Back in July we got a glimpse of the disruptive new OTT TV service that Deutsche Telekom (DT) launched in its native Germany, having already launched services supported with similar technology in international rollouts in Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary and it has now completed all major TV territories with a Croatia launch at Hrvatski Telekom (HT).
Most DT TV operations outside Germany involve buyouts of local telcos and cooperation with local investors, and HT is no different. But the drive to make things cheaper at DT has been famous for years, with extensive research efforts to bring a TV experience to market that did not even use a set top box.
Falling short of that DT settled on set top software from Zenterio, a move that has brought set top costs down dramatically. In Germany two months ago it launched a TV service for almost nothing, priced at €2 to be disruptive, a move that was partially enabled by the choice of Zenterio OS, Verimatrix supplied DRM and the whole shooting match – cloud software and implementation – we understand was put together by Huawei, though it still has not admitted to that overtly.
But the Croatian service has been launched with 97 channels at 299 Croatian Kuna, around $47 a month – compared with the €2.0 German low end service. If it is sold with an expanded package, which adds VoD and sport, this is on offer right now for no extra. This is much more in line with marketing efforts DT has made in the past outside Germany, where prices are kept at the high end of the market.
The new hybrid TV service is called MAXtv and the content can also be viewed on phones or laptops as well, so at least the online content is delivered as an Adaptive Bit Rate stream. There has been a comprehensive effort by DT to harmonize all the software to power services in Slovakia, Germany, Hungary, Greece, Romania, and Croatia. And although we have not seen the service ourselves, we understand they all use a similar UI, in each country, and regardless of whether or not the broadcast element is delivered over IPTV or from a satellite, and each have OTT delivery in parallel.
Zenterio OS provides an independent software stack for set tops, with support for a modern UI and for features like live TV with fast channel change, start-over TV, catch-up TV, video on demand, network PVR, and dynamic shifting to mobile devices.
By separating hardware from the Zenterio OS, this allows operators to work with any set top vendor across different countries and ecosystems. Zenterio says its OS offers a range of UIs which can run on entry-level legacy boxes as well as on high-end browser-based devices.
But in this case the set top deployed by Hrvatski is actually a high-end box, very different from the $50 box it used in Germany. It runs Zenterio OS native and can be reused on legacy boxes, enabling far cheaper migration. Wei imagine it comes from Huawei too. Hrvatski Telekom has around 408,000 TV customers.