This month, OSN is giving viewers the opportunity to catch shows that have already finished their run, without forcing painful reruns on the rest of us every night of the week. The only thing is, they’ve decided to air several episodes of each show in blocks over the weekend. After a similar stunt with Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice just before summer, they’ve decided to introduce marathons of Lost, 24, Heroes and Ugly Betty, starting on October 8.
This kind of programming would have been perfect during Ramadan and the long, hot summer, when the city all but empties and there are fewer options as far as daytime entertainment in concerned. So why now? ‘Ramadan traditionally sees our Arabic audiences shifting to Arabic series, rather than Western series,’ explains Khulud Abu Homos, senior vice president of programming at OSN, ‘Marathons are a great way to allow them to catch up.’ Whatever nationality, with the final seasons of these shows now reaching an end, the network sees it as the best time to air the episodes back to back enabling people to get up to speed.
It seems the network is also cashing in on the increasing penchant for boxsets, which allow people to watch what they want, when they want; many people are unwilling to wait a whole week for the next instalment. As for whether they’re making more money out of this programming strategy, a network can only purchase so many ‘runs’ of a show, but it’s up to them how and when they run it. And though they’re showing numerous series in marathon form (and plan to continue doing so on an unconfirmed number of series in the future), the network assures us they won’t be doing away with the traditional weekly instalments.
Homos explains that OSN conducts research with audiences across the region to gauge demand for different series. ‘Shows that have been incredibly popular in Dubai include Glee, the CSI franchise, 30 Rock, Damages and Desperate Housewives,’ he says. ‘Many British soaps, [such as] Coronation Street and Eastenders, and lifestyle shows like Come Dine with Me and Strictly Come Dancing, have also been huge hits.’ But there’s no mention of whether we can look forward to six-hour sessions of Corrie. Instead, Homos reveals we can expect lengthy sessions from the first season of multi-Emmy Award winning comedy Modern Family, the second season of Lie to Me starring Tim Roth as a highly-strung human lie-detector, and Mark Wahlberg’s Entourage.
For those left intimidated by the thought of such dedicated TV-watching, big-budget mobster series Boardwalk Empire from director Martin Scorsese will begin this month, airing in more easily digestible portions; there are also the new seasons of Desperate Housewives and long-anticipated Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice to get your teeth into.
The first TV marathon, season eight of 24, starts on October 8 on Showseries.
TV-watching in figures
Year in which the first televi sion broadcasts were screened in the UAE.
Average attention span of a healthy adult, although they can choose to ‘re-focus’ to watch whole films at once.
Two days, 21 hours, 48 minutes
World record for the longest time spent watching TV, held by Sri Lankan Suresh Joachim.
Average number of years that a person who lives to age 65 will have spent watching TV.