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Yesterday β€” November 16th 2019Broadband TV News: Telecom

ARD and ZDF join forces in catch-up TV

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF will interconnect their catch-up TV services with the first step being a cross-linking search function available from November 18, 2019.

With the move, the broadcasters react to the usage habits of their viewers who have been searching ZDF content on ARD’s catch-up service and vice versa, Benjamin Fischer, head of ARD Online, and Eckart Gaddum, head of new media at ZDF, told German news agency epd.

If viewers are, for example, looking for an episode of ARD’s crime series Tatort on ZDF’s catch-up portal, they will be offered a link to ARD’s catch-up service. Furthermore, the live-streams of ARD’s and ZDF’s main channels will become available on both services.

As the next step, a joint login function is planned for both catch-up portals, enabling users to personalise the services though a single account.

In March 2019, Dr Thomas Bellut, general director of ZDF, called for cross-linking the content of catch-up and on-demand services.

Before yesterdayBroadband TV News: Telecom

Labour broadband nationalisation plan shocks market

By Julian Clover

Plans by the opposition Labour Party to nationalise the provision of broadband by 2030 has caused turmoil in the telecoms sector.

Under the proposal, Labour would offer free internet access to every household in the country with £20.3 billion invested in speeding up the introduction of broadband.

At the same time Openreach, which supplies wholesale access to the broadband network to third party suppliers would be nationalised. Openreach remains a part of BT, but was legally separated from the main company in 2017 on the instructions of the regulator Ofcom.

Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said the move would boost productivity and would be paid for by a tax on tech giants including Google and Amazon. The Conservatives described the plans as a fantasy that would cost taxpayers billions.

BT’s shareprice was down 2% in morning trading, while TalkTalk announced that the sale of its full fibre broadband business to FibreNation, would be put on hold until after next month’s election.

Virgin Media, whose parent Liberty Global is planning a dedicated company for the rollout of fibre broadband in the UK, said private investment was ‘essential’ in delivering improved broadband.

At Cable Congress on Thursday, Sir Philip Lowe the former EU Director-General for Competition, who’s now a partner in economics consultancy Oxera told delegates there were opportunities in both the UK and Germany, because of their light touch regulation on fibre builds

PBS America extends Freeview coverage

By Julian Clover

PBS America is to make itself available in all TV homes after reaching a new capacity agreement with Arqiva.

From November 20, PBS will be continue to be available on Channel 91, but a shift of multiplex will allow it to broadcast across the UK.

Its previous home within the Com 7 and Com 8 DVB-T2/MPEG-4 multiplexes has only been able to reach about the half of Freeview homes.

The trade off is a reduction in hours to 13.00 to 23.00. PBS is available 24-hours a day on Sky 174, Virgin Media 273, Freesat 155, My5 and Amazon, all available 24 hours a day.

“This is a big moment for PBS America. For the first time since launch we will be available in all homes across the UK. The channel has been particularly strong on Freeview to date so we are optimistic about the expansion into almost 6 million new homes,” said PBS America General Manager, Richard Kingsbury, “Our PBS supply line means that we are bringing our audience fresh stories whilst PBS values mean that the programming has the kind of depth and tone that many Freeview viewers appreciate.”

The current capacity will be used to create a +1 channel, running 24 hours a day, though may not be permanent. The spectrum used by Com 7 and Com 8 has been earmarked for the launch of new 5G services.

Operator Arqiva is currently managing the migration to other multiplexes.

Leonine acquires W&B TV from Endemol Shine

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Leonine, the new German media group assembled by US financial investor KKR, will acquire W&B TV from Endemol Shine Group, Quirin Berg and Max Wiedemann.

The German production company will become part of the Leonine Production division, to which Wiedemann & Berg Film belongs since April 2019. Quirin Berg and Max Wiedemann will remain managing directors of both companies and will also join Leonine’s management on January 1, 2020.

Berg will assume the position of Chief Creative and Chief Production Officer for Leonine and will be responsible for the creative direction of the group. Together with Wiedemann, he will manage Leonine’s entire fiction production in the areas of cinema, TV and co-production. In his role as Chief Business Development Officer of the group, Wiedemann will be responsible for the development of new business areas and their integration.

Berg and Wiedemann have sold all their shares in W&B TV and Wiedemann & Berg Film, but will become Leonine shareholders and thereby remain invested as entrepreneurs.

In addition to his duties as CEO, Fred Kogel will continue to be responsible for Leonine’s non-fiction/entertainment production division.

“We are delighted that, following the acquisition of Wiedemann & Berg Film, we have now succeeded in acquiring W&B TV. In doing so we have integrated two of the most innovative and successful production companies in Germany into Leonine and we have completed the management board with Quirin and Max,” said Kogel.

“Since we started to shape Leonine together, we have jointly had the ambitious vision of a one stop shop for premium content. As part of the team with KKR, Atwater Capital and our management colleagues, we are co-founders of Leonine and I am very much looking forward to working together,” Kogel added.

Subject to regulatory approval, the transaction is expected to be completed in early 2020.

Viacom expands via OTT in Russia

By Chris Dziadul

Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) has reached a distribution agreement with the Russian online streaming platform Okko.

As part of the deal, Viacom’s kids’ content is now available to Okko’s subscribers for the first time, giving them VOD access to a raft of popular Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. content.

Commenting on the development, Elena Balmont, senior VP and CEO of Viacom International Media Networks in Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Baltic States and CIS said: “We are really excited to collaborate with Okko, which are one of the leading OTT platforms in Russia. The deal will bring our most popular Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. shows to millions of subscribers across the region, not only via their televisions but also through their mobile devices and consoles.”

Ivan Grodetsky, CEO of Okko, added: “At Okko we always strive to provide customers with a wide variety of quality content from around the world. This new deal with Viacom will bring the best of pre-school and animated content directly to our platform, allowing access to the most exciting Nickelodeon shows at any time of day.”

BT retains exclusive rights to Champions League

By Julian Clover

BT has maintained its hold on European football coverage. The telco has made a clean sweep of the rights packages to the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League until 2024 in a £400 million bid.

The deal, which commences in 2021 is for a total of 420 games for the following three seasons, representing an increase of 77 games on the previous deal.

Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer Division, said: “We’re delighted to remain the home of UEFA Champions League in the UK. BT Sport leads the way when it comes to UEFA Champions League coverage, and we’re very excited to continue to bring our world class coverage to one of the most exciting football competitions in the world – whether that’s broadcasting 12 games simultaneously or delivering industry leading images in 4K UHD.”

BT has been widely applauded for its coverage which includes Ultra HD and its innovative app.

“Its high quality production and programming standards set the bar for the industry and audiences will continue to enjoy the competitions in new ways via BT’s innovative approach as it showcases new technologies,” said UEFA Marketing Director Guy Laurent Epstein.

BT saw off competition from Sky, DAZN and ITV, which had wanted to return part of the Champions League to free-to-air broadcasting.

A+E Networks selects Arqiva for VOD content delivery to Amazon Prime

By Robert Briel

A+E Networks EMEA has selected Arqiva to provide on-demand content for the channel’s Amazon Prime on demand service in Germany and UK.

A+E Networks EMEA, has been an Arqiva customer for over a decade, with the existing partnership spanning playout and connectivity across Africa and the Middle East, UK DTH satellite capacity and on-premise VOD processing services across EMEA (including the UK).

As part of the new contract, Arqiva will manage the content processing, packaging and delivery of A+E Networks EMEA existing archive content in both UK and Germany, from where it is currently stored on Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon Simple Storage Service Glacier, to Amazon Prime.

One of A+E Networks EMEA’s key requirements was for the solution to be able to process all VOD requests as close to the cloud-based archive as possible in order to minimise content movement and therefore avoid costly cloud egress into on-premise data centres. Based on its latest hybrid on-premise/cloud offering, the solution implemented by Arqiva is the first to feature a completely cloud-contained journey, where content is taken from the online archive, processed packaged and delivered to Amazon Prime. This not only ensures significant cost-savings but transcoding in the cloud using AWS Elemental MediaConvert also enables Arqiva to process more simultaneous jobs at a far quicker pace.

Matt Westrup, VP Technology and Operations at A+E Networks EMEA, said: “In a very dynamic and competitive media environment the ability to quickly and seamlessly deliver an even broader range of A+E Networks EMEA’s premium content to our Amazon Prime audience is a real strategic advantage. A solution like this means we can effortlessly build on our broadcast heritage in a viable way.”

Alex Pannell, Commercial Director Video Channels at Arqiva, said: “This deal marks a really important milestone for Arqiva. A+E Networks Germany is the first customer to use our new cloud VoD solution and its feedback on both the platform and onboarding process has been fantastic. We’ve been working really hard to extend our broadcast products onto cloud infrastructure and have built up an extensive set of skills and experience building on AWS. We see the fact that a major multi-channel broadcaster has adopted the cloud for its content archive as clear proof this was the right strategy to pursue for the future.”

Telekom Slovenije head Matjaz Merkan resigns

By Chris Dziadul

Matjaz Merkan, the president of the management board of Telekom Slovenije, has resigned after less than two months and with immediate effect.

According to the company, his position will be taken over by Tomaz Seljak, the VP of the management board, until the appointment of a successor.

It adds that Matjaz Merkan has decided to resign for purely personal reasons and both he and the company “reject all others statements or speculations that have cropped up in the media”.

Broadband TV News understands these include that he refused to launch an enquiry into his predecessor Rudolf Skobe.

Under Skobe’s leadership, Telekom Slovenije was ordered by an arbitration tribunal to pay €17.6 million to Greece’s Antenna Group, which wants to exit a joint venture operating a TV channel in Slovenia.

Digi grows revenues, cable TV base

By Chris Dziadul

Digi Communications had total revenues of €299.4 million in the third quarter, up from €270 million in the same period last year.

At the same time, its adjusted EBITDA rose from €87.9 million to €127.5 million over the same period.

In its latest set of results, the company notes that revenues in its main market Romania increased as a result of price increases in all residential services that came into effect in March this year, as well as an increase it fixed internet and data and cable TV RGUs.

Meanwhile, its revenues in Hungary slightly decreased mainly as a result of ARPU decrease and the negative FX impact of the depreciation of the Hungarian forint.

In Romania, which had revenues of €190.9 million (+7.5% year-on-year) in Q3, the number of cable TV subscribers rose by 289,000 to 3,523,000 in the year to September 30.

At the same time, the number of DTH subscribers fell by 34,000 to 510,000.

Cable TV ARPU in Q3 was €5.3 (+6%) and DTH ARPU €5.1 (+6.3%). In Hungary, on the other hand, revenues in Q3 amounted to €53.1 million, down 2.7% on the same period last year.

The number of cable TV subscribers rose by 19,000 to 704,000, while the DTH subscriber total fell by 13,000 to 275,000.

Cable TV ARPU fell by 6% to €7.8, while DTH ARPU was down 3.4% to €8.6.

ER-Telecom buys Moscow asset

By Chris Dziadul

The Russian cable operator ER-Telecom (Dom.ru) has acquired the telco iHome.

Kommersant reports that the transaction is the operator’s first major one in Moscow.

Although no financial details have been disclosed, the sale price is believed to be in the region of R1.5 billion (€21.2 million).

IHome has until now been owned by its founder and CEO Vasily Maskovsky.

It works mainly in the inter-operator market and besides having its own backbone network in Moscow and 30 other Russian cities it has traffic exchange points in eight countries around the world.

Meanwhile, Perm-based ER-Telecom is the second largest provider of broadband internet services in Russia after Rostelecom.

It is also a key player in the Russian pay-TV market but until now has not had a strong presence in Moscow.

Chris Dziadul Reports: Focus on United Group

By Chris Dziadul

2019 is likely to go down as a highly significant year for United Group, one of the leading media and communication providers in South East Europe.

At the beginning of March it was announced that the international investment firm BC Partners had completed the acquisition of a majority stake in the company from KKR. The deal, believed to be worth in the region of €2.6 billion, still left KKR with a sizeable minority stake in United Group. It also arguably injected new momentum into the company, the results of which already include two important acquisitions.

The first, which was announced at the end of May, saw United Group agree to buy Tele2 Croatia for €220 million. Once closed at the end of this year, subject to regulatory approvals, it will allow United Group to diversify further into EU countries – it already has a presence in both Croatia and Slovenia – and the provision of telco services.

The second, announced only earlier this month, saw United Group agree to buy the Bulgarian incumbent Vivacom for a reported €1.2 billion in a deal that is expected to close in the second quarter of next year, subject to several conditions including receipt of antitrust approvals.

Although Vivacom has had a number of owners in recent years this particular transaction is not without controversy. Prior to its announcement, a former owner named Empreno Ventures called for it to be stopped pending a court decision.

Indeed, it argued that the sale was the final stage of a fraudulent scheme and subject to on-going proceedings in the UK, Luxembourg and the US.

What is clear as the year draws to a close is that under the ownership of BC Partners United Group is likely to strengthen its position still further in South East Europe. 2020 could see more acquisitions throughout the region.

Netflix and Nickelodeon team up to take on Disney+

By Robert Briel

Netflix and Nickelodeon have formed a new, multi-year output deal to produce original animated feature films and television series.

The new deal is based both on the Nickelodeon library of characters as well as all-new IP. This marks an expansion of the existing relationship between the companies, which has already brought several popular titles to Netflix, including animated specials Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling and Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus. Also forthcoming are specials based on The Loud House and Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

“Nickelodeon has generated scores of characters that kids love, and we look forward to telling wholly original stories that re-imagine and expand on the worlds they inhabit,” said Netflix VP of original animation, Melissa Cobb.

“We’re thrilled to continue collaborating with Brian Robbins, Ramsey Naito, and the creative team at Nickelodeon in new ways as we look to find fresh voices and bring bold stories to our global audience on Netflix.”

“Nickelodeon’s next step forward is to keep expanding beyond linear platforms, and our broader content partnership with Netflix is a key path toward that goal,” said Brian Robbins, President, Nickelodeon.

He added, “The Nickelodeon Animation Studio is home to the world-class artists and storytellers behind some of the most iconic characters and shows ever made, and our head of Animation, Ramsey Naito, has been building on that legacy over the past year by ramping up development and production exponentially. The ideas and work at our Studio are flowing, and we can’t wait to work with Melissa and the Netflix team on a premium slate of original animated content for kids and families around the world.”

Major US pay-TV providers lost about 1,740k subs in 3Q 2019

By Broadband TV News Correspondent

Leichtman Research Group found that the largest pay-TV providers in the US – representing about 93% of the market – lost about 1,740,000 net video subscribers in 3Q 2019.

This compares to a pro forma net loss of about 975,000 subscribers in 3Q 2018.

The top pay-TV providers now account for about 84.8 million subscribers – with the top seven cable companies having 46.1 million video subscribers, satellite TV services 26.3 million subscribers, the top telephone companies 8.6 million subscribers, and the top publicly reporting Internet-delivered (vMVPD) pay-TV services 3.8 million subscribers.

Key findings for the quarter include:
-Satellite TV services lost about 1,140,000 subscribers in 3Q 2019 – compared to a net loss of about 725,000 subscribers in 3Q 2018
– DIRECTV had record net losses for the sixth consecutive quarter, while DISH TV had fewer net losses than in any quarter since 3Q 2014
– The top seven cable companies lost about 410,000 video subscribers in 3Q 2019 – compared to a loss of about 245,000 subscribers in 3Q 2018
– The top telephone providers lost about 210,000 video subscribers in 3Q 2019 – compared to a loss of about 80,000 subscribers in 3Q 2018
– Internet-delivered (vMVPD) services, Sling TV and AT&T NOW, added about 20,000 subscribers in 3Q 2019 – compared to about 75,000 net adds in 3Q 2018
– AT&T had a net loss of about 1,370,000 subscribers across its three pay-TV services (DIRECTV, AT&T U-verse, and AT&T NOW) in 3Q 2019 – compared to a net loss of about 295,000 subscribers in 3Q 2018.

“The top pay-TV providers had a net loss of about 1,740,000 subscribers in 3Q 2019. This marked the fifth consecutive quarter of record pay-TV industry net losses,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group.

“AT&T, the leading pay-TV provider in the U.S., accounted for 79% of the net losses in the quarter compared to 30% of net losses in 3Q 2018. This change is largely the result of AT&T’s strategic decision to increasingly focus on retaining and acquiring more profitable subscribers.”

KPN makes its smart TV app available for LG TVs

By Robert Briel

Dutch telco KPN has launched a new smart TV app for LG TVs, following a similar app for Samsung TVs last April.

KPN customers using the app no longer need a dedicated IPTV set-top, with the app running on the smart-TV platform that can be accessed wirelessly using Wi-Fi access.

With the KPN Smart TV app, KPN customers can watch TV wirelessly. They no longer need a TV receiver; ideal for watching TV in rooms without cabling. The app can be downloaded in the app store on the smart TV.

The app offers the most commonly used functionalities from the KPN’s IPTV platform such as watching live linear TV, re-sart or catch-up via the KPN TV guide, pause, and record. There is also an easy search function, with genre filtering.

The app can be used by KPN customers who have an internet and TV subscription and have a recent model of smart TV from Samsung (from 2017) or from LG (from 2017).

Revenues rise at Altice Europe

By Chris Dziadul

Altice Europe’s revenues in France amounted €2,646 million in the third quarter, or 7.2% more than in the same period last year.

At the same time, revenues at Altice International rose by 5.5% (reported) to €1,036 million.

Altice TV revenues in Q3 were €58 million in Q3 (€30 million a year earlier) and the company’s total revenues €3,666 million, up a reported 6.9% on a year earlier.

Meanwhile, total adjusted EBITDA for Q3 was €1,407 million, up a reported 8.8% on a year earlier. SFR ended Q3 with a B2C fixed base of 6.3 million (+2.2% year-on-year), of which 44% was fibre. Meanwhile, Meo had a fixed base of 1.6 million (+1% year-on-yrear), of which 58% was fibre.

Commenting on the results, Patrick Drahi, Altice Europe founder, said: “Q3 2019 results show another acceleration in revenue growth for Altice France, Altice International and Altice Europe overall. In Altice France, our strong results were supported by all segments growing, including residential revenue growth year over year for the second successive quarter. This strong financial performance has been underpinned by the successful operational turnaround achieved by the new management teams, put in place 24 months ago. Group EBITDA growth remains very strong this quarter, paving the way for organic deleveraging. We reiterate all FY 2019 guidance. We continue to invest in our proprietary best-in-class infrastructure, commensurate with Altice Europe’s leading position in each market. In France and Portugal in particular, we have significantly expanded our proprietary fibre infrastructures again this quarter. We continue to optimise our capital structure and recently extended the average maturity of the capital structure through a refinancing of €2.5 billion. As part of this refinancing we priced the lowest coupon debt ever raised by Altice France under both Altice Europe’s and previous shareholder’s ownership. This refinancing demonstrates the significant opportunity ahead on which we are focused today, to materially reduce our annual cash interest costs through both average cost and debt reduction.”

Vodafone Spain expands TV offer

By Chris Dziadul

Vodafone has added five new thematic packages to its TV offer in Spain.

Available to both new and existing customers from next Monday, November 18, they are the Sports Pack, costing €5 a month; Music Pack (€10/month; Universal Pack (free of charge, and including international news and entertainment channels), Adult Pack (€10/month); and Hunting Pack (€7/month).

These new packages can be added to any of the five new packages that Vodafone introduced this April.

Vodafone has in addition introduced a new collection of Hollywood movies to watch on demand in the Cinefans package.

Customers can at any given time choose from 30 titles, with the line-up changing each month.

Vodafone is the only operator that integrates Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, HBO Spain and Fimin, the llast two exclusively.

New market structure assisted Vodafone-Ziggo venture

By Julian Clover, Cable Congress, Berlin

The 2016 merger between Ziggo and Vodafone would have been unthinkable 10 years ago, according to Liberty Global’s chief corporate affairs officer.

Manuel Kohnstamm told a finance session at Cable Congress in Berlin that the Dutch 50/50 joint venture, authorised by the European Commission, allowed “two very strong companies that hold each other in check”.

Between them Liberty and Vodafone now hold over 50% of European cable interests, Vodafone’s position being helped in part by the sale of a number of Liberty assets.

Kohnstamm said the Vodafone-Ziggo venture had created an “accepted structure” for any other market. Looking at the UK market where Liberty Global is expected to launch fibre deployments through a new company during the course of next year, Kohnstamm added “we see a significant opportunity”.

Kohnstamm’s stance was backed by Sir Philip Lowe the former EU Director-General for Competition, who’s now a partner in economics consultancy Oxera. Sir Philip told delegates there were opportunities in both the UK and Germany, because of their light touch regulation on fibre builds “It’s a different type of investor because they have a long term approach of anything up to a decade,” he said.

However, Belgium is lacking in interest because it remains heavily regulated.

Three CBS channels launch on Pluto TV in the US

By Robert Briel

Pluto TV and CBS Interactive announced three additional channels are launching on the leading free streaming television service.

Pluto TV viewers now have access to live news, updates, analysis, and reporting from the leading entertainment news brand – ET Live and live local news streams from CBSN New York and CBSN Los Angeles. These new additions join existing CBS Interactive properties and longstanding Pluto TV media partnersCBSN and CNET.

“CBS Interactive has long been an integral partner for Pluto TV. We are excited to continue to grow this relationship and extend new value to the Pluto TV audience together,” said Jeff Shultz, EVP and Chief Business Officer, Pluto TV.

“In addition to our previously launched CBSN and CNET channels on Pluto TV, we’re thrilled to be bringing more of our ad-supported streaming channels to the platform with today’s launch of our entertainment news channel, ET Live, and CBSN’s local news channels for New York and Los Angeles,” said Sarah Jeon, EVP Business Development, CBS Interactive.

ET Live is a 24/7 streaming network dedicated to all things entertainment. ET Live taps into the legacy of Entertainment Tonights’s brand to deliver 24/7 programming covering the latest developing entertainment stories, breaking news, celebrity interviews, features, and behind-the-scenes and red-carpet coverage, as well as celebrity fashion, beauty and lifestyle trends.

CBSN New York was the first of CBS’s local direct-to-consumer streaming news services in major markets across the country. CBSN New York features live streams of WCBS and WLNY’s regularly scheduled newscasts and additional weekday one-hour newscasts at 7:00 AM, 1:00 PM and 7:00 PM. In addition, CBSN New York provides live continuous coverage of breaking news events with programming led by WCBS and WLNY anchors and reporters as well as an extensive library of local news content that will be available for on-demand viewing.

CBSN Los Angeles features 24/7 anchored programming, coverage of live breaking news events in the region as well as an extensive library of local news content that will be available for on-demand viewing. CBSN Los Angeles’ daily lineup includes live streams of KCBS (CBS 2) and KCAL (KCAL 9), regularly scheduled newscasts and additional weekday one-hour newscasts at 7:00 AM and 1:00 PM. CBSN Los Angeles programming is led by CBS 2 and KCAL 9 anchors and reporters.

The new programming and channel collaboration with CBS Interactive will join Pluto TV’s 200+ live, linear, curated channels and thousands of movies on demand from major studios, networks, publishers and digital media companies.

Addressable advertising boom across all regions and platforms

By Broadband TV News Correspondent

Addressable TV advertising will leap from $15.6 billion in total worldwide revenue in 2019 to almost six times that value at $85.5 billion by 2025.

This reflects advertising dollars switching to addressable as the platforms mature and better understood by the advertising community.

This is the principal finding of the latest Rethink TV report, Addressable Advertising Forecast to 2025 Addressable advertising boom across all regions and platforms.

This boom in addressable TV advertising will occur in all sectors of pay TV and all major geographies over the next 6 years, engaging viewers, driving response for brands and boosting revenues for video service providers.

Aggregation of inventory will be a key driver by increasing the size of addressable targets, making them viable for larger brands and overcoming fragmentation within the ecosystem. The main boost for broadcasters and Pay TV operators is that these adverts fetch higher CPMs (Cost Per 1000 impressions) than general spots broadcast to all viewers of a programme.

There are three types of addressable TV: linear TV, VoD/catch up and Connected TV (CTV) delivered by traditional pay TV operators over the Internet.

The rise of Connected TV is also a major driver and has propelled much of the early growth in addressable TV advertising, especially in North America and the larger economies of Asia Pacific. This reflects lower barrier to entry since ads can be targeted more easily to TVs that are directly connected to the internet, avoiding the need for a dedicated platform. CTV advertising will continue to account for most of the growth in addressable TV advertising, but coming from a lower base linear and VoD TV advertising within the traditional broadcast service will actually register larger percentage gains over the period until 2025.

The boom in addressable TV advertising coincides with a decline in traditional pay TV viewing in some of the leading markets, including the USA. This is reflected in addressable accounting for an increasing proportion of total TV advertising revenue over the next 6 years. In terms of impressions, addressable accounted for just 2.4% of total TV advertising in 2019, rising by about 3.5-fold to 8.5% by 2025. But because addressable ads cost more their revenue contribution is greater, reaching 32.8% or virtually one third by 2025.

Fincons Group unveils digital platform for HbbTV and ATSC 3.0

By Robert Briel

Fincons Group will be showcasing its latest endeavor, the Smart Digital Platform for media and broadcast businesses, at this year’s HbbTV Symposium and Awards taking place 21-22 November 2019 in Athens.

The solution is the first to be entirely compatible with both European HbbTV and new USA ATSC 3.0 standards.

Fincons Smart Digital Platform (SDP) is a flexible and fully customisable modular framework designed to provide Hybrid TV and OTT solutions and to act as an accelerator for new services scenarios. As such it is built to integrate with the latest standards, but it is also ready to be expanded and personalised as new technology becomes available. The SDP tool stems from Fincons’ pioneering experiences with HbbTV applications, such as the well-known Mediaset Play service, as well as ATSC applications.

As the two standards continue to evolve and provide each other with new learnings and inspiration, Fincons has leveraged its unique role in the development of both standards to design the first platform that is truly compatible with both: a unique opportunity for international entertainment businesses and broadcasters especially in a market environment that is seeing more and more international players join forces -and content- to leverage their assets and reach broader sections of the market well beyond national boundaries.

The SDP framework distributes functionalities in logical “SMART” modules intended to be the “building blocks” for any Hybrid TV solution. With the help of a template engine, the SDP makes it possible to design each page of an application (including navigation) to show features such as an Electronic Program Guide (EPG), channel details, video on demand sections and catch-up content. Display and interactive video advertising formats can be synchronized through application programming interfaces (APIs).

The prototype submitted for this award demonstrates how the SDP can be used to “smart watch” videos. In this example, cloud machine-learning services are used to analyse video assets, looking specifically for celebrity appearances through face recognition techniques; this subsequently allows ends users to skip directly to where celebrities appear. Using this tool, viewers could navigate directly to clips featuring their favourite actors. Starting from configurable templates, the application is automatically generated in either HbbTV2 or Atsc3.0 compliant code. The feature opens the door to many new possibilities and because of its modular and integrated structure enables businesses to realize return on investment every step of the process.

Fincons Group will be demoing its SDP platform with Artificial Intelligence powered facial recognition at HbbTV Symposium event.