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19 September 2019

OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

Comcast is giving away free Xfinity Flex set tops to internet-only subscribers with xFi gateways in a bid to introduce cord cutters and cord nevers to the cable operator’s streaming video offerings and premium channels, alongside third party applications. Flex supports 4K and includes integrated search, much like popular connected TV devices like Roku, which is why Roku’s share price plummeted 14% as of market close yesterday.


TV metadata pioneer Gracenote launched its Video ID Distribution product at IBC, allowing networks and studios to register content in the Gracenote Video Database to obtain content tags for use in search and discovery. While not revolutionary in itself, Faultline Online Reporter met with Gracenote in Amsterdam and can assure readers that some disruptive things are about to erupt from the Nielsen-owned company’s press office, for which we have been sworn to secrecy.


At long last, an original OTT video name unveiling which doesn’t involve the + symbol, although that hasn’t deterred some local US media outlets from poking fun at the name. NBCUniversal has christened its streaming service Peacock, derived from NBC’s famous logo, and also revealed that live streaming will complement the 15,000 hours of on-demand content, including Olympics 2020 rights, late night entertainment shows and news. The Comcast-owned company is yet to unveil pricing.

YouTube is the largest online video platform in Asia Pacific by revenues, projected to total $4 billion by the end of 2019, according to Media Partners Asia. China’s iQiyi comes in second at around $3.5 billion, closely followed by Tencent Video, while Netflix comes in sixth at a forecast $1.5 billion.

UK broadcaster Channel 4 has taken its relationship with Sky up a notch by using the Sky AdSmart system for delivering addressable and targeted ads across its linear channels to both Sky and Virgin Media homes, expanding on the initial deal inked last year. In shared back-scratching fashion, Sky and Now TV subscribers will receive additional Channel 4 box sets before being broadcast.

WiFi 6 certification kicked off at IBC with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10 smartphone racing to become the first WiFi 6 certified device, although this isn’t the only device to support 802.11ax technology. The WiFi Alliance is holding out that the WiFi 6 certification program will be a faster process than its predecessors.

Dutch security vendor Irdeto celebrated IBC 2019 with a duo of Asia Pacific deals at Indian behemoth Bharti Airtel and Pakistani telco PTCL. For Bharti Airtel, Irdeto is securing content delivery on the operator’s new Airtel Xstream 4K hybrid Android-based set top, using Irdeto Cloaked CA, while for PTCL the deal is geared towards developing WiFi management and parental control features for PTCL broadband subscribers, using the Trusted Home technology built by Irdeto together with US WiFi and IoT platform developer Minim.

At IBC, Google was showcasing Android TV Live Sports using the 3Ready application framework from 3 Screen Solutions, along with UHD hardware from Technicolor and powered by Harmonic’s VOD cloud-native live video platform. Android TV was also using the 3Ready Control Center to select and place Google Play Movies content anywhere within the custom launcher and multiscreen apps.

Icelandic broadcaster Síminn has selected MediaKind to protect and deliver live English Premier League soccer matches in HD and UHD, in a deal which includes the MK RX1 multi-codec decoder capable of handling 12 simultaneous live feeds and MK Director control and conditional access software. Also at IBC, MediaKind sent out a rallying cry through the formation of a global technology alliance called The MediaKind Universe Alliance – positioned to encourage collaborative efforts in various aspects of video delivery with a focus on industrializing OTT video to broadcast-quality.

Disney and post-production outfit Avid have teamed up with Microsoft, leaning on Azure cloud technologies to advance storytelling via the Walt Disney Studios’ StudioLab. Microsoft and Avid have previously worked on collaborative editing, content archiving, active backup and production continuity, aiming to advance this via Azure’s capacity and global distribution.

Hulu Japan has brought in encoding expert Bitmovin as part of a “massively optimized bitrates” initiative integrated by Play, a local OVP company. Hulu Japan, owned by Japanese broadcasting services firm HJ Holdings, will use Bitmovin’s per-title, 3-pass, multi-codec encoding suite – selecting the technology based on the nature of products and APIs. As a result, Hulu Japan can reduce CDN and origin storage costs while improving picture quality, by contextually adjusting the resolution and bitrate ladder of content to ensure quality consistency.

Altice USA added Amazon Prime Video to the Altice One OTT video platform available to Optimum and Suddenlink subscribers.

Next month Netflix will finally land on the pay TV offering of French broadcaster Canal Plus, in a market where the SVoD giant already boasts a subscriber base of 6 million, about 1.4 million more than Canal Plus.

CableLabs aims to have Low-Latency DOCSIS (LLD) products hitting the market within the next year as the non-profit R&D lab plans to host a series of interoperability events to smooth over the technology – which estimates drilling latency down to 1 millisecond.

Imagine Communications has secured an extension deal with long-term customer ITV, upgrading the UK broadcaster to a more efficient Landmark II system for more efficient management of linear ads. Imagine’s Landmark technology allows customer to boost revenue and control operational costs across linear, on-demand, linear addressable, and web or display platforms through use of airtime, comprehensive business data insights and a suite of automated tools.

Telekom Slovenije has rolled out what it calls Turbo WiFi with hardware from German supplier AVM, deploying the Fritz!Box modem and Fritz!WLAN repeater. Turbo WiFi makes use of mesh WiFi technology and automatic channel switching to identify network congestion and adjust accordingly for the best performance.

Sky has acquired wholesale access to full fiber networks from UK infrastructure firm BUUK. Sky will serve as the anchor tenant for BUUK broadband premises, which for Sky opens up new growth opportunities as BUUK targets 200,000 additional properties over the next 12 months.

Vodafone, arguably the busiest operator at this year’s IBC show, deployed TiVo’s Personalized Content Discovery (PCD) technology late last week for the Vodafone TV service in Portugal, where the European powerhouse is debuting its Intelligent Voice Search feature.

SES subsidiary HD Plus and French satellite TV operator Fransat are using the ExpressPlay XCA technology from Intertrust to secure broadcast and IP video streams on smart TVs and set tops – providing a unified security platform built on the open standard Marlin DRM. It comes a week after HD Plus became the first operator to deploy TVkey Cloud, the smart TV security system developed jointly by Nagra and Samsung Electronics.

Harmonic had its cloud-native media processing software and content-aware encoding technology picked up by Sky Italia for the operator’s OTT streaming services. Sky Italia’s linear video streaming platform is based on Kubernetes and microservices to serve event-based and 24/7 channels on OTT platforms – powered by Harmonic’s VOS Cluster software which dynamically controls and optimizes Sky Italia’s on-premises and cloud video-processing resources.

OTT systems development vendor mediaClass says it is finalizing the integration of its new linear channel dynamic ad insertion capability DAIClass into its OTT multiscreen platform. DAIClass is powered by DAI software from Anevia, expanding mediaClass’ previous integration from advertising engines like Freewheel.

On a final note, IBC recorded an attendance of 56,390 this year, increasing the number of under 35 year olds by 10% as well as seeing an increase in C-level executives.