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Before yesterdayBroadband TV News: Satellite

Spacecom secures Angolan customer

By Chris Dziadul

Spacecom has signed an agreememt with a leading Angolan satellite services company for C-Band HTS capacity on the newly-launched Amos-17 communication satellite.

According to Spacecom, the unnamed company will utilise capacity primarily for cellular backhaul to better connect rural and low-density communities throughout the southern African country.

Amos-17’s capbilities allow it to target the whole of Angola with a single beam rather than a number of smaller ones, as in most HTS satellites. This allows for a reduction in the client’s initial CAPEX as well as providing lower ongoing OPEX for it and its customers. Spacecom’s Vertical Solutions Division is supporting infrastructure deployment for the unnamed Angolan company.

Commenting on the development, Jacob Keret, Spacecom Sr. VP of sales, said: “We are excited to welcome back this Angolan satellite service provider to the Amos family. Amos-17, expected to begin commercial services later in 2019, is already bringing new and repeat customer business. We are very satisfied to see this movement. Within a short time, Spacecom have three satellites serving Africa: Amos-7, Amos-4 and Amos-17 all of which are enabling clients to reduce Africa’s digital divide.”

Freenet’s waipu.tv on growth course

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German internet TV platform waipu.tv had around 366,000 subscribers on September 30, 2019, exceeding the expected number of over 350,000 paying customers for 2019 as a whole.

Compared to the previous year, this represents an increase of 163,400 customers (September 30, 2018: 202,400 customers), as parent company Freenet announced in its latest quarterly figures report.

As expected, DVB-T2 and DTH satellite platform Freenet TV maintained its customer base of 1.037 million revenue-generating users (RGU) over the past three months. Year-on-year, Freenet TV increased its customer base by 135,100 customers (September 30, 2018: 901,500 customers).

Meanwhile, following M7 Group’s decision to close its German DTH satellite platform Diveo on November 30, 2019, Freenet TV, unlike its competitor HD+, is not planning a special promotion to attract former Diveo customers.

“We are not planning a separate offer for Diveo customers, as we already have a very attractive proposition on the market with our standard price and monthly cancellation option,” a spokesman of operating company Media Broadcast, part of Freenet group, told Broadband TV News.

EXCLUSIVE: Pay-TV platform bobbles.tv folds, blaming piracy

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Pay-TV platform bobbles.tv, which provided expats throughout Europe with TV channels from their home country, has ceased operations, as CEO Arnold C. Kulbatzki confirmed to Broadband TV News.

“The pan-European TV platform bobbles.tv targeted around 15 million expats in Europe with programme packages from China, Indonesia, Korea, Pakistan, Vietnam and India,” Kulbatzki said. “Piracy in this market segment has increased rapidly again in the last two years. Despite a positive response, this race could unfortunately not be won in the long run.”

However, Kulbatzki does not see this as a final withdrawal: “As soon as the market conditions, especially the legal framework, change, we will be back in business. It remains an attractive market.”

The platform launched on Astra (19.2° East) in August 2016, combining DTH satellite broadcasting with internet TV streaming (OTT).

In an interview with Broadband TV News in March 2017, Kulbatzki conceded that piracy poses a threat in this market, as many people use illegal streaming services to receive TV channels from their home countries. But he was confident at the time that bobbles.tv’s “aggressive pricing” and the fact that “people enjoy the convenience of a legal, quality service” would make the venture a success.

EXCLUSIVE: Sky Deutschland to unveil new sports package [Update]

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German pay-TV broadcaster Sky Deutschland will shortly offer a new subscription package for sports fans.

TrendSports, as the bouquet will be called, will feature the new action and fun sports channel EDGEsport, which recently launched in Germany, sports channel Sport1+, eSports channel eSports1 and football channel Sportdigital Fußball, according to a dedicated Sky website.

The channels will be available to Sky Deutschland’s DTH satellite subscribers in Germany and Austria via Astra (19.2° East).

Both new and existing Sky customers will be able to add trendSports to their subscription for €5.99 per month. At least a subscription to basic package Sky Starter is required to sign up for trendSports.

Update, November 6, 13.00 CET: The trendSports package, which has just launched, is operated by TA2 Europe, a new Hamburg-based B2B service provider aggregating and distributing special interest TV channels to platform operators via satellite, cable, IPTV and OTT. The customer relationship remains in the hands of the platform operator.

TA2 Europe, which holds its own transponder capacity on Astra, is backed by media entrepreneurs Arnold C. Kulbatzki, Alexander Trauttmansdorff and Dr Torsten Rossmann. The company wants to make trendSports available on other platforms soon.

HD+ launches changeover campaign to attract Diveo customers

By JΓΆrn Krieger

With a special promotion, German DTH satellite platform HD+ wants to attract customers of its competitor Diveo, which recently announced its closure on November 30, 2019.

As part of a cashback offer running until December 15, 2019, previous Diveo customers can purchase the HD+ CI+ module at half price – including six-month access to the HD+ channel package.

“With this campaign, HD+ provides first aid for stranded Diveo customers. They do not have to be afraid of a black screen and additionally benefit from the cashback bonus”, said Timo Schneckenburger, managing director marketing and sales of HD+. “We welcome all previous Diveo customers to HD+.”

B2B drives Orion growth

By Chris Dziadul

The Russian DTH operator Orion saw a 47% year-on-year increase in its TV channel distribution revenues in the third quarter.

At the same time, its B2B business as a whole saw its revenues grow by 7%.

Meanwhile, the number of channels using its play-out services stood at 64 in Q3 and the total volume of satellite capacity sold was 275 MHz.

Orion’s total revenues in Q3 amounted to R805.2 million (€11.4 million ), or 3% more than a year earlier.

Its subscriber base as of the end of September stood at 3,112,400 households, a 0.6% increase on three months earlier.

ARPU for its budget package was R125 (+14%) and average price package R288, which was similar to three months earlier.

M7 Group to close German satellite platform Diveo

By JΓΆrn Krieger

M7 Group will close Diveo, its TV platform on Astra (19.2° East) for DTH satellite households in Germany, on November 30, 2019.

Despite an innovative, excellent end-user product at a very competitive price, Diveo has failed to match expectations and growth as on cable and IPTV, according to an M7 statement, adding that the group regrets this step and has already informed subscribers and partners of the platform.

The established B2B business remains unaffected, stresses the company. “M7 Group continues its successful B2B business in Germany for cable and IPTV markets and remains firmly convinced of the high potential for pay-TV. This year, the market position as a leading provider of TV content and related services for cable and IPTV platform operators in Germany and neighbouring countries Austria and Switzerland has been further strengthened and expanded.”

Diveo launched in February 2018 as a hybrid platform, combining HD channels via satellite with additional channels, features and services reaching viewers’ screens via the internet. M7 Group never released subscriber figures.

The decision to discontinue Diveo could be associated with the acquisition of M7 Group by French TV broadcaster Canal+. The Vivendi subsidiary is possibly wanting to divest itself of unprofitable business areas.

With the DTH satellite version of DVB-T2 platform Freenet TV, which launched in March 2018, there is now only one competitor remaining for HD+, the German HD platform operated by Astra satellite operator SES.

The closure of Diveo is “not really surprising” for HD+, as Timo Schneckenburger, managing director marketing and sales of HD Plus, told Broadband TV News. “After all, HD+ has been on the market for 10 years. As a pioneer, market leader and innovation driver. We are therefore very close to manufacturers, retailers and over 2 million HD+ households, so you can feel trends earlier than others.”

“When Diveo started, we were happy about new impulses for the HD market,” said Schneckenburger. “However, we quickly realised that neither the product nor the marketing had developed a particularly strong appeal. And, as it is the case in the television business: In the end, it’s the viewer who decides.”

SES successfully prices €500m bond

By Chris Dziadul

SES has successfully launched and priced a bond in which it hs agreed to sell senior unsecured fixed rate notes due in 2027 for a total of €500 million.

According to the company, it says that with the transaction, which was oversubscribed more than five times, it has taken advantage of the current attractive market conditions to further strengthen its liquidity profile ahead of a €650 million senior debt maturity in March of next year and issued a bond with the lowest coupon in the company’s history.

It adds that Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JP Morgan, MUFG, SMBC Nikko and Société Générale acted as joint bookrunners.

Furthermore, the settlement is scheduled for November 4, 2019 and application has been made for the notes to be listed on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange. The securities were placed with a broad range of institutional investors across Europe.

Commenting on the launch, Andrew Browne, CFO of SES, said: “We are pleased to have secured this financing which allows us to proactively refinance an upcoming debt maturity at more favourable terms. The successful conclusion of this bond offering reflects the market’s view of SES as a strong investment grade credit, and underlines the ability of SES to secure funding at attractive terms.”

Sonnenklar.TV stays in SD and HD on Astra

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German travel channel Sonnenklar.TV will continue to broadcast in SD and HD resolution via Astra (19.2° East).

Parent company Euvia Travel has extended its partnership for transponder capacity with Astra satellite operator SES.

Around 17.5 million DTH households in Germany can receive the free-to-air TV channel via the Luxembourg-based satellite system.

Panasonic offers M7 HbbTV OpApp for Diveo and HD Austria

By Broadband TV News Correspondent

Panasonic now offers the possibility to receive DTH satellite platforms Diveo in Germany and HD Austria in Austria via Astra (19.2 degrees East) without a set-top box through the HbbTV OpApp.

The function, which is introduced as part of a partnership between the electronics manufacturer and platform operator M7 Group, is available on all Panasonic smart TVs of the 2019 OLED TV series and Ultra HD HDR LED series from GXW804 onwards.

After a free 30-day test period, customers can choose between various subscription packages from Diveo or HD Austria which, in addition to HD and Ultra HD channels, also offer additional services such as restart, catch-up TV and – in Germany – cloud recording.

If desired, users can activate the M7 HbbTV OpApp during installation so that it starts automatically each time the TV set is switched on and displays the user interface with the electronic programme guide from Diveo or HD Austria.

M7 Group also wants to offer the HbbTV OpApp for customers in its other European markets on smart TVs from Panasonic.

After German DTH satellite platform HD+, provided by Astra satellite operator SES, M7 Group is the second platform operator to use the HbbTV OpApp as a virtual set-top box with branded user interface for accessing its channels and additional services.

Third quarter fall for Sky subs

By Julian Clover

The number of Sky subscribers fell by 99,000 to 23.9 million in the 3rd quarter.

In Comcast’s latest financials, Sky still added 482,000 subscribers over the last 12 months with total customer relationships climbing 2.1% year-on-year.

Revenues for the broadcaster that serves the UK & Ireland, Germany & Austria, and Italy decreased by 4.2% to $4.6 billion, in part due to a change in gambling advertisements in the UK and Italy, as well as overall market weakness.

In an analyst call, Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch explained the 4th quarter of the year was still the biggest quarter for video in Europe.

“The idea of upgrading your TV for Christmas to pay-TV to Sky remains a strong idea for us. It’s not as keen as it was in the past but it remains an important part of the business.”

Darroch said that Sky will be driving its Sky Q set-top box that already represents 40% of the Sky business and he believes it can be “a lot higher”.

Zeonbud encodes satellite signal

By Chris Dziadul

The Ukrainian DTT operator Zeonbud has encoded its signal on Astra 4A through which it delivers TV services to more than 140 terrestrial broadcasting stations.

Employing Irdeto conditional access, in accordance with an agreement announced in July, the move is an important part of the encoding of all satellite-delivered services in the country by January 2020.

Zeonbud’s parent company 1+1 Media notes that the terrestrial broadcasting stations for the three multiplexes MX-1, 2 and 3 are already fully equipped with satellite decoding devices that provide complete protection against illegal access and viewing.

At the same time, viewers watching DTT services will still be able to do so free of charge in an open, unencrypted manner.

Commenting on the development, Andriy Malchevsky, director of 1+1 Media’s distribution and developmnet network, said: “Our media group is pleased that such a long-awaited step has finally taken place. This is a truly remarkable event that has been awaited by the entire industry for several years. We welcome the observance of Zeonbud by the market-defined coding terms, because only through joint and unified actions of all participants can we effectively develop the pay-TV market in Ukraine”.

Viasat and Canal Digital to merge

By Julian Clover

NENT Group and Telenor Group are to merge their consumer operations, combining Viasat’s satellite pay-TV business with Canal Digital’s operations.

The two businesses will each take 50% in a new joint venture company that will adopt Telenor’s 1 degree West satellite neighbourhood.

The combined company will have combined sales of SEK 7.6 billion and 1,257k subscribers.

The combination is subject to EU regulatory approval and expected to be completed during the first half of 2020.

The companies believe that consolidation within the Nordic satellite-TV segment has been clear for some time.

Anders Jensen, NENT Group President and CEO: “We are creating a large-scale TV operator that will create sustainable value for customers and owners, and be able to compete with large scale regional and local competitors. The new joint venture will be a major distribution partner for both our Viasat channels and Viaplay.”

Jørgen C. Arentz Rostrup, Telenor Group CFO, added: “There is a compelling business rationale behind combining the DTH operations of Canal Digital and Viasat Consumer, with large synergies to be captured within areas including transponder capacity, IT and operating expenditure.”

The company will be headquartered in Stockholm and Oslo. The Board of Directors will have an equal representation from Telenor and NENT Group, with a rotating chairmanship. The CEO will be Bjørn Ivar Moen (currently CEO of Canal Digital and Telenor Broadcast), and the CFO and Head of Operations will be Jonas Gustafsson (currently CEO of Viasat Consumer). Other key management positions will be jointly appointed and announced prior to the completion of the transaction.

Brexit: European TV subscriptions outlawed in the UK

By Robert Briel

UK viewers that are currently using pay-TV subscriptions purchased in another European country will no longer be able to use them once the UK leaves the European Union.

Under current legislation, UK consumers can use legitimate satellite decoder devices intended for use elsewhere in the European Union.

However, current government advice says once Brexit takes place it will be an offence to use satellite receivers intended for EU audiences to access a programme included in a broadcast made from the UK with the intent of avoiding a charge associated with the programme.

This is already the case for satellite decoder devices intended for non-EU audiences.

The premise of the legislation appears to be to stop someone subscribing to a European service in order to avoid paying a higher charge from a UK supplier. For example a premium sports event that another operator puts in basic – or even free to air – because the event is not as popular in their home country.

The UK government says viewers should instead purchase the relevant UK satellite broadcast package to view the programmes.

The change is not designed to weaken or change in any way the illegality of pirate decoders.

Full information can be found on the UK Government website.

Trace Music to re-brand its UK channels

By Robert Briel

Trace Music is set to re-brand three of its music channels on November 1.

Last December, Trace acquired the UK-based music channels Chart Show TV, Chart Show Hits, Starz and The Vault from Sony Pictures Television (SPT).

The Vault will become Trace Vault.

Trace Urban, where viewers can tune into music from artists including Stormzy, Skepta, AJ Tracy and Steflon Don, will replace Chart Show TV, and Trace Latina, dedicated to the music from Latin America, will fill the spot of Chart Show Hits.

The re-brand of Starz is on its way, pending on the conclusion of an investigation by Ofcom over a breach in UK broadcasting rules made while the station was still owned by Sony.

The Trace Music channels are available as part of the Sky DTH offer.

MTS firms up TV service

By Chris Dziadul

The Russian mobile operator MTS has completed the construction of a backup teleport in Kazan to assist in the distribution of its satellite TV service.

According to Telecom Daily, its main ground-based satellite communications station is located in Moscow and Kazan is its second teleport.

Quoting Alexei Ivanov, director of satellite at MTS, it adds that it is currently the only operator in Russia with its own backup teleport and its own transport channels between the parent station and teleports.

This allows it to reduce costs and make high quality broadcasting available to viewers at an affordable price.

MTS had 752,000 subscribers to its satellite TV service as of the end of H1, or one and half times more than in the same period last year.

Successful launch of Eutelsat 5 West B

By Robert Briel

The Eutelsat 5 West B satellite was successfully launched into super-synchronous transfer orbit by International Launch Services using a Proton Breeze M rocket that lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 03.17 pm (12.17 pm CET on October 9).

The separation of the satellite occurred after a 15 hour 36 minute flight and the spacecraft systems checkout was successfully completed during the following 4 hours. Following further manoeuvres and in-orbit tests, Eutelsat 5 West B will be positioned at 5 degrees West at the end of this year to replace Eutelsat 5 West A, assuring service continuity for over 300 TV channels broadcast from this position. Eutelsat 5 West A will remain operational in orbit at 5 degrees West and carry out other missions.

EutelsatT 5 West B will also host the GEO-3 payload of theEuropean Geostationary Navigation Overlay System (EGNOS) under a 15-year agreement signed in 2017 with the European GNSS Agency (GSA), and valued at €102 million.

Rodolphe Belmer, CEO of Eutelsat said: “Our congratulations to ILS and Khrunichev for a flawless launch that sees a new Eutelsat satellite propelled on its way to geostationary orbit. This satellite programme reflects outstanding collaboration between Eutelsat, GSA, Airbus Defence and Space, Northrop Grumman, International Launch Services and Khrunichev. We look forward to putting EUTELSAT 5 West B to work for the benefit of our clients throughout Europe and North Africa and to the inauguration of EGNOS’ GEO-3 payload that will improve the performance of global navigation satellite systems in Europe.”

Sportdigital to launch EDGEsport in Germany

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German broadcaster Sportdigital TV Sende- und Produktions GmbH, which operates pay-TV channel Sportdigital Fußball, wants to bring the international fun and action sports channel EDGEsport to Germany.

The channel is to be operated under a German broadcast licence. German media commission KEK gave the green light at its latest assembly in Berlin. The licence application was submitted at local media authority MA HSH.

The German version of EDGEsport is to be distributed as a pay-TV service via satellite on Astra (19.2° East), on cable networks, IPTV platforms and via the internet including mobile and smart TV apps.

The programme content will be commissioned from the UK-based media group IMG Media Ltd., which operates EDGEsport in many other markets. The expansion of the channel across Europe followed a long-term multi-platform distribution agreement signed with M7 Group in 2014.

German sports fans might be familiar with the EDGEsport brand as media company ProSiebenSat.1 signed a multi-year distribution deal with IMG in 2015 to broadcast the channel’s programmes on its TV channels in German-speaking Europe.

In 2017, EDGEsport launched as an OTT service in Germany and Austria through Amazon Prime Video Channels, offering live and on-demand content in HD quality for €2.99 per month.

RTVE to launch two new HD channels

By Robert Briel

Spanish public broadcaster RTVE will launch two HD versions of its international satellite channels TVE International and Canal 24 Horas on satellite on January 15.

The broadcaster has also applied for a license to transmit the channels on the nation’s digital terrestrial network, but no firm decision has been made.

All Spanish broadcasters are required to turn to HD on the DTT platform by January 1, 2023. At the moment, some channels are simulcast in SD and HD, but some are still only available iN SD.

Love Nature and RTL Living join HD Austria

By JΓΆrn Krieger

M7 Group’s Austrian DTH satellite platform HD Austria has added Love Nature and RTL Living to its line-up.

As part of the hybrid service, the new TV channels don’t reach subscribers’ screens via the Astra satellite system (19.2° East), but as OTT live-streams via the internet. The additions appear automatically in the channel list; a search is not necessary.

Love Nature is dedicated to nature and wildlife, while RTL Living focuses on home, garden and fashion.