OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

Technicolor had a tough 2017, closing the year with revenues down 6.8% to €4.2 billion ($5.2 billion) and EBITDA down 17.2% to €291 million ($359 million). The French media company cited its Connected Home segment as wholly attributable due to memory price increases but expects prices for NAND Flash to fall in the first half of 2018 and DRAM pricing to drop in early 2019. The Entertainment Services sector was flat with EBITDA of €230 million ($283.9 million), but it expects this to grow marginally in 2018 with a strong order backlog in Film and TV VFX (visual effects) and advertising VFX growth. Technicolor is in the process of selling its Patent Licensing business, which CEO Frederic Rose said will be a “watershed moment, simplifying our operational model and clearing increasing visibility on our performance.”

China Mobile has licensed 2,200 hours’ worth of BBC programming for its AVoD and SVoD offering, operated through its entertainment content subsidiary Migu, available on mobile, online and on IPTV. Some 856 million viewers will have access to factual and lifestyle content including Blue Planet, Planet Earth and Steve Jobs – Billion Dollar Hippy, available in dubbed Mandarin. BBC Worldwide becomes the first content provider to sign a direct deal with Migu Video.

The number of streams on MTG’s Viaplay service increased 40.5% in 2017, with each user watching an average of 32 hours a month. Viaplay’s total user base grew 21% in the period, driven by soccer and fighting sports, and claims its original productions were among the most viewed across the Nordics during 2017. Interestingly, viewing on large screens surpassed mobile streaming for the first time since Viaplay launched seven years ago, with a user base of 64% on TV versus 61% on mobile.

Telefónica came out with Q4 profit up 23% to €3.9 billion ($4.8 billion) and up 7% for 2017 to €16.2 billion ($20 billion), highlighting its original content strategy as a key driver. Pay TV subscribers increased 2% to just under 8.5 million globally, with 92,000 additions in Q4. In Spain, the operator ended 2017 with 3.8 million pay TV subscribers, up 5%.

Deutsche Telekom added 260,000 IPTV and satellite subscribers in Germany during 2017 to end the year with 3.14 million pay TV subs. Outside of Germany, DT gained 195,000 video subscribers to total 4.2 million (7.3 million with Germany). Its T-Mobile zero-rated OTT service StreamOn has gained 800,000 users to date.

French encoding firm Ateme has announced WRAL-TV, an NBC affiliate TV station, has successfully tested the Titan compression software to support public demonstrations of the ATSC 3.0 broadcast TV standard. Broadcasting and technology partners combined to broadcast 4K UHD content using Layer Division Multiplexing technology to showcase new interactive applications.

British VoD platform UKTV Play is now available on Roku streaming players, including Now TV devices from UK operator Sky. The freeview service offers box sets from channels Dave, Yesterday, Really and Drama. It claims views increased 75% in 2017.

Media services supplier MX1, the merged entity of SES Platform Services and RR Media, has been selected by French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP), to supply its cloud-based MX1 360 service. AFP’s feeds are delivered to MX1 by fiber, with MX1 360 managing all streaming, monitoring and metadata aggregation – making feeds more readily available to AFP customers around the world.

Myanmarese telco Global Technology Group is launching an OTT service called La La Kyi, powered by encoding company Harmonic and OTT software vendor Viaccess-Orca. Harmonic is supplying its VOS 360 media processing SaaS product and VO will bring its TVaaS cloud-based TV platform to the table – handling media processing and distribution workflow via a usage-based pricing model.

Harmonic also came out with a product upgrade this week, unveiling VOS SW Cluster as the next evolution in its VOS suite. VOS SW Cluster is a software application for embedded media processing, including ingest, playout, compression, encryption, packaging and origin – supporting both cloud and bare metal compute environments. The product is aimed at OTT and IPTV service providers of any size, claiming to have already been deployed by an anonymous leading telco in Asia Pacific.

In a busy week for the two companies, Viaccess-Orca landed a contract at Swiss operator net+, deploying the VO Player to launch a new OTT service. VO Player is compliant with the DVD-Sub subtitle format, meaning net+ can reuse subtitle tracks of existing content and legacy stream generation systems. It also offers integration with Verimatrix ViewRight Web and additional protection such as screen casting and recording security.

African sports site Kwesé, owned by telco Econet Wireless, has bought a “significant stake” in Iflix Africa, part of the Malaysian SVoD service, delivering content to Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and South Africa. Iflix claims 10 billion minutes were streamed on its platform in 2017, across 24 countries.

Polish national TV network Emitel has rolled out a HbbTV service built by Finnish TV technology supplier Icareus. The system includes an Icareus Playout CS100 broadcast head-end for HbbTV streaming, and Icareus Suite for service management and online streaming servers, integrated with the Wowza Media Server for live and on-demand streaming.

US video compression company Minerva Networks has launched a new cloud TV service enabling operators to upgrade legacy set top offerings to a personalized user experience. Minerva Cloud TV is powered by the Minerva 10 platform, combined with recommendation software, security and processing systems – supporting voice control, time-shift, catch-up and cloud DVR on set tops and streaming dongles.

Orange grew revenue in France for the first time since 2009, up 0.6%, contributing to group revenue of €41 billion ($50.6 billion) in 2017, up 0.4%, but net income nosedived to €1.9 billion ($2.35 billion) from €2.9 billion ($3.6 billion) in 2016. The telco added 3.9 million mobile subscribers across the group in the fourth quarter to total 211.4 million and gained 207,000 broadband customers bringing its global broadband base to over 19.5 million. Orange added 20,000 IPTV and satellite customers in France, rising to 6.86 million in total.

AT&T and Time Warner have fallen short against the Justice Department’s (DoJ) antitrust case over the proposed mega-merger, concluding that President Trump’s attempts to smear CNN are not seen as the reason for the DoJ refusing the merger, said US District Judge Richard Leon.

Comcast has attempted to move its patent licensing court hearing with TiVo forward to this summer, according to a filing spotted by CableFax. The emergency petition filed with the US Court of Appeals aims to overrule the ITC case which banned import of X1 set tops fitted with two patent-violating technologies.

Deutsche Telekom’s Telekom Romania is rolling out a new line of IPTV set tops, powered by its favored operating system from Zenterio, and presumably on the usual Kaonmedia hardware.

Accenture has launched a new suite of services for testing AI systems, using a “Teach and Test” methodology, designed to help companies build, monitor and measure reliable AI systems with their own infrastructure or in the cloud. The “Teach” phase evaluates the choice of data, models and algorithms that are used to train machine learning, while “Test” compares outputs to KPIs and assesses whether the system can explain how a decision or outcome was determined.

Liberty Global is reportedly considering buying either one of Swiss operators Sunrise or Salt, to bulk up its UPC Switzerland operation, according to local newspaper Sonntagszeitung.

Non-profit advocacy group Public Knowledge has withdrawn its petition to overturn the FCC’s net neutrality overhaul regulations, deciding to pursue a challenge after publication in the Federal Register.

UK compression company V-Nova will be flaunting its new P.Link multi-service, bi-directional encoder at BVE Europe in London next week, while Faultline Online Reporter will be at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. V-Nova claims P.Link delivers the best video quality per bit for an Intra contribution encoder, powered by its Perseus Pro Intra contribution codec.