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9 January 2020

OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

While there was plenty of US-centric ATSC 3.0 coverage pouring out of CES this week, South Korea was also in action. The country’s Radio Promotion Association (RAPA) group has received an experimental license to operate an ATSC 3.0 testbed as a public-private partnership this year on the island of Jeju, which attracts 15 million tourists a year. RAPA is encouraging broadcasters, telecoms groups, consumer electronics suppliers and broadcast equipment vendors to participate in Next Gen TV trials.


French WiFi and middleware specialist SoftAtHome premiered a demo of RDK-V at CES, a standardized stack providing a common method for managing complex video management functions such as rendering, content security, device management, networking and peripherals. The Orange subsidiary was also showcasing new features of its WiFi’ON software to create a single intelligent mesh network dealing with LAN quality, especially latency and with a focus on gaming.

BT has deployed encryption technology from Ateme to protect satellite uplinked content, using the BISS-CA (Basic Interoperable Scrambling System Conditional Access) encryption technology which comes with Ateme’s encoders. BT Sport first used the system during a soccer broadcast back in August, since going on to protect every EPL match broadcast this season.

Faultline doesn’t typically comment on the recruitment of executives, particularly in the vendor community, but the arrival of Nuno Sanches at Kaltura is a significant move. Sanches has traded his 15 years at Vodafone, where he was instrumental in developing Vodafone TV, for a position as GM of media and telecom at Kaltura, which has been – and continues to be – a key supplier in the telco’s expanding video exploits.

SaaS video management vendor Imagen started its 2020 PR campaign with a celebration of 2019 sporting customer wins including MLB, the International Tennis Federation, the International Table Tennis Federation, Kosmos Tennis and the Badminton World Federation.

OTT ad tech outfit Gamut, a subsidiary of Cox Communications, has signed a new multiyear deal to use Nielsen’s Marketing Data Cloud Data Management Platform. Gamut focuses on working with advertisers in designated market areas – providing research and insights into audiences, views, reach, and transparency.

Technicolor was demoing JADE set tops at CES capable of supporting both RDK and Android TV. Running a Broadcom SoC, the JADE 4K HD set top also supports the latest WiFi 6 standard and AV1 video codec.

NBCUniversal is in the process of developing technology for unifying ad sales across linear TV and digital. Called One Platform, the three-year project will deliver targeted and addressable ad features and aims to blossom into a service allowing marketers to optimize, plan and deliver campaigns while measuring audiences.

Even IT business consultancy Fincons Group jumped onto the annual CES ATSC 3.0 bandwagon, presenting its new Smart Digital Platform (SDP) designed to accelerate the rollout of Next Gen TV services for the media and broadcast industry. SDP is a publishing tool for automatically generating applications using a modular framework. It enables broadcaster apps to add monetization models through addressable ads for the launch of hybrid TV services.

An alternative method of light field acquisition was showcased at CES by a company called Wooptix, in a way that alleviates the loss in resolution trade-off. Wooptix achieves this using a liquid lens array in the optical chain in front of the sensor, instead of a microlens array. This switch enables quick change of the focal plane to allow multiple image plane to be captured at 30 fps at full resolution.

UK regulator Ofcom wants to cap how much Openreach – the BT infrastructure division – can charge for access in urban areas where fiber is fully built out. This will clear the path to shut off copper network services which Ofcom says will protect consumers by shifting regulations from copper to fiber.

Sports streamer DAZN released 2019 data showing mobile was king with a 26% share of live events, followed by connected TV devices and set tops with a 23% share. Smart TVs came in third on 21%, while desktops were down at 17% and games consoles were in last place with 13%. All in all, DAZN enjoyed 507 million hours of live streams in 2019, a 98% surge from the previous year.

VR headset shipment volumes increased incrementally by 5% last year, according to Futuresource Consulting, while the market share of mobile VR headsets declined by 11% to 11 million shipments.

Hisense’s smart TV platform Vidaa, claiming 20 million installations, has received an updated UI including centralized user management, advertising and billing systems – promising a simplified UX.

Half of US broadband households now own a smart TV, although strangely only 77% of these are connected to the internet, defeating the point of owning a smart TV, according to Parks Associates. Admittedly, this is a rise from 62% of smart TVs connected to the internet in 2014.

Virgin Media in the UK is boosting average speeds to 108 Mbps for subscribers of the M100 broadband package, entirely free apparently with no catches. It means half a million UK broadband users will see broadband speeds increase automatically, bringing Virgin Media’s average speed across its broadband base to over 150 Mbps.

Disney’s OTT video operation has been valued at $108 billion by Barclays, despite being a relative fledgling in the market. This places Disney’s video streaming worth at 69% of Netflix, which took 13 years to build up to today’s valuation.

An early move from the newly merged ViacomCBS sees it partner with Malaysian satellite and OTT video provider Astro, delivering programming including Comedy Central for Astro customers on linear TV and the Astro Go mobile app. ViacomCBS also benefited from a contract extension at Sky Italia for 12 channels, including new arrivals to the Sky Italia lineup, Paramount Network and VH1.

Xumo, which is reportedly on Comcast’s acquisition radar, is building custom video streaming apps for Sony and Panasonic for integration on smart TVs.

German multiscreen software supplier 3SS recently won a deployment at Belgium’s Proximus to develop the back office components of its IPTV service Pickx, based on Android TV operator tier. The Pickx pilot launched in October with live TV, catch-up and VoD apps, powered by a recommendation engine from ThinkAnalytics.

Samsung Electronics has projected a Q4 operating profit slump of approximately one third, with sales forecast to be flat.

US MNO Sprint is shuttering its Virgin Mobile business at the beginning of next month, transferring subscribers over to Boost Mobile.