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OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

Deutsche Telekom is the latest pay TV operator to sign an across the board deal with Netflix, having previously signed up only for Germany. DT is one of the largest pay TV operators in Europe, probably 3rd after Sky and Liberty Global, with an estimated 7.3 million customers, with 3.0 million in Germany and another 4.2 million outside it, which have now been opened up to become Netflix customers. Before this, customers in Germany, Poland and the Netherlands had Netflix access, including 4K content. Presumably a deal can also be reached for its 160 million mobile customers around the world at some point.

US CCAP equipment provider Casa Systems is finally planning an IPO and says in an S1 filing at the SEC, that it will raise as much as $150 million on the US Nasdaq market. Casa is seen as having an advanced virtualized design and goes up against Nokia, Arris, Cisco and Harmonic and had revenues of $233.6 million in the first three quarters of 2017, a rise of 7%. It has big design wins at Time Warner Cable and Liberty Global.

Broadcom says it has the industry’s first 7nm intellectual Property for creating ASICs for Deep Learning Applications. By IP we assume that it will license cores to embed into other chips. It relies on the TSMC 7nm process technology, and it says it offers best-in-class cores which include serialiser deserialiser cores, the latest high bandwidth memory, and high port densities for routing apps, which are designed to meet 5G bandwidths. Tape out will be in Q4.

Sony said this week it can now reach a much wider footprint in Latin America after signing a regional deal with America Movil’s Claro video, which is in multiple countries there, and a local deal with Costa Rica’s Cable Tica for its VoD platform Crackle. It will first launch in Mexico, followed by other LATAM territories. Back in June Sony did a similar deal with Tigo, for Central America and Colombia.

After rumors about Fox and Disney being in talks, Comcast is now understood to be in preliminary talks to buy the entertainment assets of 21st Century Fox according to the Wall Street Journal. Comcast is hoping to acquire the 20th Century Fox movie studio and the international TV distribution business. Fox will keep its News channel, sports interest other than its regional sports channels, and the Fox broadcast network. Others said to be waiting in the wings and interested are Verizon and Amazon.

Liberty Global in the UK has said it will build an IT services provider who will work with small to medium sized business and it will rely on expertise from new partner MXC Bank who will be an equal partner under the title MXLG Acquisitions.

 

Electronics regulator Croatia’s Electronic Media Council has prevented the sale of one of the main commercial broadcasters Nova TV, to Slovenia Broadband. The reason given was to protect pluralism in the media, because it is understood that the Slovenia Broadband parent, United Media, itself controlled by US private equity group KKR (Kohlberg Kravis Roberts), already owns Total TV there. Existing owner CME, itself controlled by Time Warner (42.8%), had agreed the deal in July to sell all of its assets in Croatia and Slovenia to Slovenia Broadband for €230 million in cash. Presumably the sale will go ahead without the Nova TV part, which will have to go to someone else.

 

French test and monitoring firm Witbe said this week it will partner Netherlands systems integrator Divitel to offer managed testing and monitoring for video services in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The joint venture will partner the Witbe active Robots monitoring technology with Divitel’s management expertise and existing facilities.

Espial in Canada said it would give the Alexa treatment to its Elevate cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) video platform, integrating the Amazon voice control platform. Interestingly Alexa is not launched in Canada as yet, although it may coming. But most Elevate customers are in the US anyway. Espial will add features such as voice channel changes, search, user interface navigation, trick play management, and playback of time-shift TV, VOD, and DVR recordings. Elevate is used by MCTV in Ohio, Optic Communications in Kansas and Missouri and Maryland-based Easton Utilities Espail bought the Elevate cloud service from Arris, and says it has a further five trials in the US.

Viacom has announced this week it wishes to buy back up to $1 billion of debt which are due from 2019 out to 2042.

Comcast is planning to let customers use their voice remotes to vote in the US TV program The Voice, directly from the TV. The voice is NBC programming, so is owned by Comcast and it is the first experiment of this type using real time voting. Presumably if you don’t have a Comcast Xfinity service, you have to text in or something and people have to wait hours to count up the votes.

UK personalized UI provider Massive Interactive said that Telecine Play, part of the Globosat group in Brazil, has used its UX platform AXIS for its personalization to almost 4.5 million Pay TV subscribers across PCs, smart phones, tablets, smart TVs and game consoles.

French audience measurement firm Médiamétrie has launched its Social TV ratings in France to measure the audience and impact of TV programs on social networks. The new service measures the nature and volume of interactions on Facebook and Twitter about at TV program. Didn’t they have that in the US 5 years ago?

Altice said it will create the biggest eSports event in Portugal taking place at Altice Arena in June next year called the Moche XL which builds on the League of Legends brand and CS:GO.

According to stories running in Italian paper La Repubblica, Vivendi and Mediaset are close to burying the hatchet with Vivendi reducing its stake in the Italian broadcaster and making room for it in the joint SVoD venture between Vivendi’s Canal+ and Telecom Italia recently announced. Vivendi said it will take its stake in Mediaset down 5% to 23.8%. Vivendi has been told by the Italian regulator that it must reduce its stake in Mediaset to around 10%.

The $14.6 billion merger in the US of Discovery and Scripps has had shareholders approve the deal, with a vote that was almost unanimous. The combined company claims it has more Intellectual Property than Disney now, but not the same revenues. Scripps shareholders will own 20% of the combined company which has taken on board $2.7 billion of debt. It still has to get past regulators, which right now is tougher than it looks, ask AT&T.

Telefonica has done a deal with Disney to launched a new channel called Movistar Disney on the Movistar+ platform next month. Disney will create what is the second international service co-branded between Disney and a TV platform operator, the first being Sky Movies Disney in the UK. Telefonica also hopes to bring the Star Wars movie to its Movistar subscribers in the new year.

Spotify has acquired Soundtrap, a Swedish online music studio which lets users create music together with others in real time. The guesstimated valuation of $30 million has been heard from local news outlets.

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