OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

Neither company made much of a mark on the NAB show floor but that didn’t stop Netflix and Intel throwing the cat among the pigeons at a codec-centric show with the launch of collaborative AV1-based technology called Scalable Video Technology for AV1 (SVT-AV1). The software-based scalable codec claims 50% bandwidth efficiency over AVC while maintaining video quality, achieved partly through Intel’s acquisition of eBrisk last year – enabling faster AV1 algorithm development in the open source community which Netflix and Intel hope will spur innovation in video compression. Intel network platforms group VP and GM of the visual cloud division Lynn Com said, “This codec makes it possible for services ranging from video on demand to live broadcast of 4Kp60/10-bit content on Intel Xeon Scalable processors, including the recently launched 2nd-Generation Intel Xeon Scalable processor.”

T-Mobile US will finally launch its Layer3 TV-based pay TV service, called TVision Home, in eight cities by the end of the week. The IP set top will deliver some 275 channels alongside OTT video apps and a VoD library. But in true uncarrier Robin Hood-esque style, T-Mobile is offering to pay early contract termination fees to subscribers of DirecTV and Dish Network satellite pay TV services (up to $500) – coined the Satellite Freedom initiative.

Netflix has hiked subscription prices in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein with the medium tier moving up by €1 to €11.99 a month, and the UHD tier has been raised by €2 to €15.99 a month. The €9.99 basic tier remains unchanged.

Ad tech company SpotX plans to bring premium OTT inventory to advertisers through an expanded partnership with TV ad platform provider Brightline, launching support for programmatic and bulking up inventory with publisher partners. Enhanced ads include addressable, dynamic store locator overlays, immersive engagement ads, and quick-click micro interactions for use in live viewing.

Some 12% of the US adult population attest to never having a pay TV subscription, rising from 9% in a year, according to research from MRI-Simmons. Of these 31 million cord-nevers, 27% (approximately 8 million consumers) plan to sign up for some form of video service in the next six months – with 70% of these looking at streaming video services compared to just 30% for a traditional pay TV package.

Data science and marketing technology firm 4C Insights has bought equity in iQ Media, in doing so creating a new brand called Kinetiq and claiming to have formed the world’s largest combined TV intelligence network. The new group will bring together clients’ TV measurement, monitoring, watermarking second-screen signalling and data.

MediaKind extended its partnership deal with Inspur Digital Media at NAB with a focus on bringing cloud-based delivery to TV service providers across Asia Pacific. Existing Mediaroom customers can now migrate from legacy hardware to the cloud-agnostic MediaFirst TV Platform to enable new pay TV delivery and also OTT and TV Everywhere services when combined with the MediaKind Video Storage and Processing Platform.

AT&T’s WarnerMedia arm has denied a report from the Financial Times this week claiming it was assessing the sale of HBO Europe to ease its $170 billion debt pile – suggesting Sky as a potential buyer.

TV and radio station company Hearst Television has tapped Comcast’s Freewheel to handle its OTT video advertising system – using the Freewheel Monetization and Revenue Management platform to power the Hearst Anyscreen ad product.

Viacom’s newly acquired ad-supported streaming outfit Pluto TV has surpassed 15 million monthly active users, after ending 2018 on 12 million.

Sinclair Broadcast, Nexstar, Fox Television Stations and NBCUniversal have revealed plans to launch ATSC 3.0 in 40 markets by the end of 2020. These include Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas; Houston, Texas; San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, California; Phoenix, Arizona; Seattle-Tacoma, Washington; Detroit, Michigan; Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, Florida; Portland, Oregon; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; Baltimore, Maryland; Nashville, Tennessee; Salt Lake City, Utah; and San Antonio, Texas. However, the fundamental challenge remains for ATSC 3.0 which is getting handset manufacturers on board.