CORRECTED-(OFFICIAL)-Disney+ to make exclusive Middle East debut on OSN

(Corrects price in paragraph 3 to $9.50, not $4.99, after company clarification)

DUBAI, April 2 (Reuters) - Walt Disney Co’s Disney+ content will be available for the first time in the Middle East and North Africa on regional pay television and online streaming service provider OSN from April 9.

Dubai-headquartered OSN has signed a “long-term” exclusive distribution rights agreement, OSN Chief Executive Patrick Tillieux told Reuters by telephone, declining to disclose further details.

Disney+ original programming, including hit show ‘The Mandalorian’, will be available on OSN’s pay television and online streaming services in 17 regional markets, including Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The online streaming service costs $9.50 a month.

It is the first time content of Disney+, Walt Disney’s streaming service, has been distributed through a third party provider, OSN said.

Walt Disney did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

The deal is likely to intensify competition with the likes of Netflix, which has a strong regional presence.

OSN secured the exclusive Disney+ rights following a 2019 restructuring in which the company, with revenue of about $500 million a year, shed more than 60% of a workforce of 2,300.

“We have come out of a dark period,” Tillieux said.

He said he was confident in the business outlook for this year even though the company was no longer able to sell and promote products in shopping centres closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, with more people staying home, pay television and online usage have surged and online sales have increased over the past two weeks, he said.

The pandemic has also forced OSN to market the launch of Disney+ content entirely online, cancelling traditional outdoor advertising plans as few people now leave their homes.

“We are pushing heavily on ... digital,” Tillieux said.

OSN’s majority shareholder is Kuwait’s largest listed investment company, Kuwait Projects Co (KIPCO). (Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)