OSN Acquires Pehla, Taps Into South Asian TV Content

OSN has announced full ownership of Pehla for an undisclosed amount while it awaits update on an IPO.



Middle East TV network OSN has acquired the region’s largest South Asian content provider Pehla Media and Entertainment in a bid to attract a wider viewership across its network, the company announced.

OSN, jointly owned by Kuwait Projects Co (KIPCO) and Saudi’s Mawarid Group, did not reveal financial details of the deal. The acquisition was partly self-funded with the rest done via debt financing.

The acquisition gives OSN access to a multitude of South Asian entertainment channels including the sports and news content in current Pehla packages.

Pehla will now be known as OSN Pehla, functioning as a unit of OSN, offering content from 40 South Asian channels in various languages.

“OSN is significantly expanding throughout the Middle East region and we recognised the importance of the South Asian markets as an integral part of the markets we work in,” said David Butorac, CEO of OSN.

“This acquisition builds on OSN’s growth strategy to explore opportunities for market consolidation bringing greater economies of scale and operational efficiencies to offer great value entertainment for subscribers.”

OSN currently offers a wide range of entertainment in both Arabic and English. The latest acquisition allows unlimited access to one of the largest demographics in the MENA region, Butorac said.

“We realised that we could enter the South Asian market in two ways; we can either build a strong relationship with the content partners in the region or we could acquire the premium South Asian TV channels in the region and the latter is what we chose to do,” said Butorac.

He said the acquisition will allow OSN to showcase the very best of South Asian content, including Bollywood movies and major cricket championships, which are a staple for regional and global markets.

“Bollywood and cricket are increasingly gaining popularity in the MENA region. Our acquisition of Pehla’s content will enable our existing subscribers to choose from newly tailored packages that cover the best in Arabic, Western and South Asian entertainment,” he said.

Butorac also said that the company’s shareholders are still strategising on the benefits of an initial public offering.

According to media reports earlier this year, OSN shareholders had hired financial group Rothschild to advise on a potential IPO of the company. The earnings at OSN, which broadcasts in the Middle East and North Africa, had helped drive a rise in full-year KIPCO group earnings in 2012.

Butorac said that OSN is expected to hike up its expenditure in future expansion drives in the region.

“GCC is our strongest market with customer base increasing by 30 per cent in the last year,” he said.

The company specified that the current acquisition would not result in a fee hike for the existing Pehla customers. But there will be a change in fees if customers want access to additional OSN content.