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ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery team up for OTT

By JΓΆrn Krieger

ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery want to set up a joint platform for OTT and mobile TV in Germany.

The media companies have founded a joint venture in which both sides hold a 50% stake each.

At launch, the streaming service will bring together the seven channels included in ProSiebenSat.1’s mobile app 7TV: Sat.1, ProSieben, kabel eins, sixx, ProSieben Maxx, Sat.1 Gold and kabel eins Doku, along with Discovery’s German free-to-air channels DMAX and TLC.

The enhanced streaming service will initially be delivered to consumers under the 7TV brand using its app and underlying technology platform; further technology enhancements are planned by the partners. The launch is expected to take place later this year, depending on anti-trust approval.

According to ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery, the streaming service is a first step in this partnership that will also see the creation of a broader OTT platform which will include other channels and content from Discovery and eventually further content partners. ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery welcome discussions with other media companies to include their content on the platform and to join the venture.

The partners are also pursuing strategies regarding sports content through the joint venture including packaging the 7TV service with Discovery’s direct-to-consumer Eurosport Player app. Recently, Discovery’s sports channel Eurosport secured several key sports rights for the German market including Bundesliga football matches, beginning this August, and the Olympic Winter Games 2018.

A search process for a chief executive to lead the joint venture is currently underway.

Ginx Esports TV to launch on DStv

By Robert Briel

Ginx Esports TV will be available across South Africa on DStv.

The 24/7 esports and gaming network was initially launched on DStv’s on-the-go DStv Now service in May this year and will from July 4 be available on the DStv satellite service to Premium, Extra and Compact customers in South Africa.

Africa has a burgeoning esports culture, which has traditionally been limited to South Africa. Recently other African nations, particularly Nigeria, have begun to develop their own esports scenes.

“Ginx is committed to supporting esports culture worldwide. Our growing partnership with DStv is a fantastic opportunity to bring our unique view on the vibrant global esports scene to many more viewers in Africa,” commented Michiel Bakker, CEO of Ginx Esports TV.

“We can expect to see more and more esports content coming out of Africa this year and Ginx is keen to play a key part in bringing that content to audiences in Africa and the rest of the world.”

Last month, GINX launched a raft of new original programming titles, building on its core lineup of live esports tournaments, studio discussion and on-location content.

Deutsche Telekom to show Bundesliga from July

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German telco Deutsche Telekom will commence its live coverage of third-division Bundesliga football games at this year’s season kick-off in mid-July – one year earlier than planned.

All 380 matches will be shown on Telekom’s IPTV platform Entertain TV, on the internet and mobile TV in Germany. This agreement was made with SportA, the sports rights agency of German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF.

ARD’s regional affiliates will produce up to 120 games of their choice and show them free-to-air mainly on Saturdays on their regional TV channels. ARD will also continue to report about selected matches in its Bundesliga programme Sportschau 3. Liga on Saturdays at 18.00 CET on its main channel Das Erste.

The remaining 260 games will be produced by Telekom – in Full HD quality.

In January 2017, the telco acquired the exclusive pay-TV rights for all third-division Bundesliga games from the 2018/19 season from Germany’s national football association DFB. The new agreement with current TV rights holder Sport1 enables Telekom to commence its live coverage one year earlier.

Sky Deutschland kicks out Sport1 US HD

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German pay-TV broadcaster Sky Deutschland will terminate distribution of Sport1 US HD, the channel for the fans of US sports, on its platform on June 30, 2017.

“We regularly analyse and evaluate our partner channel portfolio regarding different quantity and quality-based aspects,” a Sky Deutschland spokesman told web portal Quotenmeter. “Sky Deutschland and Sport1 have agreed not to extend carriage of the channel Sport1 US HD beyond June 30, 2017.”

The spokesman stressed that sister channel Sport1+ HD won’t be affected and will continue to remain part of the Sky Deutschland platform.

Sport1 US HD launched on August 1, 2013 and was offered by Sky Deutschland only to its DTH satellite subscribers on Astra (19.2° East). The creation of the channel was prompted by ESPN America’s pull-out of Europe on July 31, 2013.

Sport1 US covers many of the sports leagues previously shown by ESPN Amercia. The channel’s schedule comprises, for example, NBA, NHL, MLB, NCAA and the IndyCar series.

Following the removal by Sky Deutschland, Sport1 US continues to remain on cable, IPTV and OTT platforms including Zattoo where it recently launched.

Discovery extends with Swisscom, adds Eurosport Player

By JΓΆrn Krieger

The free-to-air and pay-TV channels operated by Discovery Networks Deutschland will continue to be carried on Swiss IPTV platform Swisscom TV.

The TV broadcaster extended its long-standing partnership with Switzerland’s national telco. At the same time, it was agreed that Swisscom will become the exclusive marketing partner for the Eurosport Player in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

The customers of Swisscom and its pay-TV subsidiary Teleclub will be offered access to the subscription OTT service at a reduced price. Through the Eurosport Player they will be able to watch live Bundesliga games from the upcoming 2017/18 season, among other competitions.

On traditional distribution platforms, the Bundesliga matches transmitted by Discovery’s sports channel Eurosport will be distributed within Teleclub’s pay-TV package in Switzerland and Liechtenstein following a recently signed agreement.

UPC swoops Sky Bundesliga from Teleclub

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Liberty Global’s Swiss cable operator UPC will transmit the live games of German football league Bundesliga shown by Sky Deutschland in Switzerland from the new season starting in August 2017.

All matches for which Sky owns the rights will be screened exclusively via cable and IPTV by UPC’s new sports channel MySports – in total 572 games of the first and second division Bundesliga per year.

For years, pay-TV broadcaster Teleclub, operated by UPC’s competitor Swisscom, had been Sky Deutschland’s Bundesliga partner in Switzerland showing the games.

“I’m very happy that our new sports channel will now also be able to offer this highlight of international football to our customers. We thereby put our channel onto the next level and leave the competition in the domestic sports market far behind us,” said Steffi Buchli, programme director of MySports.

The move leaves Teleclub with just the 40 Bundesliga games per season transmitted by Eurosport following a deal recently signed with Discovery Networks Deutschland.

Deutsche Telekom launches sports package with Sky

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German telco Deutsche Telekom will offer a new multiscreen sports TV package from August 2, 2017.

Telekom Sport which can be subscribed to from €9.95 per month contains, through Sky Sport Kompakt, Sky Deutschland’s conference coverage of the football Bundesliga and the UEFA Champions League as well as all games of the Handball Bundesliga.

The bouquet also includes all matches of the third-division Bundesliga, selected games of the women’s Bundesliga, the content of FC Bayern.tv live as well as all matches of the Basketball Bundesliga and Deutsche Eishockey Liga.

Telekom Sport provides sports fans with an unbeatable offer: all relevant top leagues, plus exclusive content, live and on-demand and everything in HD quality – whether it’s football, ice-hockey, handball or basketball. That’s only available from Telekom,” said Michael Hagspihl, managing director of Telekom Deutschland’s private customer department.

Telekom Sport will be accessible on smart TV sets, PCs, tablets and smartphones as well as on Telekom’s IPTV platform Entertain TV and directly via the internet. While Sky Sport Kompakt will only be available to Telekom’s customers, sports fans can continue to also sign up for all other segments of Telekom Sport as stand-alone subscriptions

Deutsche Telekom launches sports package with Sky

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German telco Deutsche Telekom will offer a new multiscreen sports TV package from August 2, 2017.

Telekom Sport which can be subscribed to from €9.95 per month contains, through Sky Sport Kompakt, Sky Deutschland’s conference coverage of the football Bundesliga and the UEFA Champions League as well as all games of the Handball Bundesliga.

The bouquet also includes all matches of the third-division Bundesliga, selected games of the women’s Bundesliga, the content of FC Bayern.tv live as well as all matches of the Basketball Bundesliga and Deutsche Eishockey Liga.

Telekom Sport provides sports fans with an unbeatable offer: all relevant top leagues, plus exclusive content, live and on-demand and everything in HD quality – whether it’s football, ice-hockey, handball or basketball. That’s only available from Telekom,” said Michael Hagspihl, managing director of Telekom Deutschland’s private customer department.

Telekom Sport will be accessible on smart TV sets, PCs, tablets and smartphones as well as on Telekom’s IPTV platform Entertain TV and directly via the internet. While Sky Sport Kompakt will only be available to Telekom’s customers, sports fans can continue to also sign up for all other segments of Telekom Sport as stand-alone subscriptions

HD+ to show Eurosport Bundesliga on Astra [UPDATE]

By JΓΆrn Krieger

In a last minute agreement, German DTH platform HD+ will broadcast the 45 Bundesliga games Eurosport will show live from the upcoming season on Astra (19.2° East) for German satellite households.

The distribution deal was reached between Eurosport’s parent company Discovery Networks Deutschland and the subsidiary of Astra satellite operator SES. The Bundesliga games Eurosport will screen on spin-off channel Eurosport 2 HD Xtra will, hence, not only be available on OTT service Eurosport Player, but also on a classic TV broadcast infrastructure.

For the new service, HD+ will launch subscription package Eurosport Paket on August 4, 2017 through which customers will gain access to Eurosport 2 HD Xtra via satellite and through the Eurosport Player on all other reception devices. On Astra, Eurosport 2 HD Xtra will broadcast on the frequency 11.112 GHz H (SR 22,000, FEC 2/3).

All HD+ customers will be able to receive the channel without additional charge until September 4, 2017 if they register for it on the HD+ website. Afterwards, the Eurosport package will cost €5 per month; the subscription can be cancelled monthly. From September 2017, there will also be a prepaid offer: 12 months Eurosport Paket for €55.

The collaboration with HD+ is a clever move by Discovery as no agreement was reached with Sky Deutschland, but both sides were involved in a legal dispute. HD+ has 3 million customers. The total technical reach of HD+ amounts to the 17.6 million Astra satellite households in Germany, corresponding with 46% of the total number of German TV households.

“It is our aim to make the Bundesliga available to the fans on as many screens as possible. With the large reach and a strong product, HD+ is the perfect cooperation partner for us,” said Susanne Aigner-Drews, Managing Director of Discovery Networks Deutschland. “We can jointly guarantee viewers a 360° viewing experience, whether it’s on the large screen or on other devices. With the move, we extend the reception possibilities of the Bundesliga on Eurosport by a crucial component.”

Georges Agnes, Managing Director Operations and Product Development at HD Plus, said: “Bundesliga live and exclusive, in best HD quality, on Germany’s most important TV reception infrastructure – the new Eurosport package on HD+ hits the bullseye for all football fans. In time for the beginning of the new Bundesliga season, it ensures that millions of TV households in Germany will be able to experience many matches and goals of the Bundesliga live that would otherwise not have been available on television. The new HD+ offer is the ideal addition for Sky customers who want to continue watching all games and goals live.”

The first Bundesliga match Eurosport transmits live this season will be the DFL Supercup between Bundesliga champion FC Bayern Munich and DFB Cup winner Borussia Dortmund on August 5, 2017; kick-off is at 20.30 CET. In the next four Bundesliga seasons, Eurosport will mainly show the Friday evening games. In total, 30 matches will be screened live on Friday at 20.30 CET, additionally five games on Sunday afternoon at 13.30 CET as well as five Monday night games at 20.30 CET. The channel will also screen the four relegation matches and the DFL Supercup.

Interesting detail: For HD+, the addition of Eurosport 2 HD Xtra marks a strategic shift as, for the first time, a pay-TV channel becomes part of the platform. Until now, only the HD versions of commercial, ad-supported free-to-air channels were offered. This could be the cornerstone for a pay-TV platform with third-party channels not carried by Sky Deutschland.

[UPDATE] In contrast to the regular HD+ platform, Sky Deutschland subscribers will not be able to receive the Eurosport package offered by HD+ through their Sky receiver and Sky smartcard. This was confirmed to Broadband TV News by HD+ and Sky. The reason is that no agreement has been reached regarding the distribution of Eurosport’s Bundesliga games on Sky.

Sky Deutschland to show Formula 1 in Ultra HD

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German pay-TV broadcaster Sky Deutschland will transmit its Formula 1 coverage in Ultra HD in Germany and Austria from this weekend for the first time.

The native Ultra HD signal produced by Sky UK will be available from all qualification rounds and races of the remaining nine Grand Prix weekends with the exception of the qualification for the Grand Prix in Mexico.

Following the Bundesliga and the UEFA Champions League, the Formula 1 will be the third sports competition Sky Deutschland shows in Ultra HD.

The 4K transmissions will air on the Sky Sport UHD channel launched in October 2016 which is available on the Astra satellite system (19.2° East), on selected cable networks and on Deutsche Telekom’s IPTV network Entertain TV.

For reception, viewers need an Ultra HD TV set and the Sky+ Pro set-top-box or Deutsche Telekom’s new Media Receiver as well as a Premium HD subscription along with a corresponding package option.

Sky Deutschland to show Formula 1 in Ultra HD

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German pay-TV broadcaster Sky Deutschland will transmit its Formula 1 coverage in Ultra HD in Germany and Austria from this weekend for the first time.

The native Ultra HD signal produced by Sky UK will be available from all qualification rounds and races of the remaining nine Grand Prix weekends with the exception of the qualification for the Grand Prix in Mexico.

Following the Bundesliga and the UEFA Champions League, the Formula 1 will be the third sports competition Sky Deutschland shows in Ultra HD.

The 4K transmissions will air on the Sky Sport UHD channel launched in October 2016 which is available on the Astra satellite system (19.2° East), on selected cable networks and on Deutsche Telekom’s IPTV network Entertain TV.

For reception, viewers need an Ultra HD TV set and the Sky+ Pro set-top-box or Deutsche Telekom’s new Media Receiver as well as a Premium HD subscription along with a corresponding package option.

FreeSports launches in the UK

By Robert Briel

FreeSports, a new multi-sports television channel operated by the team behind Premier Sports is launching this Thursday, August 31, in the UK.

FreeSports will initially reach over 18 million of the 26 million UK homes and become the only free-to-air sports channel available on Freeview, TalkTalk and BT. It will also broadcast free-to-air on DTH satellite, on Sky and FreeSat.

The channel is in partnership with global sports management agencies IMG, Infront, Lagardère, MP Silva, and Pitch with Sky Media managing advertising.

FreeSports will deliver over 1,000 live events every year and give over 10 million UK homes access to a 24/7 sports channel for the first time.

FreeSports will have up to ten live football games per week with exclusive coverage of the Portuguese Primeira League, Belgian Pro League, Superliga Argentina, Spanish La Liga 2 and Airtricity League. Full match coverage will be included as part of Barca TV, Bayern TV, AC Milan TV and Borussia Dortmund TV. Coverage on opening weekend also includes England U21 opening Euro qualifier against the Netherlands.

“We are super excited to be launching this new free-to-air sports channel which marks a first for our business and a first in the UK TV market,” commented Richard Sweeney, general manager of FreeSports.

“We believe our new service will be welcomed and enjoyed by UK consumers, many of whom don’t have access to a dedicated live sports channel. This is also a game changer and massive opportunity for UK sports organisations to showcase and grow their leagues by having live coverage reach over 85% of homes via FreeSports, a reach that no other sports channel can come close to. ”

FreeSports launches in the UK

By Robert Briel

FreeSports, a new multi-sports television channel operated by the team behind Premier Sports is launching this Thursday, August 31, in the UK.

FreeSports will initially reach over 18 million of the 26 million UK homes and become the only free-to-air sports channel available on Freeview, TalkTalk and BT. It will also broadcast free-to-air on DTH satellite, on Sky and FreeSat.

The channel is in partnership with global sports management agencies IMG, Infront, Lagardère, MP Silva, and Pitch with Sky Media managing advertising.

FreeSports will deliver over 1,000 live events every year and give over 10 million UK homes access to a 24/7 sports channel for the first time.

FreeSports will have up to ten live football games per week with exclusive coverage of the Portuguese Primeira League, Belgian Pro League, Superliga Argentina, Spanish La Liga 2 and Airtricity League. Full match coverage will be included as part of Barca TV, Bayern TV, AC Milan TV and Borussia Dortmund TV. Coverage on opening weekend also includes England U21 opening Euro qualifier against the Netherlands.

“We are super excited to be launching this new free-to-air sports channel which marks a first for our business and a first in the UK TV market,” commented Richard Sweeney, general manager of FreeSports.

“We believe our new service will be welcomed and enjoyed by UK consumers, many of whom don’t have access to a dedicated live sports channel. This is also a game changer and massive opportunity for UK sports organisations to showcase and grow their leagues by having live coverage reach over 85% of homes via FreeSports, a reach that no other sports channel can come close to. ”

Telekom to add Ultra HD and Netflix to Entertain TV

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Deutsche Telekom will expand its IPTV platform Entertain by offering Ultra HD content and direct access to video-on-demand (VOD) service Netflix.

The new features will become available on the new IPTV receiver MR 401 to be introduced in autumn 2017, the German telco announced at a press conference at IFA Berlin.

With the box, customers will be able to access Ultra HD content from Netflix, Videoload, YouTube and Sky Deutschland as well as linear Ultra HD channel Insight TV. From the next season, Telekom will also show games of the German ice-hockey league in Ultra HD without additional charge.

In addition to its own series VOD service Entertain TV Serien launching on October 4, 2017, Telekom will take two third-party on-demand offers aboard Entertain TV: UFA Film and FOX+, the new VOD service from Fox Networks Group. It offers complete seasons of series from 21st Century Fox such as The Walking Dead, Prison Break, 24 and How I met your mother. Entertain TV Serien, UFA Film and FOX+ will be available to Entertain TV customers at no extra charge.

Telekom has also extended its zero-rating service StreamOn for mobile network customers: New to the line-up from September 1, 2017 are, for example, Telekom Sport, RTL’s catch-up service TV Now and music platform Spotify.

There is also news in the broadband area: Households served with a fibre-optic connection (FTTH) can now sign up for a 1Gbps high-speed internet service from Telekom. The new tariff MagentaZuhause GIGA for €119.95 per month comprises speeds of up to 1Gbps for downloads, up to 500Mbps for uploads, a telephone line with a flat-rate to German fixed and mobile networks as well as IPTV platform Entertain TV Plus.

Vodafone adds Nova sports channels

By Chris Dziadul

Greece’s Novasports channels have secured carriage on Vodafone’s IPTV platform.

The channels, which are also broadcast on Nova’s DTH platform, offer viewers exclusive coverage of the Greek Football Championship, Super League, the top European basketball league-the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and the Basketball Champions League. In addition, they feature the French and Dutch football leagues, England’s Championship, Cup, and League Cup, the Cups of Italy and Germany, and the Spanish Cup finals, as well as numerous other sports events including Wimbledon.

The Novasports channels are operated by Forthnet, whose DTH platform Nova is one of the top two leading pay-TV operations in Greece.

Sport1 HD launches on waipu.tv

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German sports channel Sport1 is now also available in HD quality on internet TV platform waipu.tv.

The carriage deal was closed between Sport1 and Exaring, operating company of waipu.tv.

Sport1 HD forms part of subscription package Perfect, a Sport1 spokesman told Broadband TV News. The bouquet costing €14.99 per month comprises 72 channels, 33 of them in HD quality, and 100 hours of recording capacity on the cloud-PVR.

Sport1 has so far only been available in SD resolution on waipu.tv. The SD version will remain part of the line-up, confirmed the Sport1 spokesman.

Ginx Esports TV signs deal with Telekom Austria Group

By Robert Briel

Ginx Esports has concluded a wide-ranging deal with Telekom Austria Group which will see Ginx Esports TV not only available across Europe on Eutelsat 16A, but distributed across most of its subsidiaries.

This represents the third launch for Ginx Esports TV in recent months coming on the back of carriage deals in South Africa and Israel and at a time of continued expansion in the esports world.

“Esports is enjoying a period of rapid expansion and European millennials are at the forefront of this movement,” said Michiel Bakker, CEO of Ginx Esports TV.

“Telekom Austria Group’s technical services and network will enable us to deliver the best esports content and the most popular tournament action, on TV, to a new audience across Central & Eastern Europe.”

“We are pleased to welcome Ginx Esports TV as a premium partner for both technical broadcast services delivery and content distribution across CEE,” added Nikola Francetic, Head of Group Content, Media and Broadcasting of Telekom Austria Group.

“Telekom Austria Group is constantly looking to deliver new products and services to its millennial audience hungry for new content and exciting live TV experiences. Ginx Esports TV fits into this category perfectly and we are very excited to feature this attractive and popular content”.

M7 Deutschland to add Eurosport 1 HD

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German platform provider M7 Deutschland will add Eurosport 1 HD to its basic package Basis HD, further strengthening its portfolio following the recent expansion of pay-TV bouquets Premium HD and Family HD.

Basis HD will then contain a total of 23 TV channels including all major German commercial channels. Eurosport 1 HD will be added on November 7, 2017 with viewers being able to access the sports channel at no extra charge.

“M7 offers the largest and most comprehensive content portfolio for the German-speaking market,” said Christian Heinkele, Managing Director of Eviso Germany, the sales and distribution partner of M7 Group in Germany. “We thereby create new incentives for marketing and offer viewers an even greater choice from the entertainment world of M7 across all distribution infrastructures, OTT, IPTV and cable including all additional rights.”

Eleven Sports goes 4K in Poland

By Chris Dziadul

Eleven Sports has become one of the first sports platforms in Poland to offer programming in 4K, working in partnership with the incumbent telco Orange Polska.

Its new service Eleven Sports 1 in 4K will be available to Orange TV viewers (IPTV customers, using a 4K decoder) exclusively for the first six months and will be included in the Orange packages Bogaty and Maksymalny.

Commenting on the development, Danny Menken, group MD, Eleven Sports, said: “Eleven Sports constantly strive to be at the forefront of technological development to ensure we offer the best possible viewing experience for sports fans.

“We already offer dedicated fans an award-winning service in Poland and we’re delighted to develop our offer – enabling subscribers to watch their favourite sporting action in 4K.”

Liberty Global eyes sale of UPC in Switzerland and Austria

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Liberty Global is exploring the sale of its cable subsidiaries in Switzerland and Austria.

The discussions are understood to be at an early stage and may not lead to a transaction, reports The Telegraph with reference to sources familiar with the plans.

Liberty’s local UPC businesses in Switzerland and Austria, both market leaders in their respective countries, have recently reported growing subscriber numbers, driven in Switzerland by UPC’s new sports channel MySports, available exclusively on cable.

UPC invested heavily into MySports and domestic sports rights, created to affront Swisscom TV, the IPTV platform operated by competitor Swisscom which has seen growing TV subscriber numbers while cable continued to lose TV customers despite growing internet and telephony subscription figures. The MySports strategy has paid off, as the Q3 2017 figures show.

Swiss mobile operators Sunrise and Salt could be interested in acquiring UPC Switzerland to boost their market shares and accelerate mobile and fixed line convergence, according to industry insiders. It is, however, unclear whether Liberty Global plans to sell the companies separately of as a package.

Liberty Global’s exit from Switzerland and Austria could help pave the way for a large-scale $175 billion merger with Vodafone, according to The Telegraph. Both companies have recently combined their cable assets by forming a joint venture in the Netherlands. There has been speculation regarding a possible deal in Germany for years.

In September 2014, Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao said that Liberty Global could be a good fit for the mobile network operator “for the right price”.

However, joint venture deals along the lines of the agreement in the Netherlands seem to be unlikely following comments made by Liberty Global’s CEO Mike Fries. The Dutch arrangement was a “unique situation” and the two companies aren’t currently talking about more, he said.

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