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2 July 2020

OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

A spate of video subscription hikes have been ushered in by executives, putting their acts of charity and solidarity during the peak of the pandemic behind them. DirecTV has increased rates by $10 a month for new subscribers across all tiers, while package prices for the new AT&T TV streaming service have also been given the same $10 monthly hike. YouTube TV is another, hiking its monthly subscription price by $15 to $64.99 a month, along with MVPD FuboTV which has raised monthly prices by $5.

In similar lockdown-easing moves, Disney+ has lifted the limitations it placed on image and sound quality to free up bandwidth in some countries, including the UK and Ireland. It means HD, 4K and HDR titles are now available.

Vodafone Spain has made another important step into Android TV, adding TCL to its list of Android-based smart TV sets compatible with Vodafone TV.


NBCU’s Peacock will carry content from CBS, Showtime and Paramount when it launches on July 15, following an important licensing deal with ViacomCBS. It comes in the same week ViacomCBS struck a major multiyear renewal with Sinclair Broadcast for 8 stations across 50 top market affiliates.

A new initiative called the High Efficiency Streaming Protocol (HESP) Alliance has been formed by Synamedia and Belgian playback software developer Theo Technologies. Launched at NAB 2019 by Theo, HESP delivers 400ms latency and reduces bandwidth by as much as 20% compared to CMAF with CTE. The first HESP products should arrive in the fourth quarter, including a HESP-enabled player from Theo Technologies and a HESP-certified packager from Synamedia.

French telco Bouygues Telecom has acquired MVNO Euro-Information Telecom for a fee of around €530 million, pending approval from regulators in France. Bouygues will add 2 million mobile subscribers to its existing base of 12 million.

London-based live streaming specialist M2A Media was behind BritBox’s expansion on Amazon Prime Video in Canada last month. M2A said AWS Elemental MediaConvert was key to processing the British SVoD platform’s content, while its own cloud-based platform set up customized profiles.

Swiss operator Salt has reached 100,000 triple play subscribers two years after launching the offering, which comes with an Apple TV 4K device and a 10 Gbps theoretical broadband speeds with advanced WiFi extenders.

Elsewhere in Switzerland, Sunrise claims 50% of the Swiss population now subscribes to its internet and TV services via an installment plan over 24 months interest free. Sunrise has partnerships with Samsung smart TVs, Apple TV set tops, and Sonos soundbars.

Swiss security specialist Nagra has announced API integration of NexGuard forensic watermarking technologies into AWS Elemental MediaConvert, providing an added layer of security and traceability to content owners and third parties working on premium content.

A busy week in Switzerland also saw UPC become the first telco in the country to integrate the StarzPlay streaming service from the US network.

Mediaset’s long awaited pan-European media movement, coined MediaForEurope, has apparently received a bunch of investor and partner interest, according to the Italian broadcaster’s chairman Fedele Confalonieri.


Video Fraud Management Platform provider Pixalate has voted FreeWheel, Verizon Media and Telaria as top dogs in its Connected TV/OTT Seller Trust Index, which claims to be the first of its kind to rank programmatic ad sellers by quality. Pixalate based its findings on household reach, channel share, access to inventory and apps, invalid traffic, SSAI transparency, and channel integrity.

May 2020 blew the roof off the UK’s BBC iPlayer, registering a record 570 million streaming requests, a 72% year on year surge, and an uptick of 7 million from the previous month.

Four Salt Lake City TV stations have gone live with ATSC 3.0 broadcast services, adding to recent roll outs in Las Vegas and Pittsburgh. A broadcast data network company called BitCast headed up the planning for KUTV (CBS), KTVX, (ABC), KUCW (CW) and KJZZ-TV.

Cloud-based broadcast and OTT technology outfit Amagi has revealed a US digital media network called Brat TV as a customer. Amagi distributes content to platforms including The Roku Channel, Samsung TV Plus, and Vizio, including Amagi’s Dynamic Ad Insertion capabilities with analytics features.

Chinese streaming platform iQiyi, now no longer the subject of Tencent takeover rumors, has inked a content licensing deal with Insight TV to bring 125 episodes of popular shows made available to iQiyi’s 560 million monthly active users.

Artificial Intelligence OS developer Veritone has updated its media search and analytics application with a retooled UX for enhanced customization and data visualization. Called Veritone Discovery, the technology is powered by the vendor’s aiWare application.

WiFi antenna maker Airgain has been tapped by a tier 1 North American operator to deliver its first WiFi 6 dual-band gateway, ramping up to full production in Q4 this year.


Google has released two blog posts on the financial workings of its ad services – one on buy and sell-side advertising services (Google Ads and Display & Video 360), the other on Google Ad Manager. The posts give a rare glimpse into the workings of the ad tech giant, which is perhaps an attempt to appear transparent before an onslaught of anti-trust lawsuits are set to hit it later this year. It comes as Google also announced an expansion into in-app deep linking.


Spotify is trialing two new ad features for its podcast platform. One is In-App Offers which is undergoing alpha trials in Germany and the US. Rather than have podcast hosts read out offer codes or web addresses, users will be able to click on visual elements within the app to redeem offers. The other is voice-activated ads, which is being trialed on Google and Amazon smart speakers in the UK for the cosmetics company NARS.

Mindworks, the in-house creative studio of mobile interactive ad platform Mintegral, has launched Playturbo, a playable creative ad platform that allows advertisers to customize playable ads in mini-games that give users a taster of gameplay before being given the option to download it.

At Brandcast, YouTube’s annual NewFront event, the streaming giant revealed that streaming time on TVs is up 80% YoY. This clocks in at over 100 million US-based TV streamers a month, and around 450 million hours of content watched on TVs around the world every day.

Pixalate, a global marketing compliance platform, has launched the first ever CTV/OTT Seller Trust Index (CSTI), the newest addition to its range of programmatic seller ranking tables. FreeWheel, Verizon, and Telaria hit near the top of the rankings across Roku, Samsung and Amazon devices, while NextStar Digital, RhythmOne, and Xandr Monetize hit the bottom of each table, respectively.

TikTok has announced a global ad platform, TikTok for Business, at IAB’s Digital Content NewFronts. An emerging giant in social media, TikTok is trying to set itself apart from digital advertising offered on Instagram and Facebook by encouraging brands to use the medium for original creative content, telling advertisers, “Don’t Make Ads, Make TikToks.” There is also a new AR ad format, Brand Scan, which creates immersive ad content. It will be interesting to see how far brands dive into a user base which is much younger than other social media platforms, and thus has much less spending power.


China has launched the final satellite in its Beidou-3 constellation, which now counts 27 satellites in MEO, 5 in GEO, and three more in an inclined geostationary orbit. The constellation will provide both military and commercial services for China, as well as greater political influence via communications infrastructure dependency.

Dish Network has found a frenemy in SpaceX, as both firms are asking the FCC to open up a new rulemaking session that would see changes made to the 12GHz band. However, Dish wants to be able to run 5G services in it, as it tries to become the US’ fourth wireless carrier, while SpaceX wants the band to remain in use for satellite services only. A number of other firms are asking for changes, so this is another fight to keep track of.