OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

Music streaming service Spotify has filed for an IPO in the US in New York but will not be raising new money, just allowing existing shareholders to sell some $1 billion of their shares. Spotify said it was present in 61 countries, had 159 million active users and 71 million Premium subscribers, which were up 46% over this time last year. Revenue for 2017 was €4.1 billion, up from €2.95 billion in 2016, with Europe as its largest region with 37% percent of its total user base.

China’s Baidu has filed for a $1.5 billion US IPO for iQiyi its SVoD claiming over 50 million subscribers and said it wants to raise money to help expand its content offering.

Smart speakers hit 2017 shipments of 32 million according to research from Strategy Analytics out this week. Units were up over 300% year-on-year, with Google and Amazon accounting for nine out of every ten smart speakers sold. Google increased market share to 35% in the final quarter as Amazon’s share fell to just over half.

Indian ISP Spectra has chosen Nokia‘s IP/MPLS routing and GPON fiber systems to build out its network lifting broadband up to 1 Gbps for both residential and enterprise customers in Bangalore. Nokia will provide IP aggregation and an Edge and core network based on the 7210 Service Access Switch and 7750 Service Router.

NScreen Media said this week that Amazon plans to offer ad-supported TV services in the US later this year separate to the Channels program. It looks like Amazon is launching a virtual MVPD service, like Sling TV, perhaps under a different brand like Amazon TV. Can’t wait.

The Disney legal action against Redbox filed late last year to prevent it from selling digital download codes for Disney films has been denied an injunction at its first hearing in front of a US judge, who suggested that Disney’s stringent policies about the codes amounted to “copyright misuse.” Because Redbox did not have a deal directly with Disney it went out and bought DVDs at retail and offered them for rental and the digital download codes were bundled in those copies, so customers could get digital copies for between $3.99 and $7.99 rather than the usual $19.99 cost. Because under US law people can resell DVDs, the judge is wondering if Disney is removing some copyright rights from the consumer with the warning it places on the digital download. Meanwhile Redbox has accused Disney of anti-competitive behavior for not signing a deal with it.

Altice in the US has reported Q4 results with revenue up 2.6% year on year to $2.37 billion, with EBITDA up 19.5% to $4 billion and net income of $2.254 billion compared to a loss of $236 million last time. However this was after a

noncash deferred tax benefit of $2.4 billion Q4 due to the Tax Act. Otherwise the company would have made a slightly smaller loss than last year. Dexter Goei, Altice USA CEO described 2017 as a transformational year when it added 1 Gbps broadband speeds, a new integrated entertainment platform and began rolling out fiber and it had built an MVNO. Not bad for a year’s work.

Verizon and Straight Path Communications have stumped up $614 million according to Law360, to settle an FCC probe which said Straight Path had squatted on valuable 5G-prime spectrum, without developing it. It sold the spectrum to Verizon last year and now it has had to pay 20% of the spectrum sale proceeds to the government. It is the largest penalty for sitting on spectrum in the US.

US broadband equipment vendor Adtran said this week that EWE TEL, a German regional telco will use Adtran equipment to build out its broadband network. There are few details – only that it involves an equipment swap, project management and data migration services. EWE offers fiber, VDSL and WiFi internet connections.

Minneapolis based Qumu says it has an IPTV which is entirely cloud based, which it says allows organizations to deliver a rich end-user IPTV experience to any computer, TV, large format display, mobile device, connected web client, or commodity compute stick and runs on just a browser. It is software only and comes with its own video analytics package, the company said offering live streams, or VoD and all video is closed-caption compatible.

Vewd, renamed from part of the Norwegian browser specialist once known as Opera, has cut a deal for its OTT video delivery system with video ad serving platform SpotX, which will power monetization of all its OTT products and services. As their first programmatic video advertising partner, Vewd will leverage SpotX’s ad serving and video supply side platform (SSP), allowing media companies to optimize video advertising strategies and maximize revenue. The company claims it has 50 million Vewd-enabled devices shipping each year.

Israeli TV middleware specialist Comigo says it has an AI system to enhance the TV experience, which has been selected by Cell C, a leading mobile provider in South Africa, to power the company’s new entertainment and content service, black. This will bring a full 360 degree entertainment experience from VoD to live TV streaming. It includes live streaming of five top European football club channels, and services like sports betting and ticketing via an Android TV set top. The “EI Mind” cloud Platform as a Service creates a Knowledge Graph driven by a neural network, offering advanced personalization, interactivity, and social capabilities.

Scripps this week reported Q4 numbers up just 1.6% to $257 million, but with raised costs to $222 million, from $172 million last time, primarily driven by higher network programming fees and the cost of buying the Katz broadcast networks it bought in October. Local media was down 17% to $203 million, and political advertising revenue was just $3.4 million compared to $56.2 million last year. Retransmission revenue increased 4.9% to $63.5 million and advertising was up 6.6%, which left Q4 profit at $45.4 million, compared to $95.1 million in the year-ago quarter. Revenue from Katz reached $41 million and the company has $149 million of cash, with debt at $693 million.