OSN rebrands streaming service to OSN+

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Updated 15 March 2022

OSN rebrands streaming service to OSN+

  • New identity includes fresh visuals, content partnerships and originals

DUBAI: OSN Group has launched a refreshed identity for its streaming service, OSN+, which will replace the OSN streaming app.

OSN+ will be led by Nick Forward, previously chief content officer at entertainment company Stan in Australia.

Speaking to Arab News, Forward said that OSN had seen “some confusion amongst consumers” over its streaming service and traditional TV channels.

The idea behind the rebrand was to differentiate the streaming service and make it clear that “it (OSN+) was competing with other streaming services rather than against OSN’s pay-TV service,” he added.

Globally, the plus symbol has become synonymous with streaming services, he said, making the name change a “straightforward decision.”

The new brand identity sees OSN replacing its traditional red logo with a more youthful and colorful one in a bid to create something that is “properly differentiated whilst respecting everything that OSN represents in the region,” said Forward.

Over the last few months, OSN has struck various content deals with leading companies such as All3Media International and Endeavor Content. It has also expanded existing partnerships by adding new shows from Sky Studios and Peacock Originals produced by Universal Studios Group, as well as extending its agreement with HBO.

In January, Disney+ announced that it would launch this summer in the Middle East. OSN previously had an exclusive deal for all Disney+ originals in the region but since the announcement, that content is no longer available on OSN’s streaming platform. OSN still airs Disney content on its traditional TV channels.

Forward said: “This is something we have known was going to happen for a long time. It’s also part of the reason behind the new partnerships that OSN has invested in.

“Whilst today is the great reveal, a lot of the changes have been happening over the last three to four months.

“There is a whole range of content deals that have gone into ensuring that we have got a proposition that really reflects where streaming consumption is,” he added.

The rebrand includes improvements to the user experience such as a new and improved interface, and better search and recommendation functionality.

The other area of focus is original content. Forward did not share any numbers, but said: “I have a very strong budget for this year and my budget for next year is a significant increase on that.”

He added that commissioning and producing original content is a slow, time-consuming process. “There will be a handful of projects this year but next year is where we really see us starting to deliver on that promise of creating original content that can live next to the HBOs of the world,” he said.

The goal with original content is to “create world-class stories but in the local language with local storytellers,” while ensuring that it is “really high-level, premium content that can sit comfortably against some of the best TV in the world,” Forward added.

OSN’s first original series, a local adaptation of US drama series “Suits,” will launch at the beginning of Ramadan, followed by the original feature film “Yellow Bus” later in the year.

OSN has also renewed “No Activity” (Elwada’a Mustaqer) for a second season. Starring Egyptian comedy duo Shadi Alfons and Khalid Mansour, who are well known for “Saturday Night Live Arabia,” the OSN series is a comedy-drama that takes a satirical look at the misadventures of cops and criminals against the backdrop of a major drug cartel bust.

Forward said: “I’m really excited by what we will bring to our customers in the next six to 12 months — not just in terms of our international partnerships, but also in terms of that local storytelling as well.”

The new OSN+ app will be available across devices from all major TV manufacturers, as well as mobile and web devices, for $9.50 per month.

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20th Arab Media Forum begins in Dubai

Updated 12 sec ago

20th Arab Media Forum begins in Dubai

  • The agenda for the two-day event includes presentations, panel discussions and workshops focusing the latest industry developments

DUBAI: The 20th Arab Media Forum began in Dubai on Tuesday, attended by more than 3,000 government officials and leaders from Arab and global media sectors.

The two-day forum, taking place at Madinat Jumeirah under the auspices of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, is described as the largest gathering of Arab media stakeholders, who will explore how new trends and technology, and the sophisticated platforms and tools that could increase the beneficial influence of the media.

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the forum began by honoring prominent figures and organizations in the Arab media the fields of journalism, television and digital media. The agenda for the event includes presentations, panel discussions and workshops focusing on the latest developments within the industry.


GXR sees itself as a facilitator for artists rather than a record label, says its boss

Updated 40 min 24 sec ago

GXR sees itself as a facilitator for artists rather than a record label, says its boss

  • Elia Mssawir said the new indie label, which launched two months ago in partnership with Empire, aims to change the face of the music business in the region

DUBAI: The idea for independent music label GXR Records grew from a simple conversation between Elia Mssawir, an award-winning artist manager, and Paul Roy, the CEO of Galaxy Racer, a multimedia company focusing on esports, content creators, music and sport.

They were discussing their shared passion for music and vision for a company in the region that truly cares about its artists, Mssawir told Arab News.

“We started throwing around ideas and (talking about) how we wanted to bridge the gap between MENA (the Middle East and North Africa) and Asia — and that’s how GXR Records was brought to life,” he said.

They launched the label in August this year in partnership with Empire, a global independent label, distributor and publisher. Based in Dubai and with Mssawir as head of label, GXR Records is focused on developing talent in West Asian and North African territories. It has already signed a number of artists from this region, including Freek, Noel Kharman, Dyler, Hanody Awesome and Noor Stars, and the number of acts on its roster has reached more than 20 in the two months since launch. 

Mssawir, who joined Galaxy Racer in April, had been recruiting artists and influencers in India, Pakistan, the Philippines and Malaysia, where the company has offices, and discovered plenty of musical talent in those places. An idea was born to not only sign artists from Asia and Africa but also help them collaborate with their counterparts in the Middle East.

The founders of GXR Records said that, building on parent company Galaxy Racer’s existing portfolio, it is dedicated to identifying and developing a diverse roster of emerging and established artists across the region, while encouraging cross-promotion and collaborations within the label to help them reach a wider audience.

In addition to finding and signing artists, GXR Records will work with Galaxy Racer to create and produce music for the parent company’s influencers and brand collaborations, Mssawir said. These collaborations between artists and the parent brand is part of Mssawir’s vision for the company.

“It’s becoming a family more than a label,” he said.

This ambitious vision is matched by the label’s growth strategy; GXR Records has already opened an office in the US and there are plans to establish bases in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and South Africa by the end of this year. There are no current plans, however, for additional offices in the Middle East.

“Our headquarters here in Dubai are enough to operate on a MENA scale for 2022,” said Mssawir. However, he added that GXR Records intends to expand its presence in Africa and the Levant in the coming year.

One of the challenges, historically, for regional artists has been how to develop and grow into a global presence, Mssawir said. “This is where we come in and enhance this opportunity for them,” he added.

The new label is planning to organize a large-scale music festival next year, something that has been a long-time dream for Mssawir but one he never seemed to have “the time or team to focus on” until now.

“We’re planning on doing small events around the region, building up toward a big festival where we’re hoping to get a couple of international artists, and the MENA artists can open or support the international artists,” he said.

He jokes that his biggest challenge since the launch of GXR has been “sleeping less and working more.” But he added that working hard and putting in long hours is something he is happy to do because “we want to change how the music business is being done here.”

Another challenge he said he has faced is the negative public perception of record labels, something he said has been largely influenced by the way they are portrayed in Hollywood.

“That’s one of the things that we want to change,” he said.

There were no professional managers for acts in the region a decade ago and so artists would often accept any deal they could get, he said. The ecosystem is changing, however, and Mssawir said he is determined to help set high standards for artists, particularly when representing GXR Records as a brand.

“Labels are not there to kill artists’ careers,” he said. “And that’s why I don’t really call (GXR) a label, I call it a facilitator: We facilitate for the artists rather than labeling them.”


Twitter adds Arabic to ‘reply prompts’ feature, launches in Saudi Arabia

Updated 04 October 2022

Twitter adds Arabic to ‘reply prompts’ feature, launches in Saudi Arabia

  • The feature, which Twitter said has already proved successful in other languages, encourages people to think twice before replying to a tweet
  • The platform said English-language users in the US changed or deleted replies 30 percent of the time when prompted

DUBAI: Twitter has added an Arabic version of its “reply prompts” feature for users in Saudi Arabia, following a test phase among select Arabic-speaking users in the Kingdom.

The feature, which is designed to encourage people in certain circumstances to think twice before replying to a tweet, was initially tested in English in 2020. Twitter began to roll it out in some territories in 2021 and it was launched globally in 2022 in English and Turkish, in Spanish in Mexico, and in Portuguese in Brazil.

“People come to Twitter to talk about what’s happening and sometimes conversations about things we care about can get intense and people say things in the moment they might regret later,” Twitter’s director of product design Anita Butler and product manager Alberto Parrella wrote in a blog post.

According to Twitter, the feature has proved successful so far, with tests showing that English-language users in the US changed or deleted their replies 30 percent of the time when prompted, while Portuguese-language users in Brazil did so 47 percent of the time.

The social media platform said it found that after being prompted to reconsider a reply, users canceled it 9 percent of the time and revised it 22 percent of the time. Overall, people who were prompted in this way posted 6 percent fewer offensive tweets.

In early tests, users sometimes received unnecessary prompts because the computer algorithms could not properly differentiate between potentially offensive language, sarcasm and friendly banter. Throughout the process, Twitter said it analyzed results, collected feedback from users and worked to address any errors, including detection inconsistencies. Based on feedback and what was learned from those tests, the platform said it made improvements to the systems that determine when and how the prompts are sent.

For example, the algorithms now takes into consideration the nature of the relationship between two accounts, because if they follow and reply to each other regularly there is a higher likelihood that they have a good understanding of the preferred tone of communication.

Additionally, Twitter said it is adjusting its technology to account for situations in which insulting words or phrases might have been reclaimed by underrepresented communities and used in non-harmful ways, and to detect strong language more accurately. It is also working on ways in which users can provide feedback on whether or not they found a prompt helpful or relevant. 

The feature is now active on iOS, Android and the web on accounts in Saudi Arabia that have enabled Arabic-language settings.


Official FIFA 23 game soundtrack launched on Spotify

Updated 05 October 2022

Official FIFA 23 game soundtrack launched on Spotify

  • Saudi Arabia is the most FIFA-obsessed country in the Arab world on the platform, as it has the most playlists per user featuring songs from the soundtrack

DUBAI: FIFA 23, the latest iteration of the football video game franchise from EA Sports, has been generating much hype among gamers around the world since its release last week, and not only about the gameplay.

Many fans are as eager to discover the music used in each new version of the game as they are to actually play it and this year is no exception. And building on the FIFA fever in this World Cup year, the official soundtrack of the game has now been launched on Spotify.

It features songs from a mix of new and established acts around the world, including Saudi-born British artist Alewya. Meanwhile, MILKBLOOD and Pheelz make their FIFA soundtrack debuts.

“When cultural moments happen that ignite the gaming world like FIFA, we see that reflected in the music that we listen to on Spotify,” the streaming company said.

The platform analyzed the streaming habits of its users and found that Saudi Arabia ranks as the most FIFA-obsessed country in the Arab World, as it has the highest number of playlists per user that feature songs from the game’s soundtrack. Egypt and UAE are close runners-up, followed by Morocco and Qatar.

Globally, Spotify said that more than 21.2 million playlists include at least one song from the official FIFA 23 soundtrack.

The platform also revealed that the most-streamed song globally from the soundtrack to date is “Ojitos Lindos” by Bad Bunny and Bomba Estereo, followed by “Obsessed With You” by Central Cee, “Saoko” by Rosalia, “Ahora y Siempre” by Quevedo, Linton, and “Nail Tech” by Jack Harlow.

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Twitter confirms Musk buyout offer, says will close at original price

Updated 04 October 2022

Twitter confirms Musk buyout offer, says will close at original price

  • The news comes ahead of a highly anticipated faceoff between Musk and Twitter in Delaware’s Court of Chancery on Oct. 17

LONDON: Billionaire Elon Musk is proposing to go ahead with his original offer of $54.20 per share to take Twitter Inc. private, Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday, sending the shares of the social media firm surging.
Twitter shares jumped 12.7 percent to $47.93 before trading was halted for the second time, while Tesla Inc, the electric vehicle company that Musk heads, fell about 3 percent.
Musk made the proposal in a letter to Twitter, Bloomberg reported, citing people who asked not to be identified discussing confidential information.
Twitter and Musk’s lawyers were not immediately available for requests for comment from Reuters.
The news comes ahead of a highly anticipated faceoff between Musk and Twitter in Delaware’s Court of Chancery on Oct. 17, in which the social media company was set to seek an order directing Musk to close the deal at $54.20 per share.
“This is a clear sign that Musk recognized heading into Delaware Court that the chances of winning vs. Twitter board was highly unlikely and this $44 billion deal was going to be completed one way or another,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives wrote in a note after the news.
Musk agreed in April to buy Twitter for $44 billion, but within weeks said the number of bot accounts was much higher than Twitter’s estimate of less than 5 percent of users.