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OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

Comcast has given its blessing for the launch of Sky Studios, a new serious-sounding pan-European original content production house touted to more than double Sky’s investment in original content over the next five years. Tapping into resources from new partner company NBCUniversal, Sky Studios plans to roll out productions for Sky channels, NBC broadcast and cable, plus Universal Pictures and other distribution outlets, hoping to build on the success of original Sky series Chernobyl – currently the world’s highest rated TV show of all time.

In a deal we perceive as going against the grain, Chinese cable operator Shenzhen Topway Video Communications has tapped a US supplier to handle UHD services – deploying live UHD video processing technology from Harmonic. The vendor’s Electra XOS software-based, cloud-deployable application supports HDR and encompasses AI together with Intel processors for boosting video quality in applications where bandwidth is limited.

French encoding expert Ateme has won a niche deal which is potentially one to watch for the future, deploying a complete video headend at the Egyptian National Media Authority (ENMA) to cover the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament this summer. Based on Ateme’s Kyrion encoders and flagship Titan compression software multiplexer, the system has been deployed across 12 sites in Egypt to feed ASI signals to DTT transmitters.

An alarming report claims as much as 18% of OTT ad inventory is fraudulent, for example manifesting as one rogue device requesting relentless ad fills during a given time. The data comes from blockchain ad tech firm Madhive, which says this fraud was the reason behind partnering with smart TV viewing company Inscape – to integrate extra data as an extra form of defense for clients.

Viaccess-Orca has landed the first signature for its new system integration partnership, signing Hong Kong-based satellite communications equipment supplier Datacom. Orange-owned VO says Datacom will play a crucial role in bringing its content protection and TV platform systems to APAC countries.

UKTV, the joint video venture between the BBC and Discovery, has been separated out. The BBC paid Discovery a reported $220 million to take seven entertainment channels, leaving Discovery holding onto three lifestyle channels, as part of a larger streaming rights deal.

CCAP spending declined for the second straight quarter, driving total cable access concentrator revenue down 38% year on year to $275 million globally for Q1 2019, according to market research group Dell’Oro. Total broadband access equipment revenue declined 2% to $2.9 billion, although the research cited positive shipment performances for XG-PON1, XGS-PON, NG-PON2 OLT ports, and DOCSIS 3.1 CPE, which helped offset CCAP’s slide.

Liberty Global’s Dutch cable operator VodafoneZiggo has ditched its Horizon hardware for the new Mediabox Next, a 4K UHD set top based on the Horizon EOS 4-platform with 400 hours of cloud storage.

German media company Axel Springer is the subject of takeover rumors by US investment firm KKR, reportedly offering €63 a share.

German media group ProSiebenSat.1 is getting a boost from Facebook as the social media platform will offer a selection of video content on Facebook Watch, which claims 720 million monthly viewers and 140 million a day, viewing 26 minutes a day on average.

Esports revenues are projected to surpass $900 million this year and will break the $1 billion barrier next year, according to Futuresource Consulting. The research highlights North America and Europe as growing forces in the esports sector, tracking high levels of growth in consumer spending, to close the gap on Asia Pacific – particularly China and South Korea.

Ofcom has given BBC iPlayer the greenlight to keep certain on-demand content in the online catalog for one year, along with full boxsets of select returning titles and programs from the BBC archive. It comes in the same week the BBC contentiously scrapped free TV licenses for over 75 year olds in the UK, meaning some 3.7 million pensioners will have to pay the annual fee of £154.50 ($195.95).

Amazon has secured more sports rights, this time for Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) matches in a four-year deal covering the UK and Ireland. Prime Video members will get access to some 2,000 live and on-demand WTA tournament matches from 2020 to 2024.

Hulu and cable channel FX have together inked a two-year deal with Lionsgate for movies released in 2020 and 2021.

Microsoft’s proposal to make TV white space spectrum more effective for rural broadband access usage has received support from a number of technology outfits, submitting comments to the FCC. These are the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), New America’s Open Technology Institute, Next Century Cities, Tribal Digital Village and the Gigabit Libraries Network.

BARB (Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board) has deployed new router meters from UK-based data insights firm Kantar to differentiate between content played back through a PVR and content played via a broadcaster’s on-demand platform. Installation in new and existing BARB panel homes will commence in October 2019 to be completed by the end of 2020.

Email marketing provider Mailchimp wants to become an entertainment content provider. The company is pulling together short-form programming from Vice Media, Scout Productions and Caviar, to launch Mailchimp Presents – a platform centered around entrepreneurship.

Gameplay platform developer Super League Gaming has acquired esports social video network Framerate for $1.5 million cash and $1 million stock. Framerate amassed over 700 million engagement actions across social networks last year and claims to be one of the fastest growing independent networks around.

More details are leaking out about WarnerMedia, the latest being reports that DirecTV Now will eventually be merged into the new streaming service, according to CNBC. It claims AT&T will use a common search and UI, offering a discounted bundle with a wireless package.

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