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OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

Second placed US cableco Charter Communications plans to take advantage of the 300 million devices connected to its 28 million broadband connections by rolling out home management services nationwide, beginning with Austin, Texas this coming fall. Speaking at the Deutsche Bank Media, Internet and Telecom Conference in Palm Beach this week, Charter Chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge lauded Charter’s strong connections business as giving the company opportunities in providing connectivity features which do not exist today. Other than citing “privacy, security and control over all the devices in your home,” Rutledge did not go into any additional detail, but is likely talking about some form of cloud WiFi management system for the home – not exactly an innovation masterclass but certainly a must-have for operators looking to tighten up the critical last mile. But we hope to pleasantly surprised.

Satellite equipment supplier Global Invacom and WiFi infrastructure vendor Edgewater Wireless Systems have teamed up to continue the work already achieved on Broadcast WiFi (also going by Bx-WiFi), the LTE-Broadcast-esque wireless technology for large-scale events. Global Invacom is combining its existing Bx-WiFi technology with Edgewater’s WiFi Multi-Channel Single Radio platform to withstand increasing use of WiFi and mobile devices in stadiums – using Forward Error Correction to maintain video quality in combination with multicast technology to minimize bandwidth usage. Bx-WiFi was first unveiled by the BBC and Global Invacom two years ago at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Rakuten TV, the SVoD service available across Europe as well as Japan, wants to expand to 40 countries this year from its current footprint of 12 – by harnessing integrations with smart TV makers Samsung, Philips, Hisense and LG. Like on many pay TV remotes which offer dedicated Netflix, Hulu and Prime Video buttons, these smart TV manufacturers will incorporate a Rakuten TV button into their remote controls, directly linking to the OTT video service.

Luxembourg-based media group RTL has revealed it reached 1 million SVoD subscribers at the end of 2018 and aims to hit 3 million by 2021, accounting for TV Now Premium in Germany and Videoland in the Netherlands. RTL’s OTT growth has boosted SVoD revenues to €360 million, and the company has also pledged to invest an additional €300 million into SVoD content over the next three years.

Orange’s fiber footprint now reaches 12 million homes and businesses, prompting the French telco to announce it will soon offer its services as an ISP on all Public Initiative Networks (PIN) deployed in France, irrespective of the infrastructure operator which deployed the network. More than half a million premises in PIN areas already have access to Orange’s fiber offers, which it claims will grow to 3 million eligible connections by the end of this year, bringing fiber connectivity to rural areas.

AirSonics, a strategic partner to Turkey’s WiFi expert AirTies offering managed WiFi systems, has revealed that the number of regional operators across North America running the Smart WiFi product from AirTies has reached 30 – via AirTies’ mesh APs branded as AirSonics’ StratiFi 4920s. These are mostly small regional operators such as Beanfield, GRM Networks, Hargray, Horizon Telecom, Lumos Networks and Whidbey Telecom, although AirTies is by no means short of tier 1 accounts.

Apple is expected to draw the curtains on its long-awaited OTT video service at a press event on March 25, describing the event as “show time” in invitations to guests.

Silicon supplier Sequans Communications has partnered with aerospace force Lockheed Martin to connect consumer LTE devices to GEO satellites – claiming a world first. This LTE-to-satellite communication was achieved following the modification of LTE chips by Sequans engineers, which it claims will have a major impact on handling the huge potential volume of broadband and IoT applications.

The iOS footprint grew by 5% in the US last year as iPhone users reached 101.9 million, representing a 45.1% market share, compared to Android’s 120.5 million devices, growing by 4.1% to a total 53.3% share of the smartphone market, according to eMarketer. The latest report projects iPhone users to grow to 110.3 million by 2021, a 45.4% market share, while Android will add slightly more to hit a user base of 130.6 million, growing to a 53.8% market share. Windows, Blackberry and Other make up the remaining crumbs, all of which are forecast to shrink further still by 2021.

Disney will finalize its $71.3 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox assets next week on March 20, as Fox’s regional sports networks are put up for sale to confirm the deal.

In-flight connectivity and entertainment provider Gogo has shifted its entire infrastructure over to AWS, including AWS Elemental for in-flight live and VoD encoding. Gogo also uses AWS for analytics, storage, database and serverless services, and could also tap into AWS’ machine learning capabilities for optimizing QoE.

DirecTV Now is employing two slimmed down channel packages following last week’s news of a $10 a month price hike. The AT&T streaming service is offering Plus for $50 a month and Max for $70 a month, including dozens of live TV channels and on-demand movies, including all-important HBO content.

Spotify has again thrown shade over Apple’s app store conduct, filing an complaint with the European Commission regarding certain practices deemed anti-competitive in a spat which has stretched back years. Spotify is clearly at the end of its tether, highlighting issues including Apple taking a higher cut of Spotify subscription revenues, hindering features including integration with Siri, and threats to limit the service on iOS should Spotify seek an alternative payment method other than the Apple app store. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek has now thrown down the gauntlet to Apple, telling the company that its Apple Music service should try to compete with Spotify on equal terms instead of trying to gain an unfair advantage.

Video SaaS firm DaCast has acquired video hosting platform vzaar for an undisclosed fee, with the aim of improving access to online video tools for small to medium sized business.

UK-based sports streaming service DAZN, owned by Perform Group, has rebranded its Perform Media unit as DAZN Media, combining assets and inventory for advertisers in the run up to a full roll out later this year. It means DAZN Media is now responsible for all sponsorship and advertising across the US, Canada, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Japan and soon Brazil.

OTT video service Starz Play, available in 20 countries across MENA, has reached the 1 million subscribers milestone, growing at an impressive rate of 300% in a year.

zaar for an undisclosed fee, with the aim of improving access to online video tools for small to medium sized business.

UK-based sports streaming service DAZN, owned by Perform Group, has rebranded its Perform Media unit as DAZN Media, combining assets and inventory for advertisers in the run up to a full roll out later this year. It means DAZN Media is now responsible for all sponsorship and advertising across the US, Canada, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Japan and soon Brazil.

OTT video service Starz Play, available in 20 countries across MENA, has reached the 1 million subscribers milestone, growing at an impressive rate of 300% in a year.

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