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16 June 2022

OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

Five years ago this week…

A German court raised serious concerns about the use of Homespots in Europe, ruling that Liberty Global’s Unitymedia would have to get an opt-in for each of its Homespot deployments in customer homes. Until that point, Unitymedia had relied on an opt-out policy to get to an estimated 2 million domestic and 7 million continent-wide hotspots, as previous opt-in attempts had only resulted in a 5% to 10% penetration. A complete reversal of Unitymedia’s hotspot deployments would have potentially killed Liberty Global’s cellular presence in Germany at the time. Unitymedia has since been sold to Vodafone.

 

A Netflix executive has admitted that the company will curb its content spend in the coming years, as it branches into alternative content genres to grow viewership. One such avenue involves gameshow versions of hit titles like Squid Game ­­– for which casting applications are currently being taken for just 456 player places. A cash prize of $4.56 million will be up for grabs in “the biggest reality series ever” – open to all English-language speakers from around the world. It comes with a disclaimer that no players will be harmed in the making of the gameshow, at least not intentionally.

Chinese cloud behemoth Baidu wants to sell a 53% stake in the country’s second-placed streaming service iQiyi, according to Reuters.

The upcoming ITVX streaming service from UK broadcaster ITV will launch later this year with some 9,000 hours of free, ad-supported content. It comes as ITV has just acquired Bristol-based Plimsoll Productions, which specializes in producing natural history programming, for approximately $125 million.

SeaChange International was all set for a new lease of life six months ago, announcing a merger with short-form app firm Triller Hold, which has since collapsed due to a mutual agreement that the June 30, 2022 deadline could not be met.

 

Mexican cableco Megacable is using UK-based supplier Oregan Networks to upcycle set tops, thanks to performance gains on the latest Linux-based OS from Zenterio, the middleware vendor acquired by Oregan in 2019.

Fixed wireless broadband provider Starry requires another $1 billion in capital to reach its five-year target of 13 million serviceable homes and 650,000 subscribers, according to MoffettNathanson.

 

Two months after its acquisition of Aviwest for network bonding technology, low latency transport specialist Haivision is pushing Aviwest mobile video transmitters to broadcast customers, on the promise of greater flexibility for live contribution supporting SRT.

MENA-based streaming service Shahid, part of MBC Group, is rolling out the Think360 personalized content discovery and viewer engagement platform from ThinkAnalytics this summer. Shahid will personalize both its free and premium content using the UK firm’s recommendation engine, aiming to nudge the former towards paid content.

Warner Bros. Discovery is set to slash as much as 30% of its sales force, according to sources speaking to The Information, a headcount which currently sits at around 3,000.

Disney+ has gone live in 42 new countries this week.

Broadpeak’s IPO has been a roaring success, according to the French multicast ABR streaming specialist. Debuting on Euronext Growth Paris, Broadpeak raised €20 million ($20.8 million) at an offering price of €6.41 ($6.70), to reach a market cap of €80 million ($83.3 million).

Xperi’s IP licensing business, called Adeia, has lost a case against Videotron regarding the Rovi Guides patent portfolio – with a Canadian Federal Court ruling that Xperi’s four patents are invalid.

DRM pioneer Intertrust has something to show for its NFT pivot, with a new marketplace called Roadstead, created in collaboration with Japanese media producer Nekojarashi. Roadstead users can view, sell, trade and exhibit content, while content owners have full control of distribution and profits. Token Rights Management is handled by the Intertrust Platform, with features that it claims have never featured in NFT marketplaces before, based on a combination of blockchain and DRM technologies for added safeguarding.

 

It turns out that $45 billion of broadband funding from the NTIA has become a hot-button issue in the US, with a Senate Commerce Committee panel taking the agency to task. The main concerns appear to be NTIA-mandated rules to ensure affordable packages, non-union worker competence certification, and the preference for fiber.

ByteDance’s hardware strategy is becoming public, after posting a heap of job adverts for its Pico division. Pico is a Chinese VR headset developer, which is now expanding into the US via the new Pico Studios wing. ByteDance acquired Pico last year, and will be looking to challenge Meta’s consumer gear.

Nokia has demonstrated its first 100 Gbps fiber broadband offering in the US, unveiling the 100G PON system at the Fiber Connect event in Nashville, Tennessee. The PoC uses a single wavelength, in what Nokia claims is a realistic test scenario.

Humax’s diversification efforts have seen it launch a mobility platform in the Middle East, which has just announced its first customer. iDrive will use the system in Saudi Arabia, for fleet management and car sharing – a world away from set tops, and one perhaps with better longevity.

DAZN has fought back against Italian complainants by imposing tightened rules on password sharing. The sports streamer has limited devices to two for its €29.99 monthly standard subscription, with concurrent streaming of the same live event only permitted when connected to the same IP address. This can be circumvented with the new DAZN Plus package, costing €10 a month more, which allows two devices to live stream the same event from anywhere.

It comes as DAZN just secured a nine-figure deal for British boxer Anthony Joshua’s PPV events, one of the two largest draws in British and potentially world boxing. Comcast’s Sky previously held the rights. DAZN also continued its esports expansion, in a global broadcast deal with the Blast Premier organization.

The war of words between Dish Network and SpaceX has gone up a rung this week. The pair disagree on whether SpaceX’s 12 GHz ESIM (Earth Station in Motion) operations will interfere with satellite TV. SpaceX has not received FCC approval for this in the US, and Dish wants to use 12 GHz spectrum for its 5G network.

 

Smart AdServer has rebranded as Equativ, with the name acting as an umbrella term for both the core company and its subsidiaries, including contextual targeting vendor DynAdmic and demand-side platform (DSP) LiquidM.

64% of CTV viewers would rather watch ads if it means reducing video service fees, according to a survey of 2,900 US adults carried out by LG Ads Solutions and ad tech provider DeepIntent. Meanwhile, 57% of respondents said CTV ads are more relevant to them than linear ads.

The European Commission is set to legislate that social media platforms must take measures to counter deepfakes on their platforms, or else face fines of up to 6% of their global turnover. This new code will be linked with the Digital Services Act, which seeks to make digital advertising practices glaringly transparent.

Media agency Zenith is expecting TV advertising spend to rise by 3.2% in the US to $64.4 billion, driven by the Winter Olympics as well as midterm elections. Spend across network broadcast, national cable and syndication are all expected to fall, but this will be lifted overall by a 15% rise in spot spending, largely driven by political ads. Zenith expects that spot spending will then fall 10% in 2023 – a political ‘off’ year.

Zyxel has announced a new range of three 6E-enabled access points (APs) for its business customers to deploy in crowded, high-density environments. The APs come with a one year license of Nebula Pro Pack management software, and feature Zyxel’s 6E Boost technology, which increases coverage by employing four 6 GHz streams, while BandFlex allows switching between the 5 GHz and 6 GHz bands.

Pluto TV is finally set to launch in Canada this fall. The leading FAST service is already deployed across 30 countries in Europe, Latin America and the US, and most recently broke 68 million monthly active users.

Amagi has seen an 109% increase in ad impressions year on year in Q1 2022 across the 2,000 channels and 50 FAST platforms that use its cloud-playout service. The vendor believes that dynamic brand insertion (programmatically inserting brands directly into a film or TV show) is set to become a key avenue of lifting FAST monetization, with the technology bringing an additional 6% in ad opportunities in Q1 of this year.