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3 June 2021

New Infinity and beyond – Mediaset looks likely LCEVC licensee

Italy’s Mediaset is feeling liberated following the recent peace treaty with long-term adversary stroke shareholder Vivendi. To celebrate Vivendi’s support of the relocation of Mediaset’s headquarters to the Netherlands as well as securing live rights to show UEFA Champions League soccer matches, Mediaset has relaunched its vintage Infinity streaming service after merging it with the catch-up portal Mediaset Play.

The festivities could yet go further, as a merger with ProSiebenSat.1 – in which Mediaset currently holds a 12.4% stake – has not been ruled out by the German public broadcaster’s CEO. ProSiebenSat.1 could spearhead Mediaset’s long-term vision for a pan-European media group which it plans to call MediaForEurope, potentially as the vehicle from where Mediaset will churn out original programming for Infinity – for which productions are due to commence later this year.

Infinity (we’re amazed Mediaset didn’t brand it Infinity+) offers up premium paid content alongside free to view content with ads – available on the usual spread of devices, plus a selection of smart TVs.

More importantly, with the original Infinity debuting back in 2013, followed by Mediaset Play in 2018, we are itching to know how these two platforms have changed technologically over this time. Faultline has pinged a request for information to Mediaset in the absence of any public details on which vendors are powering the merged platform, and which suppliers have successfully made the transition from Infinity original and Mediaset Play, over to new Infinity.

We know that Mediaset Play originally deployed Comcast’s online video management platform to launch a series of apps, which naturally comes with Freewheel’s ad management platform baked in. The Accenture Video Solution (AVS) platform has also been heavily involved at Mediaset over the years, in part inherited from Myrio’s codebase, while Mediaset has also used multiscreen app developer Dotscreen in the past.

For security, Mediaset has tended to use Irdeto, while ContentWise has provided software for personalized recommendations. For encoding, Mediaset has been a fan of Harmonic for broadcast but OTT encoding responsibilities have long gone unclaimed. That said, Mediaset has recently endorsed Low Complexity Enhancement Video Codec (LCEVC) for both broadcast and OTT – suggesting the broadcaster will be among the first to take a license for the technology as V-Nova puts the finishing touches to its licensing structure.

Mediaset’s CTO, Luca Poloni, has praised the retrofittable and backwards compatibility of the enhancement standard for improving video delivery on top of its existing workflows. LCEVC is backwards-compatible for 4K and even 8K broadcast, with moderate bandwidth increases over HD, where the video enhancement information can be sent via broadband with upscaling.

Italian ad serving specialist Neodata has also helped Mediaset boost OTT revenues with the development of a cross platform video advertising service, exploiting customer profiling.

As with any merger, a few casualties will be lost along the way, as some of the longstanding software is moved on in place of more efficient and more scalable systems that can seamlessly integrate both Infinity and Mediaset Play. We eagerly await Mediaset’s response.

Meanwhile, Vivendi has also been active in the M&A ring, this week acquiring 100% of French publishing group Prisma Media. Vivendi describes the move as part of its development strategy in media to gain a foothold in an industry that strongly complements its existing businesses.