OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

National TV channels in Italy have been ordered to show at least one homegrown movie or TV series a week in prime time viewing hours between 6pm to 11pm, or two a week in the case of government-owned broadcaster RAI. Broadcasters have until 2018 to make schedule changes, or face being fined up to €5 million ($5.9 million) by communications watchdog Agcom. SVoD services including Netflix and Amazon will also have to make investment obligations as part of the ruling, which must still receive approval from further parliamentary committees after getting the go ahead from the Council of Ministers. The order, imposed by the Italian government, will be fully implemented by 2020, when it aims for at least 60% of content aired to have been produced in Europe, along with a €400 million annual fund for investing in Italian productions. This type of content strategy has been tried before and never works in the local country’s favor.

Arris’ acquisition of Brocade’s networking businesses Ruckus Wireless and ICX Switch from Singapore-based chip maker Broadcom has been delayed, due to Broadcom refiling its notice to acquire Brocade with the CFIUS (Committee on Foreign Investment in the US). Arris has reaffirmed that it remains committed to its acquisition and associated strategy.

British MPs are to discuss the takeover of Sky by Fox with UK regulator Ofcom, following Ofcom’s report published in June which concluded that the Murdoch family’s stranglehold on UK news outlets should be investigated. Ofcom will also face questions regarding BBC regulation and how Brexit could affect consumers in the communications market.

Online video vendor Brightcove has won its first Bollywood production company contract, announcing a deal to develop an OTT service for LoneRanger Productions. The TVoD movie offering is expected to launch in mid-November this year. No technology specifics have been provided, but LoneRanger producer Vikram Bhatt said, “Brightcove’s platform performance, player speed and technology stack were real differentiators in creating a service that was theater-like for our viewers. We also wanted a vendor that could help us get to market quickly and, using the Brightcove platform, we anticipate being able to stand up our service within weeks after signing the contract.”

Amazon Prime Video has added all six episodes of legal thriller series Fearless to its portfolio, from the executive producer of acclaimed series Homeland. Fearless will premiere to subscribers exclusively in the US on October 27.

ZoneTV, a Canadian start up targeting the transfer of internet video to the TV, says it has launched 14 new TV channels powered by artificial intelligence. ZoneTV has acquired 70,000 shows which it claims have never been aired on traditional TV, and has segmented them by age groups and genres to provide five simultaneous program choices for each thematic network – creating what ZoneTV is calling Dynamic Channels. The more a viewer watches shows, the more personalized each thematic network becomes, and they also come with time-shift functionality.

IP video software provider Evolution Digital has launched its new app-based streaming service EVue-Now, aimed at cable operators and telcos in the US for delivering skinny bundles of local broadcast and cable channels to streaming devices. EVue-Now comes with time-shift and a cloud DVR which automatically replaces a stored program with the next available episode of that series or event, which could result in some unhappy customers.

French media holding company M6 Group has completed its acquisition of the French Radio unit from its parent company RTL Group, the Bertelsmann-owned entertainment firm. M6 has taken on the radio stations RTL, RTL2 and Fun Radio.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK has signed a distribution deal with New Jersey TV network NJTV to bring its NHK World TV English-language channel to viewers in the state. NHK World TV shows Japanese lifestyle programming and news, and is already available via stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Seattle, Denver, Orlando, Charlotte and Baltimore – reaching over 290 million households in 160 countries.

Dish Network is now offering Netflix UHD titles on its 4K Joey client app, after making the content available on its Hopper 3 DVR since April, claiming to be the first US operator to provide a whole-home 4K Netflix experience.

Sky Deutschland has extended its capacity deal with satellite fleet operator SES, covering seven transponders at the orbital position of 19.2 degrees East, home to 450 German channels with a DTH reach of 17.5 million TV households.

Portuguese operator NOS has picked Swedish software vendor Aptilo Networks to supply carrier-class guest WiFi services to its business customers. The Aptilo SMP Venue WiFi Manager (VMN) is being deployed in retail venues, banks and cinema chains across Portugal, projecting that within a year the service will include 7,000 WiFi access points.

Croatian ISP Iskon Internet, part of Deutsche Telekom subsidiary Hrvatski Telecom, has deployed a recommendations engine for the first time on its IPTV service, choosing market leader in this space ThinkAnalytics to improve viewing figures across linear TV and VoD. ThinkAnalytics has integrated its recommendations engine with the UI, developed by Slovenian multiscreen vendor Beenius. Iskon Internet is ThinkAnalytics’ first customer in Croatia.

Amazon’s Alexa assistant and Echo smart speaker portfolio have been expanded to India by invitation, with shipping to start later this month, and will become available in Japan later this year. Amazon says it has also expanded the Alexa Skills Kit and Alexa Voice Service so developers and hardware makers can create localized Alexa experiences.

US advertising software firm Videology has released the latest version of its Knowledge Labs educational series. The report aims to examine ways that advertising campaign measurement is being used in the converged TV and video ad space.

Oracle’s Cloud Applications and Platform is supporting Arris in scaling its business, replacing its old platform which is made up of a combination of technologies from previous acquisitions. Arris says Oracle Cloud will allow it to unite multiple components such as procurement, payment, product design and employee management.