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OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

Swedish operator Com Hem has signed an agreement with social media platform provider TMPL (not an acronym, but Temple without vowels) to jointly offer digital services including smart homes, energy monitoring and service provision to Com Hem customers. TMPL says its platform provides landlords and housing associations in Sweden with a way to improve experiences for residents by sending information, managing rent payments and offering various services – from booking laundry times to ordering groceries. The two firms have been running pilot projects since 2016 and will officially launch the service some time in Autumn this year.

The decision by UK regulator Ofcom that Sky would remain “fit and proper” to hold a UK broadcasting license if the takeover by 21st Century Fox goes through is to come under judicial review. This follows claims of four “fatal flaws” in investigating broadcasting standards which were part of Ofcom’s conclusion, according to the law firm representing activism group Avaaz. The complaints state that Ofcom set a high threshold for the Murdochs, made errors in assessing Fox’s compliance with UK broadcasting code, drew wrong conclusions from sexual and racial harassment at Fox News, and ignored the role James Murdoch would play in the event of a takeover. Ofcom has 14 days to issue a response.

Comcast is expanding its Xfinity on Campus service for students to Roku devices and the Roku smart TV app this fall, following the initial launch in 2014 on smartphones, PCs and tablets. The service offers students a streaming package without a subscription, aiming to get users to one day upgrade to a Comcast video package rather than signing up to a rival streaming service like Netflix. Comcast adds that Xfinity on Campus has grown by 60% from last year to over 100 schools. The closure of cable services on campuses amounted to a loss of 941,000 subscribers across the US between April and June this year, according to MoffetNathanson.

Regulators in Mexico have given the acquisition of Time Warner by AT&T the all clear, receiving approval from both the IFT and COFECE, coming a few months after the European Commission gave its stamp of approval. Meanwhile, Brazilian regulators remain uneasy about the $85 billion merger, with antitrust authority CADE saying the deal could be harmful for competition as AT&T already owns Sky Brasil.

Revenues from OTT TV and movies in Latin America will reach $4.6 billion in 2022, rising from $1.87 billion last year, according to Digital TV Research. SVoD services will remain the biggest contributor to the market at 62% by 2022, for which subscribers are projected to almost double to 32.54 million by the same period, up from 17.08 million at the end of 2016. Brazil will account for 24% of SVoD subscribers by 2022, followed by Mexico with 28%.

Chinese online video company Xunlei Networking Technologies has been found guilty of infringing patents of some 24 US movie titles, a case brought against the firm by the MPAA (Motion Pictures Association of America) back in 2015. A Shenzhen court ruled that the company did not have the authorization to publicly distribute movies via its websites f.xunlei.com and kuai.xuneli.com.

Romanian telco Digi Communications has posted an update to its investigation regarding corruption allegations, reporting that several executives accused of bribery and money laundering will appear in court. The Bucharest Tribunal, triggered by the Romanian Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA), will feature four board members from Digi subsidiaries RCS&RDS and Integrasoft regarding two real estate assets valued at approximately €3 million.

Samsung Electronics says its voice-based smartphone feature Bixby has rolled out to more than 200 countries, although it is currently only available in English and Korean. Its Galaxy S8 and S8+ handsets have a dedicated Bixby button, or the feature can also be activated by saying “Hi, Bixby,” letting users navigate apps, set reminders and take photos using a combination of voice commands and touch. Bixby will be integrated across Samsung and third-party apps, and will support additional languages soon.

Brazilian broadcaster Clube has shifted its HD channels over to the Intelsat 14 satellite to expand its presence in the region, including distribution to its ultra-high frequency (UHF) retransmission sites. Satellite services provider Intelsat claims it delivers 77 of the 100 most watched channels in Brazil, with nearly 150 channels now delivered in HD.

Sky Brasil has deployed the Electra X2 software-based video processing technology from US encoding firm Harmonic to deliver linear HD and SD channels in its new broadcast center. The headend solution supports encoding in MPEG-2, MPEG-4 AVC and HEVC video codecs, plus statistical multiplexing for delivery over satellite networks.

Spanish Media Asset Management (MAM) company Tevial and Belgian live production firm EVS have partnered to create a bi-directional link between their two product offerings – enabling live content created in the EVS environment to be automatically added to archive workflows managed by Tedial systems. ITV Sport in the UK and Kuwait TV are the first to select the joint technology. It says the tying together of systems removes unnecessary additional steps from the production workflow.

Canadian IPTV software outfit Espial has announced its intention to make a normal course issuer bid through the facilities of the Toronto Stock Exchange. Share repurchases will not exceed 3,502,141 common shares, representing 10% of Espial public float of common stock. The company says its current strong cash position allows it to implement the repurchase plan without adversely impacting its operations.

Liberty Global’s UPC in the Czech Republic and Slovakia has added content from Universal Studios to its MyPrime SVoD service, including the hit series Mr Robot. By 2018 it plans to include 400 series and 100 more in the following year, with all new movies and series available in HD with either Czech language dubbing or subtitles.

The Comcast Business DOCSIS 3.1-based gigabit internet service is now available to customers in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic US. It plans to launch the Business Internet 1 Gig and Business Internet 500 plans in the majority of its services areas throughout 2017 and into 2018.

It transpires that French telco Free, part of Iliad, has been holding a 20% stake in Canal+’s SVoD service CanalPlay since 2016, according to French news outlet L’Express – suggesting that Free may choose to strengthen its position in CanalPlay in the future. Free reportedly acquired the shares in a discreet manner after it sold its Free Home Video service to Canal+ in 2011, but CanalPlay revenues dropped 16% last year to €33.8 million with losses rising threefold to €6.3 million. L’Express claims CanalPlay lost around 150,000 subscribers in 2016.

Video ad tech firms YuMe and RhythmOne have both issued separate statements confirming they are in merger discussions. UK-based RhythmOne issued a statement to shareholders confirming it is looking to acquire US-based YuMe, but said “there can be no certainty that any transaction will proceed.” YuMe’s statement says the discussions have involved the possibility for it to remain a standalone company following a takeover.

Comcast Xfinity Mobile will be offering the Samsung Galaxy Note8 in stores and online on September 15, with pricing to be confirmed soon. Xfinity Mobile combines Verizon’s 4G LTE network with Comcast’s 18 million WiFi hotspots.

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