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18 April 2019

OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

Tribune has crept closer to at long last sealing a takeover as the US Department of Justice this week green lighted the spin off of 8 TV stations by Nexstar, as part of Tribune’s $4.1 billion takeover by the country’s second largest local TV station owner. In doing so, Nexstar has smoothed over proceedings with the FCC, following a similar deal to sell 11 stations to Tegna in a $740 million deal last month.

Indian regulator TRAI has approved the country’s set top interoperability initiative, effective December 2019, meaning TV subscribers across the country can switch providers without having to switch out set top hardware. It sends a big message to the rest of the world, particularly in the wake of the FCC’s failed open set top initiative two years ago.

Danish telco TDC has deployed a home gateway running software from French digital home connectivity vendor SoftAtHome – combining two bonded VDSL lines, high quality TV and uninterrupted communications with 4×4 WiFi.

North America will add 110 million SVoD subscriptions between 2018 and 2024, reaching 270 million in total, according to Digital TV Research. As well as cord cutters embracing SVoD for the first time, the report projects a sizable 99.4 million TV households (77.8% of total TV households) to sign up to at least one SVoD service by 2024, while the average SVoD residence will bill 2.89 subscriptions.

Greek telco OTE has licensed more than 250 hours of content from BBC Studios to bulk up the on-demand catalog for its pay TV platform Cosmote TV.

Indian OTT video outfit Hotstar claims 267 million viewers tuned in to watch the first three weeks of Indian Premier League cricket on its service, an increase of 65 million from last year, in the process setting a world live streaming record by registering 12.7 million concurrent viewers during one match on March 28. In comparison, 345 million viewers were recorded viewing the first two weeks of IPL coverage on DTH services from Star India, according to data from the Broadcast Audience Research Council.

Speaking of records, the season 8 premiere of Game of Thrones clocked up 17.4 million viewers – 1.3 million more than the previous season’s opening episode.

Sports video streaming group Dazn, part of Perform Group, has merged the Perform content business with the Stats AI division to form a new sports technology platform. The plan is to create a library of sports data “primed to be unlocked by AI” by applying Stats technology to historical archives – using deep, granular data to generate machine learning predictions for improving performance and player evaluation. Dazn says this will enable automation of natural language insights for broadcasters and sports technology firms. It will boast 1,500 employees across 30 countries.

Swedish video synchronization specialist Net Insight reported full year 2018 results, showing total net sales recovering from its 2017 blip with an increase of 5.8% year on year to $48.8 million. Positive momentum in Western Europe and the Americas could see Net Insight recover to net sales seen in 2016 of $54.5 million. Strangely though, net income suffered a dramatic turn of events – from $400,000 in 2017 to a $6.3 million loss in 2018.

We reached out to Net Insight for some clarification on mitigating factors contributing to the sizable net loss and the company responded with the following statement: “We have initiated a number of actions towards increased efficiencies and customer intimacy. This has included staff terminations, and also write downs of capitalized R&D costs. We have further continued the investment in Sye, our Live OTT solution. One off costs (R&D write down, termination costs) in 2018 totaled $5.2 million. This means operating earnings excluding one offs was -$2.9 million, not something we’re happy with of course. The -$2.9 million includes a -$4.4 million contribution related to the Sye investments, which means that excluding Sye, the other businesses generated positive operating earnings of $1.5 million. Still not where we want to be, but we do believe we have a strong competitive position.”

Amazon is about to launch a free, ad-supported version of its music streaming service in the US, according to Music Business Worldwide, citing high-level music industry sources. The new offering will reportedly be tied to Echo smart speakers and could arrive as soon as this week. Only Spotify has truly embraced the freemium model in the music streaming world, so it’s about time someone tried to compete on the ad revenues front.

The FCC will funnel an extra $67 million a year into rural broadband service providers as part of an initiative to upgrade 110,000 homes and businesses across 43 states. Recipients of the funding must pledge to upgrade connectivity to speeds of at least 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up for rural subscribers. Carriers have 30 days to accept or decline funding.

Swedish app store developer Accedo and UK-based entertainment software house Oregan Networks are partnering on a pay TV product combining the Accedo One video experience platform with the Oregan Networks SparQ middleware for Android TV operator tier.

Arris has launched an application development platform for the RDK community called RDK Lab Accelerator, developed in conjunction with app developer Metrological and open source consortium RDK Management. Based on the Arris VIP5202W Ultra HD IP set top, the open source platform enables standardization of core functions used in broadband devices, set tops and IoT hardware – allowing service providers to manage devices, control business models and customize apps.

Canadian IPTV software provider Espial has rolled out Amazon Alexa voice control for a number of pay TV operators running its Elevate Cloud technology. Espial has secured Alexa certification for 18 different service providers, meaning the likes of MCTV, Hiawatha Broadband Communications, Optic Communications and Eagle Communications can deploy voice functionality to subscribers via Elevate SaaS.


German cableco Tele Columbus is reportedly preparing to sell its network assets after splitting the company into two separate network and service business units, according to sources speaking to TMT Finance, who added it was too early to estimate an asking price.

Video app developer 24i Media has built and deployed a suite of new video apps for North American SVoD platform, integrating 24i Media’s SmartOTT technology with the existing Comcast Technology Solutions backend.

The Egyptian National Media Authority (ENMA) has tapped German electronics testing group Rohde & Schwarz to supply its THU9evo transmitters in a “multi-million dollar” deal to upgrade and support the DVB-T2 network. The announcement says ENMA evaluated transmitters from all leading vendors and R&S equipment will be installed and commissioned by mid-June 2019.