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OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

Sunrise’s $6.3 billion acquisition of UPC’s Swiss cable business has derailed spectacularly, a week after Liberty Global fronted a $500 million share purchase deal to sweeten a rights issue. Quarter-shareholder Freenet would not budge from its stance that the UPC price tag was overinflated, despite CEO Mike Fries claiming Europe has enjoyed some €100 billion worth of fixed-mobile transactions in recent years. Swisscom will breathe a sigh of relief, although Sunrise CEO Olaf Swantee told the FT that the deal could come back to life.

British telco Vodafone has denied reports that it engaged in talks with Spanish telco MasMovil about selling the Vodafone Spain business for a reported €6 billion ($6.7 billion), as first reported by local news outlet El Confidencial. Citing unnamed sources close to the matter, Vodafone has reportedly requested an €8 billion ($8.9 billion) fee for its Spanish arm which lost some 24,000 TV subscribers and 49,000 fixed broadband customers in the last quarter.

Verizon may have an uninspiring and confused track record in video, but the company’s latest marketing campaign will have sent shivers down the spines of AT&T and other rivals, exclusively offering a year’s free subscription to the forthcoming Disney+ streaming service for new and existing 4G LTE and 5G Unlimited wireless subs. The offer also includes 5G Home Internet and Fios Home Internet subs.

Discovery has selected the virtualized Digital Content Manager from video software vendor Synamedia – targeting an operational efficiency boost across Asia Pacific. Expanding its existing customer relationship with Synamedia, Discovery has rolled out the vDCM to complement traditional satellite distribution with IP-based virtualized video processing while protecting revenue.

Online video platform provider Brightcove grew third quarter revenue 15% year on year to $47.4 million, crediting unnamed media customer wins in North America and Europe. Gross profit was up by $4.4 million to $29.8 million, a 63% margin, but with a net loss of $3 million for the quarter. Brightcove also launched Beacon in Q3, its new SaaS-based OTT platform for quick multi-device video experience launches with monetization models.

Digital ad revenues in the US reached a record breaking $57.9 billion in the first half of 2019, a 17% year on year increase driven primarily by video, according to the latest IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report. Video ad spend soared 36% to $9.5 billion for the six-month period, driven by increased connected TV usage, a rise in social media and the exacerbation of cord cutting.

AT&T is reportedly engaged with activist investor-stroke-nemesis Elliott Management about resolving calls for change, including a strategic review of assets lined up for sale and a push to improve margins. Sources speaking to Reuters said we should know by the end of the month if the two companies have struck an agreement or if talks have collapsed.

French broadcast technology vendor Dalet is using the Baton quality control platform from US monitoring firm Interra Systems in its Flex Media Platform, recently acquired from Ooyala. The move lets customers of both Dalet MAM and Ooyala Flex deploy advanced quality assurance and compliance workflows.

 

Flipkart in India is now selling an Android TV dongle called the MarQ Turbostream, built by Chinese manufacturer SDMC and running an Amlogic S805X processor.

Combined pay TV and telecom revenues in Hong Kong will grow by $200 million over the next five years to reach $5.7 billion by 2024, as a result of the emergence of mobile broadband, according to analytics firm GlobalData.

Media network DPP has released a proof of concept to demonstrate how component-based workflows using the Interoperable Master Format (IMF) can be applied to advertising, with results due out later this year. It says an IMF package can be exchanged internationally throughout the ad ecosystem – from agency, to clearance bodies, to distributor, to broadcast transmission.

Fingerprint authentication use on smartphones in China reached 80% last year, rising from 45% a year earlier, followed by facial recognition as the second most popular biometric access technology with 44%, just behind password unlocking on 45%. Speech recognition has enjoyed a rise from 13% to 39% usage to unlock smartphones in China, while iris authentication is the least favored on 15%, according to a report from eMarketer.

Netflix wants to raise $2 billion in debt for additional content production and potential acquisitions, to tighten up defenses ahead of rival launches from Disney+ and Apple TV+, despite the SVoD giant saying it doesn’t expect significant headwinds.

Russian DTH platform NTV-Plus has driven its OTT video subscriber base up by 54% over the past year to reach 74,000 paying subs. The operator highlights that the service is open to everyone, not just DTH subscribers.

AT&T’s ad tech arm Xandr has acquired TV ad sales platform Clypd for an undisclosed fee, in a move to push more personalized ads to the operator’s streaming services HBO Max and AT&T TV Now. Clypd is described as a data-driven platform designed to help programmers automate ad bidding in private and open marketplaces, while improving converged buying and selling for video streaming services.

UK-based automatic speech recognition specialist Speechmatics has secured £6.35 million ($8.2 million) in Series A funding, which the company will funnel into supporting its global growth goals with offices opening in Denver, as well as Brno in the Czech Republic and Chennai in India. Speechmatics expects to double its workforce from 50 to 100 people by the close of 2019. The funding round was led by AlbionVC.

As Faultline correctly predicted when the service was rebranded in August, AT&T TV Now will hike its prices from $50 a month to a hefty $65 a month. The operator’s Q4 results should prove damning.

UK-based interactive technology developer Ultraleap, formed from the merger of Ultrahaptics and Leap Motion earlier this year, has struck a deal to integrate its hand-tracking technology into VR-2 Pro headsets from Finnish firm Varjo Technologies. Simulation professionals are the primary target audience, with Ultraleap assuring more intuitive interactions. The VR-2 Pro also supports SteamVR content plus Valve’s OpenVR development platform.

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