OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

Samsung Electronics America has announced the availability of its voice-based feature Bixby on Galaxy S8 and S8+ devices in the US, from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and US Cellular. The Bixby software update allows users to navigate apps, set reminders and taking photos using a combination of voice commands and touch. Bixby will be integrated across core Samsung apps, and will have support for additional languages.

US cable TV provider and ISP Cable One is eying Mississippi as the next area of launch for its Piranha Fiber service – offering up to 2Gbps of symmetrical internet speed for businesses and claiming to be the first of its kind available in the state. Piranha Fiber is delivered over a Passive Optical Network (PON), combining the best features from coax and fiber. The service is currently available in Fargo and Norfolk, with prices starting at $99.95 a month.

Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile is rolling out in Oregon and Washington, with its Xfinity Store locations among the first in the West of the US to make Xfinity Mobile available. The service combines Verizon’s mobile network with Comcast’s 17 million WiFi hotspots nationwide – including more than 475,000 across Oregon and Washington. Xfinity Mobile is available to Xfinity Internet customers only, with an unlimited data offering costing $45 a month, or $12 per GB.

Liberty Media intends to launch a process to syndicate an add-on of up to $200 million to the $3.1 billion term loan agreement executed by subsidiaries of Delta Topco, the Liberty Media subsidiary through which it purchased Formula 1. It says the proceeds will be used to repay the balance of the $300 million second lien facility (a loan that is reimbursed only after loan balances on senior debts are repaid in full).

The global market value of the 4K TV industry is forecast to reach $380.9 billion by 2025 at a CAGR of over 20%, fueled by graphics enhancements and price drops, according to a report from Research and Markets. TV sets between 52 and 65 inches dominated 4K TV last year. The research adds that the adoption of Quantum Dot LEDs is another factor expected to propel demand over the period.

US towers operator Crown Castle has acquired fiber network operator Lightower Fiber Networks for $7.1 billion from Berkshire Partners, Pamlico and other investors. The deal is valued at around 13.5 times the expected adjusted EBITDA contribution from Lightower in the first year of ownership. It doubles Crown Castle’s fiber assets to 60,000 route miles and opens up markets such as Boston, Philadelphia and New York.

Liberty Global is getting back into content by starting up its own production and distribution studio called Platform One, in partnership with venture capital firm TPG. Platform One will create, develop, produce and distribute high-quality scripted programming for both the US and international markets, with potential to feature on Liberty Global’s pay TV platforms in Europe. Liberty Global will hold a minority stake in the company and TPG will fund its investment through Evolution Media, an investment partnership with Hollywood agency CAA and Participant Media.

The average monthly salary for Chinese laborers dropped by 3.8% over the second quarter of this year to RMB 7,376 ($1,090), the first salary decline in China since Q2 2015, according to career platform company Zhaopin. It says the drop was caused by a plunge in salaries at micro-sized companies, which cut wages by 31% in the last quarter. The telecommunications sector replaced online games as the most competitive for job seekers in Q2, with 57.3 applications per vacancy.

CDN provider Level 3 Communications boasted of its successful delivery of the premiere of the seventh season of Game of Thrones on the HBO Go streaming service on mobile devices, tablets, laptops, games consoles and smart TVs. Level 3 told Faultline Online Reporter that the outages reported across the US and Latin America were unrelated to Level 3’s CDN. HBO Go has relied on Level 3 since 2011. Our Rethink TV research arm shows that HBO NOW uses BAMTech software hosted on Amazon’s AWS cloud and S3 storage, plus the Elasticache and the Redshift Business intelligence tools for big data analytics. It says it uses Amazon’s Cloudfront CDN, so perhaps not all of its delivery success is based on Level 3.

Chip maker Qualcomm has requested that US trade regulators should ban imports of iPhone’s using cellular processors from rivals, according to a lawsuit. Qualcomm alleges that Apple has infringed six of Qualcomm’s patents, including technology for enhancing battery life. “Apple continues to use Qualcomm’s technology while refusing to pay for it,” said Don Rosenberg, EVP at Qualcomm.

Pay TV piracy in Latin America has reached 11.8 million consumers, or 7% of households, according to consultancy firm Dataxis. However, it expects piracy to slow to 11.3 million consumers by 2022.

The BBC’s commercial arm BBC Worldwide reported sales up 3% to £1.06 billion ($1.36 billion) with profit growing 17.6% to £157.3 million ($204 million), but cash returns slipped for the third year running to £210.5 million ($273 million), down from £222.2 million ($288.2 million). It cited strong demand from VoD customers to help Worldwide beat its internal revenue target of £400 million ($518.8 million) in content sales a year earlier than expected, rising 9% year on year.

Fifth-placed US cable operator Mediacom Communications has selected Arris to supply its Carrier Class Service Provider WiFi Solution, providing Mediacom with a platform for delivering WiFi services beyond the home in multiple cities. It integrates Mediacom’s wireless assets into a single, centrally managed WiFi network – offering subscribers single sign-on WiFi roaming within Mediacom’s footprint.

Networking equipment provider Adtran is supplying its XGS-PON (10 Gigabit Symmetrical Passive Optical Network) solution to UK fiber broadband operator Call Flow, claiming to power the UK’s first generation of symmetric multi-Gigabit FTTH services. Call Flow has built out FTTC-based services offering speeds up to 100 Mbps across Southern England.

Comcast is planning to expand its enterprise IoT service machineQ to 12 major markets in the US. MachineQ is a network service using LPWAN technologies based on the LoRaWAn protocol to build and deploy systems for business. It plans to roll out in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Washington DC.

SPI Filmbox has partnered with IPTV platform E-vision in the UAE, operated by MENA-based telco Etisalat, to launch six new channels. The deal includes two sports channels, FightBox HD and Fast&FunBox HD, a classic movie channel, FilmBox Art House, a documentary channel called DocuBox, as well as FunBox UHD which shows lifestyle, adventure, travel and performing arts programming in UHD quality.

German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF have faced a setback in a cable carriage fees dispute stretching back to 2013, after a court ruled this week that they will have to pay €3.5 million ($4 million) to German cable operators for distribution of their channels.

Plans to form a cable broadband joint venture between Beijing cable TV operator Gehua Cable TV Network and Hubei Radio and Television Network have been revealed, which will temporarily be called the China Broadcasting Broadband Operating Company. It will be funded with RMB 200 million ($29.5 million) in cash from six broadcasters, with China Cable Network contributing RMB 70 million ($10.3 million) for a 35% stake and Chongqing Cable TV Network will invest RMB 40 million ($5.9 million) for 20%. One of its main focuses will be on online content resources including CDN operations for broadband broadcasting.