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25 April 2019

OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

Like magic, last week’s prayer for an announcement from ThinkAnalytics was heard by the PR gods as the recommendation software guru broke its vow of silence with news straight of Asia Pacific. Almost a year since publicly landing the Tata Sky account (we suspected it was deployed much earlier), the Indian DTH operator has now been impressed enough by the technology to roll out a new feature for enabling personalized content recommendations on the Tata Sky Mobile app, as well as in browsers. It isn’t immediately clear what exactly the “new feature” is, although it might relate to some additional or tweaked machine learning algorithms, and we know ThinkAnalytics was already powering recommendations across mobile and browsers for Tata Sky, so powering recommendations through smartphones and browsers is nothing new in itself.

Hooq, the Southeast Asian VoD platform, has come out with a substantial claim as the world’s first service provider to localize its full content portfolio using machine learning algorithms and something it calls “smart dub” technology. Hooq’s one-year R&D initiative aims to take English language content and localize these titles into Hindi, Tamil and Telegu for the Indian market. In doing so, Hooq says it has claim to the crown of being the first company to offer a library with 100% of titles available with both English subtitles and audio dubbing available.

Advertisers have been described as “millennial-obsessed” following the publication of survey results from the Video Advertising Bureau showing that 77% of US adults feel neglected by ads. The VAB Age of Opportunity report estimates 49% of those surveyed actively ignore brands which don’t appeal to their age group, accounting for $3.2 trillion in aggregate annual expenditures.

Almost half (48%) of US consumers use Netflix, according to Morgan Stanley’s ninth annual streaming video survey. YouTube TV comes in a surprising second with 41%, ahead of Amazon Prime Video with 33%, and Hulu with 24%. As for skinny bundles, 7% selected HBO Now and 4% cited using CBS All Access, while just 3% of respondents use TV Everywhere apps from pay TV providers. Interestingly, 37% voiced “interest” in Disney+.

US cableco RCN has tapped TiVo’s Next-Gen Platform, deploying the IPTV products TiVo Solutions for Android TV, TiVo for Streamers, and TiVo for Mobile. Managed Android TV set tops across RCN properties including Grande Communications Networks and WaveDivision will be enabled with VoD, linear, restart, catch-up and network DVR features.

Programmatic supply-side marketplace provider Videa, part of Cox Media Group, has selected Red Bee Media for textual metadata services – enabling the Videa platform to optimize forecasting algorithms created through machine learning. Red Bee will provide scheduling data up to 14 days in advance and 30 days backward, covering up to a year of TV scheduling data.

Facebook increased both daily active users (DAUs) and monthly active users (MAUs) by 8% year on year, reaching 1.56 billion and 2.38 billion respectively in March 2019. Revenue climbed an impressive 26% to $15.1 billion for the first quarter, of which advertising revenue accounted for $14.9 billion, up 26%. Income from operations was $3.3 billion.

App performance management start-up Embrace has raised $4.5 million in a funding round led by Pritzker Group Venture Capital, bringing total raised to $7 million.

SiriusXM saw profit plummet by 44% in Q1 2019, which the internet radio firm blamed on costs of acquiring Pandora late last year for $3.5 billion. Revenue, meanwhile, was up 27% to $1.7 billion for the quarter as the company added 132,000 net subscribers to total 34.2 million.

Indonesian cable TV operator PT LinkNet has selected Nagra Protect cardless content protection technology to shore up its new hybrid broadcast and Android TV-based OTT service. As a long-term supplier to PT LinkNet, the Kudelski-owned company will enable the delivery of services to any screen in the transition away from card-based systems, while promising unprecedented security for a software-based product – using either Nagra on-chip security (NOCS) or chipset Trusted Execution Environments (TEEs).

Liberty Global’s Virgin Media in the UK, one of the first operators to integrate Netflix into its set top environment back in 2013, has now nailed the integration of Amazon Prime Video on its Ultra HD V6 set tops. In time, Liberty Global will roll out the new feature across the remainder of its footprint, in doing so setting a precedent for other operators to follow suit.

Twitter increased “monetizable DAUs” by 11% year on year to 134 million in Q1, as revenues increased 25% to $432 million and operating profit grew 25.3% to $94 million.

Budget UK MVNO GiffGaff topped the rankings in a survey of consumer satisfaction ratings with a score of 87%, beating out Sky in 6th place with a score of 76%, while BT came in 9th with 65%, followed by Virgin Mobile in 10th with 64%. EE and Vodafone didn’t even make the top ten, coming in 12th and 13th respectively, according to the results from UK magazine Which?


Rovi has drawn 2019’s first blood in TiVo’s ongoing patent spat with Comcast, issuing the cable giant with a lawsuit extending to its Xfinity X1 DVR, non-DVR set tops and broadband gateways. “Comcast’s Xfinity X1 continues to infringe Rovi’s cloud and multi-room DVR patents – a vital component of home entertainment,” said Rovi in a statement.

Netflix plans to issue $2 billion in unsecured bonds which would bring its long-term debt to $12.3 billion, to help cover costs for its projected content spend for 2019 of $15 billion.

Subscription and advertising revenues from online video across Asia Pacific will reach $52 billion in 2024, doubling over five years, according to consultancy group Media Partners Asia. As expected, China will grow its share of video revenues from 29% to 44%.

Broadcast equipment supplier Hitachi Kokusai Linear has renewed its contract with French encoder supplier Ateme to deliver ultra-low latency Kyrion encoders, primarily to support the growing demand in the Brazilian broadcast market for high quality video encoding and broadcast transmissions.