Subscribers across the Middle East were left with one less option for viewing indie and underground cinema with the unannounced closure of OSN’s Movies Festival channel. The channel was launched in 2014 and provided a variety of international fare including regional TV premieres of films such as Hidden Figures and the Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and had also in recent years played host to live coverage of the annual Oscars ceremony was taken off the air over the weekend, taking many viewers by surprise as no prior warning was given.
Emad Morcos, OSN’s chief content officer, stated that the move would not mean the end of quality non-blockbuster movies on the OSN schedules, however, and that the OSN Movies Festival content would be redistributed to other channels in the OSN stable, “OSN is providing its customers with even more convenience and choice by moving all the critically-acclaimed OSN Movies Festival HD films to one of its highest viewed channels, OSN Movies HD, to expose these award-winning movies to a bigger audience,” he said.
Morcos further added that cinephiles would also be able to access the former channel’s content via a new folder in the broadcaster’s OSN Play service, an online streaming service which is provided free of charge to existing OSN subscribers, as well as via the pay-tv platform’s on-demand service, “These movies are also available in a dedicated ‘Movies Festival’ curated folder on OSN Play, the companion app for OSN subscribers, and OSN On Demand to watch anytime, anywhere. OSN is investing heavily in the digital delivery of content to meet the changing ways in which customers consume entertainment. This move means that independent and award-winning film on OSN is digitally accessible and convenient for fans to explore and enjoy on any device, anywhere at any time, and at no additional cost.”
OSN did not give a reason for the decision to close OSN Movies Festival.