Five years ago this week…
Altice announced a multi-year mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) deal with Sprint to sell its mobile services on the latter’s wireless carrier network. Faultline could not help but see this as a missed opportunity to access top quality mobile network infrastructure and a successfully disruptive company ethos at T-Mobile, which would have offered Sprint a far better shot at chasing down AT&T and Verizon. Naturally, Sprint took our advice just a few months later, announcing a merger with T-Mobile in April 2018.
Netflix has selected a company called Motion Spell as the exclusive commercial licensor of the open source framework called GPAC (Graphics Project on Advanced Content) – providing a modular multimedia framework for packaging, streaming, inspecting, and playing content. Following an 18-month transition phase, this really is exclusive, with Netflix making GPAC the de facto packager in its workflow. Faultline will expand on this in a couple of weeks following a briefing with Motion Spell.
Dutch video optimization vendor Media Distillery has won a deal with local streaming service NLZIET, using descriptive metadata to make its content catalog more discoverable, particularly for non-scripted live programs where topics lack accurate descriptors. NLZIET is a joint venture between Dutch broadcasters NPO, RTL, and Talpa.
Belgian operator Proximus has expanded its deal with multiscreen developer 3SS to cover Apple TV, smart TVs from LG and Samsung, and mobile devices. Proximus’ Pickx OTT and IPTV entertainment platform was already using the 3Ready Android TV launcher, which has since switched out an incumbent rival system on these other devices following a “competitive RFP.” We know that previous Android TV platforms from Proximus ran a custom UI with Wyplay’s graphic engine.
Rumors putting Sky Deutschland in the shop window by parent company Comcast now claim that German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 is in the bidding, valuing the operator at $1 billion.
Akamai reported revenue up 3% year on year to $882 million for Q3 2022 – disappointingly flat by the CDN behemoth’s recent standards. The Compute division saw the strongest growth, at 72% revenue uplift to $109 million, while Delivery revenue tanked by 15% to $393 million. Security revenue, up 13% to $380 million for the quarter, is now on the cusp of becoming Akamai’s bread winner.
Newly spun-off Xperi saw traction within its media platform, IPTV, and connected car businesses during the third quarter, according to the latest filing, although that was not reflected significantly on revenue at 3% growth to $121.6 million for Q3.
From the millions of fly-on-the-wall reports from Elon Musk’s new-look Twitter boardroom, one suggestion is that the social media platform could eventually introduce a plan that would introduce a time-limited period of free tweeting, after which all users would have to pay. Much like news outlets which allow you to read only a certain number of articles per month, tracked by cookies, which are easily circumvented. While it would be corporate suicide for Twitter’s current user base, at approximately 450 million MAUs (including bots), it would in turn birth a new wave of innovation from the resulting exodus. That will be good news for one of the countless budding social environments vying to take on Twitter’s baton.
Netflix has acquired another game development studio, bringing the tally to six. Based in Seattle, Spry Fox was founded in 2010, and develops ‘cozy’ and ‘laid back’ titles.
Disney is exploring an e-commerce integration with Disney+, which would use the streaming service as a channel to sell Disney merchandise. This is a possible way to boost ARPU, as Disney is preparing to launch the advertising tier in December, and hike the price of the ad-free tier.
Draft legislation in the Russian Duma would impose new restrictions on pay TV broadcasters, bringing them in line with the age-restriction requirements for free broadcasts – clamping down on pro-LGBTQIA content. The backers cite 2020 data that shows pay TV had a reach of 81.5% of Russian households – equivalent to 46.2 million homes. Pay TV operators fear significant additional operating costs, and subscriber losses.
Free AVoD platform rllax TV has announced its expansion into Kenya, taking it to 27 countries.
Dutch operator Veon has put its Beeline wing up for sale, which would signal Veon’s exit from the Russian market. Beeline currently accounts for around half of Veon’s total revenues, and around 47 million of the 200 million mobile subscribers. Veon plans to focus on its high-growth markets – Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan.
New Chinese government plans have a shipment target of 25 million VR headsets annually by 2025, as well as more immersive VR feature development. Most notable is the mention of ‘odor simulation,’ but environmental understanding and simulated touch are in there too. A brain-computer interface is also specified, but seems far beyond the 2025 scope. Current global shipment estimates are around 11 million, with China only buying 500,000.
Paramount has added 4.6 million Paramount+ subscribers in Q3, bringing its global total to 46 million. This includes the loss of 1.9 million Paramount+ subs that were absorbed in the Nordics via the launch of joint-venture SkyShowtime. The Showtime OTT app appears to have reached 20.5 million subs, as the total D2C sub-count is listed at 66.5 million – with D2C revenue listed as $1.2 billion. The PlutoTV FAST service has reached 72 million MAUs, up from 69.6 million in Q2.
Netflix’s new ad-supported tier does not work on Apple TV boxes. Netflix’s support pages note the error but do not explain why. The smart/easy money is on a contract dispute with Apple, about what slice of the pie Apple thinks it is owed.
The Matter smart home protocol has had its official launch event. The Connectivity Standards Alliance has been behind schedule, but the organization can now promote certified devices. With support from Amazon, Apple, Google, and Samsung, certification might be the compliance step necessary for wider operator interest.
Warner Bros. Discovery has reported 94.9 million combined subscribers, up from 92.1 million last quarter. The new combined service’s launch date has been brought forward from summer to spring 2023. Revenue was $9.8 billion, which resulted in a $2.3 billion loss. Distribution revenue was $5 billion, advertising was $2 billion, and studios revenue was $3.1 billion – with $1.5 billion allocated to restructuring costs and $2.2 billion in deprecations and amortization costs.
AMC has reached 11.1 million paid subscribers, up 44% year-on-year. Notably, subscription revenue only grew by 8% in that same period. Spin offs for The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad universes are planned, to drive future growth, and a deal with Roku has seen 11 AMC FAST channels added to its platform.
Samba TV has acquired Disruptel, an AI and ML focused start-up that Samba TV says will help it better measure immersive viewing experiences. Samba TV will use the tech to analyze on-screen brand logos, products, and people. No financial terms were announced.
Meta has announced a claimed 94% reduction in Instagram’s basic video compute time, by replacing its basic ABR encodings with the progressive encodings’ video frames, by repackaging them into an ABR-capable file structure. This then apparently enables more users to watch the AV1-based ‘advanced’ encodings, which have better visual quality. It comes as Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg laid off 13% of the company’s workforce – 11,000 people.
RTL Group has reported a 53.8% jump in RTL+ subscribers in Germany, reaching 3.7 million in Q3, owing to a bundling partnership with Deutsche Telekom’s Magenta TV service. Group revenue hit $1.73 billion (€1.73 billion) in Q3, with total paid subs hitting 4.78 million.
MediaTek’s latest chip will allow mobile handsets to connect to routers using WiFi 7, even though the standard has yet to be fully ratified by the WiFi Alliance, making it highly possible that we will see WiFi 7-enabled handsets go on the market before the end of this year. Elsewhere, the Dimensity 9200 offers 10% faster multicore speed and 32% improved GU performance compared to its predecessor.
The FCC has approved thirteen database systems to facilitate Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC) – an open source reference implementation for managing spectrum and preventing interference – in the 6 GHz band.
T-Mobile is reportedly looking to build a fiber optic network in the US in collaboration with Citigroup. According to Bloomberg, the joint venture could be worth up to $4 billion, and would give the operator a much-needed footing in US broadband infrastructure.