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14 January 2021

OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

Five years ago this week…

OTT was sparking conflict around the globe, with Netflix and HBO locking horns in Spain as the former announced plans to kick off a standalone online service, just three months after Netflix had set up shop in the country. At the time of writing, Netflix was available in 130 countries, but in some ways HBO looked better placed internationally. HBO owned nearly all its content, meaning it was bereft of Netflix’s geographical rights issues, and held 150 million subscribers around the globe, although these were mainly derived from its premium pay TV channel and Netflix was closing the gap. Today, one OTT provider has 12.6 million subs, while the other has close to 200 million – guess who’s who.

 

Following in Netflix’s footsteps, Amazon is catering for the fiercely mobile-first Indian market with its first mobile-only plan. Operator Bharti Airtel will offer the Prime Video Mobile Edition video streaming service to prepaid mobile customers for a fee of about $1.20 a month.

 

Ever since AT&T rebranded DirecTV Now as AT&T TV Now back in August 2019, Faultline warned that the vMVPD would be a flash in the pan and even predicted 2021 as the year AT&T TV Now would be dropped. Heeding our advice, AT&T is folding AT&T TV Now into the simpler IP-based video platform AT&T TV. Unfortunately, the move has come years too late to save the DirecTV business.

 

With the decision to funnel movies directly to HBO Max receiving backlash from filmmaking and acting communities, WarnerMedia has reduced performance thresholds within contractual agreements to state that any producer, actor or other creative will receive compensation below the previously agreed payments based on box office success. It means payments will be made once the movie titles – of which 17 are lined up for HBO Max in 2021 – reach just half of the box office target, according to Bloomberg.

Video app developer 24i Media, acquired by Amino in summer 2019, is using technology from search specialist Float Left to offer advanced apps on Roku connected devices. Float Left, a long-term Roku search and discovery partner, has developed a flexible framework of essential features for navigation across an intuitive UI, as well as integration with third-parties for subscription management, advertising, video platforms, and analytics.

UK-based broadcaster ITV has selected dynamic event orchestration technology from Bristol-based Vualto to deliver live streamed events on the ITV Hub OTT service which boasts reaching 40 million viewers a week. Vualto’s orchestration software saves on cloud-hosting costs by scaling up and down rapidly before and after events, and Vualto’s scalable DRM also comes integrated for protection.

SK Broadband has tapped Nagra’s NexGuard forensic watermarking technology to secure its range of IPTV set tops. In the event of illicit recording or content sharing from its BTV service, the South Korean giant is able to trace and identify the set top source.

Spanish operator Cellnex Telecom has gone with Intertrust’s ExpressPlay DRM cloud service to protect its free-to-view HbbTV platform Lovestv, developed in partnership with broadcasters Atresmedia, Mediaset España, and RTVE, LOVEStv. ExpressPlay DRM comes with a multi-DRM monetization service for OTT streaming.

Akamai’s Intelligent Edge Platform has ported the Synamedia Streaming Piracy Disruption (SPD) managed service for not just detecting pirate streams in real-time but also disrupting these streams. Synamedia’s EverGuard counter-piracy operations center is key to the integration, using a combination of watermark injection, verification technologies and smart agents embedded in the head-end and client devices to stifle pirates. Akamai also

US semiconductor developer Skyworks says its WiFi 6E modules are baked into the world’s first WiFi 6E gaming router from Asus.

The 8K Association has released a new certified logo program to help buyers identify 8K TV sets with a broader set of video decoding standards to promote the wider availability of 8K streaming content. It comes as super-size 8K TVs are being pushed by the TV industry as cinema alternatives.

Deutsche Telekom has put its T-Mobile Netherlands subsidiary on the market to raise an estimated $4.9 billion to $6.1 billion, according to Dutch paper Het Financeele Dagblad.

Former executives from Disney and Discovery are planning a Spring launch for a new streaming service called Struum, which is backed by Michael Eisner’s Tornate Company. Paradoxically, Struum aims to help people navigate an increasingly cluttered premium SVoD market, which suggests it will serve more as an aggregator platform. The service has reportedly struck deals with 35 OTT services already.

ViacomCBS has expanded its distribution deal with Hulu, which will now add 14 of the former’s networks to its Hulu with Live TV SVoD package. The new networks being added include BET, Comedy Central, MTV and Paramount Network.

FIFA has awarded screening rights for the 2026 World Cup soccer tournament in the Nordic territories. DR and TV2 in Denmark, YLE and MTV in Finland, TV2 and NRK in Norway, and SVT and TV4 in Sweden have all secured rights to screen the tournament.

Go Malta has deployed its Go Smart Wi-Fi mesh solution, with help from Divitel. The solution uses AirTies hardware and software, specifically developed for operators to optimize OTT and IPTV delivery.

Social media is looking more shaky for video ad spend, as the Capitol Hill riots of last week led many brands to pause their social media ad spending for at least a day.

Video AI specialist Media Distillery has secured $3.6 million in funding to expand its analysis platform. The company already serves the likes of Telenet, YouSee, Eutelsat, Proximus, and VTR.

Discovery is partnering with Starzplay to roll out Discovery+ across 18 territories in the MENA region. Discovery+ will only be accessed via a branded area within Starzplay, which is the leading streaming service in MENA, with over 1 million paying users and over 6 million devices registered.

 

Roku has seen monthly active users on its devices rise by 38% across 2020, with the figure now standing at 51.2 million. Users watched 17 billion hours of streamed content over Q4, up 55% year on year. The company has also been named the number one smart TV OS in North America, with a 38% market share in the US, and a 31% share in Canada across 2020. However, we will have to wait until February 2021 to see how the company’s finances held up for the final quarter of the year.

The rumors were true. Roku has acquired 75 short-form shows from Quibi’s library of over 100 original series, reportedly for a fee under $100 million.

TV ad spend incurred by Georgia’s run-off election for the US Senate is estimated to have reached $431 million as of December 11 2020, according to AdImpact. This would mark record spending on a Senate election, with North Carolina’s 2020 run-off reaching just over $300 million.

Netflix is increasing prices in the UK, justifying the blow by promising to spend over $1 billion on local content.

Disney+ has overtaken Netflix as the most downloaded VoD mobile app in the US over 2020, with 45.2 million downloads inching past Netflix’s 44.7 million, according to Apptopia. On a global scale, Netflix still reigns supreme.

Cisco has been granted a temporary court order to block Acacia Communications from backing out of the companies’ $2.6 billion merger. Acacia argued that it pulled the plug as the merger had not met regulatory approval in China, however the Delaware Court of Chancery found otherwise.