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12 December 2019

OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

French compression specialist Ateme has had a storming week. After unveiling its grand future plans in great detail to Faultline this week (see standalone story in this issue), the company’s Titan compression technology arrived at TV Cultura to bring 4K UHD benefits to the Brazilian broadcaster for the first time. TV Cultura transmitted the classical music talent show Prelúdio 2019 via satellite to a dedicated 4K cable channel and the broadcaster’s dedicated live YouTube channel.

In a very different corner of the world, Korean cable TV operator CJ Hello has deployed Ateme’s Titan Live software for MPEG-2 HD transcoding. The vendor told Faultline that it is also discussing adding personalized TV features with CJ Hello in line with Ateme’s future roadmap. Ateme noted that most cablecos will take a long time to replace all their MPEG-2 set tops and services, so Ateme’s hardware-agnostic Titan technology allows operators to add additional HD channels to an existing transponder by reducing bandwidth and lowering opex. CJ Hello has around 4 million subscribers.

BT Sport has taken the plunge by offering a contract-free monthly pass to its premium sports offering, a first for the UK operator. Clearly in retaliation to Amazon, the pass costs £30 a month, supporting 4K UHD and HDR content on compatible devices at no extra cost.

New-look Inside Secure, operating under the Verimatrix brand, has completed the sales of its Silicon IP and Secure Protocols business to Rambus for $65 million. It leaves Verimatrix as a pure software-based security and business analytics player.

The Broadband Forum has issued a close of 2019 newsletter saying the non-profit industry body has completed its transformation into an ‘open’ organization – meaning all in-house BBF work will be made available to the wider industry. The move brings the group more in line with sister organizations such as the ITU and IEEE in the way it promotes both open source technologies and network standards. Another BBF milestone was welcoming Huawei back as a member company for active participation in technical programs. It isn’t clear why Huawei left in the first place.

Online video has been warned to brace for a Christmas storm as US broadband consumption is projected to reach 330 GB per subscriber over the holiday season, according to analytics vendor OpenVault. This spike marks a 19% increase over Q3.

Meanwhile in the Netherlands, broadband revenues are on track to end 2019 on growth of 5% over 2018, according to researcher Telecompaper. Mass market broadband connections have risen by 100,000 this year as of the end of Q3 to total 7.6 million – that’s a surprisingly low penetration of 44%.

OTT and connected TV data management platform provider Tru Optik has teamed with video ad buying firm JamLoop to offer audience-based targeting capabilities for media buyers. Tru Optik’s OTT Data Marketplace targets viewers across AVoD streaming, broadcast and cable networks – claiming an “OTT first” in the way its approach is anchored in household-level signals including connected TV device signatures.

The sales team of AT&T’s ad tech arm Xandr is working with WarnerMedia about next year’s upfronts and is also exploring new commercial advertising formats for HBO Max. This was already known but the points were reiterated in an interview Variety carried out with Xandr CEO Brian Lesser.

Speaking of HBO Max, COO John Stankey has said securing pay TV operator deals will go right down to the deadline day of the streaming service’s May 2020 launch. “It’s one of those things where there’s an inordinate amount of time spent by the sides at the front end posturing and then as a deadline approaches, a lot of work gets done in a very short period of time right before the deadline,” said Stankey.

US smart TV manufacturer Vizio has launched the Vizio Ads side-project to allow advertisers and agencies to purchase inventory across the Vizio SmartCast platform. Inventory can be accessed in relation to Vizio’s WatchFree service and third-party OTT apps, as well as within the launch and discovery environment.

Portland-based XR start-up Streem has been acquired by US home services giant Frontdoor for its spatial technology designed to remotely diagnose malfunctions in the field, whatever the industry.

Comcast’s NBCUniversal will invest $2 billion in its forthcoming Peacock streaming service over two years, which it is now confirmed will be free for Comcast subscribers.

TV advertising revenue will remain flat for the next three years as increasing ad spend offsets declining pay TV viewership, according to research from Zenith. Online video ad revenues, meanwhile, will grow at 16.6% in the same timeframe and social media by 13.8%, credited to continued smartphone ad consumption.

Bernie Sanders wants to split up mammoth network operators in the US across mobile and fixed lines, calling for an end to greedy practices. The Sanders presidential election campaign has proposed subsidies of up to $150 billion to municipalities and states to build publicly-owned broadband networks.

OTT video technology vendors Amino and 24i Media are collaborating on their first joint project since the two companies merged earlier this year, to refresh the two-year old TV service from Dutch MVNO Youfone. Amino’s 7x set tops with AminoOS will form the basis of the service, running the Engage cloud-based service management platform, together with 24i’s Smart Video and Smart App products – to handle transcoding, middleware, CDN and front-end applications.

DirecTV subscribers will be treated to another round of price hikes in early 2019, increasing the Basic Choice package by $1 a month and the Premier package by $8 a month. RSNs will also get monthly hikes.

Dish Media is using Comcast’s FreeWheel ad tech unit for the optimization of ad campaigns across addressable linear TV and traditional demographic-based audiences – effectively combining linear TV inventory and DAI inventory into one.

Another ad tech vendor, Tappx, has secured a funding round from the EU Horizon SME-1 piggybank to develop what it claims will be the world’s first programmatic server-side ad insertion system for OTT and connected TV. Tappx says it has AI and ML capabilities to analyze video and associated metadata to serve contextually-relevant content.

Documentary outlet CuriosityStream, created by Discovery Channel founder John Hendricks, claims its SVoD platform has 10.5 million subscribers including trialists.

The Television Viewer Protection Act has been passed by the US House of Representatives in a debate which lasted a total of 2 minutes and 20 seconds. The bill (HR 5035) aims to ensure cable and satellite TV subscribers retain access to broadcast networks, following a year where retransmission fallouts triggered a record number of TV blackouts.

DRM as-a-service specialist EZDRM has joined forces with media player provider NexPlayer to bring a cross-device content and monetization platform with Widevine support to OTT services, promising “excellent technical support.”

Seven new names have joined the growing Reliable Internet Stream Transport (RIST) ForumV-Nova, Cerberus Tech, TheLive.agency, Shair Broadcast Technology, Stream Station, Team Stream Live, and Videon.