×

Martin Stewart Appointed CEO of Dubai-Based Pay-TV OSN

Martin Stewart, the prominent British executive considered instrumental to the succesful launch of pay-TV Sky in the UK, has been appointed CEO of Dubai-based pay-TV company OSN, in a clear signal of OSN’s stepped-up efforts as competition heats up in the Middle East and North Africa pay-TV arena.

Stewart, served as chief financial officer at Sky from 1998 to 2005, when he quit, reportedly because he was beaten to the chief executive role there by James Murdoch, and became CFO of British multinational music company EMI. During his time at Sky, the subscriber base to its digital platform doubled to 7 million.

He will take office in Dubai in August, transitioning from his current job position as chief financial officer of The Football Association in the UK.

Stewart will take the reins from David Butorac, who served as OSN’s CEO from 2010 and is credited with establishing OSN as the region’s leading pay-TV network.

Butorac launched OSN Play, the first digital platform in the MENA region. He was also instrumental in building OSN’s exclusive relationships with Hollywood studios including Warner Bros., Paramount, Fox, Disney, Sony, MGM, HBO, DreamWorks and NBCUniversal.

Earlier this month OSN launched NBCUniversal’s science fiction channel Syfy across the region, while in May Viacom’s Comedy Central debuted exclusively in the region on their platform.

OSN is facing markedly increased competition from Al Jazeera-owned BeIN group which has been expanding from sports into movies. In November of 2015 they signed a five-year first-run output deal with prominent Dubai-based independent Middle East film distributor Front Row Filmed Entertainment, followed by a 600-title mega deal with Italia Film International, the prominent Beirut-based distributor with longstanding exclusive relationships with major Hollywood studios and indies.

BeIN group in March acquired full ownership of U.S. studio Miramax  with its 700-title library and its film and TV production capability.

The pay-TV market in the MENA region is experiencing double digit growth. According to a report issued last month by London-based firm IHS, the number of pay-TV households in the Middle East and North Africa grew in 2015 by 10% to 4.95 million. This prompted a 37% year-on-year revenue rise from subscriptions to 1.17 billion euros ($ 1.33 billion) last year.

IHS forecasts that pay-TV subscribers in the MENA region will steadily continue to grow in coming years, reaching 6.54 million pay-TV households by 2020, which represents a more than 30% growth margin. During this period revenues are expected to double to more than 2 billion euros.

 

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • T.J. Dillashaw, right, kicks Cody Garbrandt

    Disney Plans UFC Broadcast for FX

    UFC matches will return to FX  – but not on a permanent basis. ESPN has been showing preliminary bouts to UFC pay-per-view events for the last while on ESPN and ESPN2, and then showing the main card on its ESPN+ subscription video service. In September, the early lineup will air on FX, which the UFC [...]

  • George RR Martin

    George R.R. Martin Says HBO's 'Game of Thrones' Ending Won't Influence Future Novels

    Geroge R.R. Martin is sticking to his original plan when it comes to the future of “Game of Thrones.” In an interview with The Observer, Martin claimed that HBO’s controversial ending for the series would have no affect on the endings of the last two novels. “No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t change anything at all,” [...]

  • Listen: 'Pennyworth' Producer Talks Delving into

    Listen: 'Pennyworth' Executive Producer Talks Delving into Alfred's Backstory

    Bruno Heller may have served as an executive producer on the Batman-inspired series “Gotham” for the past five years, but it’s actually real-life people (not superheroes) that intrigue the producer the most. It’s for that exact reason that Heller’s newest series finds him exploring the origin stories of Batman’s butler Alfred in the Epix drama [...]

  • "Trust Issues" - Dylan and Lizzie

    'Instinct' Canceled After Two Seasons

    CBS has canceled “Instinct” after two seasons. Series creator Michael Rauch announced the cancellation Friday on Twitter, writing, “I’m very sad to relay the news that @instinctcbs won’t be renewed for a 3rd season. We will double up this Sunday and our season/series finale will be Aug 25.” Rauch also thanked series stars Alan Cumming [...]

  • Maisel Day

    My Mostly OK Maisel Day (Column)

    When Amazon announced its first-ever Maisel Day, I was intrigued. For one day, Aug. 15, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” fans and Angelenos (fangelenos?) could hit up various restaurants, theaters and retailers throughout Los Angeles for special deals, all at 1959 prices. Among the gems: $2.50 makeovers, $0.99 pastrami sandwiches and $0.30 for a gallon of [...]

  • Nordisk Film & TV Fond Announces

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond Backs Joachim Trier, Ole Bornedal, Yellow Bird

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond has announced three features, two series and a documentary set to receive $1.4m in financing, as well as distribution, dubbing and cultural initiative support recipients. Doing so, it highlights some of the key titles moving forward in the Nordic region. Already backed by the Danish Film Institute’s largest ever grant [...]

  • TV News Roundup: 'Silicon Valley' Final

    TV News Roundup: 'Silicon Valley's' Final Season Sets October Premiere Date

    In today’s roundup, “Silicon Valley” returns to HBO on Oct. 27 and Quibi greenlights a new cooking competition show “Dismantled.” DATES The fifth season of Netflix‘s “Peaky Blinders” will premiere on the streamer Oct. 4. The newest season will continue to follow one gangster family in the lawless streets of Birmingham, UK during the midst [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content