Mass media firm Mediaset has been attempting to rid its business of the decaying Italian pay TV unit Mediaset Premium for years, most famously through the failed sale to Vivendi which resulted in a hostile share-grab. So, this week, the leading Italian broadcaster took matters into its own hands by shutting down DTT operations on Italy’s DTT network effective June 1 and opting OTT-only.
In doing so, Mediaset has become a staunch advocate for OTT video in much the same manner we have come to associate European pay TV counterpart Sky, which of course tried to buy Mediaset, but more on that later.
The move means Mediaset Premium channels will migrate to the six-year old streaming service Infinity. However, Infinity has also been in dire straits with subscribers halving from 600,000 in 2013 to 300,000 in 2018, according to consultancy firm EY, so a fresh injection of channels and resultant influx of extra eyeballs should in theory give Infinity a new lease of life.
Collateral damage will write off the Premium Online and Premium Play OTT services, however, with on-demand and live linear channels from these two offerings also making their journey over to Infinity as a result. Subscribers to Mediaset Premium can now cancel at any time for no additional charge, offering free 10 day access to Infinity as a courtesy gesture, before been charged €7.99 a month. Bad news, however, means access to sports streaming service Dazn has also been pulled from Infinity, according to local reports, after Mediaset inked a partnership with Dazn parent company Perform Group to offer a discounted €19.90 a month to Premium subs.
It comes just weeks after Sky Italia’s attempt to purchase Mediaset’s pay TV services and technology unit R2, the company controlling the infrastructure for Mediaset Premium, was blocked following an investigation by the Italian Antitrust Authority. The stage had been set in April 2018 by a wider ranging deal between Mediaset and Sky where the latter would make Mediaset Premium channels as well as VoD content available to its satellite customers. The pair would collaborate closely over DTT transmission and create a combined DTT offering.
Mediaset, jointly owned by Vivendi and Italian investment firm Fininvest, launched the OTT video service Mediaset Play in September 2018 with Italian IT consulting company Fincons serving as systems integrator, primarily for Comcast Technology Solutions. Accenture helped build the original platform and the Accenture Video Solution (AVS) was brought in last year to provide Infinity with a single point to manage all back-end processes for video services, including BSS, device management, reporting, content acquisition, promotion and distribution management. AVS also allows customers to access pre-configured processes like set top configuration and advanced analytics to drive revenue growth.
The live and on-demand offering is available on web, iOS, Android and smart TVs, with a focus on HbbTV which is supported by advertising technology from PubItalia’80.
We’re sure our services aren’t explicitly required to highlight that Mediaset has set a precedent here for the rest of the European DTT community to migrate channels to OTT – but we have, nonetheless.