Disney+ will be available in HDR for the first time as part of an upgrade to the Sky Q set-top.
The platform is releasing a new expanded view UI, simplified new show and sports centres, intuitive ‘smart’ buttons and improved voice. It will be rolled out to receivers over the next few weeks and is also being introduced for subscribers in Germany.
The static menu bar has been replaced by a new dynamic collapsible menu that makes it possible to include more recommendations on the home screen.
Each show will have a show centre, which will feature every available episode, bringing together all seasons, episodes, recordings, broadcast schedules and on-demand links are together in one place for the first time. A new smart button will take viewers to the episode they require.
The smart button will switch between Continue, Delete, Watch from the Start, or Play the next episode –based on what was watched last.
“We’ve redesigned Sky Q to make it even smarter, simpler and better at aggregating all of the TV and app content you love into one place,” said Fraser Stirling, Group Chief Product Officer, Sky. “And we’re not stopping there, the tech team behind Sky Q and Sky Go are working hard on loads of new updates that we’ll be rolling out every few months, so you can expect your Sky TV experience to keep getting better.”
Following the launch of HDR on Sky Q earlier this year, Disney+ will also be available in HDR. Sky Nature shows and Sky originals are already being seen by viewers with a suitable television and later Sky Q receiver. Sky Cinema movies will be in HDR in time for Christmas and HDR live sport will be available in 2021.
For sports fans saying ‘football’ into the voice remote will take you to a page that brings together live and on demand football content from all channels and apps including; Sky Sports, Sky Sports App, BT Sport, terrestrial channels, YouTube and Spotify. The feature is available across a variety of sports including F1, Cricket, Golf, Boxing and Tennis.
Research findings published by the company show that in the period April 1 – May 17 each client and their family members watched an average of 167 minutes a day, compared to 141 minutes in the same period last year. At the same time, the TV rating increased by almost 2% to 11.6%.
Tricolor notes that historical and cultural programmes saw their ratings double, while entertainment programmes and series saw theirs increase by 23% and 20% respectively. On the other hand, there were significant falls in the ratings for sports programmes (-60%), music programmes (-40%) and talk shows (-11%).
Tricolor’s own series on satellite TV saw their ratings increase from 11% in April to 12% in May, while the popularity of national (federal) channels on the first and second multiplexes fell from 59.2% to 53.8%.
Tricolor’s OTT service meanwhile saw ratings of proprietary movie productions increase from 25% in April to 27% in May. Tricolor notes that there was a significant year-on-year viewing share reduction on the internet of the national channels on the two multiplexes, down from 54% to 37%.
It also says that the main increases in audience figures for satellite TV viewing were among those aged over 55, with the number of viewers rising by 35%. At the same time, those aged 4-17 and 35-54 increased by around 23% and 18-34 by 10%. Furthermore, there was a 73% increase in the rating of children’s content.
The switchover will be postponed until further notice, SRG announced, citing two reasons: On the one hand, this is done out of consideration for DTH satellite households, which therefore do not need any additional or new equipment. On the other hand, the Swiss electronic equipment industry has signalled that it is not yet ready, especially regarding set-top boxes.
In January 2020, SRG announced that it would switch the satellite broadcast of its TV channels on Eutelsat Hotbird (13° East) from MPEG-4/H.264 to the more efficient HEVC/H.265 compression standard in the course of next year in preparation for the introduction of Ultra HD (UHD). However, TV sets and receivers non-compliant with the new standard need to be replaced.
Meanwhile, SRG wants to bundle its channels on Hotbird on one transponder in future. A new generation of satellite playout devices offers greatly improved encoding quality and more efficient bandwidth usage, according to the broadcaster. Instead of the currently needed two transponders, one will then be sufficient.
As part of the move, all of SRG’s TV and radio channels will be relocated on transponder 123 at the beginning of 2021. Transponder 17, which is no longer required, will be switched off at the end of April 2021.
SRG now wants to go ahead with the transition to HEVC/H.265 in 2024. In order to ensure that the largest possible number of reception devices will then be on the market, the broadcaster is calling on all retailers to sell only HEVC/H.265-compatible TV sets and set-top boxes including HbbTV from now on.
The playout for distribution partners is not affected by the delay: Cable companies, IPTV platform operators and online providers will be able to obtain data streams in different quality and transmission rates directly from SRG via broadband lines from 2021. Once the corresponding negotiations have been concluded, an UHD event channel will be set up in this playout, enabling individual programmes produced in UHD to be delivered to distribution partners.
Apart from distribution via its local DTH Platforms FocusSat and UPC Direct, the agreements include satellite delivery of the channels to third party operators within the Europe-wide 1 degree West footprint coverage.
The newly signed-up channels are:
– JimJam Hungary and JimJam Romania: AMC Networks International – Central and Northern Europe owned channels focusing on quality children’s content with dedicated Hungarian and Romanian feeds;
– TV1000: a Viasat World owned channel providing a top-range of award-winning films, iconic blockbuster movies and high quality series for the Romanian market;
– Life TV: a Hungarian channel focussing on lifestyle and entertainment;;
– Bollywood TV: providing a line-up of Bollywood movies, all localised in Romanian.
“We are very pleased with these new agreements, commented Bill Wijdeveld of M7 Group Platform Services.
“They confirm our strong position in the Central Eastern European markets for both DTH distribution and third party satellite distribution solutions, as well as the attractiveness of 1 degree West as satellite hot spot for especially the Hungarian and Romanian market.
“The agreements also confirm that linear TV remains of key importance while there is a continuous demand for new, tailored and localised video content addressing specific target groups”.
Italy’s top administrative court has reimposed content restrictions on Sky Italia that had previously been lifted.
Last year, the competition commission imposed a three-year ban on Sky Italia distributing exclusive content over its online platform.
It followed a deal between the Comcast unit and Mediaset for the sale of its premium DTT business, which the regulator said had the potential to limit competition in a market where Sky was already dominant.
In March a lower administrative court lifted the restrictions, leading to an appeal by the commission.
Papers shown to the higher court of Thursday indicated the measures had been reimposed.
Free-TV channel kabel eins Doku HD is available to customers signed up for the HD Austria or HD Austria Kombi subscription package via Astra (19.2° East) as well as in the HD Austria TV app for smart TVs, mobile devices and the web player.
Pay-TV channel Sport1+ HD can be received by customers of the Kombi package via internet and within the TV app. A channel search is not required; the additional channels appear automatically.
SES has announced plans to restructure its operations and will consolidate part of its European regional structure into the company’s global headquarters in Betzdorf, Luxembourg.
Around 220 employees will be affected with the changes impacting between 10% and 15% of its global employee base.
There will be voluntary phased retirement package, while other staff will be asked relocate or work remotely, will be retrained or reassigned elsewhere in the company. A number of redundancies are possible, though the company says it wants to avoid these where possible.
Offices in Brussels, Central London, the Isle of Man, Warsaw and Zurich will go with the responsibilities being redistributed to other locations in Kiev, Stockholm, Stockley Park in London and The Hague as well as its headquarters in Luxembourg.
The move is part of the “Simplify & Amplify”, which SES hopes to position itself for the future.
“In this rapidly evolving market, it is important that SES remains an agile business partner for our customers,” said Steve Collar, CEO of SES. “Simplify & Amplify is a transformational undertaking that will streamline our business, drive collaboration, and improve efficiency. We are making these changes thoughtfully, ensuring that, wherever possible, we redeploy our talent within the company and minimise the impact to our global workforce while enhancing our ability to support and serve our global customer base.”
Many of the job losses will be in Luxembourg and the company is currently discussing the implementation of a social plan for those impacted.
The video division continues to pull on the 35-year old company, recently missing forecasts of € 1,225 to € 1,255 million with revenues of € 1,208 million.
The transaction will see United Group acquire all of the company’s loan obligations, the convertible debt and an initial 36% of the company’s shares following the successful conclusion of negotiations between National Bank of Greece, Alpha Bank, Piraeus Bank and Attica Bank (the sellers) and United Group. Further details of the transaction were not disclosed and it is subject to customary regulatory approvals.
This investment marks the third large-scale transaction since BC Partners acquired United Group in March 2019, following the acquisitions of Croatia’s Tele2 and Bulgaria’s Vivacom in 2019, which altogether increase United Group’s size to €1.7 billion of pro-forma revenues. The firm’s entry into the Greek market is another milestone in its European growth strategy, and it further cements its position as a leading industry player operating in eight countries across the region.
Commenting on the acquisition, Victoriya Boklag, CEO of United Group, said: “We are pleased that Forthnet will be joining United Group and I’m excited that we continue to strengthen our business and provide our customers across the region with a broad range of cutting-edge services. We see significant opportunity to work with Forthnet to drive growth in pay-TV services and to launch into the mobile phone market and are pleased to be expanding our reach into the Greek market”.
Nikos Stathopoulos, partner at BC Partners and chairman of United Group, added: “United Group’s business model, management, technology and regional leadership have been key drivers of its organic growth, which has further accelerated by acquiring and integrating strong local businesses. Forthnet’s position as a dynamic domestic player provides us with a strong foothold for expansion into a growing and evolving Greek market which we see as a strategic location for the United Group platform. We look forward to working with Forthnet to increase the depth and breadth of services it can offer customers”.
Forthnet’s CEO Panos Papadopoulos said: “Today’s agreement is an event of strategic importance for the Greek telecommunications and pay-TV market. The entry of United Group, the region’s leading multi-play telecommunications and media provider, confirms Forthnet’s strategic value and gives new perspectives to our company. The significant growth in broadband and pay-TV markets where we are already active, and the potential of the mobile services that we are preparing to launch, creates a strong investment environment for us to take advantage of and benefit from the know-how and experience of United Group’s management, network and technology”.
As a result, DataMiner will manage and control all of Hellas Sat’s uplinks and downlinks at their teleport in Cyprus. Commenting on the development, Thomas Kalamaris, technical Director at Hellas Sat, said: “As a major player in the satellite industry, it is vital for us to deliver high-quality services that answer the needs of all our different customers. All the while keeping competitive prices, of course.
“But in order to do so, it is now more crucial than ever to have an end-to-end management system in place that is able to help us stay in control of our operation, no matter which technologies or vendors we decide to implement in our business. After all, our business is one that constantly evolves. It wouldn’t make sense to go for a solution that fits us only today. The future is equally, if not much more important. On top of that, capabilities such as real-time reporting, AI-powered forecasting and trending are absolutely essential to us. Those are just some of the reasons why we went for Skyline’s DataMiner”.
Marina Nikita, sales manager at Skyline Communications, added: “Something Hellas Sat and Skyline have in common is that we’re both looking beyond today’s reality. Because that reality might be completely different tomorrow, and therefore creating an agile operation is key.
“In order for a leading satellite company to stay ahead of competitors and to keep their customers happy, you cannot get around the fact that a powerful end-to-end, multi-vendor monitoring and orchestration solution has become a must. Hellas Sat understands that strategic perspective very well. They want to be able to add new products from any vendor they like, on the fly and without any boundaries regarding API, hardware or software, on premises or off premises. To leverage all those resources in a sophisticated manner via a single consolidated pane of glass, that’s essentially what DataMiner is all about. Hellas Sat is now set for the future, and whatever they decide to do next in their infrastructure, DataMiner has them well covered”.
The agreement with satellite operator SES covers the distribution of ZDF, ZDFinfo and ZDFneo in SD-MPEG-2 format. The duration of the contract has not been specified. An SES spokeswoman declined to comment on details when approached by Broadband TV News.
A ZDF spokesperson indicated that there was no fixed end date for the SD distribution: “A decision for a date for termination is currently not on the agenda.” Also, no decision has been made yet on how to proceed with the SD distribution of joint public channels KI.KA, Phoenix and 3sat, according to ZDF.
The extension of the SD distribution is surprising because fellow public broadcaster ARD and ARD’s regional affiliates recently announced the termination of the SD distribution of their channels on Astra in January 2021 in favour of an HD-only distribution.
“ZDF reaches the whole population and all age groups with its channel family. But only if it broadcasts in all transmission standards. After all, a total of 6 million viewers in Germany still receive their programmes exclusively via SD signals,” said Christoph Mühleib, managing director of Astra Deutschland. The figure refers to the SD households across all TV reception infrastructures. Among satellite households, there are just 2.63 million SD households.
ZDF production director Dr Michael Rombach added: “For ZDF, the reception of its channels in as many households as possible is of strategic importance. The extension of satellite distribution in SD quality will continue to enable many viewers who have not yet switched to HD reception to access our public service programme offer.”
However, licence fee commission KEF has turned off the money tap for SD satellite distribution for ARD and ZDF. ZDF must therefore finance the costs for the extended SD distribution by using funds from other budgets.
On its Facebook page, the ad-supported free-TV channel informs its viewers about the move.
“With regrets we have to inform you that due to the global corona situation and the resulting difficult economic circumstances, we had to suspend our channel on the Astra satellite for the time being. However, we have already found ways to continue to be available via satellite, which we will present shortly.”
The channel can still be received as a live-stream on its website.
Meanwhile, the previously used Astra capacity on the frequency 12.692 GHz H (SR 22,000, FEC 5/6) has been taken over by German music channel Volksmusik.tv, a sister channel of Deutsches Musik Fernsehen.
The function is available on RTL HD, VOX HD, n-tv HD, Nitro HD, RTLzwei HD and Super RTL HD. Previously, this was only possible for ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery channels.
If viewers switch on too late, they can jump back to the start of the currently running programme from the TV guide or the channel list. The service is part of the HD+ convenience function, which is integrated along with the HD+ channel package in the Ultra TV sets from Samsung and Panasonic from model year 2019.
In addition to restarting selected programmes, the convenience function includes direct access to TV catch-up services and an interactive TV guide covering both linear channels and on-demand content.
The convenience function is included in the monthly subscription price of €5.75 for the HD+ channel package without additional costs.
The channel is broadcast unencrypted in SD resolution on the frequency 11.273 GHz H (SR 22,000, FEC 2/3) in MPEG-4 video format.
“I am proud of the development of krone.tv, because now all of our programme content can be received by millions of viewers via the classic TV distribution infrastructures reliably and without capacity limits,” said Michael Eder, managing director of krone.at.
In addition to Astra, Krone TV can be received in Vienna and Graz on DVB-T2 platform simpliTV and on cable networks throughout Austria.
The European Commission has approved the merger of NENT Group’s satellite pay-TV and broadband-TV business with Telenor Group’s satellite pay-TV business.
NENT Group and Telenor Group will each hold 50% of the business that will be headed by the current Chief Executive Officer of Canal Digital and Telenor Broadcast Bjørn Ivar Moen.
The new company which will reveal its name following the closure of the transaction will operate at an arm’s length from its two owners. It will be based in Stockholm and Oslo.
Anders Jensen, NENT Group President and CEO: “We are delighted to receive the European Commission’s approval for this game-changing joint venture. The business and customer rationales are compelling. We are creating a large-scale player that can compete on a Nordic level, make sustained investments in content and technology, deliver even better combined customer offerings, and generate substantial revenue and cost synergies.”
Annual savings of SEK 650 million are expected after costs of SEK 900 million, primarily from the migration of Viasat Consumer’s subscriber base to the Telenor Satellite platform at one degree West.
The new operation will carry channels from multiple providers including for NENT Group’s Viasat pay-TV channels (to be rebranded as V from June), free-TV channels and Viaplay streaming service, all of which will continue to be owned by NENT Group and be widely available on third-party platforms.
The transaction is expected to close on May 5.
The channel will be offered in the TrendSports package, which Sky Deutschland satellite customers can add to their subscription for €5.99 per month.
A caption in HD quality is already available on the frequency 11,656 GHz V (SR 22,000, FEC 2/3), announcing the channel’s upcoming launch.
In addition to Waidwerk, TrendSports includes the channels EDGEsport, Sport1+, eSports1 and Sportdigital Fußball.
Waidwerk is operated by German media company High View and is also available on Zattoo, Amazon Prime Video Channels and waipu.tv.
With 17.28 million TV households, DTH satellite TV reaches a market share of 45.5% (2018: 17.49 million or 45.6%), as Astra satellite operator SES reports in the German edition of its Astra TV-Monitor 2019.
With 16.10 million TV households and a market share of 42.4%, cable television remained second place (2018: 16.18 million or 42.2%). IPTV recorded an increase of 300,000 to 3.08 million TV households in 2019. The number of DTT households declined by 370,000 to 1.52 million TV households.
“Satellite reception enjoys great popularity in Germany. Viewers wanting a wide range of channels in the best quality at a reasonable price are opting for satellite TV,” said Christoph Mühleib, managing director of Astra Deutschland. “And the reliability of the TV signal also plays a major role. The importance of having a stable infrastructure is particularly relevant in the current situation. Bandwidth constraints affecting TV reception are no concern for satellite households.”
The number of HD households in Germany rose to 31.96 million in 2019 (2018: 29.85 million). This means that 84% of all TV households in Germany received TV channels in HD quality.
Among German HD households, satellite TV is the leading distribution infrastructure with 14.65 million households reached, followed by cable (12.92 million), IPTV (2.87 million) and DTT (1.52 million). Compared to the previous year, this represents an increase of 2.11 million households.
Despite this clear growth, there is still a substantial HD gap in Germany: Over six million households can receive TV channels in SD resolution only.
According to the company’s annual Satellite Monitor market research, much of the increase is attributed to the leading infrastructure of TV reception — satellite and cable — which grew by 9 million to 153 million and 149 million homes respectively. Meanwhile, IPTV and terrestrial TV grew by a combined 3 million to 43 million and 21 million homes.
The study also showed that SES’s technical reach has increased across several continents, including Europe, Africa, Asia-Pacific (APAC), and Latin America (LATAM). Europe continues to be the strongest market, with 168 million total households served by the SES fleet, up by 1 million from 2018, followed by North America at 69 million.
In LATAM, SES has captured an audience of 42 million households, up from the 34 million households reported in 2018, thanks in part to the launch of a new satellite — SES 14 — which is boosting cable and IPTV growth in the region. This year also marked the first time that SES collected results from Indonesia and the Philippines. In total, SES serves 39 million APAC households with DTH feeds. The research also found that SES delivers digital television to 13 million households in the Middle East and 35 million homes in Africa. Altogether, SES has observed a combined growth of almost 5 million households across APAC and Africa.
SES notes that its TV market research sheds light on several key trends behind the relevance of satellite broadcasting, including the transition from analogue to digital TV and the rise of HD broadcast. End consumers in Ghana and Nigeria are choosing satellite TV for its better value proposition and FTA offerings, rather than purchasing new hardware and switching to digital terrestrial TV.
The Satellite Monitor study also revealed that HD broadcast has been on the rise in Europe, with 167 million TV households, an increase of 5 million from 2018. Satellite remains the preferred choice of infrastructure when it comes to HD content broadcasting, underscoring the key value proposition of satellite broadcasting as a reliable and cost-effective video delivery to large audiences.
Commenting on the findings of the study, Ferdinand Kayser, CEO at SES Video, said: “Broadcasters and TV platform operators need robust and reliable data before they make the decision to enter new markets. For more than 25 years, SES has been the only satellite-based solutions provider in the world to regularly and extensively monitor the industry in specific countries and identify key trends for our customers to help them succeed in their business and expand their reach.
“The results of our annual Satellite Monitor market research demonstrate that satellite continues to be the most optimal infrastructure to deliver high picture quality, and that despite changing consumption habits, people still strongly rely on linear TV and complement it with OTT content”.
The capacity will be used to deliver connectivity to embassies across Africa.
Commenting on the development, Radek Ondras, network operations director at GiTy, “Amos-17’s position over Africa and its unique performance and capabilities provide us with an excellent solution for our very specific needs. Partnering with Spacecom since as early as Amos-3 , we are confident they will provide us with high quality, personalised and reliable satellite communication services. GiTy is happy to contract capacity on the Amos-17 satellite, which allows us to enter Africa with state of the art technology”.
Spacecom VP Sales EU and ME, Eyal Altshuler added: “We are proud to be GiTy’s long-term partner allowing us to support their growing needs of communication in Africa. Spacecom welcomes GiTy on board of our new Amos-17 satellite and I trust that our long standing partnership will continue to grow further”.
Amos-17 is an HTS satellite designed specifically to meet Africa’s fast-growing communication demands. Its C-Band HTS, Ka-Band and Ku-Band capabilities enable the combination of broad regional beams and high throughput spot beams that maximise throughput and spectral efficiency.
Amos-17 supports connectivity between Africa, the Middle East, Europe, India and China.
The United Nations Arbitration Court has ruled in favour of Maxar Technology in a dispute with the Ukrainian government.
Mediasat reports that the dispute revolved round a contract signed in 200 between Maxar’s predecessor MDA Corporation and the National Space Agency of Ukraine involving the construction and launch of Lybid-1, Ukraine’s first geostationary satellite.
It adds that the court rejected Ukraine’s claims in full and ruled that Maxar’s legal fees and expenses should be paid in full.
The initial contract was worth around $254 million and provided for the construction and launch of the satellite, as well as the provision of ground-based infrastructure. However, work was suspended in 2014 due to political instability in Ukraine and three years later MDA completely withdrew from the project following the disappearance of a large sum of money.
Although MDA/Maxar was paid for the production of the satellite and it was delivered, Ukraine then lost access to it following the conflict in the east of the country.
HSE24 Extra, QVC Deutschland, QVC 2 and Channel 21 will thus continue to be available in SD to DTH households in the coming years, according to the satellite operator.
The signals are broadcast in MPEG-2 SD format; Astra provides the uplink services and satellite capacity. The channels reach over 118 million TV households throughout Europe via the Astra satellite system at 19,2° East.
“These agreements clearly show that SD broadcasting will remain an important transmission standard for the foreseeable future,” said Christoph Mühleib, managing director of Astra Deutschland.
“Over eight million TV households can only receive TV channels in SD quality. Guaranteed 100% availability is therefore currently only possible with a simulcast of SD and HD distribution,” added Mühleib.