OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

Have you ever played pass the parcel as a kid? Owning expensive sports rights, when a variety of sports decide to “go direct” to consumers, is what pass the parcel is like. The broadcaster holding sports rights and having committed to pay $billions over time for them, is left holding the parcel, when the business model unravels. That’s pretty much what Altice US is saying about Disney to its customers, and that ESPN is the parcel. “Disney is desperate to make up for ESPN’s crumbling business so the solution is to force Optimum customers to pay hundreds of millions of dollars more than we are currently paying to continue carrying ESPN, The Disney Channel and ABC.” Sounds about right to us. Perhaps Disney should be more aggressive with the NFL and other organizations and prevent it going direct to consumers.

Nokia claims to be the first vendor to contribute open source code to the Broadband Access Abstraction (BAA) project from non-profit industry organization the Broadband Forum – seeking to drive adoption of software-defined access networks. The idea is that the open source code delivers common management functionality, making it easier to operate multi-vendor, multi-technology access networks to allow operators and vendors to focus on developing new cloud capabilities instead.

Chinese online video platform iQiyi, owned by Baidu, wants to host its IPO in the US early next year, hoping to raise between $8 billion and $10 billion, reports Bloomberg. It’s worth remembering that Netflix struck a deal with iQiyi back in April for licensing original content – the SVoD service’s only deal in China.

Dish Network owns a sizable chunk of spectrum, and one analyst from Jefferies believes the portfolio is undervalued by as much as 45%, adding that it represents “the most compelling investment opportunity” and also reckons that an ideal partner for Dish comes in the form of AT&T.

Comcast’s Xfinity Partners initiative has added LG Electronics, meaning Comcast video services will be available on LG 4K TVs. At the start of next year, X1 subscribers with 2017 and 2018 models of LG webOS smart TV sets will be able to access the X1 program guide, VoD content and cloud DVR functionality.

Worldwide pay TV subscribers grew by 60 million year on year between Q2 2016 and Q2 2017 to total 1.05 billion, spearheaded by Asia Pacific, according to Dataxis research. Despite this, cable TV saw declines while linear OTT experienced 44% growth. The TV market in Asia Pacific grew 8%, while North America saw a small shrinkage. China and India now account for 48% of global pay TV subscribers, but we bet it’s nothing like that amount of the money.

Swedish operator Com Hem has launched a new cloud service for allowing subscribers to store unlimited files from unlimited devices for SEK 59 ($7.30) a month. Users can set up an automatic sync function, and Com Hem Cloud also comes with a feature for sharing photos.

Orange has extended its deal with Norwegian app developer Norigin Media, contracting it to bring multiscreen TV apps to Orange TV in Côte D’Ivoire. Norigin’s Hybrid Apps will power the initial launch of the streaming service on some iOS and Android devices, with the ability to cast to TVs using Orange dongles. Norigin Media says its apps have specific features to suit the market needs in West Africa, although it doesn’t name any.

The annual Mobile Wireless Competition Report, conducted by the FCC, has concluded that competition is effective in the US mobile services market, for the first time in 8 years. The FCC found that consumer demand and output continue to increase, average prices have been falling, and service providers have enhanced the performance, coverage and capacity of their networks. So it is likely to use that as an excuse to approve a mobile merger and ruin things.

Twitter has doubled the maximum number of characters allowed per tweet to 280 in a test run, a move which has received mostly negative user backlash. Users in Japan, China and Korea have been excluded, as Twitter says just 0.4% of tweets in Japanese reach the maximum 140 character limit, compared to 9% of tweets in English.

21% of US TV homes do not subscribe to a linear or virtual pay TV service, up from 16% in 2014 and 12% in 2010, according to Leichtman Research Group. The report adds that traditional US cable, satellite and telco video service providers have experienced a 3.1% subscriber base shrinkage in the past year.

Arris has rolled out two new Wave 2 WiFi gateways in its Secure Home Gateway portfolio sold retail, enabling more connected devices to share bandwidth without compromising demanding tasks such as simultaneous 4K streaming, with crucial MU-MIMO antenna arrays. It has introduced the new SURFboard SBG6950-AC2 and SBG7400-AC2 devices, which combine multi-gigabit WiFi capabilities with advanced home internet security.

Video sharing site Vimeo is acquiring Livestream, you guessed it, a live streaming platform. Livestream’s technologies will be integrated into the new Vimeo Live product, which launched this week. It provides professionals with a way to capture, edit, stream and archive live events, plus host, distribute and monetize video in a single workflow.

Smart speaker start-up Clazio, formerly Clarity, has launched its new Spark device on crowdfunding site Indiegogo. Spark features two speakers, a touch screen, voice command, smart home device control, a five megapixel camera and also supports major content providers so users can instantly access content from Netflix or Pandora, for example. It has built-in Alexa and OK Google voice commands, plus supports 4K output and runs Android 7.0 Nougat OS.

Taiwanese hardware manufacturer Asus has launched the world’s first smartphone supporting the WiGig (802.11ad) WiFi communications technology, running on a Qualcomm chip. The Zenfone 4 Pro operates in the 60 GHz unlicensed bands and will roll out in North America in Q4 this year. WiGig is supposed to support up to 4.6 Gbps speeds and includes Fast Session Transfer (FTS) which, in theory, can open up the creation of “hot zones” where a regular WiFi connection will jump over to WiGig to download a movie to the device in a matter of seconds.

UK billing firm Paywizard has secured an unspecified funding round from its existing investors to push forward on the launch of new pay per view (PPV) systems with partners. This comes after recent major client wins with NHK Cosmomedia Europe, an affiliate company of Japanese national broadcaster NHK; ABS-CBN, a Filipino media and entertainment organization; and ITV Box Office, the live events PPV arm of UK commercial broadcaster ITV.

Seven network affiliates owned by American Spirit Media have pulled their signals from AT&T’s DirecTV and U-verse platforms, following a dispute about retrans renewals, although the US broadcaster claims AT&T initiated the blackout. American Spirit Media owns Fox affiliates WXTX-TV, WSFX-TV, WDBD-TV, KVHP-TV, and WUPW-TV, plus CBS affiliate KAUZ-TV in Wichita Falls, Texas, and CW affiliate WUPV-TV.

Croatian TV network Nova TV has launched a free hybrid TV service for users receiving DVB-T signals on a HbbTV supported TV set, claiming to be the first in Croatia to launch such a service.

After being ordered to pay $1.5 million in damages to Sprint in a patent litigation suit, Comcast is appealing the decision – alleging that Sprint violated patents relating to text and multimedia messaging acquired from Nokia in 2005. Comcast has pegged the damages it should receive at $153 million, based on royalties from 2.66 trillion text messages sent by Sprint subscribers.

Orange Jordan is deploying a FTTH network in partnership with Nokia, to bring ultra-broadband access and triple play service to new homes and businesses. The network will use Nokia’s GPON (gigabit passive optical network) technology, fixed network professional services and Application and Analytics advanced network and device management software, to deliver speeds of over 200 Mbps.

Telefonica Germany has completed a field trial of its FSP 3000 CloudConnect and OpenFabric technology using a transport system from German telco vendor Adva Optical Networking. It achieved disaggregated 100 Gbps, 150 Gbps, and 200 Gbps connectivity over the mobile operator’s existing 10 Gbps line system, using high-density 1RU modular DCI technology across the national backbone infrastructure with no impact on live traffic.

Russian telco Rostelecom has put out a tender offer for 1 million Android set tops, with the price of each device starting at $47.74, although this is expected to be reduced during the bidding process, as reported by Broadband TV News. Rostelecom projects that the set tops will have a field life of around two and a half years if its subscriber growth continues, after adding 167,000 IPTV subs last quarter.