OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

Arris, Irdeto, DATV, Enensys, Fluendo, Samba TV, and SmarDTV have all signed up to the HbbTV Association, bringing the initiative’s member base to 75 companies. HbbTV claims more than 300 million applications running on 44 million consumer devices are now using the open specifications to add features such as interactive services, OTT offers and targeted advertising to linear TV channels.


Vodafone’s acquisition of German cable operator Unitymedia would significantly reduce competition and result in rising costs for triple play subscribers, warns German housing association GdW. “The EU Commission has rightly expressed massive competition concerns to the parties involved in the merger in areas including fiber-optic network deployment, internet and telephony as well as TV signal delivery to apartment blocks. Vodafone’s current commitments largely ignore these remarks and are economically worthless,” said Axel Gedaschko, president of GdW. It comes after Vodafone buttered up regulators last week by allowing Telefonica Deutschland access to its cable network should a deal to buy assets from Liberty Global be approved.

SVoD services’ contribution to the content ecosystem is overhyped, according to claims that SVoD platforms in the UK spent £150 million ($192 million) on original content in 2018 – just 7% of the total £2.1 billion ($2.7 billion) original content spend last year. The claim came during a parliamentary session in the UK this week, presented by Sky’s head of policy Ali Law and the Commercial Broadcasting Association’s executive director Adam Minns. In response to the argument of broadcaster’s being immune to the Netflix effect, Lord Allen responded with evidence showing a 6% fall in broadcast viewership last year, alongside a significant increase in production costs.

German multiscreen software outfit 3 Screen Solutions (3SS) is collaborating with video AI specialist Media Distillery to develop a pre-integrated AI platform promising “unprecedented TV service personalization.” The duo claim operators will benefit from a wide combination of machine learning techniques to identify, understand and index aspects of content – such as faces, speech, topics and logos – to enable more diverse and accurate search results. The offering combines the 3Ready front end and UI product from 3SS with Media Distillery’s AI technology.

NBCUniversal’s streaming service launching next year will have “a slate of originals and a gigantic library of favorites,” according to NBC’s chairman of advertising and client partnerships Linda Yaccarino, speaking at the company’s Upfront this week. To win over advertisers, she described the ad-focus of the service as “the largest initiative in our company’s history.”

AT&T is embracing the flood of subscribers from DirecTV, with the operator happy to see the back of lower revenue customers. “This is going to be a year of cleaning up the video business,” said CEO Randall Stephenson at a JP Morgan investor conference this week.

WiFi silicon specialist Quantenna has unveiled the new Spartan 5XL chipset as part of its WiFi 6 portfolio, based on the vendor’s 5×5 MIMO architecture, providing 7-stream technology for extenders, repeaters and mesh nodes. The dual-band dual-concurrent Spartan 5XL comes equipped with EasyMesh support, Quantenna’s ViSiON cloud-based monitoring and Qdock support of third-party applications, plus the vendor’s QT8853 power management IC for lower power consumption and reduced BOM.

US new-release movies and games rental firm Redbox has selected Canadian UI developer You.i TV to develop a new and improved user experience for its On Demand offering, kicking off with Roku devices where the lion’s share of Redbox On Demand viewing occurs. You.i TV, fresh from securing funding from Sky, uses the React Native development framework and cross-platform SDK to deliver faster access to new features.

Sling TV President Warren Schlichting believes AT&T is carrying out anti-competitive behavior, abusing its power following the Time Warner merger despite industry-wide warnings. He was referring specifically to the retraction of HBO from Dish Network and Sling TV back in October last year, speaking at the FierceVideo event in Denver this week.

Viaccess-Orca has teamed with French research institute b<>com to tackle redistribution of illegal streaming services through the development of unique watermarking for tracking pirates. b<>com has built a flexible tracking algorithm enabling digital marking of video streams (including 4K) regardless of what device is used, whether it be a TV decoder, tablet, smartphone, or web player, while Viaccess-Orca has chipped in with its expertise in content protection and pirate stream analysis.

Amazon Fire TV devices are now accessed by 34 million active users, according to the firm’s GM and head of marketing Jen Prenner, also claiming that Fire TV is the number one streaming device in the US, UK, Germany, India and Japan.

Tencent’s revenue slowed to 16% year on year growth for Q1 2019, coming in at $12.7 billion, hampered by stringent Chinese game monetization regulations.

German broadcaster Discovery Deutschland has selected SES subsidiary MX1 for managing media and distribution services for a new Home & Garden TV channel.

QoE analytics vendor Nice People at Work has integrated its YouBora monitoring platform with the iQ analytics platform from US video capture and ingest outfit Telestream. The two firms say the collaboration will help identify issues upstream in the video distribution chain, while enabling cross reference selling strategies.

Online TV now accounts for a 50% viewing share in the UK and Sweden, according to a skewed report from Nielsen subsidiary Gracenote, which at the same time claims pay TV remains the most popular source of video in the UK and Sweden, with approximately 2 in 3 consumers accessing pay TV services.

Viacom, CBS and Fox Broadcasting have entered discussions with pay TV operators to sell a portion of national commercials as targeted ads, as well as talking to technology firms about targeted ads on smart TVs, according to a WSJ report.

In partnership with Samsung and Spin Digital, SES has delivered an 8K signal to a flat screen TV without using an external receiver or decoder. Spin Digital encoded the 8K content using its HEVC encoder at 70 Mbps, with transmission carried out by SES on a 33 MHz transponder.

We said recently that the floodgates of pay TV operators integrating the Amazon Prime Video app was opening and the latest is Cox Communications, adding the app to its Contour pay TV platform.

Disney-owned Indian streaming service Hotstar has broken its own world record for concurrent live streams by recording 18.6 million viewers during the recent IPL final cricket match.

Apple TV has rolled out an update across 100 countries letting users access subscription services like HBO and Showtime on a single platform, which is essentially a copycat of Amazon Channels. The company also added AirPlay 2 support for Samsung smart TVs this week, while select models from LG, Sony and Vizio will receive the feature later this year.

T-Mobile and Sprint are considering a sale of the prepaid business as a concession for earning regulatory approval in the $26.5 billion merger to form New T-Mobile, according to Bloomberg. The report claims selling spectrum licenses and setting up a fourth carrier were less attractive options than the aforementioned sale.

Tencent-owned video game company Epic Games has acquired visualization tool Twinmotion for an undisclosed fee. The technology is geared towards architecture, construction, urban planning and landscaping in Unreal Engine 4.