OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

Altice wants to split its US and European operations into two separate companies, as part of a restructuring plan to reduce debt and simplify the company to enhance accountability and transparency. Altice Europe will include Altice France, Altice International and Altice Pay TV subsidiaries, integrating Altice’s support services businesses into its respective markets and bundling Altice Europe’s premium content activities into one separately funded operating unit. Altice USA will distribute $1.5 billion in cash dividends to all shareholders prior to the split, while Altice NV will use €625 million ($751.6 million) to pay back debt. Patrick Drahi will become president of the Altice Europe board and chairman of the Altice USA board.

European media group RTL has acquired Nordic network United Screens for €12.4 million ($14.9 million), pledging €2.6 million ($3.1 million) to fund the company’s growth plan. Stockholm-based United Screens produces “hand-picked” content from video creators in the Nordics and combines this with campaign features it has developed, from which half of its total revenues come from. United Screens says it records more than half a billion views a month on YouTube.

CES has seen a number of industry majors including 20th Century Fox, Panasonic and Samsung announce updates to the logo and certification program for the HDR10+ platform, as well as workflow improvements to encourage production of HDR content. The update will roll out to set top, TV and Blu-ray disc makers, plus content companies and SoC vendors. HDR10+ is royalty free but comes with an administrative fee. Amazon has already made its entire Prime Video HDR library available in HDR10+.

Pay TV subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa are forecast to increase 74% from this year to 40.9 million by 2023, according to Digital TV Research. Of this 2023 total, 20.9 million subscribers will be on satellite, rising from 13.8 million in 2017, while DTT subscribers will increase from 9.1 million to 17.5 million. Pay TV revenues, meanwhile, will grow to $6.64 billion by 2023, rising from $2 billion in 2017.

America Movil’s Claro has added the Nickelodeon video subscription app for kids to its OTT platform in Uruguay. The app, called Noggin, is available for an extra monthly fee to basic video subscribers and will show top content including Rugrats, Rusty Rivets, Paw Patrol, Peter Rabbit and Fresh Beat Band of Spies.

UPC in Switzerland is preparing to switch its mobile network from Salt to Swisscom, set to take place in early 2019. The Liberty Global-owned operator says it will launch attractive new offers to grow its mobile subscriber base from 100,000 today, using the Swisscom network which was rated outstanding by the Connect test.

Two start-up companies at CES are claiming to have produced the world’s first artificial intelligence system specifically for audio. WiFi audio developer Linkplay Technology is integrating AI audio technology from Bambu Tech into its WiFi module, applying adaptive intelligence to optimize inbound and outbound audio processing. Bambu Tech’s AWSM Ai Audio analyzes audio sample-by-sample and decides what needs to be optimized, then it adapts to the dynamic millisecond changes in the sound – by cleaning and restoring details and harmonics individually as they affect each other. Linkplay also integrated Amazon Alexa last year.

Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Acer has unveiled its new 65-inch Predator Big Format Gaming Display, powered by Nvidia G-Sync Variable Refresh Rate technology and Nvidia Shield streaming capabilities. Acer is hoping to attract gamers to using huge screens by incorporating Nvidia technology which providers a stutter-free gaming experience, plus ultra-low latency at 4K 120Hz. The Predator BFGD comes fitted with a full-array direct backlight delivering up to 1,000 nits peak luminance.

UK satellite platform Freesat has selected US security expert Intertrust Technologies for protecting 4K UHD content. The ExpressPlay CA from Intertrust uses Marlin open standards-based DRM to protect and manage content and is available on a range of set tops and smart TVs. Freesat is currently in the process of developing a new line of UHD set tops with multiscreen streaming functionality.

UK-based sports network Eleven Sports is the first to stream a Bundesliga soccer match live on Facebook, taking place on Friday January 12 for viewers in Poland. Eleven has also live streamed games on Facebook from France and Singapore.

Orange Moldova has launched a new triple play TV, internet and mobile offering using the Adaptive Sentinel conditional access security technology from French-Israeli OTT outfit Viaccess-Orca, with set tops from Hi-Global Technology and CI+ modules from Neotion. Viaccess-Orca says Sentinel supports simultaneous use of card and cardless technologies on the same head-end and on the terminal side, and comes pre-integrated with Hi-Global Technology middleware.

Israeli WiFi chip vendor Celeno Communications has struck a joint reference design deal with Taiwanese fabless semiconductor company Realtek for a next generation 212MHz VDSL 35B Gateway. Using Celeno’s CL2440 4×4 802.11ac wave 2 WiFi chip, it claims to eliminate the need for external memories, drives down size and reduces cost. The gateway also includes Smart Antenna Steering technology, the Argus DSP-based spectrum analyzer and intelligence engine, which scans spectrum without interrupting service, and the ControlAIR smart multi-AP WiFi controller for expanding gateway coverage.

US subscription service MoviePass says it has added 500,000 new subscribers since the middle of December, bringing its total user base to 1.5 million. MoviePass costs $9.95 a month and is jointly owned by big data company Helios and Matheson Analytics.

Broadband equipment supplier Comtrend has selected MaxLinear’s Wave-2 networking chipset for a new WiFi extender for the North American service provider market. The Comtrend PG-9182C includes dual-band concurrent 802.11ac radio in a 2×2 MIMO configuration, with a adapter for connection to a broadband router.

Universal Electronics is developing TiVo’s new voice remotes in North America, featuring an embedded UE979 dual RF chip to reduce power consumption, modeless IR control between the TiVo device and other connected devices, and a dedicated Netflix button.

Swiss streaming service Zattoo has announced users can now view content in other EU countries, following the new EU regulation enabling cross-border content portability.

Video ad-serving platform SpotX is now powering server-side insertion for streaming video ads with the AWS Elemental MediaTailor, a personalization and monetization service for targeted ads on multiscreen video apps.

Verizon-owned Yahoo Sports will begin streaming NFL play-off games as of this weekend and will continue through Super Bowl LII, in a five-year deal valued at $2 billion.

App store provider Vewd, formally Opera TV, has released its new operating system Vewd OS, designed for smart TVs. It embeds software directly on TV sets, saying this eliminates the need for purchasing additional hardware such as dongles to access content.

Dutch TV and internet service provider Delta is deploying the Move TV delivery platform from UK firm Amino, to transition Delta’s existing cable TV subscriber base to an all IP-based model. Move TV enables Delta to roll out OTT features, building on its existing Amino-powered TV Everywhere service, to manage its entire entertainment service delivery via Amino’s 6 series 4K UHD compatible IPTV device.

Online and satellite radio service SiriusXM added 1.39 million net subscribers in 2017, bringing its total subscriber base to 32.7 million. The company also says it expects to meet or exceed its 2017 revenue guidance and adjusted EBITDA.

Norwegian telco Telenor has selected Nokia as the exclusive supplier for the switch out of its legacy optical backbone network. Nokia coherent optical transmission technology, built on advanced wavelength routing, will provide greater flexibility and dynamic network management and automation, including a SDN-ready platform.