As OSN’s entertainment network leaps from strength to strength, it is evident that the company is evolving with the major shift in audience behaviours and demands. As one of the largest players in the regional entertainment industry, OSN shows its commitment to delivering content that inspires viewers and that reflects the world regional audiences experience today.
Telecom Review secured an interview with Devrim Melek, senior vice president of strategy, OSN, to discuss the company’s new ‘Box of Wonders’ and the importance of creating a positive and exciting experience for customers in an ever-changing world.
Can you tell us about your position as OSN’s SVP of strategy?
I have been working on TMT for 19 years, having joined OSN 3 years ago. My background covers years of experience on Pay TV, IPTV and OTT. I lead the MENA strategy for OSN across both Home and OTT, covering the transformation of the organization and ultimately building growth through a lean, digital-savvy structure.
With customers at the heart of our decision-making, OSN’s data-driven approach ensures value-creation in everything we do. Most recently, we created a new UI/UX design, our ‘Box of Wonders’, mapping the whole end-to-end consumer viewing experience journey and improving content discoverability. The new ‘Box of Wonders’ has been upgraded to ensure our customers get the most out of OSN’s rich content offering.
Over the course of 2020, we’ve taken major steps to build better experiences for our customers, setting industry trends for the region. We refreshed our identity to reflect the essence and dynamism of the ethos of our brand and launched the OSN streaming app. We upgraded our content offering with an exclusive Disney+ partnership, increased our investments into Arabic content and proudly launched OSN Originals. OSN Originals marks a huge milestone for the brand shining a light on local stories that are relevant for our regional audience.
How does the new Box of Wonders UI/UX fit into this brand strategy and direction?
It’s important to stay relevant and to keep providing value for customers. We’re a customer-centric company and we worked hard to demonstrate this through our offering. Our customers’ evolving behaviours and needs informed the strategy around the new ‘Box of Wonders’, putting their needs front and centre. We can proudly announce that this is the first, but not the last product that we have developed with our customers. Every detail of the ‘Box of Wonders’ reflects the varied needs of our diverse audience. This diversity brought richness to the concept.
The new UI/UX design shows the dynamism of our thinking. OSN subscribers have described the new system as ‘a platform that makes viewing easy, simple and fun’, giving viewers full control of the viewing experience with an easy content discovery journey. We wanted to give subscribers an experience whereby they could land on the content of their choosing in 90 seconds or in just 3 clicks.
Control and accessibility are key functionalities of the new upgraded box, providing subscribers with enhanced viewing and discoverability. With the new ‘Box of Wonders’ customers have the effortless journey of the smartphone experience, straight to their OSN box.
In April of this year we announced the exclusive partnership with Disney+ to bring the latest and most loved Disney+ Originals content to the region. Providing families with the best in entertainment, in an easy and convenient place to watch, is a key focus for the brand. In a regional first, the new ‘Box of Wonders’ has a dedicated Kid’s Page. A page that parents can switch to when the kids are watching TV, resting assured that the kids will have a safe viewing experience with only kid’s content. Kids can use the page to select the shows they want, giving them control and access to the entertainment they want to watch.
With this new and unique offering, created with our customers for our customers, OSN will continue to set industry trends.
What strategy has OSN put in place for content moving forward?
Our vision is to bring stories that have the power to move our audience. Our creative teams are on a mission to bring content that is exciting, relevant and entertaining. We’re witnessing the success and recognition of this strategy already. The adaptation and local production of the international format ‘Come Dine With Me’ is a good example. The format was selected due to its theme that revolves around hospitality – a tradition that the people of this region are proud of. We have handpicked the show contestants from different Arabic countries to bring the cultures of these countries closer and to celebrate our differences in a light-hearted and fun way.
Another example is the reworking of the Egyptian star-studded hit A’adet Regala into a contemporary format for a more diverse Pan Arab audience. The edgy nature of the title and the way it portrays loved celebrities in a never-seen-before context has created a bridge with their fans and generated massive attention and buzz at a regional level.
Overall, the guiding principle of our content strategy is to be inclusive enough to embrace the diversity of our audiences, to be a celebration of their cultures, similarities and differences all at the same time, hence our decision not to limit ourselves to a specific format. Whether it’s a scripted or non-scripted piece of content, the story itself and how relevant it is to the people of this region will determine its originality.
Can you tell me about the technological challenges faced by broadcast companies?
Every industry is facing the impact of technological change, the Pay TV industry is no different. As the role of tech expands in our industry, the move towards acquiring capabilities, content and capturing new audiences will continue to be the focus.
The modern consumer has a short attention span and wants personalisation in the way they consume content. People love movies, they love drama, they love watching TV; this will not change. On the contrary, content is now attractive more than ever. Technology however will have to continuously change to keep up with the demands of the consumer, making the experience more in line with evolving needs.
As an agile brand, OSN’s offering reflects the needs of the regional consumer.
Content today is all about what unfolds in real-time, hence why people want to watch shows as they happen so they can participate in whatever conversation is happening around the world – keeping up with the new trends. For OSN, we have the perfect conditions to be future-ready after spending all last year implementing changes that we will only now begin to reap. OSN is investing heavily to transform itself as an innovator in the digital delivery content, thus a digital transformation.
The challenge of each broadcaster here in the Middle East is the same as anywhere else: how to compete against global providers like Netflix and Disney but also Google (YouTube).
At OSN, we focus not on the competition, but the customer. Aside from a collaboration strategy like OSN has done with Disney, I strongly believe that the best answer is localisation to provide the consumer with the most relevant content. The more local content providers can tap into local stories, the more relevant they will be. Now is the time to come up with local original content that captures the passion of local audiences. Now is the time for the regional creative talents to come up with great ideas and stories.
What is on the horizon for OSN in 2021?
We are currently on the hunt for the best and brightest talent across the world as we look to create a cutting-edge content team of passionate storytellers to disrupt and transform content in the MEA region for 2021 and beyond. New roles have been created across several sectors including Directors of Content for Movies, Series, Arabic, Kids and Lifestyle and Factual with the aim of hiring a team to contribute, create and shape future content across our channels and streaming service in the MEA region. Selected candidates will be responsible for curating content that will drive viewership across all platforms.
We are the leading network in the region and have more than 50 nationalities working for us from all over the world. We also back our decision with analytics, as we have data collected over 20+ years and we can see the evolving trends and preferences of our subscribers.