new channel's first "Thursday Focus" feature will be about Robert De Niro and include his films Everybody's Fine, Jackie Brown and The Untouchables.
Under an exclusive agreement, the companies will also launch a Nick Toons linear channel and a Teen Nick SVOD channel, meaning that a total of nine Viacom brands will now have exclusive OSN distribution in the region. Viacom International Media Networks is now also the largest provider of international content for OSN.
"The new additions further consolidate VIMN’s position as the number one provider of international branded services on OSN’s platforms," the company said. In addition, VIMN has a growing recreational and consumer product business in the Mideast with the Nickelodeon flagship store in the Dubai Mall and a planned Nickelodeon Land, set to open inside the IMG Worlds family entertainment center in Dubai.
Said OSN chief content officer Emad Morcos: "The three new channels, in addition to the offering already available, give our viewers access to the very best entertainment from around the world.”
The Paramount Channel has been a big success for VIMN, which used to be run by Viacom CEO Bob Bakish. The first Paramount Channel launched in Spain five years ago. Now there are a dozen Paramount Channels that reach more than 94 million households in 100 countries.
"Internationally, we’ve been very successful in capitalizing on the marquee Paramount brand to offer general entertainment channels that feature high-quality programming, movies and documentaries," Bakish said on a recent earnings conference call. "In fact, the Paramount channel is already the largest ad supported movie channel in the world."
In the U.S., Viacom plans to rebrand Spike TV as the Paramount Channel next year after recently unveiling a focus on its six core brands - MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr, Comedy Central, BET and Paramount.
"The Paramount Channel in MENA is the next step forward in this rapid expansion and a very important launch," said Raffaele Annecchino, president and managing director, VIMN South and Western Europe, Middle East and Africa. After all, VIMN has in recent years continuously expanded its presence and business in the Middle East.
"The Middle East is a great example of the growth of the Viacom international business," the executive says. "The Paramount Channel's mission is to become the destination for those looking for quality stories – films, series and behind-the-scenes content. So curation is important to fulfill this unique proposition."
He promises content using the brand filter "Stories Worth Telling," with a focus on 24-49 year olds and films from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, both from the Paramount Pictures library and additional fare licensed from other studios, series and movie-related content.
Annecchino emphasizes that content on the network will be "totally in line with and totally respectfully of" the local culture. "We are really careful to respect local culture," he tells THR. "We always do that in every market as sensibilities are different everywhere. We have never had any problems in the Middle East. And we have local people in our office in Dubai allowing Viacom to have a much better understanding of the local culture."
The Paramount Channel is already available in Spain (where it launched in 2012), France (2013), Sweden (2014) Hungary, Romania, Russia (2014) Latin America(2014), Poland (2015), Italy (2016), Thailand (2016) and Vietnam (2017).
In Spain, more than 28 million viewers watch the free-to-air version of the Paramount Channel every month. In France, a pay version it is the most widely distributed pay TV channel with more than 14 million households, as well as the number 1 movie-related channel in terms of reach with 5.5 million viewers age 4 and older, plus the top network in the adults 25-59 target demographic with 3.2 million viewers per month. And in Italy, its year-old free-to-air version as one of the top 5 thematic channels for the 25-54 demo.
"We have no intention of taking our foot off the gas," says Michael Armstrong, executive vp and general manager, revenue and emerging brands at Viacom International Media Networks, about the future rollout of the Paramount Channel worldwide. "There are a lot of households around the globe that are really seeking great storytelling. We think we have got a great solution for that, and where the economics make sense for us, we will continue to roll it out."
With so many channels and other forms of entertainment available these days, Armstrong explains that the network needs to be worth people's time. "We are going after the precious time that consumers have today as they battle figuring out how to spend and balance their time," he says. "So we want them to feel like that they can rely on us to curate the best stories, whether they put them back in the place where they saw that content or they remind them of something very personal in their lives." With the network now having critical reach across various parts of the world, it's become easier to "share ideas and build off each others' ideas for movie marathons, promotions and other things to enhance that consumer experience," Armstrong adds.
Asked about the appeal of the network to marketers, he says: "If you think about advertisers who want to reach a really engaged audience that wants great storytelling, whether you are a movie studio promoting the global launch of a film or an organization launching consumer packaged goods, we are open for business with them."
Content on the Paramount channels globally will continue to depend on the Paramount titles available in specific markets and other programming that can be licensed. "With Paramount, we have got the benefit of content from a 100-plus year library that has been curated through that Paramount mountain and stars filter, which we love," says Armstrong. But the network has also added select licensed content from other companies. In Latin America, for example, the channel recently launched House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black. "These are high-quality series that Sony and Lionsgate, respectively, made available in that market, and they really fit our 'Stories Worth Telling' brand filter," the executive says.
The same goes for local content, which the new Mideast channel is also expected to feature over time. "At some point, as we do in many markets, Paramount Channel plans to include some local movies that have proven a success, and we will work more with the movie community in MENA," Annecchino tells THR. "Our strategy is always a glocal one, combining global and local content and focus."
What about original fare? The Paramount Channel in various countries already features original behind-the-scenes content and film stars or story tellers opining on their careers or movies. But original series or films could also be on the horizon in the near- to medium-term "as we scale the business," says Armstrong. "We are absolutely having those conversations."
Why will the Paramount Channel find appeal in the Middle East and North Africa? "We know that people in the region love watching movies," Annecchino tells THR. "With quality Hollywood movies, the channel will be relevant in most of the countries of the region - from the Emirates and Qatar to Lebanon."
He adds: "We do a lot of research. Our recent Movie Moments study confirmed that movies continue to have universal appeal across all demographics."
Worldwide, 83 percent of adults 16-45 love watching movies, while in the Middle East that is even higher at 89 percent, he says. By far, the most popular way of watching films in the Middle East is television, with 92 percent of people saying they do so, according to additional research. And Viacom says that research shows that movies lead digital video viewing across the Middle East and North Africa region. Comedy, followed by action/adventure and drama, is the favorite genre of film, according to Viacom.
Armstrong is looking forward to more launches ahead, saying: "We're excited about the Paramount and Paramount Channel brand and our momentum."
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