OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

Sky produced Q4 figures to June 30 up over £500 million in revenues to £12.9 billion with £8.6 billion of that in the UK. The fastest growth market was Germany and Austria up 9%, and it realized a lowered profit of £97 million due to more expenses on the Premier League. The company said that it would add 300 tech jobs this year and that already well over 1 million UK homes had taken the new Sky Q box and 22% of these are paying an extra £12 per month for Sky Q multiscreen. Sky plans a triple play Now TV Combo, for contract-free triple play. Sky Q will go to Germany, Austria and Italy later this year. UK TV customers rose 150,000 in the quarter to 11.4 million, and Germany and Austria to over 5 million. Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch also confirmed the company will be launching a Spanish OTT service before the end of the year.

Orange (France Telecom) lifted revenues 1% to €20.28 billion, for the half year to end of June. Net income was just €830 million, compared to €3.3 billion in 2016. It increased broadband lines by 177,000 to 19.13 million across all of Europe, with 3.9 million of these fiber and with 11.3 million broadband customers in France. IPTV customers over all territories rose to 8.7 million up 91,000 in the quarter.

Nokia had what looked like a strong quarter, with sales up 1% to €5.6 billion, strengthened by the IPR deal it cut with Apple, which added 90% to its Nokia Technologies revenues to €369 million. Networks was down 5% to €4.97 billion and as part of that Ultra Broadband was off 8% to €2.1 billion and the company made a loss of €433 million, compared to a loss of €726 million, last time.

French video technology provider Technicolor results for H1 2017 had revenues of €2,146 million, down 9.2%. The Connected Home market suffered from higher memory prices and revenues for both set tops and home gateways were off by 5.3% and 14.4% respectively. The Technology segment revenues declined due to the expiry of some license agreements in anticipation of a ramp up of a joint licensing program with Sony. Entertainment services were stable, and the company said revenue growth in the US grew on record deliveries in particular of the Worldbox to Charter. It said it has 12 more product introductions in the US this year. Free cash flow came to negative €67 million due to lower margins. Technicolor gave guidance of an adjusted EBITDA of around €420 million to €480 million.

US satellite radio firm Sirius XM said paying subscribers grew 466,000 and that now total subscribers exceed 32 million. Its Q2 revenue grew 9% to $1.3 billion and net income rose 16% to $202 million. The company threw off free cash flow of $417 million. It reset guidance at subscriber additions of 1.4 million, revenue of $5.4 billion, EBITDA of $2.05 billion, and free cash flow of $1.5 billion.

Charter Communications’ Q2 results showed that it lost 90,000 video customers during the quarter to end on 16.65 million, and added 231,000 broadband customers to end the quarter on 22.03 million. Total Q2 revenues were $10.4 billion up 3.9% but net income declined to $139 million from $248 million due mostly to a pension issue – EBITDA was up 8.6%.

Sony Interactive Entertainment and the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC) have struck an agreement enabling NCTC member companies to offer Sony’s PlayStation Vue streaming service. Local cablecos will soon be offering Vue to subscribers as a package, available on connected devices including PS3 and 4 consoles, Apple TV, Android TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, mobile devices and web browsers. The service currently starts at $40 a month for 40 live channels including ESPN, CNN, AMC, TNT, Fox News Channel, TNT, and Discovery.

SVoD turnover in Germany, Austria and Switzerland grew 11% last year to over €3 billion, with Germany accounting for €2.7 billion, according to commercial broadcaster association VPRT. It projects 2017 turnover to experience growth of between 10% and 12% to reach €3.4 billion in German speaking countries in Europe. It also found pay TV subscribers in Germany rose to 7.6 million in 2016 from 7.3 million in the previous year.

Digital TV transmission vendor Enensys has deployed its ATSC 3.0 Broadcast Gateway, ATSCheduler, at a test station in Cleveland for ongoing trials. The station, owned by Tribune Broadcasting’s WJW-TV and sponsored by the NAB and Consumer Technology Association, operates under an experimental FCC broadcast license. Enensys says ATSCheduler encapsulates the IP streams stemming from the various HEVC encoders that deliver the compressed audiovisual content over Route or MMTP protocols, and from the non-real-time server generating the signaling information and the interactive applications.

HBO Now was downloaded from Apple and Google app stores half a million times in the first week following the season 7 premiere of Game of Thrones, propelling HBO Now up 11 places in the top grossing chart to number 3, according to analytics site App Annie. HBO Now surpassed 2 million subscribers following the season premiere, rising from 800,000 at the end of 2016. The first episode racked up more than 16 million views but illegal views dwarfed this with 90 million streams on pirate sites, according to analytics firm MUSO.

Multimedia software platform Flash will be discontinued by Adobe in three years, as the company announced it will cease updates and distribution of Flash Player at the end of 2020. The move intends to encourage content creators to shift Flash media content over to open formats such as HTML5, WebGL and WebAssembly. It comes after news from Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla and Apple that they all plan to stop support for Flash. “Today, most browser vendors are integrating capabilities once provided by plugins directly in the browsers and deprecating plugins,” Adobe said in a statement.

US video game developer Blizzard Entertainment has successfully shut down a fan-operated server running World of Warcraft’s first expansion pack, Burning Crusade. Reddit user Gummy52 was behind the server but received a cease and desist letter from Blizzard within 5 hours of the “Felmyst” server going live, putting an end to four years of development on the Warcraft emulation.

Linear pay TV companies will lose 31 million customers over the next 10 years, according to Barclays analyst Kannan Venkateshwar, saying that media companies aren’t doing nearly enough to adapt to changing distribution models and highlighting YouTube TV as a model with much greater potential than a cable set top environment. “Media companies are looking at all forms of distribution from the same narrow lens of affiliate fees. However, there are significant differences in emerging OTT business models and incentives for new entrants vs legacy distribution. These differences are driven by the following factors (1) medium shapes the message and its consumption (2) quality is becoming less important than context (3) Shifts in consumer inertia becoming frictionless (4) TV is not about the Television screen anymore,” said Venkateshwar.

Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten has rebranded its European OTT service Wuaki.TV to Rakuten TV, in a bid to increase brand awareness, particularly in the UK market. It comes after a major sponsorship deal for Rakuten at FC Barcelona, which will reach hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide. Its VoD offering has 5 million subscribers across Europe, including 1 million in the UK.

The Brazilian pay TV market performed poorly for the second consecutive month, to undo gradual repairs made to the sector over the past year. It lost 135,000 subscribers in May and 170,000 in April to total 18.64 million at the end of May, according to telco agency Anatel. Its research adds that Oi was the only operator in the country to increase its subscriber base, thanks to its fiber-based offering, with fiber distribution technology growing 16.7% over the past year.

Southeast Asian OTT service YuppTV has entered a partnership deal with entertainment channel FlowersTV, providing movies, series and music in the Indian language Malayalam exclusively to the ex-pat community in North America.

French media holding company M6 Group published revenue of €662.4 million ($774.4 million) for the first half of this year, growing 2.6% thanks to a drive in advertising revenues, which climbed 4.2%, as well as reduced cost in programs. The group says it generated EBITDA of €118.7 million ($138.8 million) in the first six months of 2017, adding €25.3 million ($29.6 million) from the same period last year, with net profit of €48.7 million ($56.9 million).

AT&T is continuing its DirecTV Now promotion by offering the streaming service for $10 a month in a package with the Moto Z2 Force Edition smartphone. The device also comes with a $300 Moto Insta-Share Projector for projecting up to a 70-inch image.

OTT system developer Viva Entertainment Group has integrated its VivaLiveTV platform with Roku, which reaches 15 million users. VivaLiveTV offers some live channels free or 186 channels for $35 a month, on mobile, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, or a dedicated VivaLive Player set top costing $85.

US TV set manufacturer TCL has grown 72% in the past year to move into the top five manufacturers in unit sales, according to data from market research firm NPD Group. TCL cites its partnership with Roku, which it formed in 2014, as one of the key contributors to its growth – offering Roku’s smart TV platform on its hardware providing more than 5,000 live channels and 500,000 movies and series.

German TV network RTL has launched a free ad-supported streaming video service called Watchbox to replace its Clipfish VoD portal. Watchbox offers 1,000 movies and 3,000 TV episodes, with content focusing on Independent, British, Horror, Comedy, Science Fiction, Thriller and Anime genres. It is available on mobile devices and PCs, plus Amazon Fire, Xbox One, Apple TV and Chromecast, and smart TVs.

Spanish cable operator Euskaltel has closed its acquisition of Telecable, another regional cable operator, for an undisclosed fee. It creates a single cable operator covering the Basque country, Asturias and Galicia in the North of Spain, covering a market of 6 million people. The combined entity has 800,000 subscribers with revenues of €711 million ($831.7 million) and EBITDA of €346 million ($404.7 million).