OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

The volatile love affair that is the CBSViacom merger saga may finally be coming to a close as the merger plan was approved by Viacom parent company National Amusements and the S-4 registration (merger form) declared effective by the SEC. Closure of the deal is expected in early December. Viacom CEO Bob Bakish will head up the merged entity as CEO and President.


Apple will switch on its much-anticipated video streaming platform Apple TV+ tomorrow (November 1). The competitively priced $4.99 a month service will also include a student special bundling in Apple Music at no additional cost, presumably to boost usage of the music streaming service amid lackluster competition against leader Spotify. Apple TV+ will launch with only 9 titles initially.

Vivendi wants to launch a DTH platform in Ukraine according to local paper Telekritika, which says the French media conglomerate has already inked a deal with satellite operator Eutelsat. Vivendis timing is because satellite signals in Ukraine will be encrypted from the end of January.

Orange’s new soccer offerings triggered a turn of fortunes for the Spanish subscriber base, gaining 47,000 new customers in Q3 2019, rising to 711,000, compared to a loss of 41,000 subs in Q2. IPTV and satellite subscribers increased by 135,000 in the quarter to reach 9.85 million across the Orange Group, of which 7.2 million are in France, where it gained 51,000. Broadband customers increased by 151,000 to 20.5 million in total, of which 11.6 million are domestic, while the group mobile base gained some 2.5 million subscribers to hit 209.4 million.

T-Mobile US CEO John Legere has ridiculed Verizon’s offer of a one-year free subscription to Disney+, calling out his MNO rival as a copycat. “The VP of copy and paste at Verizon looked over at our Netflix on Us success and did a horrific job of recreating it – and last time I checked 9 out of 10 people who watch Disney cartoons don’t make wireless decision,” said Legere, aged 8.

Dutch telco KPN saw 13,000 TV cancellations in the third quarter, dropping to 2.34 million, primarily from the DTT service Digitenne. Of these, 2,000 left the IPTV service, while the broadband business lost 17,000 subs.

After its acquisition by Canal+ in May, M7 Group has decided to close the DTH platform Diveo, which launched as a hybrid platform in February 2018, having failed to match growth expectations as seen in cable and IPTV.

Similarly, Finland’s DNA Oy has closed its VHF DTT network after struggling to bring sufficient competition to the market, after 10 years of providing HD programming to antenna households. DNA Oy now plans to focus on cable and 5G business cases.

Comcast subsidiary Sky has secured a co-production deal with AT&T’s HBO Max, building on the award-winning partnership which created Chernobyl. Sky also extended its output deal with HBO and Warner Bros this week.

Netflix introduced a controversial new feature for Android smartphones that allows users to speed up or slow down content due to demand from subscribers to bring the DVD-esque feature to the streaming platform. The move has been condemned by filmmakers, although Netflix claims it has protected the integrity of content creators by limiting the feature to smaller screens, for now.

Frontier Communications has signed up to distribute the Service Assurance platform from dynamic ad insertion (DAI) vendor Canoe Ventures, which runs thousands of on-demand DAI campaigns for over 100 national TV networks. Frontier joins the holy trinity of US cablecos Comcast, Charter and Cox in using the technology, which includes ad map management, monitoring, resolution and analytics.

Viacom Digital Studios International will produce a number of short-form titles for Facebook Watch viewers, building on the MTV UK partnership inked last year and using Viacom’s regional hubs to create locally produced programming.

Sony’s global music streaming revenues reached $622 million in Q3 2019, according to Music Business Worldwide, a 21.4% year on year increase. Physical sales remained steady, at a 3.6% increase to $189.1 million, from total recorded music revenues of $1.04 billion, up 10.5%.

German pay TV provider Sky Deutschland has recruited a new anti-piracy technique called unique pairing, which connects a reception device to a smartcard – rendering the reception device redundant in third-party devices not offered by Sky itself. It comes at the expense of legitimate Sky subscribers using third-party devices which pirates had previously manipulated as a loophole.

Israeli satellite broadcaster Yes is rolling out Apple TV devices for its new streaming service Yes+, offering 140 live channels alongside a VoD library.

Polish pay TV operator Cyfrowy Polsat plans to form a joint OTT offering with Discovery, despite Discovery owning Cyfrowy Polsat’s primary TV rival TVN. Initially launching as an AVoD platform, the owners plan to introduce an SVoD tier later down the line, comprising mostly Polish content.

France’s CanalPlay, one of Europe’s longest-serving SVoD platforms, is officially shutting up shop after Canal+ Series was recently launched as its successor in hope of revitalizing a subscriber base which had plummeted from 800,000 at its peak to just 200,000.

Czech investment group PPF has acquired TV channel owner Central European Media Enterprises (CME) for $2.1 billion, a premium of approximately 32%.

French-Italian production firm Banijay Group has bought out the equity of media firm Endemol Shine Group to create an entertainment giant owning 100,000 hours of TV shows from 120 production labels across 23 countries.

Video technology vendor Dalet says its AmberFin media processing platform is the first software-based transcoding asset management system to include Dolby Vision. Dalet AmberFin can also be enhanced with hardware acceleration tools such as the M820L HEVC encoder plugin card from SoC specialist Socionext.

QC expert Rohde & Schwarz grew its year to date revenue 4.9% to €2.14 billion, citing healthy demand for UHD and HDR equipment, including ingest, post-production and playout, as well as 5G mobile communications and security technology.