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Yesterday β€” November 16th 2018Broadband TV News: Telecom

Spanish online viewing: the stats

By Chris Dziadul

One in three households connected to the internet in Spain pay to watch audiovisual content online.

According to the regulator CNMC, the number of household consuming such content is growing on an almost daily basis.

Fourty four per cent of individuals said they did so weekly, or 10 percentage points more than two years ago, according to the CNMC Household Panel undertaken in Q2 2018. Furthermore, short videos and series were the most preferred content. In addition, over half of individuals who watch online audiovisual content use platforms to watch on-demand programmes over the internet.

In terms of TV on demand viewing, YouTube is most used (55%), followed by Atresplayer (35%) and Rtve.es (30%).

Among the one in three internet households who pay to watch audiovisual online content, Movistar+ is the most preferred service (2.2 million user households, followed by Netflix (2 million), Vodafone TV online (950,000) and Orange TV App (741,000).

However, CNMC points out that these figures for paid streaming should be treated with caution. For instance, Vodafone TV online customers may use to service to watch HBO.

Regarding audiovisual viewing preferences, a la carte is favoured for episodes of series (54%) and movies (50%), and sports (86%) and news (75%) live.

Virgin to appeal against Early Termination fine

By Julian Clover

Ofcom has fined Virgin Media and EE over £13 million for the miscalculation of Early Termination Charges, payable when a customer looks to leave the provider before the end of their contract.

Virgin immediately said it would appeal against Ofcom’s decision in the Competition Appeal Tribunal.

“We profoundly disagree with Ofcom’s ruling. This decision and fine is not justified, proportionate or reasonable,” said Tom Mockridge, CEO, Virgin Media. “A small percentage of customers were charged an incorrect amount when they ended one or more of their services early and for that we are very sorry.”

Early Termination Charges (ETCs) are widely used by businesses across a number of sectors to calculate the payment due should a customer decide to leave before the end of their agreed contractual term.

In this instance, Virgin Media mistakenly overcharged 85,000 of its 5.5 million cable customers at an average of £34.

The operator admits this should not have happened and has taken a number of steps to prevent it from happening again. Those affected have been refunded with interest.

EE customers who ended their contracts earlier than scheduled were also billed in excess, leading to overpayments totalling £4.3 million.

“We accept Ofcom’s findings and recognise that we have made a mistake,” EE said in a statement. “We apologise to customers with discounted tariffs who paid more than they should have when cancelling their contracts early. We’ve already refunded customers and changed the way we calculate early termination charges, and we will continue to focus on ensuring our policies are clear and fair for all customers.”

The use of ETCs is common across a number of industries.

Canal+ French subs below 8 million

By Julian Clover

Canal+ Group has reported stable revenues for the third quarter as the French pay-TV operation continued its slow turnaround.

The French subscriber base suffered another decline, moving from 8 million to 7.9 million, despite a decrease in churn by 4 points over the last 12 months to 13.4%, the lowest since Q3 2012.

The decrease was put down to the continued decline in Canalplay subscriptions and the termination of the Canalsat offer in favour of the new Canal offers and subscriptions via wholesale partnerships. The Canal+ channel’s individual subscriber base recorded a year-on-year increase of 227,000 subscribers.

International pay-TV operations performed better with a 726,000 increased in subscribers, boosted by the football World Cup.

Mertens named Eleven Sports COO

By Julian Clover

Eleven Sports has appointed Anouk Mertens as its chief operating officer.

Mertens has been the managing director of Eleven Sports in Belgium and Luxembourg since October 2015. She took the business into profitability and in the highly connected country achieved 100% household distribution.

“Alongside her Belgium and Group colleagues, Anouk has helped turn our Belgian operation into a strong and profitable business in a short space of time. We are delighted that she has agreed to help us improve our operations around the Group,” said group CEO Marc Watson.

As Group COO, Mertens will amongst other things; manage budgets in all areas, review market performances and seek synergies and operational efficiencies across the group.

Mertens will also continue in her role as Managing Director in Belgium and Luxembourg.

“Having spent the last three years leading Eleven Sports’ operation in Belgium and Luxembourg, I have developed an intimate knowledge of the business and its global operations. I am thrilled to take up a formal role in the company at Group level at such an exciting time,” commented Mertens.

Prior to joining Eleven Sports, Mertens was managing director of Audio and Visual at leading media business Sanoma. Before that, she spent seven years as VP of Television at cable operator Telenet.

Reports: Magyar Telekom could be sold

By Chris Dziadul

Deutsche Telekom has reportedly received a bid of €2 billion for Magyar Telekom.

However, quoting Világgazdaság, Portfolio.hu reports that it is not clear if the amount is for Deutsche Telekom’s 59.21% stake or one that values the entire Hungarian company at €2 billion.

Furthermore, the report quotes the Bloomberg Concorde analyst Gellért Gaál, who says the market rumours are based on a published article and it is unclear why Deutsche Telekom would want to sell its Hungarian interest.

Aside from Deutsche Telekom, Magyar Telekom is backed by Brandes Investment Partners, which has a stake of over 5% in the telco, and 33.63% is a float. If the bid was for only 59.21%, the prospective buyer would have to make a binding offer for the remaining 40.79% as it would exceed the 25% bidding limit for the fund transaction. This would put the value of Magyar Telekom at over €3 billion.

The rumours of a possible sale has result in a significant increase in the cost of Magyar Telekom shares in recent days.

Pay-TV price hike in Ukraine

By Chris Dziadul

The cost of receiving pay-TV services in Ukraine is set to increase by between 15-40% in the New Year.

In a statement, the country’s Association of Rights Owners and Content Providers (APPK) says that news of the increase was announced by its chairman of the board Natalia Klytna at a conference in Kviv earlier this month.

It adds that according to the State Service of Ukraine, in the first half of 2018 the average monthly cost of receiving services for cable subscribers was already UAH72 (€2.27). However, tariffs continue to increase due to significant increases in fees for intellectual property rights by producers of Ukrainian content. The minimum cost for accessing packages containing Ukrainian content is now UAH56-70 a month.

APPK says that while the increase for cable TV subscribers is justified, there is still no level playing field, with satellite and DTT viewers being able to watch Ukrainian channels for free.

However, this will change for the former on May 31, 2019, when satellite start will start to be encrypted.

Meanwhile, the DTT platform operator Zeonbud plans to introduce a pay package.

Its current (free) service, offering around 30 Ukrainian channels, is watched by around a third of Ukrainian viewers.

Chris Dziadul Reports: SES’s regional game changer

By Chris Dziadul

It’s not often we see the simultaneous launch of a DTH platform in three markets.

In fact, the last time, certainly in Central and Eastern Europe, was probably the debut of UPC Direct in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, in September 2000.

Which is why the new service shortly to be launched by Telekom Srbija and SES in Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro is something of a milestone. It is also undoubtedly a game-changer for both companies.

I was fortunate enough to attend the launch announcement earlier this week in Belgrade and so had the opportunity to delve deeper into the significance of the launch. What was clear from the onset is that both Telekom Srbija and SES see the new platform as a major step, not only in their on-going co-operation but also overall strategy. For Telekom Srbija, the new platform will significantly strengthen its TV business and also mark an important expansion into two neighbouring Balkan markets. It will in addition be the latest in a series of important developments, including the acquisition of Serbia’s second largest cable operator Kopernikus Technology earlier this month.

For SES, on the other hand, the development of such a platform with an important partner like Telekom Srbija is precisely the way the company wants to develop in the CEE region.

Details of the platform are still sketchy, other than it will be distributed from SES’s key orbital position at 23.5 degrees East and offer over 150 TV channels, many in HD, However, more will certainly become known in the next few weeks.

There are several launch dates being considered, with one being mid-December, but the aim is to get it up and running by the end of the year. Its debut will certainly be one of the highlights of 2018 for both Telekom Srbija and SES.

Before yesterdayBroadband TV News: Telecom

German police strike blow against card-sharing scene

By JΓΆrn Krieger

On November 15, 2018, the main trial against five men accused of operating illegal card-sharing servers on a large scale began before the economic criminal chamber of the regional court in German town Regensburg.

The Cybercrime Bavaria department set up at the public prosecutor’s office in Bamberg already filed charges against five men in summer for a large number of cases involving the formation of a criminal organisation, commercial computer fraud, infringements of copyright law and other offences.

The accusations focus on the illegal provision of card-sharing and streaming services. The defendants are alleged to have built up an extensive technical infrastructure in order to be able to offer Sky Deutschland’s pay-TV services to their own customers for a fee via the internet.

The two main accused, a 34-year-old from Saxony and a 46-year-old Latvian, are alleged to have provided the decryption signal as part of the illegal card-sharing operation to a total of 12,889 people between December 1, 2012 and November 28, 2017 via various internet platforms.

The defendants are said to have received payments of around €1.6 million for the provision of the signal. Also accused is a 33-year-old from the district of Regensburg, who was initially a customer of the two main defendants and who is said to have later acted as a moderator to deal with customer problems and handle payments.

Two of the accused, who were all arrested on November 28, 2017, are still in custody. The further arrest warrants have meanwhile been suspended against conditions. The 46-year-old Latvian had been arrested in his home country and extradited to Germany at the end of 2017. With the exception of the 33-year-old from the Regensburg district, the accused have no criminal record.

The trial is scheduled to last 18 days. A verdict is expected for February 11, 2019.

BBC Player launches on Amazon Prime Video in Germany

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Amazon has added the BBC Player to its OTT platform Prime Video Channels in Germany and Austria.

Amazon Prime members can watch series, documentaries, classics and other programmes from the UK broadcaster through the on-demand service.

The BBC Player is available for €3.99 per month via the Prime Video app on smart TV sets, mobile iOS and Android devices, Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV stick, Fire tablets, Apple TV and online at www.amazon.de/channels/bbcplayer.

The service can be tested free of charge for 14 days.

waipu.tv adds nine new VOD channels

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German internet TV platform waipu.tv makes nine new video-on-demand (VOD) channels in HD quality available to its users.

Four of the services come from ProSiebenSat.1 subsidiary Studio71: gaming channel Gronkh, DJ music service Sarazar, fitness videos by Sophia Thiel and car channel JP Performance.

Three new channels are provided by media group High View: Xplore, offering travel and adventure documentaries, cooking channel Just Cooking and Waidwerk, targeting hunters and fishermen.

Children’s channels Hoppipolla and Cosmo & Wanda are also new to the line-up.

The services are free of charge for registered waipu.tv users.

Spotify and DAZN join Sky Q in Germany

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German pay-TV operator Sky Deutschland is expanding the app portfolio of its multimedia platform Sky Q in Germany and Austria.

Music streaming service Spotify and sports streaming service DAZN are now part of the line-up. Existing customers can log in directly with their existing user data.

Sky Q customers who do not yet have an account can register at Spotify or DAZN and then use the service via Sky Q.

Netflix was also added as an app to Sky Q in Germany and Austria today.

New code for European comms approved

By Julian Clover

The European Parliament has voted in favour of establishing a European Electronic Communications Code and a body of European regulators for electronic communications.

It follows the September 2016 European Commission proposal.

In a joint statement Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip and Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel said the vote was a positive and necessary step towards ensuring that the telecoms sector in the EU is fit for purpose.

The proposals are aimed at providing investment in high-speed and high-quality networks across the EU and offering protection across traditional fixed-line networks, alongside SMS, Skype and What’s App.

From May 2019, people will be able to make calls to other EU countries for a maximum of 19
cents a minute and send SMS for 6 cents.

Triple country DTH platform for SES and Telekom Srbija

By Chris Dziadul

In what will be a first for SES, the company will simultaneously launch a DTH platform in three countries in cooperation with Telekom Srbija by the end of the year.

Speaking at a press event in Belgrade organised by the two companies and attended by Broadband TV News, Marijana Vukasinovic, head of content management at Telekom Srbija, said that the new platform will offer viewers in Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro over 150 TV channels, including numerous ones in HD.

Although December 15 was mentioned as a possible start date, she said that the aim was to launch the platform as soon as possible and certainly by the end of the year.

Speaking more generally to Broadband TV News, Vukasinovic said that Telekom Srbija does not like to be compared with other companies in Serbia as it is the incumbent and offers a full bundle of services. It only competed with cable operators, for instance, in the TV segment. Its plans in the TV segment in the near future include the launch of more specialised channels, including HD and 4K.

Meanwhile, Norbert Hölzle, SES Astra SVP Europe and Middle East, told Broadband TV News it was important to be seen as a partner for telcos. Furthermore, the launch is an excellent way to enter new countries with Telekom Srbija, which SES regards as an important client. The move also fits in with SES’s strategy.

Also speaking at the event, Gorica Zaric, Editor-in-Chief of thematic channels, RTS, provided an overview of its proprietary channels. These include RTS Drama, RTS Life and RTS Treasure.

Broadband TV News notes that further details of the new platform, including prices, will be announced closer to its launch.

TF1 and Canal sign new global distribution agreement

By Julian Clover

Canal+ will now carry all of TF1’s linear channels and catch-up services following a new agreement between platform and broadcaster.

Canal is the last of the major French platforms to reach an agreement with TF1. Free, Bouygues Telecom, SFR and Orange have all previously settled with the major commercial broadcaster.

In June Broadband TV News reported the impasse between the two had resulted in TF1 taking Canal to court following the failure to reach an agreement.

Under the agreement subscribers to Canal’s multichannel service, the former Canalsat, will be able to view previews and catch up content through MYTF1 with extended broadcast windows. There will also be the broadcast of shows in the 4K format,

The agreement is accompanied by a new extended partnership between TF1 and Dailymotion.

HbbTV Awards 2018 winners Announced

By Robert Briel

The HbbTV Association and Deutsche TV-Plattform have announced the winners of the HbbTV Awards 2018.

The prizes were awarded at a ceremony on November 14, 2018, as part of the 7th HbbTV Symposium and Awards, which took place in Berlin under the theme Growing Value Through HbbTV.

The winners of the HbbTV Awards 2018 and a quote from a jury member (Due to a very close result there are runner-ups for two of the awards):

Best use of HbbTV for advertising and promotion
Admeira AG: OK Button: Dialogue Case (Switzerland)
Jury quote: “This is an important and powerful solution to drive engagement in advertising.”

Best use of HbbTV for broadcast enhancement
Channel One: HbbTV voting services for “Voice”, “Who wants to be a millionaire” and “Let’s get married” (Russia)
Jury quote: “Interactive TV shows at their best: Engaging and enhancing.”

Best use of HbbTV for broadcast enhancement runner-up
Sofia Digital/Digita: Participation TV with HbbTV (Finland)
Jury quote: “Brings interactive entertainment to a sizeable audience.”

Best multiscreen HbbTV service
BT: Multi Screen MotoGP concept (UK)
Jury quote: “Very sophisticated application, HbbTV 2.0 and Multiscreen at the highest level.”

Best use of HbbTV for content discovery (VOD and Guides)
ARTE G.E.I.E.: The ARTE HbbTV App (France)
Jury quote: “An elegant, rich and sophisticated user experience”

Best marketing or promotion of an HbbTV based service
CCMA: HbbTV promotion for TV3 CANAL SUPER3 (Spain)
Jury quote: “Very high impact, a good combination of social media, web and HbbTV.”

Best technology innovation in an HbbTV product or service
ARD Play-Out-Center: Signing Livestream App/ARD (Germany)
Jury quote: “Great accessibility enhancement, well executed, with high social value.”

Best individual contribution to the HbbTV Association
Rob Foreman, BBC: HbbTV Test Suite Activity (UK)
Jury quote: “Rob is one of the most significant contributors to the HbbTV test suite.”

Judges’ Grand Prix Prize winner
Cellnex: LOVEStv (Spain)
Jury quote: “Transforms people’s viewing experience on a large scale.”

Judges’ Grand Prix Prize runner-up
BT: Multi Screen MotoGP concept (UK)

Jury quote: “Praised for its innovation.”

Special commendation from the judges
ARD Play-Out-Center: Signing Livestream App/ARD (Germany)
Jury quote: “This service had fantastic execution and solved a real problem in an innovative way.”

“Congratulations to the winners of the HbbTV Awards 2018! The jury has made an excellent choice, reflecting the variety, innovation and creativity of the entries,” said Vincent Grivet (TDF), Chair of the HbbTV Association.

“The winning applications provide perfect examples of how broadcasters and platform operators can use HbbTV’s open specifications to offer the advanced hybrid services required to compete in today’s increasingly converged broadcast and broadband world.”

During the call for entries for the HbbTV Awards 2018, a total of 48 submissions were received covering 36 services and 12 countries. The shortlists of finalists were put forward to an independent jury of industry experts which selected the winners.

2019: 4K box and quality channels for Slovak Telekom

By Chris Dziadul

Slovak Telekom plans to introduce a 4K set-top box at some stage in 2019.

Speaking to Zive, Andrej Miklánek, the head of the company’s TV services department, also said that it will introduce major changes in its programme offer in the middle of next year, focusing on quality and dropping less popular channels.

In the case of 4K, Miklánek said out that Slovak Telekom may offer some content in 4K on Digi Sport via its new box.

At present, it can only be viewed in 4K on a mobile app, “but we’d rather go another way”.

Customers who buy the new box will have an interesting offer of 4K content.

Filmbox extends Antenna HungΓ‘ria deal

By Chris Dziadul

SPI/Filmbox Hungary and Antenna Hungária have extended their partnership for a further two years.

The two companies have been working together since 2014 and viewers will continue to be offered FilmBox Basic and FilmBox Premium until September 30, 2020.

Furthermore, in addition to appearing in the MinDig TV Extra subscription packages, FilmBox Live’s internet-based service is also made available by the service provider.

Commenting on the development, Tamás Fülöp, regional operation director of SPI International, said: “Our partner relationship with Antenna Hungária proved to be fruitful, so we agreed to continue working on a joint agreement. We are delighted to provide exciting channels and content to our viewers on this platform in the future”.

Digi grows customer base

By Chris Dziadul

Digi Communications gained 200,000 cable TV customers in its main market Romania in the year to September 30.

According to the latest results published by the company, it ended September with 3.2 million cable TV RGUs, or 8.7% more than a year earlier. At the same time, its fixed internet RGU total increased by 10.5% to 2.5 million.

Digi also strengthened its pay-TV position in Hungary, where its revenues, including those of Invitel, increased to €54.6 million in Q3.

It was the country’s second leading provider of fixed internet services, with a market share of over 25%, and had a 23% share in the fixed telephony sector. These factors, it points out, are prerequisites for the launch of mobile telephony services.

Digi, which also has a presence in Spain and Italy, had revenues of €270 million in Q3, or 17.3% more than a year earlier, while its adjusted EBITDA was 10.7% higher at €81.7 million.

At a group level, it had 3.9 million cable TV RGUs (+13%) and 3.2 million (+19%) fixed internet RGUs.

Its pay-TV RGU total stood at 4.8 million, compared to 4.4 million a year earlier.

ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery win ZDF for German Hulu

By JΓΆrn Krieger

ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery have won ZDF as a participant in their joint German streaming portal.

“We have just signed an agreement with ZDF,” ProSiebenSat.1 CEO Max Conze said at the company’s Capital Markets Day in Munich. In around one month the channels ZDF, ZDFinfo and ZDFneo will become available on the current platform 7TV as live-streams.

ZDF is the first public broadcaster to join the platform. The broadcaster recently said that it would approach the Federal Cartel Office in order to determine whether a participation was legally possible after similar attempts – the projects Germany’s Gold and Amazonas – had previously been blocked by the anti-trust authority.

Further partners are Axel Springer with news channel WELT and documentary channel N24 Doku as well as Constantin Medien with sports channel Sport1.

In June 2018, ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery announced their intention to expand 7TV into a joint streaming platform of all major German TV broadcasters, which could turn out to become the German equivalent of US portal Hulu. They invited ARD, ZDF and RTL to participate.

ProSiebenSat.1 will contribute its video-on-demand-service maxdome and Discovery subsidiary Eurosport its Eurosport Player to the platform launching in the first half of 2019. Both services will then no longer be offered as individual stand-alone products.

AMC Networks Int. announces new senior management roles

By Robert Briel

AMC Networks International has announced new leadership roles in its senior management team for its key regions.

The announcement was made by Eduardo Zulueta, who was recently named president of AMC Networks International (AMCNI).

The following will all report to Mr. Zulueta:
– Manuel Balsera has been named Executive Vice President/Managing Director for AMCNI Southern Europe. Based in Madrid, Balsera was most recently SVP of Sales, Marketing and Digital at AMCNI Southern Europe where he oversaw marketing, affiliate and ad sales, digital and business development areas for the company’s 24 TV channels in Spain, Portugal and France.

– Ricardo Debén has been named EVP/MD for AMCNI Latin America. Based in Miami, Debén was most recently Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, AMCNI Latin America where he oversaw financial management of the company’s portfolio of brands, including AMC, SundanceTV, El Gourmet, Más Chic, Film & Arts and Europa Europa.

– Kevin Dickie has been named EVP/MD for AMCNI UK, which includes Poland, Middle East and Africa in addition to the UK. Based in London, Dickie was most recently SVP, Channels Group, UK, MEA and Poland for AMCNI UK, where he spearheaded content and brand strategy for the region’s portfolio of nine channels led by AMC, SundanceTV and CBS Studios International joint venture channels CBS Reality, CBS Drama, CBS Action, CBS Europa and Horror Channel.

– Levente Málnay has been named EVP/MD for AMCNI Central and Northern Europe. Based in Budapest, Málnay was most recently SVP of AMCNI Central and Northern Europe with oversight of the company’s regional portfolio of 16 brands. He began with the company in 2009 overseeing management of the Central Europe portfolio.

“These outstanding leaders have played vital roles in the success of AMC Networks International’s strong portfolio of channels,” said Zulueta.

“Their skills and experience will help AMCNI build on its strong position in the marketplace, with our premium quality content offering and the value we bring to our distribution and advertising partners.”