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6 August 2020

OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

In response to 2020’s on-demand streaming surge, MediaKind has expanded its Aquila product line with the addition of Aquila On-Demand, doing exactly what it says on the tin – handling encoding, processing, packaging and delivery of file-based video over any network to any device. MediaKind mentions multi-codec support, and the inclusion of its Constant Video Quality (QVC) technology, allowing operators to ensure broadcast quality content with minimal bandwidth disruptions. This all sounds a little old hat to us, adding capabilities which should be par for the course when purchasing the services of a company of MediaKind’s stature.

Discovery reported a dismal second quarter, with revenues tumbling 12% to $2.54 billion and net income falling 71% to $271 million. The 2020 apocalypse was the primary cause of Discovery’s problems, with domestic US ad revenues down 7% to $997 million, while the situation was worse internationally where ad revenues were down 41% to $276 million.

Disney+ has reached 57.5 million global subscribers, more than double the 26.5 million users reported in Q1. Hulu also had a decent quarter, growing its subscriber base by 3.4 million to total 35.5 million (32.1 million SVoD; 3.4 million Live), and even ESPN+ made gains despite the lack of live sports, adding 0.6 million subs to hit 8.5 million. Disney’s 2020 streaming success has prompted plans for a new OTT video platform coined Star, which is expected to be an international equivalent of Hulu, with less kids-oriented content than Disney+ to attract a new caliber of audience.

3SS has continued its winning streak with a deal at Austrian broadcasting services provider ORS, using the 3Ready Product Framework to develop the adaptive UI for the forthcoming launch of a new digital service called simpliTV.

Following last week’s controversy about a national broadband network in Italy, Telecom Italia says it is in discussions with the government to invite additional investors following the offer of €1.8 billion from KKR Infrastructure to purchase 37.5% in the business.

Argentine cable operator Grupo Express has gone with Nagra to take its new Now Express OTT video platform to market, using Nagra multi-DRM technologies running on the existing Contego unified security platform used at Grupo Express. Features including interactive applications, third-party OTT integrations, and delivery of linear and time-shift services are provided by Bold MSS, a Nagra Channel Sales Partner.

Xilinx, Evertz, Grass Valley and Primestream are the latest member companies to join the SRT Alliance, taking the low latency streaming protocol group to over 400 members.

Sports streamer DAZN has brushed off the trials and tribulations of the past few months by securing rights for UEFA Champions League soccer content in Germany from 2021-2024.

ViacomCBS is merging the back-end ad tech platforms of Viacom Video, CBS Interactive and Pluto TV into a video ad platform called EyeQ – as a place for marketers to buy connected video ads from all its video assets under one roof.

French video game giant Ubisoft has handed a multi-year contract to game streaming technology supplier Parsec to power in-game experiences, demos and events, such as enabling games reviewers to play demo titles remotely as they would at physical launch events.

European pay TV operator United Group has finalized the takeover of Bulgaria-based operator Vivacom and its 1.8 million customers across TV, broadband and mobile.

Indian broadcast technology vendor Tata Elxsi has brought in addressable TV capabilities from Invidi Technologies. The Invidi Edge product combines addressability from OTT and linear TV audiences in one place for pay TV operators and video publishers. Importantly for the Indian market, it works with satellite distribution on non-IP set tops of which there are 160 million in the country.

Netgem announced revenue of €15.4 million for the first six months of 2020, a year on year growth of €2.3 million, while net income reached €7.5 million, up from a net loss of -€2.4 million in the year ago period.

File transfer software firm Signiant has secured what could be a significant patent for the invention of “cloud-based authority to enhance point-to-point data transfer with machine learning.” This pertains to establishing the fastest method for moving or accessing media files, where ML techniques incorporate historical data to build a prediction model for Signiant’s intelligent transport software to select the optimal number of parallel transport streams and select either standard TCP or Signiant’s proprietary UDP-based acceleration protocol. Inputs include current and historical network conditions, available compute, storage type and data set characteristics.

Liberty Global-owned Virgin Media lost a concerning 25,600 net subscribers in the UK and Ireland during Q2 2020 where the video base withered to just under 3.9 million users, with losses of 32,500 in the core UK market partially offset by small Irish gains. Switzerland performed poorly among the UPC operations, where video declines totaled 15,300 in the second quarter, falling to 970,000, on top of a small loss of 6,000 in Slovakia, falling to 171,000 in total, while UPC Poland again reported strong momentum with 11,200 new video subscribers, totaling almost 1.3 million.

TV services provider Antenna Hungaria has kicked off what it claims to be the world’s most advanced DTT service, using a combination of technologies including the mediaClass from vendor Azdio and machine learning techniques from Liberate AI. Azdio’s back-end provides CMS, packager, CDN, apps and web portal, while Liberate AI’s algorithms allow targeted ad insertion for linear TV, VoD and catch-up content across multiple devices, plus search and recommendation.

Mesh WiFi specialist AirTies is collaborating with Finnish cybersecurity firm F-Secure, porting F-Secure’s Sense router security on AirTies’ home WiFi management software. The partnership is supposed to provide enhanced protection and parental controls against threats like spyware, phishing and hacking.

OpenAP, an advertising platform run by many of the large US TV networks – including AMC, Fox, NBCUniveral and ViacomCBS – has partnered with ad measurement and attribution firm, iSpot. Advertisers can now activate attribution and OTT measurement on any campaign in the OpenAP ad marketplace. OpenAP CEO David Levy says the partnership will most benefit brands and agencies that aren’t yet working with iSpot.

Mexican podcast network Dixo has partnered with podcast giant Acast to boost its global programming and distribution capabilities. Acast will now host, distribute and monetize Dixo’s podcast programming, opening the network up to more advertising partners and sponsorships.

Spotify’s ad revenue has been generally undeterred by the pandemic, announcing an 11% increase in ad-supported revenue YoY for Q2. Recovering from a slight slump in Q1, he streaming giant now has 299 million MAUs, 21% of which are engaging with the 1.5 million podcasts on the platform. Podcast listening overall is up 100% YoY.

Amagi has announced it is delivering over 30 live and linear channels to Roku’s AVoD platform, The Roku Channel.

Bharti Airtel has outlined its plans to build its own ad tech platform which would serve over 155 million users. The MNO owns digital assets such as Wynk, Airtel Xstream, Mitra Payments and Airtel Thanks through which it could push its own ads. There are rumors that this pressure has come from investors, who want Bharti Airtel to further monetize its user-base, to stay ahead of key rival, Reliance Jio. Bharti is already partnered with companies such as Google and Verizon, which purchase user data.

Amazon Advertising’s monthly AVoD audience reach has more than doubled since the beginning of this year, growing from 20 million in January to over 40 million today. The ad platform serves Amazon’s own IMDb TV, as well as numerous third-party publishers. Amazon Advertising claims to provide more than 3% incremental reach over linear with adults 18-49, with 74% of that reach being exclusive to OTT.

Discovery has joined the On Addressability initiative – a collaborative effort to improve addressable advertising and dynamic ad insertion across media in the US. Discovery’s 18 networks will boost the targeting and attribution capabilities of the initiative, which already hosts Charter’s Spectrum Reach, Comcast Advertising, and Cox Media.

Following President Trump’s announcement on the weekend that TikTok’s days were numbered, Microsoft has swept in – with Presidential approval – to acquire ByteDance’s social media platform. Microsoft say discussions with ByteDance will have concluded by September 15th and have confirmed that they plan on altering the platform’s security and privacy features. TikTok has an estimated 80 million MAUs in the US.

TV manufacturer Vizio, has announced its ad platform, Vizio Ads, will now offer video retargeting – targeting multiple devices within the same household. Vizio’s automatic content recognition (ACR) technology allows for ‘near real time’ retargeting to any device with the same IP address as a Vizio CTV. Vizio Ads is still a relative newcomer to ad tech. The company sells a portion of the ad inventory in its SmartCast TV navigation system.

Zyxel has entered the WiFi mesh game, launching the MPro Mesh Whole-Home WiFi System, which consists of the main router and wireless extenders. Compatible with the new WiFi 6 specification, Zyxel is gunning for CPE supply wins.

Ligado is still causing trouble in the FCC, with commissioner Tom O’Rielly having a hold placed on his nomination for another term by Senator Jim Inhofe – a Republican serving as chairman for the Senate Armed Services Committee, who objects to O’Rielly’s support for Ligado’s satellite network ambitions. Many in the military believe Ligado is going to interfere with defense equipment and GPS.

Netflix has made a rare investment, sinking an undisclosed amount of cash into Broke and Bones – founded by Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones, the pair behind Black Mirror. This is the first such deal with a production house from Netflix, and gives it the option to acquire the firm outright.

Eutelsat is acquiring the European satellite broadband assets of Bigblu Broadband, for some $50 million (£38 million). This gives Eutelsat a direct-to-customer sales channel, as Bigblu is apparently the ‘largest distributor of satellite broadband packages in Europe.’ However, the deal only covers some 50,000 existing customers, so Euetelsat evidently plans to scale things significantly.

Analog Devices has acquired the HDMI silicon and software assets of Invecas, a Santa Clara based developer that should give AD a noticeable bump in its HDMI 2.1 competitiveness. No financial terms are being revealed, and AD is targeting both enterprise and consumer markets, using its new toys.

Google has taken a 6.6% stake in ADT, investing $450 million into the home security firm and ensuring that ADT will now resell its Nest smart home gear. This feels like the beginning of a ramping up period, and ADT’s share price jumped 80% premarket in the wake of the news.

SpaceX has expanded its FCC request to 5 million user terminals, up from 1 million, due to a higher than expected interested in the LEO satellite broadband service. It is still aiming to be a mostly rural service, as it doesn’t have enough capacity per cell to cover the majority of a city, for instance.