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5 May 2022

OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

Five years ago this week…

Driven by recent investment from Sky, South East Asian OTT platform iflix announced expansion to eight new countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The race was on for newer services to grab a foothold in emerging markets before the likes of Viu and Netflix made their mark, and iflix was no stranger to tying up distribution deals with local operators. Founded in 2014, iflix had grown to a user base of 5 million by May 2017, with 25 million last reported in early 2020 before the company was acquired by Tencent.

 

Lionsgate, which bought Starz for $4.4 billion in 2016, is in discussions to sell the US TV network and streaming service to Roku, backed by funds from Apollo Global Management. Meanwhile, Roku reported an addition of 1.1 million active accounts in Q1 2022, to total 61.3 million.

Swiss fiber optic cable manufacturer Huber+Suhner claims to have developed the world’s first self-install FTTH system for both carriers and consumers, in a modular two-step approach. First, its RESA Splice Closure box is deployed underground in the street by the ISP, followed by end users installing the last few meters of fiber cabling within property boundaries. Apparently, no prior knowledge is required, which sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Akamai’s Delivery revenue ceased to grow in Q1 2022, slumping 6% to $444 million. The CDN giant’s Compute product group grew fastest in the quarter, at a 32% hike to $78 million, while the Security sector again saw promising performance gains, growing by 25% year on year to $382 million in revenue.

It comes as smaller CDN rival Limelight Networks reported revenue growth of 13% to $58 million. However, it registered a GAAP loss of $19.2 million, which is down from $25.5 million a year ago, but that did not prevent shares plunging by 20%.

First quarter revenue at digital security firm Verimatrix fell 6% to $6.2 million, with a 12% growth in subscriptions offset by a heavy 11% decline in maintenance revenues. Annual recurring revenue to date is still up, just, at 0.4%.

With a target of 100 million subscribers by 2024, Paramount+ is on track to launch in South Korea from June 2022, followed by India through partnerships with heavyweights Reliance Jio and Viacom18. European launches will follow in the second half of 2022, in the UK, Germany, Italy, Austria, France, and Switzerland.

 

Austrian operator ORS has rolled out two new 4K hybrid set tops – for satellite and terrestrial – both with OTT video functionality. Skyworth Digital has delivered the devices, while 3SS developed the customized UX for ORS’s simpliTV subscribers based on the 3Ready Product Framework.

Qualcomm has come out with its WiFi 7 Networking Pro Series Gen 3 family of platforms, delivering a peak wireless capacity of 33 Gbps. The chip giant claims to have enabled the era of 10 Gbps WiFi with its first customer deliveries of the WiFi 7 series, which it says is suited for both whole home mesh and large public venues.

AI-based sports production firm Pixellot has contracted sporting transmission services provider ATM Media for automated cameras to capture and record live sports content (mostly ball sports), which is then merged to offer an integrated image and ambient sound with the use of AI algorithms.

 

Key Nielsen rival iSpot.tv has received $325 million in investment from Goldman Sachs, dwarfing the $58 million raised previously. The cash injection shows further confidence in the firm to take the lead of the fragmenting measurement landscape, and will allow iSpot to effectively integrate the various vendors it has acquired in the past couple of years.

Sony-owned Crunchyroll has confirmed that it plans to use Google Cloud’s Media CDN in future, as the two companies announced a strategic partnership. For now, Google Cloud will provide personalization services, as well as data management and analytics, which will be key to prevent subscriber churn, as Crunchyroll begins to wind down its ad-supported offering.

The Yankee Entertainment and Sports (YES) Network has partnered with server side ad insertion (SSAI) specialist Transmit.Live to receive addressable, low-latency picture-in-picture ads during live games on its free sports app. Transmit.live ingests live data signals alongside real-time contextual awareness of live events, allowing advertisers to customize picture in picture ad insertions according to which event is being streamed.

Nielsen has integrated data from 20 million Vizio smart TVs into its local measurement offerings, building on from a 2021 partnership which saw Vizio’s automatic content recognition (ACR) technology feed into Nielsen’s national addressable measurement. The new deal will provide Nielsen incremental coverage for around 400 local TV stations.

CommScope is providing Orange Moldova with the latest generation of Android TV set tops. The Orange TV Box 4K will offer subscribers a Hybrid DVB-C and IP connected 4K digital video decoder that will receive broadcast DVB-C TV services, as well as OTT services over the internet. Customers can also cast via the in-built Chromecast.

Sky Italia has seen a loss of 106,000 DTH subs in Q1 of this year after it lost the rights to broadcast Serie A to rival service DAZN. Overall revenue for the Sky group was down 4.5% to $4.8 billion in the first quarter, despite a rise in consumer relationships in Germany and the UK.

YouTube’s ad revenue has slowed in growth compared to last year. Q1 revenues of $6.9 billion were up 14% year on year, compared to 49% growth in Q1 2021. The company has also reported ‘substantial growth’ in non-advertising YouTube revenues, including YouTube TV, YouTube Music and Premium, although the only signal of this is a 5% increase in Other revenues in the Google Services segment, now at $6.8 billion.

 

Oi’s assets in Brazil have finally been sold, with incumbents TIM, Telefonica, and America Movil taking their share of the $3.1 billion sale. A number of regulatory and legal hurdles have delayed the deal from closing, but Brazil is now a three-horse race in the cellular game.

There has been a raft of content cancellations, with Netflix binning the not-much-loved Space Force as well as two animated kids shows. Meanwhile, WarnerDiscovery and Paramount have axed DC Comic’s Batwoman and Legends of Tomorrow, as the pair consider selling The CW. Separately, the CinemaCon event showed theatrical stakeholders in high spirits, although the new hope that was The Northman appears to have faltered, on a first weekend take of $25 million with a reported budget of $90 million.

 

Google Cloud has acquired MobiledgeX, the Deutsche Telekom spin-out, which has been plugging away at network-edge orchestration and optimization offerings. Notably, Google plans to open source the technologies involved, and will likely use MobiledgeX’s customer list of 26 operators as a way to flog its cloud computing portfolio.