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1 November 2018

OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

The refusal by Dish Network to meet AT&T’s “untenable” carriage fee demands has resulted in the first blackout of HBO channels in the network’s history, in what is frankly an inevitable outcome following the Time Warner mega merger. Dish claims AT&T is forcing it to cough up cash for a guaranteed number of subscribers, regardless of how many consumers actually want to subscribe to HBO. Many, Dish included, now fear repeat situations will spring up across the country, harming consumers and pay TV providers particularly in rural areas where broadband infrastructure is poor – meaning the DirecTV satellite business can directly prosper. “AT&T is stacking the deck with free-for-life offerings to wireless customers and slashed prices on streaming services, effectively trying to force Dish to subsidize HBO on AT&T’s platforms. This is the exact anticompetitive behavior that critics of the AT&T-Time Warner merger warned us about. Every pay TV company should be concerned,” said Dish SVP of Programming Andy LeCuyer.

CBS is launching an entertainment news-focused streaming service called ET Live, getting its own standalone app but also being made available on the existing CBS All Access platform. CBS’ Entertainment Tonight cable show has approximately 5 million daily viewers and the social audience is in the region of 70 million monthly viewers in the US.

Spotify added 4 million paying subscribers in Q3 2018 to total 87 million subscribers globally, although this is a slowdown from 8 million in the previous quarter. Ad-supported monthly active users increased 20% to 109 million, while revenue saw a 31% jump to €1.35 billion ($1.54 billion), on a heavily slashed net loss of €6 million ($6.8 million), compared to €90 million ($102.6 million) in Q2.

WiFi operating in the 5.9 GHz band can share spectrum with connected cars, the FCC has concluded following a series of tests. Protype devices from Cisco, Qualcomm, KEA Tech, Broadcom, and CAV Technologies reliably detected DSRC (dedicated short-range communications) technologies, said the Commission’s Office of Engineering and Technology. Meanwhile, The Internet & Television Association has argued that a 75 MHz slice of spectrum in 5.9 GHz should be freed up entirely for unlicensed WiFi.

The FCC has also received calls from the NAB to reevaluate the importance of C-band (3.7 GHz to 4.2 GHz) spectrum for OTT services and MVPDs, as well as TV and radio stations. It warns of degrading satellite services by allowing shared use in the non-reallocated portion. “If live sports, entertainment and news cannot be reliably distributed, the fastest 5G network in the world will have far less value and the prize for winning will be a participation trophy instead of a substantial economic boost,” said the NAB filing.

Some £200 million ($258.4 million) in additional funding will be allocated helping fiber broadband reach rural areas in the UK, Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced. The Country Land and Business Association praised plans but was critical of the omission of 4G from Hammond’s plans and slammed mobile operators for neglecting rural regions.

Swedish gesture technology developer Crunchfish has rolled out new high-precision one-touch interaction software designed for any standard AR smart glasses. It allows users to control all functions in the glasses with a single gesture, in a similar manner to tapping a touchscreen, whereby a pointer tracks the hand and a pinch gesture activates functions such as zoom, drag and drop, draw, and video call playback control.

Facebook continues to grow against all odds. Monthly active users for Q3 totaled 2.3 billion, a 10% annual increase, while it grew daily active users by 9% to 1.5 billion. When including WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger, the entire Facebook family has over 2 billion daily active users. Revenue wasn’t bad either, up 33% to $13.7 billion for the period, with net income up 9% to $5.1 billion.

Global TV ad spend will reach $210 billion by 2023, growing from $195 billion at the close of 2018, according to Strategy Analytics, with digital video spend climbing at 10.8% CAGR in this timeframe to reach nearly $51 billion by 2023. The UK market will lead digital advertising adoption, accounting for 44% by 2023, followed by the US at 30% and China 27%.

US video management company Telaria has launched TV Content Reporting, a piece of software targeted at premium publishers to understand how advertisers value their most desired inventory. It provides granular insights and analytics into the bidding and buying patterns of specific show titles and categories, letting publishers create targeting directly in the platform.

Private equity firm Vector Capital has injected a $100 million second lien term loan to support Permira Funds’ purchase of Synamedia from Cisco.

Eutelsat stock crashed by 13.7% and financial analysts downgraded the satellite firm to Sell following disappointing third quarter results, with revenue down 3% to $380.7 million, primarily due to a lost government contract. The video sector fell 1.7%, fixed broadband dropped 7.3%, and fixed data was down 12%, while a silver lining was 11% growth in the mobile connectivity business.

FX Networks, part of 21st Century Fox, has agreed to license all new original scripted comedy and drama content to the BBC, a UK first for the US pay TV network.

Not a single piece of VR hardware on the market today is good enough to go mainstream, is the damning opinion of Oculus founder Palmer Luckey. After leaving Facebook last year, Luckey wrote in a blog that measuring hardware sales is a “meaningless metric for the success of VR” claiming that “engagement is everything” for VR to achieve “inevitable dominance as the final platform.”

UHD content from Insight TV is now available on Windows devices through a newly developed app optimized for the latest Intel Core processors.

Video infrastructure vendor Ooyala is now relying on Google Cloud to power its Flex Media Platform, serving as a global network for content delivery.

Households in the US are paying 50% more for cable TV compared to 8 years ago, with mean cable bills rising from $71.24 a month to $107 a month, according to a report from Leichtman Research of 1,152 households.

UK-based digital storage company Object Matrix has partnered with asset management workflow firm TransMedia Dynamics to allow customers to more easily access objects in the MatrixStore archive.

UK music channel broadcaster The Box Plus Network, a joint venture between Channel 4 and Bauer Media, has signed a multi-year deal with media management services firm Globecast. Box Plus wanted to optimize its transponder use on Astra 2G, taking advantage of the latest encoding capabilities and statistical multiplexing that Globecast offers.

As part of plans to shift resources out of London, UK broadcaster Channel 4 has selected Leeds as the location for its new National HQ, while Bristol and Glasgow will become home to two new creative hubs.