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OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

For the second consecutive quarter, Liberty Global’s golden boy Virgin Media stumbled, losing 24,600 video subscribers as the UK operation slipped to 3.82 million in total. Net video losses totaled 54,900 in Q2, making it 115,400 for the first half of 2019. However, Liberty Global reiterated that Virgin Media is “miles ahead” of rivals in terms of providing ultra-fast broadband. It picked up 7,100 net internet subs in Q2 to total nearly 5.3 million. A substantial silver lining though is that Liberty has some $14 billion in cash to play with following the sale of cable assets in Europe to Vodafone.

Altice USA has unveiled its very own smart speaker, Altice Amplify, powered by Amazon Alexa. Subscribers to the Altice One entertainment platform can enjoy hands-free voice control and enjoy a sound system built using patented sound technologies from high-end audio outfit Devialet.

 

Home automation firm RTI has developed a new driver for IP Control of LG AI ThinQ TVs, simplifying integration between the controller and TV set and enabling premium control options including one-button access to third-party webOS apps such as Netflix and YouTube. RTI says by connecting to LG displays via this network, the driver eliminates the need for integrators to run additional infrared emitters or serial cables.

Media delivery technology vendor Telestream will introduce the second version of its OptiQ live service at IBC 2019 called OptiQ Monitor – an analytics tool targeting customers that already have the infrastructure in place to support live streaming channels but are missing post-CDN monitoring capabilities. The first application, OptiQ Channel, was unveiled at NAB earlier this year, creating multiple live services for different customer needs.

Hulu claims 21 million of its viewers do not subscribe to pay TV, while more than half are light or non-viewers of linear TV. The third-placed US SVoD service has some 82 million viewers in total, of which approximately 70% are on the ad-supported tier.

Discovery Communications posted flat second quarter revenue of $2.9 billion, with US network revenue growth of 5% partially offsetting a 3% decline in International Networks revenues.

Discovery also said it plans to expand its already diverse direct-to-consumer video streaming strategy, with multi-platform properties bringing in revenues covering subscription, advertising, sponsorships, e-commerce retail and instructional content. Discovery is currently focused on three categories – sports, lifestyle, factual – and plans to launch new OTT video offerings next year, along with a major SVoD project in the works with the BBC also set to launch next year.

Internet TV platform Pluto TV has received a content boost from parent company Viacom with three new music video channels and new streaming channels including various MTV and Comedy Central properties.

Cordless households could soon surpass the number of pay TV households in the US, according to eMarketer, with pay TV households forecast to fall 4% to 86.5 households by the end of this year and projected to drop below 80 million by 2021.

Tencent is set to acquire Vivendi’s 10% stake in Universal Music Group for an estimated $3.4 billion, including a one-year option to buy another 10%.

The English FA is launching a live OTT video service dedicated to women’s soccer, available via smartphone apps and browsers. It will offer 150 domestic matches throughout the season.

Vodafone New Zealand is rolling out a new 4K OTT set top next month targeted at non-Vodafone broadband subscribers. The Vodafone TV devices comes with 500 hours of cloud DVR storage and is pre-installed with apps including Netflix, YouTube, TVNZonDemand, Sky, and more, costing NZ$179 up front.

Brazil’s total pay TV subscriber base has declined by 1.23 million in a year to 16.7 million, incurring the worst losses in Q1 this year with 528,000 cord cutters. DTH was worst affected, seeing declines of 944,000 in the year period to 8.9 million total subs. High bitrate DSL (HDSL) is the second most prevalent technology, incurring losses of 400,000 over a year, dropping to 7.1 million, according to data from Brazil’s Agência Nacional de Telecomunicações (Anatel).

Microsoft has acquired online ad start-up PromoteIQ which is targeted at the retail space, meaning while Microsoft is tied up in a ferocious cloud computing war with AWS, it is increasingly helping Amazon’s retail rivals better compete with the technology giant.

Indonesian operator XL Axiata has selected BSS software supplier Qvantel for its FTTH division, aiding Axiata in unifying customer care and commerce while simplifying operations and reducing costs.

Italian antitrust body Unione Nazionale Consumatori has slapped telcos TIM, Fastweb, Wind and Vodafone with fines totaling €875,000 ($980,000) after finding they misleadingly advertised broadband services – specifically for not indicating that the advertised price was for a limited time only.

Samsung and Korea Telecom have demonstrated broadcasting 8K signals over satellite using Ka-band frequencies and then successfully retransmitted images via terrestrial. H.265 compression was applied and DVB-S2x was the preferred transmission technology, received by a Samsung 82-inch QLED at 100 Mbps.

The shutters have been pulled down on African satellite TV service Kwesé TV by parent company Econet Media, blaming economic conditions in its native Zimbabwe due to the country ceasing to recognize the US dollar and South African rand, among other currencies.

Indian broadband operator ACT Fibernet is now offering Ultra HD video via a new streaming set top which appears to be based on Android TV operator tier. It says users can access more than 3,000 apps on the Google Play Store along with 100 live TV channels. The ACT Stream TV 4K device has an initial refundable deposit of around $21 on select plans, while the general deposit is priced at $64, including two months complementary access to Hooq and one-month free access to another OTT service Zee5.

The Intelsat 39 satellite has successfully launched, providing capacity for video distribution and connectivity services across Europe, Asia and the MENA region. The fleet operator says the new satellite’s C- and Ku-band capabilities will add scale to its Intelsat Flex managed services.

US studio start-up company Areu Bros has acquired OTT video distribution firm Endavo Media and Communications, with the aim of pushing content development and distribution across TV, movies and music.

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