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Thumbs up Orbit Showtime relaunches - 02-February-2010, 12:50

Orbit Showtime relaunches
Written by Chris Forrester
Monday, 01 February 2010 06:34

Following on from its merger last July, Dubais Orbit-Showtime Network is relaunching today, Feb 1.

Pay-TV operator Orbit-Showtime Network will relaunch today with a new look and 8 new channels. Three will be in high-definition. However, viewers cannot yet receive the new HD channels unless theyve a brand new set-top box and this will not be available for a few weeks.

Marc-Antoine dHalluin, CEO at the broadcaster, said it would be about 9 months before all subscribers get a new box. Its not a box that you can buy in the market, dHalluin said. We will only be providing these boxes to new and existing subscribers only. Its going to take six to nine months to complete because weve got hundreds of thousands of subscribers, he claimed.

The three new HDTV services are OSN Movies HD, Nat Geo Wild HD and Discovery HD, while the five new standard channels are OSN Variety, Scripps Food Network, MTV Networks-owned BET (Black Entertainment TV), Discoverys Investigation Discovery (ID) and OSN Arabia claimed to be the regions first 24-hour Western entertainment channel dubbed entirely into Arabic.

We expect to recoup the cost of the relaunch simply by growing our subscribers because well have content thats unique. Not everyone speaks English, and some people will want to watch movies or series in their own language, dHalluin told Dubais Arabian Business.

Mr dHalluin denied that Orbit Showtime would miss exclusive rights to the English premiership soccer games at the end of this season. It makes no economic sense for us to compete with the states of Qatar and Abu Dhabi. We dont have the same resources. But we bring a lot more value in a different kind of content than sports," d'Halluin said.

He also said that piracy was a major problem in the region, and local estimates suggest that some 1.5m homes were viewing his content illegally. The main form (of piracy) in Saudi is through the internet connected to the Dreambox and we will make sure new systems prevent this - we are losing too much money, dHalluin said, but gave no estimates about past losses which are believed to be significant.

More channels, including 5 in HDTV, are promised for later this year.

Nick Grande, the managing director of Channel Sculptor, a television consultancy based in Dubai, told The National newspaper, that such a swap was do-able but represented a major investment for the company. Its an interesting play, Grande said. The argument might be that you are losing the EPL but you are gaining high definition, and nobody else has got it. Its a way of persuading those subscribers that there is something worth sticking around for.

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