By Mohamed Alaa Eldin
OSN is targeting annual growth of 20% from 2015, and has already achieved over 55% growth rates during the third quarter (Q3) of 2014. According to Hamad Malik, OSN’s Chief Marketing Officer for Middle East and North Africa, the company will rely on the internet during the coming phase to increase the number of viewers and subscribers by utilising GO BY OSN.
The company also believes that the Egyptian market will witness strong growth rates in the coming phase, especially since young people make up a broad class of users. During an interview with Daily News Egypt, Malik explained in the coming phase, the company will prioritise offering content appropriate for Egyptian consumers.
What is your opinion on the investment climate in the Egyptian market?
The Egyptian market is one of the most important markets in the Middle East and North Africa and is considered a hub. It also has strong growth opportunities which will help OSN increase its activity in the Egyptian market, the more the growth opportunities in the market increase, the more this helps the company and its affiliates supply investments to the Egyptian market. OSN has made large investments over the past three years, which confirms the existence of more growth opportunities locally.
What is the scope and volume of company investments in Egypt?
I cannot specify the size of the company’s investments locally at this time, but we are investing in many areas by providing content that fits the Egyptian scene. This includes the Al-Zaeem programme as well as Arabic serials, and through using the latest technology, the company is also supplying investments in the market exponentially. The company’s marketing investments in recent years have increased by 300%.
As for customer service, the number of employees employed by OSN increased from 20 to more than 190 employees over the past three years, which reflects the amount of growth achieved by the company.
What are the company’s growth rates for the current year?
OSN achieved strong growth rates for 2014 which amounted to more than 55% during the Q3. The company also grew by 45% due to the spread of customer service offices during the Q3 of 2014.
What are targeted growth rates for the coming phase?
The company aims to increase its network of distributers as well as the customer services offered in the Egyptian markets. We target annual growth rates in excess of 20% beginning in 2015.
What are the main points of the company’s plans in the Egyptian market?
Content is the top priority of OSN’s strategic plans during 2015 and we will ensure that this is suitable for the Egyptian consumer’s taste. We are particularly focusing on a specific segment of Egyptian consumers who care about exclusive access to content not offered otherwise, particularly the upper middle class and upwards.
We are also targeting young people though our products, who represent the biggest segment of the Egyptian market accounting for more than 60% of the composition of Egyptian society. We are also hoping to bring in young executives who affect content with their services, applications, and creative ideas, especially since Egypt is witnessing rapid growth in entrepreneurship at present.
In the coming phase, we will focus on content provided via the Internet, as we expect a rise in the number of Internet users in the MENA region by the end of 2015 to more than 400 million. Approximately 200 million of these users are under the age of 25, which represents an opportunity for an increase in TV users through the internet, as well as a rise in Internet usage by more than 40% and via mobile phones by 54%. This is what prompted the company to launch its services through the GO BY OSN application.
According to a study by IPSOS, widespread usage of smart phones in Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) reached 77% and 74%, respectively, while Internet usage on smart phones reached 84% and 83% for the same countries. Other countries like Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia are also witnessing rapid growth in this sector.
What are your latest products on the Egyptian market?
We offer the latest technology to Egypt, which is the OSN HD platform, with never-before-seen user features. We allow the user to control content provided either by stopping, resuming, or recording what he is watching. The company also provided an Internet platform to offer non-subscribers OSN service so that they can have access to and watch content provided by the company. There are more than 50,000 subscribers using this service through now.
What are the competitive advantages of OSN compared to other competitors?
The most important aspect of the OSN service is the content it provides, which is not available through any other competitor. The company offers more than 150 channels for consumers, while other competitors provide no more than 15 channels. As for channels with an HD option, the company has more than 50 channels, a number which any other competitor does not have.
There is always interest from Arabs and Egyptians in sports channels, so do you have plans to offer sports content that is consistent with Egyptian and Arab consumers?
We are constantly conducting research on Egyptian and Arab interests in order to be able to offer the suitable content. One of our studies found out that the Egyptian consumer is passionate about Hollywood movies, and so the company always makes sure that these movies are displayed on our channels two to three months after they are exhibited in cinemas, giving the Egyptian consumer an opportunity to watch the most recent international films. OSN content precedes that of any other competitor by at least two years.
Are there negotiations underway with media presenter Bassem Youssef on presenting his new programme via OSN channels?
Bassem Youssef is a very well-known presenter and there are strong relations between OSN channels and Bassem Youssef, which makes it possible to present new content through him.
What is the most prominent product on the OSN network?
On a monthly basis, the company displays more than 100 premiere and exclusive films without any cuts or breaks. It also has exclusive agreements with the biggest Hollywood studios, including Warner Bros Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, FOX Broadcasting Company, Disney, Sony, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM), Universal Studios, Dream, and REX. Besides its own channels, OSN offers a number of channels associated with the most well-known international television networks, including Disney, Sky News, Discovery and National Geographic.