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Today β€” January 17th 2019Broadband TV News: Telecom

Broadcast suspension row in Romania

By Chris Dziadul

Romania’s National Audiovisual Council (CNA) has taken the unusual step of requiring Realitatea TV to go off the air for 10 minutes on Thursday, January 17, between 19.00-19.10.

This follows from what it says are violations of audiovisual legislation pertaining to the coverage of an anti–corruption rally in the capital, Bucharest, in August 2018.

According to Mediafax, CNA’s decision has been widely condemned by both Realitatea TV and opposition politicians.

It adds that the regulator has since confirmed its decision to impose the 10-minute blackout on Realitatea TV.

Commenting on the decision, Realitatea TV’s director Edward Pastia said: “We are confused with the decision of the CNA, it is very difficult to find words in such a situation. The CNA instigates censorship, we cannot present reality as the CNA wishes or as PSD or PSD wants through the CNA. We present it as it is. If the CNA thinks that other posts that have been subjected to violence by August 10, they seem OK and are sanctioned with RON5,000-10,000, and we have to close our broadcast. Shutting down a TV station without any proof, it’s incredible what’s going on at the CNA. We do not understand why this has happened”.

New website details extent of beoutQ piracy

By Julian Clover

BEIN Sports has created a new website that it claims “exposes the industrial scale theft of world sports and entertainment” carried out by the Saudi pirate TV channel beoutQ.

The website shows a timeline of the last 18 months from the barring of access to BEIN’s own content through to the staging of the 2019 Asia Cup.

There is also a list of content alleged to have been ‘stolen’ by beoutQ including Champions League, Bundesliga, Premier League, Formula 1 and NFL.

Yousef Al-Obaidly, Chief Executive Officer, beIN MEDIA GROUP, said: “For the past 18 months beoutQ has brazenly stolen on a daily basis the commercial rights of almost every major sports rights holder and every movie studio around the world; and attempted to sabotage our broadcast business at the same time. We have a very simple message on behalf of the whole sports and entertainment industry:- we will not cease our fight against this unprecedented piracy operation until it is eradicated.”

The site, lists not only sport, but also entertainment properties including Ocean’s 8 (Warner Bros. Pictures), The Incredibles 2 (Disney), Wonder (Lionsgate), Game of Thrones, Westworld (HBO), Altered Carbon (Netflix), American Horror Story (20th Century Fox), The Equalizer 2 (Sony), Elementary (CBS), Victoria (ITV) and Doctor Who (BBC).

Tom Keaveny, Managing Director, beIN MENA, said: “What started out as a concerted and targeted campaign against beIN has now morphed into the largest commercial theft that’s ever been seen in the world of sport and entertainment, affecting everyone from the biggest organisations in sport to Hollywood movie studios and international broadcasters. This Saudi-supported plague of piracy represents an existential threat to the economic model of the industry because every day that beoutQ exists piracy is becoming more normalised across the world. We, at beIN, will not let that happen and this new website of evidence shines a light on the shocking extent of beoutQ’s ongoing theft. Piracy cannot pay; the international rule of law should apply to all, not the few.”

BeoutQ was launched in August 2017, shortly after the boycott and has illegally broadcasted World Cup soccer matches as well as Hollywood entertainment. According to BeIN, beoutQ is based in Saudi Arabia. In August, digital security and technology companies Cisco Systems, Nagra and Overon all confirmed with technical evidence that proves beyond any doubt the involvement of Riyadh-based Arabsat.

Media Group Ukraine strikes piracy blow

By Chris Dziadul

Media Group Ukraine (MGU) has achieved an important victory in its fight against piracy.

Quoting the Vinnytsia Court of Appeal, the broadcaster says that the court has upheld the decision of the city court to arrest the owners of VinAsterisk.

Following an investigation, it was found that the latter violated copyright and related rights when retransmitting MGU channels without its consent.

These included Futbol 1 and Futbol 2 over the internet in 2018.

Criminal proceedings were initiated following a statement by MGU to the National Police.

Violation of copyright and related rights is punishable from a fine to imprisonment of up to six years.

Diffusion: Netflix price increase will test SVOD ceiling

By Julian Clover

New research from The Diffusion Group suggests Netflix’s current round of price increases may have significant implications.

It says that with an increase of $1 or more per month, some 16% of Netflix subscribers are likely to downgrade, or cancel their subscription altogether.

The data comes from Quantum Viewing Behavior, a survey of 1,940 US adult broadband users completed in December 2018.

On Monday, Netflix announced its Basic, Standard and Premium plans will all rise by between one and two dollars.
Anticipating an increase in 2019, in December 2018 TDG tested price sensitivity toward monthly Netflix cost increases. Top-line results are featured below.
As part of its study, Netflix subscribers were split into three exclusive groups, with each asked of their likely intentions should the cost of service increase by either $1, $3, or $5 per month. Each respondent answered for only one random price assignment.

An an increase of $1 per month, 8% of Netflix subscribers say they would downgrade their plan, with 8% saying they would cancel service altogether. At an increase of $3 per month, the rate of likely cancellations doubled, while the rate of likely downgrades nearly tripled. At an increase of $5 per month, the rate of likely cancellation increased another six points (38%), while the rate of likely downgrade increased only three points (17%).

“While TDG believes that Netflix will endure any short-term backlash from these increases, it is undoubtedly reaching a level of price resistance across all tiers,” notes Michael Greeson, President of TDG. “At an average increase of $3 per month, 33% of Standard tier subscribers are likely (though not certain) to downgrade to a less expensive plan and 10% are likely to cancel the service altogether, compared with 28% and 6% of Premium tier subscribers, respectively. These variances are not insignificant.”

Greeson adds that other SVOD providers should pay close attention to these results, as they set a benchmark for the entire SVOD market space. “Netflix is the most highly valued SVOD service and enjoys the most loyal subscribers. As such, if it encounters resistance at these pricing levels, undoubtedly others will, as well.”

Netcity access conditions agreed

By Chris Dziadul

The Romanian regulator ANCOM has announced an agreement on the technical and economic conditions for access to Bucharest’s telecom infrastructure Netcity.

It requires Netcity to provide operators and third parties access to the infrastructure under the same conditions.

It has also given Netcity a maximum of 60 days of ANCOM’s decision to settle contracts in force with the provisions of the decision.

In addition, ANCOM has revised the structure of tariffs for FTTB and FTTB connections.

Commenting on the development, Sorin Grindeanu, the president of ANCOM, said: “The adoption of this decision is the result of a particularly laborious process that has been taking place over several years in the context of the adoption of new legislation in the field of electronic communications network infrastructure. I hope that in the coming months, we will all see the changes this decision will make in Bucharest. The decision facilitates real competition at the capital level, which will be reflected in more attractive prices and competitive services”.

Hisense to bring TV games to smart TVs

By Robert Briel

24i Media have partnered with Hisense to bring the TV games portal to Hisense’s next generation of smart TV models equipped with a VIDAA system preinstalled as of March 2019.

The TV games portal, powered by 24i Media, is a cross-platform collection of in-house developed games optimized for TV remote controls. The service has over one million games played worldwide daily. With the partnership with Hisense, TV Games will strengthen its footprint in the APAC region and South Africa.

Games on Smart TVs is on the rise and the fragmentation that poses a challenge also presents an opportunity, in the form of more sophisticated ad targeting and video advertising. 24i Media is a partner in big screen video monetization and is working closely with several SSP and DSP partners to define the ad sector.

“TV games and advertisement on smart TVs is a new and exciting road full opportunities as well as unknown grounds. We are thrilled to join forces with Hisense,” said Petr Mazanec, Head of the TV games product at 24i Media.

Jaromir Soukup founds political party

By Chris Dziadul

Jaromir Soukup, the owner of the Czech national commercial broadcaster Barrandov TV, has set up his own political party.

According to idnes.cz, he announced his decision at the beginning of a news programme on Barrandov TV, adding that the party, which will be named after him, will aim to defend Czech national interests against corrupt politicians and oligarchs.

However, the Czech Interior Ministry said that it had received any registration of a new political party in the country since last November.

Soukup has also announced his candidacy for the European parliament.

Soukup founded Empresa Media in 2000 and bought Barrandov TV, of which he is also the head, seven years ago.

Connected TV usage drives FuboTV engagement

By Robert Briel

User engagement on FuboTV reached an all-time high in December 2018, jumping nearly 3x over December 2017, the live TV streaming service said.

Connected TV usage was the largest driver of this engagement, exceeding 70 hours per subscriber in December, nearly 2.5x higher year-over-year (YoY). Users spent nearly 90 hours in December on the leading connected device in that category.

For the second consecutive year, CTVs were the most popular with FuboTV subscribers. In December, entertainment was the most watched content type on these devices (47%), followed by sports (33%) and news/talk (20%).

Product innovation, improved user experience and a broader programming offering powered FuboTV’s increased engagement, an important marker as it continues to capture market share from traditional cable providers.

In 2018, FuboTV was the first – and still only – virtual MVPD to offer streams in 4K HDR. It was also the first to launch “dynamic discovery” – a patent-pending interface through which subscribers can browse live entertainment, news and sports programming via an in-progress preview directly on the home screen and seamlessly click to full video.

Fubo also upgraded its apps and recently launched a new home page showcasing the full breadth of its sports, entertainment and news programming. Additional innovations will be announced in the coming weeks.

FuboTV expanded its programming portfolio in 2018, adding national networks to its base package such as AMC, TBS, TNT, CNN and Cartoon Network, and premium add-ons including AMC Premiere, NBA League Pass and FX+. This expansion underscores FuboTV’s evolution from its initial launch in 2015 as a streaming soccer service, to a sports-first virtual MVPD that today is a leading cable replacement for the entire family.

“Fubo subscribers leaned into our innovative product launches and expanded programming last year spending significantly more time on the service,” said David Gandler, co-founder and CEO, FuboTV.

“Our record user engagement proves consumers crave the kind of premium viewing experience that only a total cable replacement product can offer.”

Simon Pollock joins Sucherman Group

By Robert Briel

Consulting and executive search firm Sucherman Group is acquiring Simon Pollock & Co., London-based search firm.

Effective immediately, Pollock will become Managing Director, International, based in London.

Building on its 30 years as partners and advisors in the US, Sucherman will now provide that same level of service across Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and Asia. Pollock will lead the firm’s global practice, providing worldwide executive search and consulting services to US-based companies while also supporting international companies expanding in the US.

“No matter where you operate in the world today, talent is the key to success in these dynamic times. For more than 30 years, Sucherman Group has been helping companies make the right moves with the right executives who can meet their company’s unique challenges and thrive in their business culture,” said CEO Erik Sorenson.

“With Simon on our team, we are now positioned to extend that top notch advice and service to organizations around the globe.”

Stuart F. Sucherman, Chairman and Founder, said, “Because content travels as never before, media and entertainment companies are truly global today. Regardless of where clients are based, they require trustworthy expertise across the globe. We have great confidence that Simon will serve our global clients with the same qualities of integrity, honesty and discretion that have defined our success for the past three decades.”

The acquisition grows out of a partnership established between the two companies last year. During that time, the team secured a number of mandates, including helping secure a London- based executive for a Los Angeles entertainment company – and at the same time leading a project for a Paris-based company looking for a senior business leader in the US.

Simon Pollock said, “I have great admiration for Erik and Stuart and what they have built. In my new leadership role, I hope to extend their unique approach to consulting and search around the world, achieving success not only for our firm, but, most importantly, for our clients.”

Simon Pollock has more than 30 years of media and entertainment industry experience, having held senior international roles at Disney, Sony and A&E Networks. Before founding Simon Pollock & Co., he was the London-based head of Practice, Media and Entertainment for global search firm Heidrick & Struggles, based in London. Simon also has served on the board of OSN (the leading provider of PayTV in the Middle East) in Dubai.

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

Brexit: DAZN applies for licences in Germany

By JΓΆrn Krieger

DAZN intends to operate its European sports streaming services under German licences in future.

At Berlin-based media authority MABB, Perform Investment Germany has applied for licences for DAZN in Germany, Austria, Italy and Spain as well as for the DAZN 1 Bar HD and DAZN 2 Bar channels targeting the hospitality industry.

The submission was received by MABB on December 20, 2018 and brought forward to regulatory body KEK on January 14, 2019, according to KEK.

The DAZN services have so far been operated under licences from UK-based media authority Ofcom.

Due to the unclear validity of the Ofcom licences in other European countries in the course of Brexit, Turner Broadcasting System and NBC Universal had also applied for German licences for their international channels previously licensed by Ofcom. Bavarian media authority BLM granted the licences in mid-December 2018.

Discovery recently opted for the Netherlands.

Sky Deutschland to launch Sky Cinema Awards

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German pay-TV broadcaster Sky Deutschland will accompany this year’s Academy Awards with a pop-up channel featuring numerous Oscar-winning films.

From February 15 to 24, 2019 Sky Cinema Awards will screen 57 productions which have won a total of 145 Oscars.

Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy drama The Shape of Water, awarded four Oscars in 2018, will be the highlight of Sky Cinema Awards on February 24, the evening of this year’s awards ceremony, at 20.15 CET. The channel will also show almost all the other Oscar winners of the past year on this day.

Sky Cinema Awards will temporarily replace Sky Cinema Emotion. Many of the films will also be available on demand and on streaming service Sky Ticket.

Discovery Denmark adopts Clipsource for metadata

By Julian Clover

Discovery Networks Denmark has appointed mediatech specialists Clipsource, to provide a comprehensive metadata and press platform for its linear and on demand channels in Denmark.

The new platform allows Discovery Networks Denmark to automatically structure and share metadata and PR content across a range of recipients.

“We were looking for a provider able to deliver agile and flexible solutions demanded to serve the many new digital media outlets, such as news publishers, EPG’s and TV guides, and Clipsource was able to deliver on all parameters,” said Lena Bøgild, Manager PR & Digital, Discovery Networks Denmark. “The automation of internal collection and external sharing of rich metadata allow us to distribute more attractive information about our content, to a larger number of recipients, which is crucial in a changing media landscape.”

The delivery to Discovery Networks Denmark includes the collection and merging of data from various internal systems into one coherent metadata structure and sharing process for all Discovery channels and programs, and the automated distribution of schedules and marketing metadata to external parties.

“We are very happy to welcome Discovery Networks Denmark as a customer, and will make sure their teams get super efficient and smooth workflows for their metadata and PR. They will have full access to our platform, to which we constantly introduce new features and functions to serve the fast-changing market for TV and VOD”, said Ola Scholander, Chief Commercial Officer at Clipsource.

Discovery Networks Denmark runs 13 channels in the Danish market including Kanal 5, Kanal 4, 6’eren, Canal 9, Eurosport 1 & 2 and Discovery-branded Discovery Channel, TLC and Animal Planet as well as the streaming services Dplay and Eurosport Player.

Turner Africa builds reach and ratings

By Julian Clover

Turner Africa says its kids multiplex and general entertainment channel TNT have between them achieved greater reach and rating results than ever before.

In November, Turner Kids celebrated 51 consecutive months as the most popular pay-TV multiplex in South Africa, while Cartoon Network celebrated its highest-ever monthly share, and remained the No.1 pay-TV Kids channel among kids aged four to 14-years-old.

Cartoon Network also remains the favourite kids’ TV channel in South Africa, dominating the Top 15 places in the chart of the best performing shows.

Original Cartoon Network productions and Warner Bros content represented 77% of the most viewed content on the channel.

Meanwhile, TNT benefitted from its September rebranding with its highest-ever ratings performance. In November, TNT Africa broke a new record with 40,700 viewers tuning in (a 13% increase month-on-month) and achieved its second highest performance in share since December 2016.

In November TNT achieved movies on the Top 10 list including the top three placings.

OTE to sell Telekom Albania

By Chris Dziadul

OTE has agreed to sell its entire stake in Telekom Albania to the Bulgarian company Albania Telecom Invest for €50 million.

In a statement, it notes that Albania Telecom Invest is controlled by Spas Roussev, the main shareholder in the Bulgarian incumbent Vivacom, and the Albanian-Bulgarian investor Elvin Guri.

Commenting on the development, OTE’s chairman Michael Tsamaz said: “The sale of Telekom Albania concludes the successful investment in Albania for OTE Group. It is a strategic decision, in the context of OTE Group’s redefined priorities and growth plans, in order to create value for all shareholders and support sustainable development”.

He added: “I would like to thank Telekom Albania’s management and employees for the company’s accomplishments to date, as well as for their sound cooperation with OTE Group. The acquisition of the company by a strong and entrepreneurial investment group ensures its growth and creates the conditions to further strengthen its market position”.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including the approval by the competent local authorities and financing, and is expected to be completed within the first half of 2019.

Eurobank acted as OTE’s financial advisor.

As previously reported by Broadband TV News, Telekom Albania was also take-over target for Telekom Srbija late last year.

Ukraine eyes DTH encryption delay

By Chris Dziadul

The Ukrainian national commercial broadcaster 1+1 Media is unlikely to start encrypting satellite channels before this May.

Speaking to Liga Biznes and quoted by Mediasat, its DG Alexander Tkachenko added that the encryption will be beneficial to 1+1 Media as it will help it control the distribution of content.

It will also contribute to the development of the pay-TV market in Ukraine.

Other major broadcasters in Ukraine have also obtained permission from the regulator National Council to encrypt satellite channels.

Tkachenko revealed that once the Viasat channels are encrypted the full package will cost on average UAH120 (€3.7) a month, with the minimum package cost being UAH69.

Netflix raises prices in the US

By Julian Clover

Netflix is to increase the cost of subscribing to its service in the United States as the streamer continues to put money into new production.

“We change pricing from time to time as we continue investing in great entertainment and improving the overall Netflix experience for the benefit of our members,” Netflix said in a statement.

The Basic, Standard and Premium plans will all rise by between one and two dollars.

The increase will be applied gradually to existing subscribers, while new members will have to pay the cost immediately.

Media analyst Paolo Pescatore said he expected the price increase to be rolled out across international markets. “For many users, Netflix is an indispensable video services. There will not be much backlash (for now). This is certainly one way to increase revenue significantly. It needs to focus on financials as well as subscriber growth.”

In 2018 Netflix spent a record $8 billion on content, a $2 billion increase on the previous year.

Pay-TV growth hits Spanish DTT

By Chris Dziadul

DTT viewing in Spain has slumped to its lowest-ever level due to the popularity of subscription pay-TV services.

According to the latest data published by the regulator CNMC, FTA and paid services distributed via DTT accounted for 76.4% of TV consumption in Q2 2018, with DTH claiming 2.7% and cable/IPTV 20.9%.

Mediaset and Atresmedia remained the leading broadcasters, with audience shares of 30.4% and 26.7% respectively.

At the same time, the most watched channels were the generalist Telecinco (15.3%) and Antena 3 (12%).

CNMC notes that fibre/xDSL pay-TV revenues grew by over 15% to €362 million in Q2 2018, while FTA TV saw its revenues increase by 0.8% to €506 million.

The total number of pay-TV subscribers at the end of Q2 stood at 6.64 million, down 80,000 on the previous quarter due to the end of the football season.

Almost nine out of 10 pay-TV subscribers had contracts to receive packaged services.

TV ad revenues in Q2 amounted to €515 million, with FTA claiming 95.5% and pay-TV 4.5% of the total.

Taken together, Mediaset and Atresmedia accounted for 86.5% of total TV ad revenues.

Average TV viewing during the quarter was 3 hours and 40 minutes per person per day, or 20 minutes less than in the previous quarter.

Turner promotes Sarah Fell to director of original series

By Robert Briel

Turner EMEA has promoted The Amazing World of Gumball producer, Sarah Fell, to director of original series, Kids EMEA.

The announcement was made today by Patricia Hidalgo, Chief Content Officer, Turner EMEA & International Kids Strategy, to whom Fell reports.

In her new role, Fell will be responsible for overseeing the development and production of all Turner Kids series across EMEA, including the recently-greenlit Elliott From Earth, which also has Gumball’s Mic Graves serving as Creative Director. In addition, she will be tasked with finding and developing new talent and ideas into content that can play out across Turner Kids platforms in the region.

Patricia Hidalgo, Chief Content Officer, Turner EMEA & International Kids Strategy commented: “Finding the best creative talent across our region, sourcing and developing ideas into great shows is key to the success of our Kids business. Shows produced here like The Amazing World of Gumball and The Heroic Quest of the Valiant Prince Ivandoe have not only enjoyed significant critical acclaim but have proven key in making our channels and digital platforms successful in EMEA and across the globe. None of this would have been possible without Sarah’s creative leadership and we’re delighted she will be taking on this expanded role to help bring more of our EMEA-made content to the forefront.”

Fell joined Turner in 2011 as Producer of Cartoon Network’s The Amazing World of Gumball. She started her production career at Aardman Animation.

Regulator asks for public views on Hrvatski Telekom deal

By Chris Dziadul

The Croatian regulator HAKOM has announced a public call for opinions and comments on the proposed acquisition of 100% of HP Produkcija, the operator of the pay-TV service, by Hrvatski Telekom (HT).

In it, it asks for the opinions and comments to be submitted electronically no later than 16.00 on January 30, 2019, the last day of the public call.

HAKOM notes that HT and HP Produkcija submitted a joint notification of the proposed acquisition on November 27 last year.

Subsequently, the regulator issued a temporary solution on January 4 in which it concluded the deal could have a significant impact on market competition in the relevant market.

Furthermore, it temporarily forbade HT and HP Produkcija to finalise the deal until the completion of procedures.

Vestel launches TVs with integrated pay-TV access

By Robert Briel

Vestel has launched the first TVs which allow consumers to access premium pay TV services directly through their TVs without the need for a separate set-top box, CI CAM or any other external device.

Vestel’s 43” UHD CASTV will be available in Croatia under the JVC brand, offering content from local Croatian DTT pay TV operator EVOTV.

The launch has been enabled by Irdeto and Vestel’s partnership to implement Irdeto’s TV Cloaked CA solution. This allows the secure delivery of premium content direct to Vestel’s 4K TVs. The new JVC UHD CASTVs can directly receive broadcast DVB Satellite, cable or terrestrial content with pay TV protection, through integrated tuners and demodulators.

“The launch of the JVC CASTVs addresses a market need in providing more cost-effective content delivery choices for pay TV operators while also drastically reducing subscriber acquisition costs, with no hardware subsidy required,” said Hakan Kutlu, VP of Marketing and Product Management, Vestel.

“The partnership with Irdeto has enabled this launch as Irdeto TV Cloaked CA ensures that we can give a great experience for our customers, providing easy and secure access to premium pay TV content directly through the TV.”

“This partnership, and subsequent launch of JVC UHD CASTVs, is a real innovation in the industry,” said Steeve Huin, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, Irdeto.

“With no need for a separate STB or CI CAM module, consumers can have easier access to services, making new subscriber acquisition seamless for operators. All the while, Irdeto TV Cloaked CA provides premium software security to protect high value content.”

“We’re focused on offering our customers a great experience in all stages of the customer lifecycle and with the JVC CASTV product, customers can easily start enjoying our DTT and OTT services immediately after product installation,” said Domagoj Frank, CEO at EVOTV.

“The new JVC CASTVs allow consumers to watch pay TV straight out of the box and will help us to reach new customers through retail sales channels. We will continue to make our content and services as easily accessible as possible, with the highest levels of content security.”

In the coming months, Vestel plans to release CASTVs in 49” and 55” screens as well as launching in new markets including Germany, Austria and Uzbekistan.