OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

HBO and Sky have inked a $250 million co-production deal for high-end dramas with the hope of creating the next Game of Thrones, as well as bulking up the pair’s combined content portfolios to challenge Netflix. The two companies plan to screen the first show in 2018 and green-light at least two dramas a year.

Vivendi has been given one year to cut its stake in either Mediaset (28.8%) or Telecom Italia (24%) after the Italian communications regulator Agcom ruled that its stake-building actions in the two companies is in breach of antitrust laws. Vincent Bollore’s Vivendi has been given 60 days to submit a plan of action, and argued in a statement that it “neither controls nor exercises a dominant influence on Mediaset.” The French media giant says it may launch a counter legal claim against Agcom.

AT&T’s DirecTV Now service has added 14 live stations from Fox Networks Group, to total 31 stations owned and operated by the US network. Fox has been striking deals with OTT service providers for its affiliate stations to opt into, and is expected to announce more after its affiliate meetings at NAB next week. DirecTV Now’s basic tier offers over 60 channels for $35 a month, and it will now show NFL, MLB, NASCAR, UFC and pro golf from Fox, in the 31 markets where it has deals.

Facebook has flooded the front pages this week after its F8 developer conference, where one of its reveals was a new open augmented reality (AR) platform with a focus on in-app cameras. The closed beta platform gives developers 3D object recognition and location-based capabilities – hoping to create more advanced AR applications than its current basic face mask features.

US TV sports channel GolTV has bought the rights to broadcast some 150 live matches from Liga NOS, the top tier of Portuguese soccer. GolTV will show matches with English and Spanish commentary at the start of the next season in August this year.

Edgeware is using NAB to showcase its new enhanced TV CDN architecture, which it says gives customers the ability to repackage and re-encrypt content at the edge of their TV CDN. Its Edge TV Repackager enables distribution and caching of TV content in a single format, then repackages it on the fly into formats required by the client device – reducing backhaul. It supports HLS, MPEG-DASH, MSS, MP2, MP4, HEVC and progressive download formats in SD, HD and 4K. DRM support includes Verimatrix, PlayReady and Widevine.

Chinese programmatic firm iPinYou has launched a demand side platform to give advertisers access to over 92% of Chinese media, including audience insights and product market fit evaluation through its data driven approach. iPinYou gives the example that it helped a European luxury children’s brand realize that while 90% of its global consumers were female, the Chinese family dynamics shifted that to almost a 50% male-female split – increasing revenue by targeting male and female demographics.

Akamai is using a Cloud Monitoring service from IneoQuest Technologies to monitor diagnostic acceleration in its critical video streaming events. The product, called FoQus>Delivery, is an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering for ABR streams in OTT video services.

Residents in Florida will still have to pay more tax for viewing satellite TV than cable TV, after The Florida Supreme Court overruled a previous court decision to align the two tax rates. Cable TV is taxed at 4.92% and satellite TV at 9.07% – DirecTV and Dish Network both sued the state back in 2005.

Arabic IPTV Android set top provider Lool has been found guilty of violating the rights of Dish Network by allowing users of its IPTV hardware to share pirated content. The defendants reportedly encouraged this activity and have been ordered to pay $1.05 million.

Rogers Communications in Canada lost another 24,000 cable TV subscribers in the first quarter of this year, adding to 26,000 in the previous quarter. Despite this, it published total Q1 2017 revenue up 6% to $474 million thanks to strong performance of its sports offerings, but TV revenue slipped 5%. Its roll out of the Comcast X1 IP-based video platform has been delayed.

UK operators Sky and Virgin Media are set to strike a deal to bring Virgin Media to Sky’s AdSmart targeted advertising network, according to The Telegraph. We see this as unhealthy, with the two most influential UK pay TV players merging on programmatic advertising – in an attempt to bring ad spend away from Google and Facebook.

News network Newsy has extended its deal with Verizon Digital Media Services (VDMS) to provide certain Newsy video content to customers of the VDMS Uplynk Video Streaming service, to add directly into their own OTT video streams.

OTT sports specialist NeuLion has added a new data analytics service, available to customers of its Digital Platform. It says ACE Analytics can help prevent cancellations and convert free users to paying subscribers, by identifying the most effective and profitable marketing channels and campaigns, plus the most valuable customers.

Sky’s most impressive region of growth was Germany and Austria for the first quarter of this year, growing revenue 28% to £1.28 billion ($1.64 billion). It lost 7,000 subscribers in Italy, but gained 40,000 net new customers in the UK, and added 73,000 in Germany.

US telco Frontier Communications has deployed on-premises and cloud encoding technologies from the newly renamed AWS Elemental. Frontier will upgrade its Vantage TV live and on-demand services for cable and IPTV, using Elemental’s unified head ends for video processing, and the Delta video delivery platform which supports just in time packaging and DRM for the Frontier TV Everywhere app.

Geolocation technology firm GeoComply has launched its latest fraud detection division GeoGuard – focused on OTT video delivery. The company says one in four internet users implement VPNs to mask their location, and its third-party tested tool can protect the media industry from piracy.

SPI Filmbox has announced its entrance into the Scandinavian market by launching channels on a local IPTV platform operated by Sweden-based Kalejdo Bredband.

Multiscreen software vendor Zenterio has selected quality assurance testing services from Eurofins Digital Testing, to automate monitoring of service availability across the Zenterio OS middleware for connected pay TV operators with set tops.

Mediaset has lost €341.3 million through its ongoing dispute with Vivendi, far higher than the expected €100 million loss estimated by the company’s CEO. Its operating loss for 2016 was €189.2 million, compared to an operating profit of €231.4 million in 2015, but Mediaset Premium revenues went up slightly.

Evolution Digital’s eVUE-TV managed TV service in the US has been taken by 7 new National Cable TV Cooperative members as part of the NCTC VU-IT service. These operators are Docomo Pacific, Antietam Communications, Frankfort Plant Board, Orbitel Communications, Easton Utilities, MTC Cable and Wyandotte Cable TV. It’s a fully IP VoD system. In July last year Evolution Digital signed a deal with the NCTC to deliver services as an option to members integrated into a common back office service. This takes the total operators which use it to 14, including WOW!, Blue Stream, Vast Broadband, Click!, Westman Communications, Fidelity and Hiawatha/HTC. The system also works with TiVo services. Meanwhile at the show Norwegian conditional access firm Conax said that it would collaborate with Evolution Digital on its next generation IP video platform. It has been integrated with the Conax OTT and TV Everywhere content protection solutions.

Cloud based US playout firm Encompass Digital Media, said this week that Sony Pictures Television Networks has selected its CloudVOD platform to distribute VOD assets for Sony’s US channels, including getTV, Cine Sony, and Sony Movie Channel to MVPDs.

Samsung Electronics and Amazon Video this week announced the introduction of HDR10+, an updated open standard which uses dynamic metadata to produce enhanced contrast and colors on an expanded range of televisions. It uses dynamic tone mapping and goes beyond current High Dynamic Range systems which use static metadata. What this means is that it will now adapt brightness in dark scenes, instead of keeping them at an absolute brightness level. It’s a firmware update for Samsung’s 2017 TVs.

Amazon Lex, the technology that powers Amazon Alexa, has been made available for all Amazon development partners to build conversational apps. Lex eliminates all of the heavy lifting associated with getting AI to work, says Amazon and works as a fully managed service, which automatically builds machine learning models. Capital One, Freshdesk, Hubspot, Liberty Mutual, Ohio Health and Vonage have already built apps using it.

OTT skinny bundle, Sling TV, can now be viewed on 2016 and 2017 LG Smart TVs including its OLED range of TVs, all running on the webOS 3.5 operating system.