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OSN expands HD channels to keep TV viewers glued

Television fans in the UAE will soon be able to enjoy an even wider choice of veiwing fare.

Television fans in the UAE will soon be able to enjoy an even wider choice of viewing fare.

The pay TV network OSN is adding five new channels to its repertoire, including two Arabic channels and three lifestyle and "infotainment" channels, while also upgrading three of its current offerings to high-definition (HD).

The five new channels, which comprise Ya Hala Shabab, Ya Hala Arabella, Discovery World, Fuel TV and Fine Living, are due to go live across the region on January 1.

The launch is expected to drive subscriber numbers, which increased by 30 per cent over the past year. Similar growth rates have been projected for next year, according to the company's chief executive David Butorac.

"Growth is still coming from the GCC. Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE are the biggest growth markets," said Mr Butorac.

"Subscription TV has always been resistant to macro-economic issues. People want to watch good TV and if they're not able to be entertained outside, they want to be entertained at home."

One particular cause of subscription growth has been OSN's HD offerings.

"HD is a significant driver of viewership.

"It is a priority for us and our strategy to continue to expand our HD offering," said Mr Butorac.

OSN now has 36 HD channels, with more set to be added. The viewership of HD channels has increased by 20 per cent over the past 12 months, according to OSN figures, with similar growth rates expected next year.

"It is our intention to get the entire platform all to HD, we are in the process of converting channels but we are in the hands of third-party service providers," said Mr Butorac.

He said the company was targeting the move over HD within the next 24 months.

"There are 4 million flat-panel HD screens sold every year, there is a keen desire to watch premium content."

thamid@thenational.ae

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