OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

Spanish media group Mediapro, which owns a sizable chunk of soccer broadcasting rights, has been acquired by Chinese private equity firm Orient Hontai for €900 million ($1.1 billion). Orient will hold a 53.5% stake.

Google and UK game studio Preloaded have helped develop the BBC’s new virtual reality service BBC Earth: Life in VR, which will allow Google Daydream headset users to explore natural environments inspired by the broadcaster’s hit programs Blue Planet and Planet Earth.

Liberty Global’s UPC lost 51,000 TV subscribers in Switzerland in 2017 to end the year with 1.2 million TV subs, while its internet subscriber base remained flat at 749,000. Revenue grew 0.4% year on year to $1.46 billion. In the mobile segment, UPC grew from 80,000 to 115,000 subscriptions in 2017.

YouTube TV will raise its monthly subscription cost from $35 to $40 for new customers beginning March 13, while existing customers will continue to pay $35. The price hike comes after the live and on-demand streaming service added networks from Turner to its line up, reportedly including NBA TV and MLB Network. BuzzFeed mistakenly published embargoed details of new Turner networks on YouTube TV, which have since been removed.

Chinese online video platform iQiyi is investigating an IPO in the US, following an SEC filing for a proposed stock exchange listing for iQiyi by parent company Baidu. The number of shares to be sold is yet to be determined and Baidu said the listing would “commence as capital markets conditions permit”.

Verizon’s Go90 streaming service has finally been folded into its recently formed Oath sector. Content from Go90 will now be redistributed on channels from Yahoo, AOL, Huffington Post and TechCrunch, where it will serve as a “content engine, a content library and content partnerships” for Oath’s distribution reach.

US virtual and augmented reality headset maker Magic Leap has landed an undisclosed round of financing from investors including Axel Springer Digital Ventures, which plans to actively participate in technological development. We presume this is part of round D that was supposed to close in November, but an Axel Springer representative was unable to comment. It comes in the same week Magic Leap secured its first sports partnership deals, signing up NBA and Turner. A new NBA app will be made available on its Magic Leap One headset to offer “an intimate experience that has never been seen in sports,” with the lowest model rumored to cost around $1,000.

The Kudelski Group has discontinued its SmarDTV sector and reported a negative impact on profitability due to further slowdown of its traditional TV activities, with net income declining from $88.5 million in 2016 to $2.7 million in 2017. However, the Swiss digital security expert grew annual revenues by 7.1% to $1.07 billion, driven by its cybersecurity division which more than doubled its revenue contribution in 2017.

Indian satellite operator Videocon d2h added 160,000 net subscribers in the last quarter to total 13.41 million at the end of December. Revenue from operations for the quarter came in at $130 million, down 0.1%, and subscription and activation revenue was $119 million, up 0.9%. Profit grew 83.9% to $4.8 million.

US electronics manufacturer Vizio has launched its SmartCast skill for Amazon Alexa, to enable voice control of its 2017 and 2016 SmartCast P, M and E-Series 4K displays. Amazon Echo, Dot, Tap, Show and other Alexa-enabled device users can adjust volume, change the input of a playback device, switch a Vizio SmartCast display on and off, as well as control playback functions.

Altice USA has signed a multi-year affiliation agreement with US network Starz, part of Lionsgate, to offer the full suite of Starz and Starz Encore premium linear and HD channels to Optimum and Suddenlink cable systems.

Automated online ad platform provider Brandzooka claims to have added the first fully self-service ad platform for connected TVs. It says anyone can place thousands of ads on primetime TV through connected devices for “the cost of about eight Starbucks lattes” – we make that $24. Most connected TV inventory is purchased based on general categories and includes niche channels with tiny viewership, so Brandzooka claims its platform looks across ad exchanges and networks, then accesses exclusive placement deals directly with channels.

Ohio-based ISP Buckeye Broadband has licensed the Elevate SaaS video platform from Canadian IPTV software firm Espial – providing subscribers with easy access to OTT services and features including voice control.

Spanish media business intelligence company Nice People at Work has teamed with Norigin Media to integrate QoE analytics into Norigin’s multiscreen TV apps SDK. Norigin, a Scandinavian TV Everywhere software vendor, says it has recently productized its multiscreen SDK for the development of premium TV and video applications. NPAW’s Youbora analytics suite will be integrated to provide user experience information for each individual playback session.

As Liberty Global simmers down in Europe, the global operator is upping the stakes in emerging markets. Liberty Latin America has entered an agreement to acquire 80% of Televisora’s Costa Rican cable operator Cabletica for approximately $250 million. Cabletica has 207,000 customers on analog and digital TV, broadband and fixed line telephony.

Video monetization software outfit Telaria has announced interoperability with AWS to power server-side ad insertion for streaming video using AWS Elemental MediaTailor. The cloud-based integration allows Telaria and its customers to target and tailor ads and measure audience engagement on connected TVs, resulting in better monetization of content, via a more manageable multi-platform environment.

Multiplatform technology services supplier Synacor has announced a host of new customers wins and renewals in one fell swoop. US telco Windstream is the largest of the bunch, renewing its existing portal and advertising agreement, while Canadian carrier NorthwesTel and Carolina-based operator TruVista both selected Synacor’s identity management and authentication platform called Cloud ID. Synacor says Cloud ID streamlines subscriber login experiences across website, mobile devices and connected TVs. In addition, 150 new customers signed up for Synacor’s Zimbra Email and Collaboration Suite in the enterprise and government sectors.

TiVo’s Next-Gen Platform has been chosen by Service Electronic Cablevision, serving TV and internet to subscribers in Pennsylvania. The platform provides personalization and recommendation features, conversation voice control, and integration of content across linear, on-demand, DVR and OTT platforms on any screen.

German cable operator has added entertainment channel Insight TV to its FTA TV package, prior to its analog switch off set to complete on March 25.

Worldwide FTTx subscribers will reach 897.8 million by 2021, growing from 585.9 million as of June 2017, according to a new report from IDATE DigiWorld. FTTH/B represented 68% of FTTx subscriptions regarding June 2017. Growth of FTTH/B subscriptions will continue until 2021, albeit not at the same pace year on year, and will naturally decrease as the markets mature. Geographically, there will be no huge change in the predominance of APAC in the FTTH/B market, while competition from VDSL is intensifying in Latin America, particularly Brazil. There is considerable room for VDSL and growth in Europe, where incumbents are still working to optimize copper networks. FTTx/DOCSIS 3.0 remains dominant in North America and growing more rapidly than other technologies, according to the report.

US networking product maker Belden has acquired UK video production software firm Snell Advanced Media (SAM) for an undisclosed fee. Belden will fold SAM into its Grass Valley brand.

WiFi silicon vendor Quantenna posted revenue growth of 10.1% year on year for Q4 2017 of $41.3 million, and $176.4 million for the full year, up 36.6%. The company continues to talk about its key mystery MSO, which initiated a nationwide rollout of a gateway system using Quantenna’s Wave 3 10G technology. Gross profit for the quarter came in up 10.2% to $21.3 million, growing 36.8% for the full year to $88.2 million.