x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

OSN goes international with UK launch of TV channel Ya Hala

OSN has made its first foray outside the region to launch the TV channel Ya Hala in the United Kingdom with the broadband provider TalkTalk.

OSM, the broadcaster of shows including Hareem Al Sultan, above, will enter the UK market with the channel Ya Hala. Courtesy of OSN
OSM, the broadcaster of shows including Hareem Al Sultan, above, will enter the UK market with the channel Ya Hala. Courtesy of OSN

OSN has made its first foray outside the region to launch the TV channel Ya Hala in the United Kingdom with the broadband provider TalkTalk.

The Middle East pay-TV network, currently considering an initial public offering (IPO), has partnered with Thema, a company that aggregates foreign TV channels for diaspora communities.

"We are excited about OSN Ya Hala going international and joining TalkTalk, one of the premier networks in Europe," said David Butorac, the chief executive at OSN. The channel was launched in August 2011 and was OSN's first original Arabic language content.

"The channel has proven to be hugely successful and is now the second most watched channel on our network. The launch of OSN Ya Hala internationally underlines our commitment to fulfil the entertainment needs of Arabs living abroad making world class Arabic television content accewssible to millions," added Mr Butorac.

OSN's decision to launch in the United Kingdom nods at a possibility of listing in London, say analysts. The TV network is headquartered in Dubai, but its shareholders are Kuwait's Kipco and Saudi Arabia's Mawarid Group. The two have appointed the investment bank Rothschild to advise on the IPO.

"The appointment of Rothschild to advise OSN and its shareholders Kipco and Mawarid is now at a very preliminary stage and OSN's strategy and business will be evaluated for various growth opportunities, including options for a potential IPO," the company said.

"We will announce any further details at the appropriate time and subject to approvals from all concerned stakeholders. It is important to note that no decision has been taken regarding the issuance of an IPO for OSN."

If it goes ahead, OSN will be the first media company in the region to go public. If it lists in the UAE, it will be the first local IPO since 2011.

"OSN launching outside its domestic market with an impending IPO suggests the company is showing that it has future plans for expansion outside of the home market, which will be a positive thing in terms of market positioning and potential future investors," said Michael Dean, a research analyst at Informa Telecoms and Media.

"We are seeing a trend of Arabic media interest in looking to expand outside of their home markets and raise their profile on a global level, such as Al Jazeerahaving just launched a new channel in the US.

"Additionally across the Middle East, OSN is a known proprietor of quality Western content in terms of movies and TV series so it is interesting to see it coming to the UK to promote niche Arabic content."

According to the latest UK census there are 240,000 British Arabs, of which 110,000 are based in London.

 

thamid@thenational.ae