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3 October 2019

OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

The net neutrality saga took another twist this week as the federal government was told by a US court that it cannot block states from writing and passing their own internet laws. However, the court upheld any repeal against ISPs throttling traffic. Verizon said the ruling “underscores the need for Congress to adopt national legislation that provides protections for consumers while avoiding a disruptive, inconsistent patchwork of state internet regulation.”

Liberty Global has taken its broadband acceleration up a gear with Gigabit launches in the UK, Belgium and Switzerland, as part of the operator’s GigaCities project. Liberty rolled out 12 GigaCity deployments in Poland earlier this year and 3 in Slovakia.


US cable operator WOW has brought in analytics vendor OpenVault to provide better visibility into subscribers’ broadband usage and the wider network impact. OpenVault’s tools will also lay out steps to improve broadband availability and QoS across its 800,000 subscriber footprint.

In not entirely surprising news, 90% of those in the industry are already planning to deploy WiFi 6 equipment, according to a Wireless Broadband Alliance survey of 200 telcos, vendors and enterprises. Some 66% of these have penciled in deployment dates before 2020.

FreeWheel landed a delectable deal at Discovery Communications to provide its unified decisioning platform for ad management on Discovery’s cable networks. In addition, the Comcast ad tech arm is working on addressable advertising for the Discovery Go streaming service.

T-Mobile Polska is the country’s first to embrace Amazon Prime Video on its TV service, opening up access to Magenta 1 subscribers.

A new vMPVD service called Vidgo has just soft-launched in the US priced at $15 a month for 50 channels, as an early adopter option before the full launch later this month. It includes a social feature built by mobile app developer start-up Kiswe Mobile.

The FCC underscored its intent to release the full 1.2 MHz of spectrum in the 6 GHz band to WiFi and other unlicensed use cases, according to a statement from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. This band is currently populated by microwave services that are used to support utilities, public safety, and wireless backhaul. But studies have shown that sharing this band with unlicensed operations is feasible – and can put massive amounts of new spectrum into the hands of consumers,” said Pai.

Mediaset took a revenue hit of €322 million year on year as the Italian mass media firm filed first half 2019 revenue of €1.48 billion, hindered by the Mediaset Premium pay TV business and underperforming ad sales. EBITDA, however, managed to grow 55% to €191.6 million.

NBCUniversal’s reality TV SVoD platform Hayu has debuted in Hong Kong, the Philippines and Singapore to total 14 markets. It costs about $5 a month in Hong Kong, $3.60 in Singapore and $2.90 in the Philippines, for some 6,000 episodes from 200 shows.

Chinese titan Tencent has just joined AOMedia at the highest possible level, joining the likes of Amazon, ARM, Cisco, Facebook, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla, Netflix, Nvidia, and Samsung Electronics in accelerating the development and adoption of the AV1 video codec.

Tencent also this week acquired a 29% in Norwegian games publisher Funcom for an undisclosed sum.

UK video compression vendor V-Nova has teamed with Simplestream to launch MVMO (Movies, Video, Music, Opportunity), a new pan-African streaming service, in December. Developed in partnership with marketplace Creative Africa Exchange, MVMO will be powered by a combination of V-Nova’s P+ codec and Simplestream’s streaming platform.

V-Nova also partnered with video contribution firm Aviwest back at IBC in a project coined Mobile Newsgathering Using AI for Compression, organized by IBC and TM Forum, aiming to release products for broadcasters in 2020.

Tesla Model S, X and 3 owners can now connect to Netflix, YouTube and Hulu via the new Tesla Theater feature in center displays.

Apple wants to open up its original content production for cinema screenings before making them widely available on the Apple TV+ streaming service.

The BritBox streaming service launching in the UK later this year will be available on a variety of Samsung smart TVs, plus the Freeview Play and YouView platforms.


Content aggregation outfit Alchimie is acquiring UK-based OTT video provider TVPlayer, which claims a viewer base of 450,000. Alchimie plans to freshen up the TVPlayer SVoD platform with its 40,000-hour-strong content catalog.

Revenues from AMOLED TV sets are forecast to surge to $7.5 billion by 2025, from $2.9 billion in 2019, according to IHS Markit.

The CTA has settled on Next Gen TV as the marketing name for ATSC 3.0 services prior to the official 2020 launch. The organization says it worked closely with Eurofins Digital Testing to provide a suite of new test materials and management materials. Survey results showed that 42% of US consumers are likely to purchase a TV to enable Next Gen TV services, although consumers are unlikely to understand what the technology means and how it compares to other ways of viewing TV.

Cableco UPC Switzerland’s $6.3 billion takeover by telco Sunrise has been approved by competition authority Weko, saying the deal did not create dominance in any of the markets analyzed.

Sky Italia has officially launched Sky Q Fibra, its satellite-free version of the pay TV platform. It means consumers can receive an “almost complete” version of Sky Q without installing a satellite dish, with a faster UI and app-based environment with voice control.

Video processing platform Appear TV has added Zixi input and output support on its X platform, built for high-speed video networking, IP security, video distribution and contribution. Appear TV customers can now tap into the Zixi cloud service for broadcast-quality video delivery over public IP networks.

Ethiopia celebrated its first dedicated TV platform this week, launching the DTH service Ethiosat featuring some of the country’s most popular channels, following an agreement between the Association of Ethiopian Broadcasters (AEB), the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC), and satellite fleet operator SES.


AT&T’s COO John Stankey has insisted the operator has no plans to sell DirecTV, contradicting reports that the satellite broadcasting unit might be up for sale, perhaps to rival pay TV company Dish Network. The executive told the Wall Street Journal that DirecTV remains an integral part of AT&T’s future plans, and talked about plans to launch a new video streaming service next year, which integrates the telco’s Time Warner assets. He also said that DirecTV is important for the data it provides for AT&T’s targeted advertising effort. Stankey said regular asset reviews were standard practice, and “not unique to DirecTV”.