OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

Amazon has taken a significant step to offering a viable cord cutting alternative by adding live premium channel search functionality to Fire TV devices, as well as a dedicated On Now EPG for Prime subscribers. The new features are available for channels including HBO, Cinemax, Starz and Showtime.

Roku has launched Ad Insights, an ad measurement toolkit for linear TV and OTT video. More metrics have been added for tracking campaigns – providing insights and feedback for marketers, content owners and TV networks.

South East Asian OTT service YuppTV is supplying its white-label video platform to Indian spirituality network Aastha TV, powering its first foray into OTT content via desktop, mobile and connected TVs. On-demand programs from the previous nine days are available on the Aastha OTT service, with the aim of connecting the younger generation across India with spiritual content including yoga and a form of alternative medicine called Ayurveda.

Russian mobile operator MTS has acquired Praliss Enterprises, the parent company of e-sports firm Gambit Esports. MTS will develop new products for gamers in the growing field of professional online gaming through a combined marketing initiative. Gambit Esports comprises a 16-person team of gamers competing in online tournaments, winning multiple major titles.

YouTube is changing its advertising policy for the YouTube Partner Program, in a bid to protect advertisers from inappropriate content and to reduce spam. Channels will have to meet new ad-friendly guidelines and have 1,000 subscribers plus 4,000 hours of watch time within the past 12 months to be eligible for ads. A significant number of channels will be affected as previous rules meant channels had to reach 10,000 total views to be eligible for the Partner Program.

Verizon Digital Media Services, part of Verizon’s digital content subdivision Oath, has expanded its Edgecast CDN with additional points of presence (PoP) in Mexico and South Africa, with plans to open an additional “Super PoP” in France later this quarter. VDMS claims network capacity has increased by more than 200% due to the latest updates, spanning 125 PoPs in 56 countries across 6 continents.

UHD broadcaster Insight TV has secured its debut distribution deal in China with consulting firm Belcor Media, making its UHD HDR content available to audiences around the clock. Insight TV CEO Rian Bester points out that 4K TV sets in China are shipping at a rapid rate, but the availability of UHD content is limited.

French OTT software vendor Netgem has published Q4 2017 revenue growth of 1% to €16.5 million ($20.2 million), with profit up 0.8% to €6.8 million ($8.3 million). However, full year 2017 revenue dropped 12.5% to €61.8 million ($75.6 million), on profit of €24.6 million ($30.1 million), down 2.9% for the year. Netgem’s active subscriber base increased by 18% from December 2016 to reach 2 million daily users at the end of last month.

Australian encoding company TV2U has expanded into Indonesia through a partnership deal with telecoms operators PT PGASCom and SmartFren, as well as launching a dedicated OTT service in Brazil with SOL Telecom and CCS TV. TV2U says its new content management middleware, IVAN-X, helped fuel its growth, enabling content providers to upload material to the cloud via an app and go-live service that is device and network agnostic.

The SES-15 all-electric spacecraft has been confirmed as operational since January 1 at the 129-degrees West orbital position, according to the Luxembourg-based satellite services provider. SES-15 is carrying a hybrid payload, comprising Ku-band HTS capability with wide beams, with connectivity to gateways in Ka-band. The craft took six months to reach position and is now serving markets across North America, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

Comcast Cable has declared Amazon Web Services its preferred public cloud infrastructure provider, expanding its reliance on AWS by migrating material workloads and building new applications. Comcast has not confirmed where these workloads are migrating from, but we suspect it may be from in-house Comcast Business Cloud Solutions infrastructure. AWS was already tasked with hosting Comcast’s Xfinity X1 video platform, allowing it to deploy features several times a week instead of once every 12 to 18 months. AWS also supports the Xfinity xFi personalized WiFi service and NBCUniversal workloads.

Chinese internet titan Baidu has added DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) support to its Android file manager app ES File Explorer, making video and music streaming easier for users on more than 25,000 DLNA-certified devices. ES File Explorer has been downloaded over 900 million times and is available in 28 languages.

Sony Pictures Television (SPT) and US broadcast media company Tegna have inked a multi-year distribution deal for first-run Tegna programming in the US and internationally, including new series Daily Blast Live. The two firms will also jointly launch shows on Tegna stations to increase their broadcast and cable footprints, with SPT operating as the exclusive advertising sales representative.

In-flight broadband service provider Gogo has expanded its selection of business news and rolled out a new a suite of digital magazine content for in-flight entertainment (IFE) offerings. Gogo Business Aviation customers using the Gogo Avance or Gogo Vision platforms can access the latest issues of 30 digital magazines and current news topics from Bloomberg News.

French cable operator Canal+ says subscribers will soon have access to additional content from M6 Group, including 7-day catch-up, the option to access all episodes from a season during its broadcast, and previews available from 24 hours to 7 days in advance. New features associated with M6 content will also roll out, such as time-shift functionality and downloading content for offline viewing.

Chilean broadcaster Mega TV has upgraded its supplier deal with media asset management software company Dalet to revamp its operations with the Dalet Unified News Operations system, for production and distribution of news content. The new system will replace legacy production equipment, enabling journalists and reporters to access a single system and toolset via configurable workspaces. Mega TV has been a Dalet customer since 2012.

Amazon’s Echo Spot smart speaker is now available for pre-order in the UK at £119.99 ($166). The scaled down model of the Echo Show comes with a 2.5-inch screen and built-in camera.

Middle Eastern satellite operator Arabsat has built an IP-based TV broadcast platform for Tunisian broadcaster ONT, working with test equipment manufacturer Rohde & Schwarz. The platform includes the R&S AVHE100 encoding and multiplexing system, supporting 10 SD channels, 2 HD channels and 24 radio stations. SVS from Turkey supplied the Satellite Earth Station.

Polish cable TV operator Inea has added SPI International Filmbox’s e-sports channel Gametoon HD to its TV line up. Viewers can play dedicated games on mobile devices and share scores along with avatars on air, as well as showing tournaments and reviews.

The Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) has upgraded Swedish electronics manufacturer InCoax Networks to Promoter membership status, giving it a position on the board of directors. InCoax has helped generate interest and trials in the MoCA Access network standard among operators in North America and Europe, according to the alliance.

French OTT technology vendor Arkena reveals it was behind the launch of a TV channel for Canadian fashion and beauty media outlet Edwige Magazine, which launched in Europe with Luxembourg-based operator Post Telecom last month. Arkena says its CMS and Playout services prepared, transcoded, secured and stored one hundred hours’ worth of programming.

Smart speakers were purchased by 7% of Americans between Black Friday and the end of December, of which 4% were first-time buyers of the voice-activated devices, according to a joint report from US media organization NPR (National Public Radio) and UK investment research firm Edison Research.

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) will begin testing virtual reality technology at shows this year, to create 10-minute long VR experiences free for WWE channel viewers, available on the NextVR app.

Sky Sports is deploying a pilot of UK company We.Stream’s secure mobile WiFi hotspot, equipped with embedded Cloud SIM technology for unlimited data in over 100 countries.

Italian broadcaster Mediaset is reportedly close to securing a minority stake in the joint venture between Telecom Italia and Vivendi’s French pay TV arm Canal+, according to Italian news outlet II Sole 24 Ore. The three-year deal would give Canal+ and Mediaset 20% each with Telecom Italia maintaining 60%. It includes a clause that Telecom Italia would purchase around €460 million ($562.6 million) of content from Mediaset over six years.