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19 May 2022

OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

Five years ago this week…

Broadcom pledged allegiance to AirTies, as the two entered a partnership on managed mesh WiFi systems that would offer operators and ISPs the intelligent capabilities required to support mass carrier grade WiFi deployments. This partnership potentially gave Broadcom the upper hand to steal operator deals from Quantenna, which was also serving silicon to AirTies, while also accelerating AirTies’ planned expansion into US-based tier 1s.


Multiscreen software developer 3 Screen Solutions (3SS) is pairing its UX management platform, coined the 3Ready Control Center, with the UX Engine from content personalization specialist ContentWise. The idea is to develop AI and ML tools to create a highly adaptive UX that is closely aligned with viewer interests and tastes – in a way that goes “far beyond simply generating better recommendations.”

NBCUniversal has led a $20 million Series A funding round in connected TV ad tech start-up tvScientific. NBCU is also using the company’s self-serve performance marketing tools to power Peacock’s Ad Manager platform.

Imagination Technologies is working with Visidon Oy to develop so-called super resolution for embedded applications, based on deep learning algorithms which upscale low-resolution images up to 4K and 8K.

G-Core Labs is connecting object storage to CDNs through a deal with Backblaze, enabling developers and media production teams to store mass content in Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage, and deliver it over G-Core Labs’ global network, while simplifying development processes and time to market.

Swiss TV software outfit iWedia has drawn the curtains on its ATSC 3.0 broadcast and broadband software stack – abstracted to work with any media player, browser, SoC and OS. The stack is interoperable with third-party technologies including ad insertion, analytics, and monitoring, with support for the Run3TV broadcaster application compatibility framework. iWedia waxes lyrical about a made up trend called ‘cord cobbling’ which it claims is a result of ATSC 3.0’s browser-based infrastructure available on TVs and set tops to choose from a blend of linear broadcast and OTT content. You might otherwise know this simply as aggregation, which the TV industry has been doing in various shapes and forms for decades.

Vodafone closed its latest financial year with 21.9 million TV subscribers across Europe, a net fall of 300,000 in the year period – driven by Germany where 309,000 video customers cancelled.

Three former Twitch executives have raised $15 million for FreshCut, a web3-based gaming and esports streaming platform that rewards users with tokens for uploading content.

Free ad-supported streaming service Pluto TV, part of Paramount, has launched in Denmark, Norway and Sweden with 70 channels focused on local content.

Switzerland has voted in favor of top tier SVoDs being forced to invest 4% of their local revenues into Swiss content production, with a 58% majority. Streamers such as Prime Video, Disney+ and Netflix will also have to ensure that at least 30% of their content library is European in origin.

Video data broker Iris.TV is integrating its contextual data within Publica’s CTV Ad Server, allowing publishers to access Iris-enabled data partner segments within the Publica UX.

Google is reportedly looking to buy the rights for Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket. Currently, rights are held by Disney Hotstar, but a scrap over their renewal is set to ensue, with Amazon and Reliance Jio also circling the tournament. Star India previously paid $2.55 billion for a five-year license to broadcast IPL.

The French Government has announced plans to scrap the $145 annual audio-visual license fee which is used to fund France Televisions and Radio France’s media operations. No plans have been announced for alternative funding, to make up the $3.2 billion brought in by the license fee annually. This will put pressure on neighboring European governments to follow suit in defunding public service broadcasters.

Connected TV overtook mobile as the leading source of global video impressions in 2021, according to a new study from ad platform Innovid. Analyzing 286 billion video and display advertising impressions across Innovid’s platform, the study found that CTV impressions grew from 40% to 46% between 2020 and 2021, while mobile shrank from 43% to 39%.

e& (formerly known as Etisalat) has acquired a 9.8% stake in the UK’s Vodafone Group for $4.4 billion, making it the group’s largest single shareholder. Vodafone’s board is currently under pressure from activist investors to secure new merger deals.

RTL-owned Smartclip has acquired French demand-side platform (DSP) Realytics. Smartclip says Realytics brings powerful attribution capabilities and data, as well as new technologies to support automated linear TV buying.

Tencent Music saw revenues drop 15% in Q1 to $979 million, after regulations from the Chinese Government forced the giant to cut its exclusive contracts with huge record labels to spur competition from the likes of Cloud Music and Bytedance-owend Douyin. The company’s CSO, Cheuk Tung Yip, says that a key focus moving forward will be promoting live streaming and live concerts via WeChat.

Both the US government and the European Union have announced intentions to avoid a ‘subsidy race’ as they scramble to boost silicon production. Although full measurements are set to be announced at the US-EU Trade Technology Council (TTC) in a few days, a spokesperson for the Biden administration has said that a transatlantic approach to semiconductor investments will be crucial going forward to further the TTC’s intentions to curb China’s non-market practices and regulate big technology firms.

Starry has added 8,017 customers in Q1, bringing its total to 71,247. The US’s Affordable Connectivity Program should mean that the 63,000 public and affordable homes that Starry’s footprint covers could be added. Q1 revenue was $7.4 million, but net loss grew to $53.6 million.

Telefonica has contracted OneWeb as the wholesale provider of LEO satellite connectivity that will be used for cellular backhaul in Latin America and Europe. Telefonica will be using it to offer broadband to hard-to-reach locations. No customer projections have been cited.

While the US box office seems to have recovered substantially, Europe is still struggling. Estimates from the European Audiovisual Observatory is still down 59% compared to pre-Covid levels, although the 2021 gross receipts are up 38.2% compared to 2020. In 2021, 294 million tickets were sold, which is equivalent to 40% of 2019 levels.

Vectra, the largest cableco in Poland, has acquired rival Evio Polska, for an undisclosed sum. This adds some 1.7 million customers, and a network that covers a footprint of 4.6 million homes. Notably, Evio will be housed inside the SGT wing, which provides services to IPTV and cable operators. SGT has some 350 ISP partners that rely on its IPTV-aaS Jambox brand, and Evio has some 200 partners that serve 40,000 customers with its offering, making this a significant B2B acquisition.

The US NTIA has begun taking applications for some $45 billion in broadband funding, across three programs, as part of a presidential initiative. Some $42.5 billion is allocated to the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program, with $1 billion for the Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure program.