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27 August 2020

OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

Five years ago this week…

The Secure Content Storage Association’s (SCSA) method for securely storing premium video on disk and flash memory, Vidity, was ready to go to market. It was hoped Vidity would eventually replace DVDs, so the SCSA was beginning to recruit all players in the content chain to issue licenses, which we estimated would cost around $1 per device. Vidity was set to rival SeeQVault, a chip-storage initiative from Panasonic, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba that was designed around a specialist new Flash card. SeeQVault debuted at IBC 2014, but then quickly went under the radar. We said that the SCSA specification was destined to be a winner from its inception in 2012, as its development began with SanDisk, Western Digital, 20th Century Fox, and Warner. By 2015, Vidity had partnerships with every likely company, excluding the SeeQVault ringleaders and Apple.

 

Apple TV+ will get the augmented reality treatment next year, according to Bloomberg, allowing subscribers of the streaming service to view additional AR content via iPhones and iPads, so tough luck for Apple TV+ users with Android devices. It comes in the same week that Apple TV+ was rated as the least popular SVoD platform in the US, registering just 3% of votes in a survey from cord cutting resource firm Flixed.

 

US WiFi software vendor Plume has teamed with troubled French firm Technicolor, porting the Plume consumer experience management platform on Technicolor CPE, based on the open source OpenSync framework. Operators deploying Technicolor Connected Home hardware will also benefit from Plume’s Haystack back-end support toolkit for identifying and resolving WiFi issues.

US ad management firm Viamedia has won a patent for its linear TV programmatic ad platform called QTT.

Deutsche Telekom has unveiled MagentaGaming, its international cloud gaming platform. The German giant is positioning MagentaGaming to steal screen time away from the established OTT video services dominating eyeballs.

Serbian pay TV network Arena Sports has selected the Nimbra platform from streaming software vendor Net Insight to provide a contribution network through the Balkans.

 

Economic lockdowns took their toll on Swiss digital security specialist Kudelski Group, reporting revenue of $320.1 million for the first half of 2020, down from 2019’s first half revenue haul of $400.6 million. Digital TV revenues dropped 18.8% to $154.7 million, which the company puts down to a reduction in short-term spending by operators, while reassuring that recurring revenues in advanced pay TV markets remained resilient.

Napster, the US-based rival to Spotify, has been acquired by UK virtual reality music outfit MelodyVR for $70 million. MelodyVR is buying Napster from RealNetworks, which says Napster had 3 million global users in early 2020. Napster also offers a platform-as-a-service for the B2B space.

Charter is making headway with its attempts to lift TWC merger conditions that prevent it from charging usage-based data fees, with Mediacom the latest to rush to the operator’s defence. Mediacom says cable operators can better set out their broadband packages with usage-based pricing, particularly for subscribers with low data usage.

Google Chrome is getting a video aggregation feature, bringing OTT video services into one place within the browser. Called Kaleidoscope, Chrome Story identified the feature in Chrome Canary for developers.

Indian operator Fastway Transmissions is rolling with the Synamedia Video Network Service Manager to manage pay TV and IP video workflows together across multiple devices. In doing so, Fastway is transitioning to a software-centric video processing platform deployed on-prem, with a path for future extension to the cloud or a hybrid environment. Synamedia’s Converged Headend handles acquisition and multiplexing, encoding, transcoding, ad insertion, packaging, content protection, origin services and IP transport. Fastway has 3.5 million TV subscribers across North India.

Malaysian telco conglomerate Axiata has reportedly sold its remaining 1% stake in Indian MNO Vodafone Idea. Axiata has been gradually selling off stakes in the business over several years, since buying 20% in Idea Cellular back in 2008 for $20 billion.

Service production company Live X successfully used Blackbird’s cloud video editing clout to remotely edit and enrich live content from the recent US Democratic National Convention for rapid publication to social media platforms.

 

OpenX has launched Apollo, an integration to help ad publishers optimize their configuration with Prebid, an open source integration path for publishers outside of Big Tech’s walled garden. Publishers using OpenX will now be able to manage prebid configuration and regularly test effectiveness of set-ups.

ITV has partnered with decentralized data architect InfoSum to assist audience matching for advertisers on the network’s OTT offering, ITV Hub. InfoSum will allow brands to activate customized audience segments across the streaming service’s 30 million users, without accessing any personal data. The new solution will rely entirely on ITV and advertisers’ first-party data, rather than incorporating third-party data.

WarnerMedia’s freemium OTT anime platform Crunchyroll has announced two premium subscription tiers for both ‘Mega’ and ‘Ultimate’ fans. These are both attempts to monetize the nicheness of its audience. The Mega Fan tier ($9.99 a month) allows offline viewing, 4 concurrent streams, and a monthly discount from the online store, while the Ultimate Fan tier ($15 a month) ups this to 6 concurrent streams, a larger discount and exclusive merchandise. These are offered on top of the free ad-supported tier and a basic subscription package ($7.99 a month).

Polish MNO Play has upgraded its set top offering. The Play Now TV Box is sold in two tiers – 50 or 100 channels – with a reduced price for existing Play customers. All new Play Now TV customers will now get six months free of Amazon Prime Video, and those who bundle in an internet subscription will get HBO Go for up to 12 months. The Play Now TV Box set top, an Android TV product, now has double the flash memory at 16GB and a quad core processor.

New research from Nielsen has confirmed that AVoD is gaining traction. Its Beyond SVoD report found that AVoD made up for a nearly a quarter of all streaming distribution in the US. Americans streamed 142 billion minutes of OTT video in Q2, up 74% from last year.

ViacomCBS’ AVoD offering, Pluto TV, will be launched in Brazil in December, having launched elsewhere in Latin America in April. The platform now hosts 33 million monthly active users, and has just added a string of new linear-style channels to its US offering.

Google is working on an extension for its Chrome browser which will allow users to aggregate all their video streaming services in one place. The Kaleidoscope extension is still in the internal testing phase, and it is unknown when it will be available for consumers.

 

Twitch has likely just betrayed its monetization plans, after Burger King began using one of the site’s automated donation bots to push marketing material to streamer’s audiences. It has not gone down well, because streamers have no control over the content, nor are they getting the same payout as they would if Burger King had pursued a more conventional route.

 

The gap between linear advertising spends and OTT audiences has been measured in a new survey that found 18% of routine OTT viewers did not see any adverts from the biggest linear advertising spenders. Some 5% of OTT viewers do not see any linear ads at all, and only 15% of OTT viewers say they watch another OTT service in addition to Netflix, according to the data from Alphonso.