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OSN: Orbit Showtime Net...flix?

Last week, Netflix began a distribution partnership with Middle Eastern pay TV operator OSN, with the latter beginning to include a Netflix app within its set top boxes and allowing OSN subscribers to pay for their Netflix subscription as part of their existing agreement. Next week will also see the launch of Netflix’s first Arabic original, with a comedy special from Lebanese comedian, Adel Karam.

Netflix has existing deals with a number of operators around the world, including Virgin Media in the UK and Comcast in the US, however this deal marks Netflix’s first operator partnership in the Middle East. While this is a first for Netflix in the Middle East, SVoD services Icflix, iflix and Starz Play already have established partnerships with Middle Eastern mobile operators Ooredoo, Zain and Etisalat's E-Vision respectively.

Investigating motivations to take a TV service, among the 1,000 internet users in Saudi Arabia in our latest survey wave (Q3 2017), the primary driver for taking a TV service was availability of TV Shows, closely followed by price. For customers who take both OSN and Netflix, price is the primary driver, with TV shows still playing an important part, while bundling heavily over-indexes against the average.

For those who take OSN pay TV, but do not take Netflix, movies are a key driver after price. Features offered by the TV service such as DVR or on-demand content are also important for this customer group. This suggests that with the right selection of movies, and newly founded integration with the OSN box, Netflix has strong potential to appeal to the select OSN customers who do not currently subscribe to it.