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17 November 2016

OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

Skeptics believe the FCC’s open set top initiative may be dead in the water the moment Donald Trump and his administration team take over the White House, following a message from House Republicans to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler asking him not to proceed with any “complex and controversial items that the new Congress and Administration will have an interest in viewing.” Optimists say that Trump is yet to express his opinion on set tops.

Kaltura, a US OTT video software specialist, has integrated its OTT TV product with global commerce platform Stripe, an alternative payment method which gives businesses the ability to receive payments in over 130 currencies, either online or via mobile apps. The integration allows OTT video providers to create a fast payment method while reducing fraud and receiving analytical data, be it on a freemium, SVoD or TVoD model. Stripe can also be combined with other billing systems such as app stores.

AT&T’s new fixed and mobile internet portal was expected to launch this quarter but has been delayed until some time in early 2017, according to AT&T’s multiscreen authentication partner Synacor. The ad-supported multiplatform portal will provide content with a user driven functionality. Synacor CEO Himesh Bhise defended the delay by saying, “given the size and expanded scope of this project and after our recent joint planning we’ve pushed back the official launch date.”

US entertainment giant AMC Networks has purchased an unspecified minority stake in comedy TV channel Funny or Die for an undisclosed fee. Funny or Die, founded by actor Will Ferrell along with movie producers Adam McKay and Chris Henchy, has a significant online presence and AMC Networks plans to integrate it with its IFC cable and satellite network.

Swisscom has rolled out a number of new products offers this week. It has launched a new internet booster to connect DSL connections to its LTE network, to upgrade download speeds to 40 Mbps, free of charge to Vivo S and M customers. Plus a new WiFi 11ac wave 2 router, called the Internet Box 2, with G.fast technology for speeds up to 500 Mbps over copper. Swisscom has also doubled internet speeds for its Vivo XS and S subscribers from 20 Mbps to 40 Mbps, and those getting M and L packages can opt in for a free six-month trial of a 1 Gbps connection. In addition, subscribers of its IP-based fixed network service are being offered a free method of filtering out unsolicited sales calls. We’re jealous of that last option.

German fiber operator Inexio has been acquired by Warburg Pincus, a US private equity firm. Inexio has 75,000 subscribers on its 5,500km fiber optic network across eleven German states. Its new owner, along with co-owner Deutsche Beteiligungs, another private equity company, plan to speed up the expansion of Inexio’s broadband network over the coming months.

Spain lost 500,000 satellite subscribers in the first quarter of 2016, but this was offset by a growth of more than a million subscribers on cable and IPTV, according to competition regulator CNMC. The data shows that Spain had a total pay TV user base of 5.7 million at the end of Q1 2016, made up of 3.06 million cable, 1.42 million IPTV and 1.05 million satellite.

Comcast has selected Primo TV and Kids Central, two Hispanic US-owned networks, to be distributed on Comcast Cable systems at the beginning of next year. It hopes to expand its audience to educate young viewers with Spanish and English language content.

Chinese DRM specialist China Digital TV grew the number of registered users on its cloud-based platform to 4.3 million at the end of the third quarter, up from 1.5 million at the same period last year. The company cites challenges in its traditional cable TV business but says it is focused on developing its cloud content portfolio in areas such as VR and online education. It increased revenues in Q3 by 12% year-on-year to $11.8 million, with a gross profit of $8.2 million, up 11%.

Cisco recorded third quarter revenue growth of just 1% year-on-year to $12.4 billion, with net income of $2.3 billion. Revenue in the Americas was down 1%, while APAC grew 6% and EMEA was flat. Its security business saw the most successful quarter, with revenues rising by 11%, followed by NGN Routing with 6% growth. Switching was down 7%.

The artificial intelligence (AI) silicon market will be worth upwards of $15 billion by 2025, according to research from MKM Partners. It believes that products such as Nvidia’s GPUs, as well as field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) from Xilinx and Intel will thrive in this market. By segment, MKM Partners forecasts data center machine learning to be a market worth between $2 billion and $4 billion, autonomous vehicles will be a $9 billion business, and deep learning will rake in $4 billion. It also highlighted Qualcomm as a company to watch in AI, boosted by its recent purchase of NXP Semiconductors.

CDN technology firm Broadpeak has partnered with French satellite provider Eutelsat, to give content providers a system in which live and VoD content can be delivered to multiple devices. Eutelsat’s SmartBeam IP service is integrating with Broadpeak’s nanoCDN product – which will provide the streaming technology. SmartBeam only works with WiFi-connected devices, and supports DRM security and low latency, while nanoCDN enables operators to maintain a low bandwidth for high-quality multicast OTT streaming.

Following another poor quarter for Dish Networks, reporting a net loss of 116,000 satellite subscribers in Q3, its CEO Charlie Ergen has admitted that OTT has “the potential to be as big or bigger” than satellite TV, but remains skeptical that the market is “so chopped up it is a truly à la carte experience.”

The head of innovation at Nordic telco Telia and former Ericsson employee, Rickard Damm, has decided to chip in and address the torrid times of late at Ericsson, with a statement on LinkedIn addressed to newly appointed Ericsson CEO Borge Ekholm. The letter/rant advises Ekholm to listen more to the R&D team and shift the core focus of the company to the cloud and 5G. Damm also orders him to close Ericsson’s services business, stating: “Services was a one-way street to misery. Really. Basically all other professional service firms do what Ericsson does, only better and cheaper. Stop this right away.”