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OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

Verizon has scrapped plans to build a new live OTT video service, deciding instead to buddy up with a third-party OTT outfit, or perhaps even acquire one, as the US operator is focusing its efforts on 5G. “Our view is we should partner with those that are in the linear game. Let them be very good at what they do. We’ll add digital content to that mix and we’ll position ourselves for where we become more of an OTT video culture versus the linear model that we have today,” said Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam. Rumors have circulated that Verizon is looking to buy sports-centric streaming service fuboTV, which had an estimated 100,000 subscribers at the end of 2017, increasing monthly…

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CBS makes “next TV step” – applying Gracenote ACR tech to linear ads

Some 15 months since Gracenote’s $560 million acquisition was completed, the new Nielsen-owned company is getting into full swing and it’s clear the audience measurement giant is, as expected, driving Gracenote’s media metadata expertise towards supporting its weakening US pay TV advertising operations – with an eye for addressable ads in the growing smart TV market. Days after rolling out a new metadata and EPG system targeted at streaming and vMVPD services offered by smart TV and device manufacturers, long-term Nielsen customer CBS announced it will be using Nielsen Gracenote to launch dynamic ad insertion functionalities for live linear broadcasts. Nielsen Gracenote’s automatic content recognition (ACR) technology will power the platform, allowing CBS to offer live program impressions to advertisers,…

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Verizon close to FWA launch, as AT&T forges ahead to Standalone 5G

The ‘5G race’ between the USA’s biggest telcos is building up as both approach commercial launch of their fixed wireless access (FWA) services. There are some similarities in their tactics. Both are building advanced virtualized and software-defined platforms around their 5G radio plans, though AT&T’s has been more prominent in the industry at large. Both are starting with fixed services, which makes it easier to launch at a very early stage since there is no reliance on handset availability or the testing complexities of high mobility. Both are starting to densify their 4G networks to add capacity in non-5G areas. However, there are key differences. Verizon is first going with its semi-proprietary implementation and will migrate to full 3GPP 5G…

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TV subs prefer decent call centers over latest movies

Not only do traditional pay TV operators face an uphill struggle to reduce churn and increase ARPU in suicidal synergy, but a report this week suggests investments to improve and modernize cable and satellite TV experiences are falling by the wayside. Slumping to an 11-year low, customer satisfaction for pay TV services has declined by 3.1% to an average score of 62 out of 100, according to the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report. While satisfaction is a subjective business, it speaks volumes to compare an average score of 75 for video streaming services in 2018, which the ACSI has introduced for the first time in a tip of the hat to mobile-first video, and about time too. AT&T’s…

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Brightcove, Accedo add customization to OTT Flow – investors happy

Another vendor recently recruiting fresh leadership while feeling the effects of commoditization of OTT video technologies is Brightcove, this week launching an upgrade to its two-year old video platform OTT Flow, called OTT Flow X, for which Sweden’s Accedo powers the user experience. The X essentially represents some form of additional customization from ongoing professional services for customers, while its predecessor was more a plug-and-go product, starting at around $10,000 upfront with no added services. OTT Flow X is part of a recent repricing strategy from the Canadian online video specialist, which recently saw it well exceed Q1 earnings expectations with revenue up 10% to $41.2 million, cutting net losses down to $2.3 million, after appointing new CEO Jeff Ray…

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HbbTV, a stepping stone to full OTT, will be abandoned by broadcasters

Just what the doctor ordered, another combined broadcaster initiative to conquer Europe, the latest coming from Spain’s RTVE, Atresmedia and Mediaset – lifting the skirt on vague plans initially revealed at the end of March. The trio will first test the waters with a joint HbbTV platform, before attempting to stake a claim on the market with an OTT offering, making it four separate projects across Europe announced in as many weeks. Given that Europe’s major broadcasters would struggle to slide merger deals past regulators, partnerships like these are realistically the only option for taking on Netflix – so for the sake of competition, let’s hope at least one broadcast cooperative gets the ingredients just right. The free-to-air service, called…

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Download feature flood gates open after sluggish start, says Penthera

Hulu’s announcement about enabling content downloads earlier this month might not have been a market-altering move as we know it, yet for one company, the phone hasn’t stopped ringing since the US streaming service added the deceptively not-so-simple feature. Bandwidth constraints, storage space issues and content piracy are primary concerns for OTT video service providers when assessing the cons against adding a download button – matters which continue to be addressed by US video software specialist Penthera after more than a decade in the downloadable content business. Amazon and Netflix activated the feature years ago due to popular demand and finally with Hulu joining in, business at Pittsburgh-based Penthera is booming, tying up deals at cablecos, MVPDs and OTT companies,…

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Legacy can be turned to advantage

One certainty that all service providers except start-ups face is legacy infrastructure and so their performance and competitiveness can depend as much on how they cope with that as on their latest innovations. In fact, it can hinge on how well they marry emerging features with their legacy and ensure that as far as possible the latest enhancements are available to all customers and not just those that have been migrated to more advanced hybrid or IP based infrastructure. There is an important distinction to be made between legacy software and hardware, for the former can be much more of a hindrance to agility and ability to roll out new features quickly. This became evident a few years ago to…

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Sckipio doubles up speed on 212 Mhz G.fast broadband – superfast

G.fast chip vendor Sckipio said this week it was ready to launch the second version of 212 MHz G.fast, and that it can offer it in bonded mode, multiplexing two lines at a time. It had planned to give out the names of its first customers but could not clear them in time for today. It is back in the G.fast race after Broadcom seemed to have got one step ahead, introducing 212 MHz first in October. And last week Sckipio went back into the money market to raise funds. That cash injection, like many others, has been guided by parts of the world where Sckipio wants to do business, and by the experiences CEO David Baum had last time…

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Streaming Alliance hopes Google will create domino effect

The Streaming Video Alliance (SVA) took its time to gain momentum since its foundation in November 2014, but has been boosted by Google’s recent joining and now numbers many big players among its members including AWS, Cisco, Comcast, Intel, Liberty Global, NBCUniversal, Nokia and Verizon. But it has still to land the other great tech players Apple, Netflix and Microsoft as well as Akamai and is currently courting some of them along with content firms CBS Interactive, Sony’s PlayStation Vue, Hulu and HBO among others. Given that many of these are central to its mission it cannot be said to be a fully representative body of the streaming industry until at least some of these others have joined up. It…

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Swisscom switches transcoders and finally achieves virtual headend

Swisscom has been shifting to a virtualized headend since late 2016 – as much to allay costs as it was to become more flexible and faster in adding to the channels and video assets. If a telco TV system should be measured by its results in the market, then in Europe you would have to look at the systems from either Telefonica or Swisscom, as they are still driving sales aggressively within their respective markets, but possibly the more innovative of the two is Swisscom and this week it put the finishing touches to its headend virtualization, announcing French encoding firm Ateme as the transcoding resource for this NFV based headend. The leg-work has been carried out by Hewlett-Packard Enterprise…

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UK government gift-wraps Sky for Comcast approval party

The UK government is ready to wave through Comcast’s $31 billion bid for Sky with no questions asked, according to Conservative politician Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. The apparent display of apathy from regulatory officials is perhaps better visualized as a drive to stop all Sky’s media assets falling into the hands of Fox, and subsequently the reputationally-marred Murdoch family, by any means necessary. Essentially, the UK government is willing to usher Sky under Comcast’s wing in record time and skip a full investigation – which could mean overlooking important market implications. In a turn of events, Comcast has this week confirmed it is preparing to outbid Disney’s $52.4 billion offer for the bulk…

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The importance of being Original – Ted Sarandos on content trends

Ted Sarandos, the chief content officer at Netflix let slip a few details at one of this week’s US investment conferences, which gives us all a bit more of a clue about precisely what everyone else is going to have to do, to make up ground on the world’s leading SVoD. He famously revealed that Netflix would make 80 films this year, and that 85% of content spend at Netflix now went on original content. But between the cracks he also outlined a strategy which is going to make it almost impossible for rivals to match the Netflix strategy built around both movies and TV series which are completely original. He was speaking at the MoffetNathanson conference and was interviewed…

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Rethink IoT News ATW 211: Around The Web Roundup

// M&A, Strategies, Alliances // Internet of Things Inc is acquiring Weather Telematics, a data science specialist that uses AI-based analytics to predict road and weather conditions – for $2.53m. Weather Analytics has acquired Athenium, and will now merge with the company to create Athenium Analytics. A $25m investment is planned to boost AI, ML, and CV. Vodafone says its IoT revenue grew 7.2% in the past year, rising to €747m from €697m. IoT SIM connections were up 31.2% – with 68m now active, inc. 14.4m cars. Microsoft has acquired Semantic Machines, a startup focused on conversational AI systems that is based in Berkeley, CA – where Microsoft will now build a CoE. // Forecasts, Surveys. Reports, & Blue-Sky Thinking…

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Tele Columbus (PŸUR)

Third-placed German cable operator Tele Columbus rebranded as PŸUR as of October 2017 – unifying Primacom, HL komm, Pepcom and Tele Columbus under a single brand. It made its belated entrance onto the OTT scene in January 2017 with advanceTV, following the acquisitions of rivals Primacom and Pepcom in 2015. Operations and figures: The TV business achieved 2017 revenue of €277.6 million, down €10 million year on year, representing 56% of the operator’s total annual revenue, declining from 60.3% of total revenue in 2016. Tele Columbus’ cable TV sector declined from 2.43 million subscribers to 2.37 million at the end of 2017. Premium TV subs remained flat at 430,000 subscribers, bringing its total TV subscriber base to 2.8 million. The…

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Antilles quits oil and gas for IoT residential care

In quite the departure, Australian firm Antilles Oil & Gas has announced its departure from its core market to pursue aged care. It comes as Antilles picks up an option to acquire HomeStay Care, a company that has developed a platform to support such care services. The $3.4m purchase of HomeStay Care, an Australian company founded in 2016, is not actually as radical as it might sound. As with all things IoT, the heart of the problem is managing data, and in both cases, the data requires a pretty similar set of tools to be properly processed. There isn’t much publicly available data on HomeStay’s platform, but the company says it is driven by AI, machine-learning, and predictive analytics. It…

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Altizon refuses to carry AI tag for industrial IoT platform

India’s Altizon is refreshing in its reluctance to attach the AI tag to its industrial IoT platform, called Datonis, which now has customers in eight sectors for predictive monitoring and quality control. There is passing mention of machine-learning within its product literature but AI hardly appears at all, despite use of neural network and the Python language widely associated with AI development. This is because the company wants to emphasize the aspects of its platform that really make a difference for customers, according to Altizon VP Marketing Abhijit Mhetre. “AI is a very overhyped word,” said Mhetre. “There is a lot of R&D going on and we can say that some of our predictive maintenance is a slice of that…

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Ayla Networks is profitable as PaaS consolidation looms

The IoT application platform market is perhaps one of the most crowded parts of the Internet of Things. For a couple of years, it was very vocal – but now, it has collectively got quite quiet, perhaps due to the looming presence of the cloud giants. However, among the pile, Ayla Networks has emerged as a success story – and one with big expansion plans. Ayla’s main product is the Agile IoT Platform (PaaS), but it also offers the Insights business intelligence and analytics service, the Agile Mobile Application Platform (AMAP) app creation tool, the Mobile SDK, and its Phone as a Gateway (PaaG) service. In terms of customers, there are heaps – ranging from Hisense and TCL in the…

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UK police failures highlight facial recognition shortcomings

Facial recognition technology can now achieve quite high levels of accuracy in static situations with high quality imaging systems, but are clearly not yet fit for purpose in legacy CCTV networks. That has been almost hilariously confirmed by the recent furor surrounding various UK police forces, as revealed by information released under the country’s Freedom of Information laws. This found that the London Metropolitan Police’s automated facial recognition (AFR) technology has a 98% false positive rate, this being the highest among UK police forces surveyed by campaign group Big Brother Watch. The average was 91% across the UK. This is particularly embarrassing for South Wales police, which only in February 2018 had been boasting of the success achieved by the…

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Google unveils Duplex assistant to help you use Google less

It seems counterintuitive, but Google’s new and somewhat uncanny Duplex system is all about helping consumers use Google less. The new assistant, which was demonstrated making calls to book a haircut, is designed to connect the Google and Android digital world with the analog world – calling fleshy humans on its user’s behalf, for that oh-so frictionless experience. The end-goal here is to create better customer experiences inside Android and the wider Google ecosystem. It’s an extension of Assistant, intended to work behind the scenes once a user asks ‘Hey Google, book me a table at a nice restaurant tonight.’ In theory, this would be seamless, and involve a single voice command – rather than the manual process of searches,…

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