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9 May 2019

OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

Disney’s Direct to Consumer & International segment shone from the company’s first quarter 2019 results with revenue up 15% to $955 million, although this came at the cost of an operating loss increase from $188 million to $393 million, due to investments in ESPN+ and Disney+, as well as a loss from the consolidation of Hulu. There will be concerns for the Studio Entertainment business which saw a 15% revenue decline to $2.13 billion, despite Avengers Endgame becoming the second highest grossing movie of all time. Media Networks revenue was flat at $5.5 billion, and the Parks division was up 5% to $6.17 billion, contributing to total revenue up 3% to $14.9 billion. Results included 11 days of 21st Century Fox activities totaling $373 million in revenue and $25 million operating income.

Disney CEO Bob Iger used his company’s earnings call to implore Comcast to cooperate in order to realize the full potential of Hulu should the cableco retain its 30% stake, while also confirming that discussions are underway with Comcast for a sale. Should a deal be reached, Iger said there could be an “ongoing relationship” for Comcast programming on Hulu. Disney is clearly succeeding in sweet talking Comcast into an agreement and we sense it won’t be long before Faultline Online Reporter’s predictions are realized.

Deutsche Telekom added 66,000 new MagentaTV subscribers in Germany during Q1 to total 3.4 million, a year on year rise of 7.1% for the IPTV service, while broadband lines increased by 47,000 to 13.6 million. Elsewhere in Europe, subscribers across IPTV, satellite and cable services increased by 69,000 to total 4.9 million, while adding 73,000 broadband customers to reach 6.5 million. The T-Mobile US mobile operation once again exceeded a million customers additions in a single quarter, recording 1.65 million in Q1, boosting revenue 7% to $11.1 billion.

CenturyLink saw revenue fall by $300 million year on year to $5.65 billion for the first quarter, experiencing revenue declines at business segments across the board. The consumer division performed worst in the year to date period with revenue down 8% to $1.57 billion. As a result, CenturyLink has announced a strategic alternative process for its consumer arm, engaging with external advisors to assist in the review. In short, the business is up for sale.

Sports subscription streaming service FuboTV plans to launch a free ad-supported tier with original content in Q4, according to a report from TheWrap. “Ads are certainly an area that we believe is going to allow us to grow our business profitably,” CEO David Gandler told TheWrap. “It will be a little bit smaller and more straightforward, but we certainly want to take advantage of the current trends.”

AT&T has inked a distribution deal with Epix to add the premium TV network to DirecTV Now, costing subscribers an extra $5.99 a month. Potentially a case of too little, too late for AT&T to reignite interest.

Qualcomm has announced support for the Google Assistant and Google Past Pair on its new Qualcomm Smart Headset Platform, based on the chip maker’s low power Bluetooth audio chips, the QCC5100 series.

Sinclair could use content from the 21 RSNs it just acquired from Fox to bulk up programming on the ad-supported multichannel service STIRR, which launched in January. Sinclair claims STIRR is ahead of initial expectations for downloads and awareness.

Android TV is receiving a voice search update meaning Google Assistant will be able to surface live TV, with vMVPD Philo one of the first to embrace the update. The annual Google I/O developer conference also revealed a new Play Store update is coming to Android TV, making it easier for users to sign up to subscription services by reducing the number of steps required.

WarnerMedia wants to combine the international distribution and home entertainment divisions of HBO, Turner and Warner Bros, meaning programming created by the three studios will be distributed globally by one group.

Canal+ subsidiary Studio Canal has deployed Nagra’s NexGuard forensic watermarking technology to protect the international distribution of content. NexGuard means any pre-release leaks during downstream can be tracked back to the source, which aims to deter leaks in the first instance.

Chinese internet titan Tencent has unveiled an alternative version of popular online multiplayer battle royale video game PUBG called Game for Peace, to slide past the country’s stringent game censorship body. References to gambling, imperial history, as well as images of blood and corpses, are all banned.

Some amusing survey results have revealed that only half of 4K TV set owners in the US have actually used the screens for viewing 4K content, according to the Entertainment in the Connected Home study from Hub.

UK regulator Ofcom says average broadband speeds climbed 18% within the past year to reach 54.2 Mbps download, while upload speeds rose 15% to 7.2 Mbps on average. Virgin Media topped the charts, with average peak time speeds reaching 360.2 Mbps on its VIVID 350 cable package, followed by BT’s 300 Mbps fiber offering with an average of 300.6 Mbps.

Fiber network provider Zayo has been acquired by affiliates of investment firms Digital Colony Partners and EQT Infrastructure IV for $14.3 billion. Zayo boasts a fiber network covering 131,000 miles across North America and Europe and will become a private company once the deal is completed.

Chip maker Marvell has spent $452 million in cash on high-speed transceiver manufacturer Aquantia, citing in-car high-speed technology as a key deal breaker, as well as complementary copper and optical physical layer product offerings to expand in the multi-gigabit Ethernet segment.

Deutsche Telekom has completed the merger of T-Mobile Austria with UPC Austria, forming Magenta Telekom – a new full-service provider of mobile and fixed network services.