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Before yesterdayBroadband TV News: IPTV

Caiway and Delta TV integrate into a single multiscreen platform

By Robert Briel

Dutch cable and internet service providers Delta and Caiway are to provide TV services from these brands on a shared platform, integrated via AminoTV and Stoneroos OTT Now!.

This move comes a year after both Delta and Caiway were acquired in separate deals by Swedish private equity group EQT and merged into Delta Fiber Netherlands.

Delta and Caiway will continue to operate as separate brands, and integrate their pay-TV operations seamlessly and enable a geographically redundant platform via its AminoTV end-to-end multiscreen video platform. The roll-out has already started and will continue throughout 2019. Delta Fiber began working on a shared platform in January 2018 and has continued to make improvements to the QoS of both Delta and Caiway during 2018 and 2019. Each brand will be able to offer an integrated and unified user interface while benefiting from a common, modular backend.

The OTT service is based on Stoneroos OTT Now! platform and includes native smart phone and tablet applications for iOS and Android, as well as a web client, to deliver a smooth and consistent user experience across all platforms.

Making use of the OTT Now! solution, Stoneroos and CAIWay were able to create a cutting-edge brand new TV experience for the new IPTV Platform in a very short time.

CAIWay subscribers now have the opportunity to experience all interactive features such as watching and pausing Live TV, Catch-up services and Recordings on their preferred devices. The new platforms also allows to cast programmnes from mobile devices to regular TV sets using Google Chromecast.

The roll out of the new CAIWay Interactive TV platform builds on the successful introduction of the Delta IPTV platform.

John Wittekamp, CTO at Delta Fiber Netherlands, says: “In enabling us to bring both services onto a single unified backend platform, Amino helps us to boost our efficiencies and provide all our subscribers with an advanced, modern TV service. We can deliver live, on-demand and cloud PVR capabilities through a TV platform that enables us to provide a user-friendly and highly personalised customer experience.”

Amino CEO Donald McGarva notes: “The Delta transformation project delivering modern TV experiences for all its subscribers has proven to be highly successful – gaining new customers and driving net promoter scores that rank with the industry best. We now look forward to replicating this success with Caiway and are pleased to share our knowledge and experience in deploying a smart, cost-effective solution that’s right for both brands.”

McGarva concludes: “Helping operators such as Delta and Caiway future-proof their operations is central to what we do at Amino. Working closely with TV operators of all types to deliver complex cable-to-IP transformation solutions as we all move toward an all-IP future is critical to business success for both our company and our clients.”

Travelxp 4K joins MagentaTV in Germany

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Global travel channel Travelxp 4K has launched on Deutsche Telekom’s IPTV platform MagentaTV.

The pay-TV service is offered in German language, transmitting in HDR format; localised shows for the German audience are planned.

Deutsche Telekom also wants to make Travelxp 4K available on Zuhause Kabel Fernsehen soon, its TV package for the housing industry.

Travelxp 4k launched in Europe on Eutelsat’s Hotbird satellite system (13° East) in January 2017 and became available on Astra (19,2° East) in December 2017, broadcasting to German DTH satellite households via the HD+ platform.

Sunrise launches Apple TV app with operator login from Stoneroos

By Robert Briel

As part of the launch of Sunrise TV neo, Stoneroos has announced the tvOS application with Single Sign-on operator login.

Dutch based Stoneroos is fully responsible for the design and development of the tvOS app, which is connected to the Huawei Envision platform.

Among the available clients on bSunrise neo, the Apple TV app – designed and developed by Stoneroos in close collaboration with Sunrise, Huawei and Apple – will have a prominent role. The combination of the Apple TV box and the Sunrise TV neo app with operator login will work like a state-of-the-art IPTV STB product.

Sunrise TV neo offers more than 230 TV channels, including over 110 channels in HD quality and when on Apple TV 4K also UHD TV channels. Besides watching linear live TV, Sunrise TV neo includes features such as ComeBack TV, nPVR, Instant Restart, Time Shift and Pause Live TV.

The user experience of the tvOS app is fully relying on the Apple Human Interface Guidelines, which makes the app easy to use. By using a variety of sizes and formats for displaying content and the addition of the Sunrise TV neo identity, the app gets an attractive and playful character.

One of the major challenges was to create a fast and intuitive TV guide grid view taking into account the Apple tvOS framework and the wish of Sunrise to show as many channels as possible in one view. Now EPG data loads very quickly which makes browsing the TV guide very smooth and intuitive.

Another complicating factor is to serve the multilingual Swiss TV viewer the best possible way without impacting the user experience, which has been solved smoothly. The app is of course available in four languages, but it also takes into account the language of the subscriber when it comes to content, such as channels, the channel order and recommendations.

Annelies Kaptein, CEO of Stoneroos, said: “We are very pleased that we have the opportunity to work on this great product together with Sunrise and to use our skills to bring Sunrise TV neo to a next level.”

Deutsche Telekom increases number of MagentaTV customers

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German telco Deutsche Telekom acquired around 66,000 new customers for its IPTV platform MagentaTV in Q1 2019.

Compared to March 31, 2018, the total number of customers rose by 7.1% to 3.42 million.

The growth in Q1 2019 was higher than in the same period of the previous year, when Telekom recorded 54,000 new IPTV customers.

The number of customers for fibre-based products (FTTH, FTTC/Vectoring) increased by 688,000 in Q1 2019 and reached 12.9 million at the end of March. This was an increase of 24% year-on-year.

Swisscom continues to grow with IPTV

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Swiss telco Swisscom has gained 4,000 new customers for its IPTV platform Swisscom TV in Q1 2019.

This corresponds with an increase of 0.3% to a total of 1.52 million customers, the company announced during the presentation of its quarterly figures.

One year ago, on March 31, 2018, Swisscom TV had 1.49 million customers. Over the past 12 months, the number of customers has thus increased by 2.1%.

By contrast, the number of fixed-line broadband connections fell by 3,000 to 2.03 million in Q1 2019. Swisscom attributes this to a “saturated and strongly promotion-driven” market.

Plustelka to become hybrid TV service

By Chris Dziadul

Slovakia’s Towercom plans to make its pay-DTT platform Plustelka into a hybrid TV service.

Zive reports that the main channels it offers will continue to be provided via DVB-T, while thematic channels will be made available on the internet. These changes will require the introduction of a new Ultra HD set-top box with such features as an archive and rewind.

Quoting Andrej Dolezal, the director of innovation at Towercom, Zive adds that Plustelka currently has around 14,000 paid customers, with 5% taking an additional package that it introduced last year.

It expects to launch the new box in Q2 this year but has yet to decide on whether it will be sold to or rented by customers.

The hybrid part of the offer will consist of dozens of thematic channels and it is possible that viewers will also be given the option of subscribing to such services as Netflix and HBO Go.

KPN pulls Fox channels from its platforms

By Robert Briel

Dutch incumbent KPN said it is withdrawing five Fox channels from its various distribution platforms.

The move concerns Fox NL, 24Kitchen, National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo Wild and Baby TV, which will disappear from June 1 from KPN’s IPTV service Interactieve TV, as well as from its sub brands XS4All and Telfort. National Geographic and Fox will also stop on KPN’s DTT platform Digitenne.

The Fox premium sports channels are not affected.

The announcement might be part of negotiation tactics, as broadcasters and platforms often disagree about the carriage fee to be paid for the channels.

KPN launches STB-less service for Samsung smart TVs

By Robert Briel

WATCH VIDEO. Dutch telco KPN is launching a STB-less service for Samsung smart TVs by releasing a special app.

The development marks another nail in the coffin for the traditional set-top box. Until now, KPN IPTV customers had to use a dedicated receiver, which is no more needed by using the smart TV app. For the moment, only Samsung smart TVs are supported, but the operator will roll out the app for other TV brands as well.

KPN is the second platform to offer a smart TV app for STB-less viewing. Last November, M7 Group’s Dutch operation Canal Digitaal launched its smart TV app to make watching TV possible without a dedicated receiver or set-top box. Cable operator Ziggo is also believed to be looking at offering a similar solution, but unconfirmed reports suggest that the operator is looking at using Android TV and Apple TV. The KPN app runs on Tizen, Samsung’s proprietary OS.

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

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

“Just as the smartphone has taken over a growing number of functionalities from other devices in recent years, we see a similar development in smart TVs. We are responding to this with this innovative Smart TV app,” said Jean-Pascal Van Overbeke, Head of the KPN Consumer Market.

“We want to offer our customers the best TV experience and now we can also do that via an app on the smart TV.

The app can be used by KPN customers who have a fixed internet and TV subscription and have a recent model of smart TV from Samsung (from 2017). The Smart TV app has recently been tested extensively. In the course of 2019, KPN expects to offer the app to customers with other smart TVs as well.

Tamedia to take over majority in Zattoo [UPDATE]

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Swiss media group Tamedia can go ahead with its plan to acquire the majority stake in streaming provider Zattoo.

The Federal German Cartel Office and the Federal Swiss Competition Commission (Weko) granted approval. Tamedia can thus increase its shareholding from 31% to over 50%. The company presented the project in August 2018.

When it entered Zattoo as a stakeholder in September 2015, Tamedia secured the option to gradually take over the company by 2021.

In addition to the TV streaming portal for consumers, Zattoo also operates white label platforms for cable and IPTV operators as a B2B service provider, including 1&1, Salt and Hotwire Communications.

According to Zattoo, it increased its turnover in 2018 by 30% and intends to continue its growth course. The company recently took over the B2C business of its competitor Magine TV in Germany.

UPDATE, April 5, 2019 – Following the takeover of the majority interest, Tamedia will hold slightly more than 50% of the shares, a Zattoo spokeswoman told Broadband TV News. Zattoo founder Bea Knecht remains the second largest stakeholder with the remaining shares being held by private investors.

Wolfgang ElsÀßer to head Cinetrade

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Wolfgang Elsäßer, long-standing managing director of Astra Deutschland and most recently head of TV at Deutsche Telekom, will make a move to Switzerland.

As the new CEO of Cinetrade, a subsidiary of Swiss telco Swisscom, Elsäßer will be responsible for pay-TV broadcaster Teleclub, the largest Swiss cinema operator KITAG and other units.

Elsäßer succeeds Wilfried Heinzelmann, who will resign after almost five years in July 2019. Heinzelmann will continue to be available to Cinetrade in an advisory capacity.

“I am very much looking forward to shaping the further growth of the entertainment business together with the Swisscom and Cinetrade teams. It’s an exciting entrepreneurial challenge,” said Elsäßer, speaking about his new role.

From 2004 to 2016, Elsäßer headed the German branch of Luxembourg-based satellite operator SES. In 2017 he joined Deutsche Telekom as head of TV and entertainment.

IPTV advances in Slovenia

By Chris Dziadul

IPTV accounted for 54.3% of all pay-TV connections in Slovenia in Q3 2018, according to data published by Telekom Slovenije in its latest annual report.

At the same time, the incumbent accounted for over half (50.9%) of IPTV connections in the country.

While the IPTV sector continued to grow in 2018, the number of cable connections fell and accounted for 39.8% of the pay-TV total in the third quarter.

In its annual report, Telekom Slovenije notes that the group had operating revenues of €731.2 million in 2018, or 1% more than a year earlier.

Net sales remained unchanged at €715.1 million. Revenues from fixed and IT services were 8% higher than in 2017.

RFT Kabel selects BrightBlue for IPTV service

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German cable operator RFT Kabel wants to add an IPTV product to its portfolio and has opted for a partnership with IPTV service provider BrightBlue.

The offer, based on BrightBlue’s white label platform, will include a wide selection of TV channels as well as additional features such as recording, time-shifting and replay TV.

Customers will be able to access the service on the TV set using an IPTV box as well as on their smartphones and tablets. The launch is scheduled for later this year.

“As a regional carrier, we are interested in solutions that are both powerful and easy to use. This will enable us to offer our customers a future-proof TV experience, including HD and 4K content on-demand,” said Stefan Tiemann, managing director of RFT Kabel.

Cosmote signs exclusive Premier League deal

By Julian Clover

Cosmote Sport will screen the Premier League until 2022.

The three-year deal extends Cosmote’s exclusivity in the Greek market and will see subscribers offered 230 matches per season, an increase of 30 games on the previous deal.

“We are pleased to renew our collaboration with the fan-favourite Premier League for its exclusive TV broadcast in Greece. Cosmote TV hosts the most popular sports events globally, in football, basketball, tennis, motorsports, etc. Sports fans can watch Cosmote Sport channels through any portable device, using our over-the-top packages, including a daily pass”, stated Mr. Dimitris Michalakis, Executive Director Cosmote TV.

Cosmote Sports comprises the 16 linear channels and on demand services, Cosmote TV Go and Cosmote Replay TV.
Premier League Director of Broadcasting Paul Molnar said: “We are delighted to extend our relationship with COSMOTE TV for another three seasons. They continue to do a fantastic job bringing our competition to life for Premier League fans in Greece”.

Cosmote Sport, along with the FOX Sports HD channel, Nautical Channel HD, Ginx E Sports and Outdoor Channel HD, are accessible to watch on the mobile phone, tablet or PC, either live or on demand, through the Cosmote TV Go service, at any fixed or mobile network, with the Cosmote TV Go Sports pack.

Cyfrowy Polsat launches IPTV service

By Chris Dziadul

Poland’s Cyfrowy Polsat has launched a new cable TV in IPTV technology service, accompanied by a dedicated new Evobox IP set-top box.

The latter gives access to over 150 TV channels and is equipped with such state-of-the-art features as restart, timeshift and catch-up.

According to Cyfrowy Polsat, the new service will be available with a subscription under the same package offering as its DTH platform. Customers will need the new Evobox IP set-top box and fixed broadband access, with a minimum download speed of 8Mbps, from Plus, Netia or Orange networks.

Commenting on the development, Maciej Stec, a management board member of Cyfrowy Polsat and Telewizja Polsat, said: “The introduction of a new offer based on IPTV technology is another stage of development of our group as well as our response to the ever changing needs and expectations of our customers, who will now be able to decide which method of delivery of TV content – via satellite or IPTV – is most convenient to them. Since December last year, Plus network has offered fixed internet access based on Netia’s infrastructure, which is an ideal tool to be combined with the new TV service from Cyfrowy Polsat”.

The new IPTV service will offer various packages, priced from PLN20 (€4.65) a month, and include a total of 90 HD channels. Cyfrowy Polsat Go will be available for no additional fee simultaneously on three devices and multiroom will cost PLN5 a month. At the same time, the new Evobox IP set-top box will be offered for a starting price of PLN1. The service will be made available free of charge for a 14-day trial period.

Dariusz Dzialkowski, a management board member of Cyfrowy Polsat and Telewizja Polsat, said: “Evobox IP is the first device in the offer of Cyfrowy Polsat which will enable the reception of TV channels via the internet in a closed telecommunication network. For a few years already our set-top boxes have combined the satellite reception of TV channels with internet access to VOD content. Now, we are going to take another step and introduce a service fully based on IPTV technology. This is a next stage of the execution of our long-term strategy, the goal of which is to provide our customers with free and flexible access to content that they like and expect, regardless of the technology of its delivery. Furthermore, along with the set-top box we offer our subscribers a set of interesting, state-of-the-art features thanks to which they will be able to personalise the TV viewing experience even more”.

M7 and BrightBlue cooperate on IPTV

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Platform operator M7 and German IPTV service provider BrightBlue have agreed to work together on the technical supply of IPTV content.

BrightBlue employs the signal provision solutions via the M7 satellite platform and the M7 livestream. The aim is to provide telecommunications companies, internet service providers (ISPs) and city carriers who do not yet have a TV product with a high-quality and convenient IPTV offer for their customers, according to the companies.

BrightBlue uses an in-house developed white label solution, which is offered as an end-to-end product as well as in customised modules. All M7 TV packages are already integrated into this technical platform. The solution, which is optimised for fibre optic, cable and VDSL networks, delivers the desired IPTV content to all end devices that have a screen and an internet connection.

As part of the collaboration, BrightBlue will be able to access over 140 licences for the distribution of commercial HD channels from broadcast groups RTL, ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery as well as German-language pay-TV channels and international channels for existing and future customers who already have a content contract with M7 or would like to sign one. Customers include fibre optic and city network operator Inexio, Deutsche Glasfaser and Stiegeler IT.

“This agreement for the technical delivery of our entire channel portfolio is an important step in the German IPTV market and grants many ISPs and network operators access to the best TV content,” said Christian Heinkele, managing director of Eviso Germany, the M7 business partner for marketing and channel management in Germany. “In combination with BrightBlue’s proven, optimised white label platform solution, they can enter the attractive IPTV market with a comprehensive, state-of-the-art product with multi-device compatibility under their own brand without having to invest in proprietary developments.”

Comcast launches Xfinity Flex IPTV platform

By Julian Clover

Comcast is launching a new IPTV-only service to its internet-only customers.

Xfinity Flex comes with a 4K HDR streaming TV device, complete with Comcast’s award-winning voice remote, a single interactive guide for accessing popular streaming video and music choices, as well as Comcast’s home Wi-Fi, mobile, security, and automation services.

“Xfinity Flex will deepen our relationship with a certain segment of our Internet customers and provide them with real value,” said Matt Strauss, executive vice president, Xfinity Services for Comcast Cable. “For just five dollars a month, we can offer these customers an affordable, flexible, and differentiated platform that includes thousands of free movies and shows for online streaming, an integrated guide for accessing their favorite apps and connected home devices, and the ease of navigating and managing all of it with our voice remote.”

Xfinity is backed by more than 10,000 free online movies and TV shows including live streamed channels from ESPN3, Xumo, Pluto TV, Tubi TV, Cheddar, YouTube, and more. There is also access to apps from Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO, and Showtime.

Later, the full Xfinity X1 cable service will be available through the guide, which offers hundreds of live channels, tens of thousands of on demand titles, and a cloud DVR.

Czech IPTV service set to expand

By Chris Dziadul

The Czech IPTV service sledovanitv.cz is considering adding Ultra HD channels to its offer, employing Artificial Intelligence (AI) from this year.

According to Rozhlas.cz, AI is available in 8K TVs and can convert lower image quality to higher. Samsung, for instance, is already addressing the absence of sufficient native content.

Rozhlas.cz adds that although 4K channels are available to Czech operators, none has so far included them in their offers.

Sledovanitv.cz aims to ideally be available in a unified form via the web, its own set-top boxes, mobile apps and internet-connected TVs.

It is already available on Samsung, Panasonic and LG (Netcast and WebOS) and has been on Hisense since 2016.It is supported on Android, iOS and Apple TV.

M7 and Deutsche Glasfaser extend partnership

By JΓΆrn Krieger

M7 and Deutsche Glasfaser strengthen their content partnership with a new multi-year agreement.

The largest FTTH provider in Germany can thus continue to access around 80 German and international TV channels from the M7 portfolio Pay-TV, Basis HD and International TV. Deutsche Glasfaser links M7’s TV rights portfolio with its in-house developed IPTV technology platform for end customers.

“Deutsche Glasfaser is seen as the driver of the future technology fibre optics with outstanding customer orientation and is planning investments of €1.5 billion in the next years to connect one million households to its network across Germany,” said Christian Heinkele, managing director of Eviso Germany, the M7 business partner for marketing and channel management in Germany.

“We are therefore pleased about the extension of the cooperation and the opportunity to continue accompanying Deutsche Glasfaser on its successful journey by supplying the rights for excellent premium TV channels and providing our full support,” added Heinkele.

Uwe Nickl, managing director of Deutsche Glasfaser, said: “As the market leader, our mission is to provide our customers with the best service and entertainment on our FTTH networks. M7 has long been a reliable partner for high-quality TV content and rights. Both companies are regarded as innovation drivers in their respective markets and the bundling of our strengths primarily serves our customers. The decision to continue the cooperation was therefore a logical step for us.”

Kabel-TV Lampert continues to rely on Zattoo for IPTV

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Austrian cable operator Kabel-TV Lampert will continue offering its IPTV service through Zattoo’s end-to-end solution.

The partnership has been extended by several years. The complete operation of the platform and the IPTV service remains in the hands of service provider Zattoo, which also ensures ongoing updates and further developments.

The service scope can be extended by additional reception devices and will in future include a marketing option for further network operators interested in a TV product, but not wanting to invest in their own hardware and software. For these operators, Kabel-TV Lampert and Zattoo will offer a fully hosted TV-as-a-service solution.

“One of the key reasons for Zattoo as a long-term partner is the company’s unique strength as an innovator. This is necessary to continuously improve our TV product and to deliver it to our customers, ensuring the highest quality,” said Karoline Lampert, managing director of Kabel-TV Lampert. “With Zattoo as our partner, we are ensuring our long-term competitiveness against the major communications groups.”

Zattoo gained Kabel-TV Lampert as the first Austrian customer for its white-label IPTV platform in 2015.

Purtel.com: OTT operators are β€œmodern robber barons”

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German service provider purtel.com calls for local cable and fibre-optic network operators to set up their own multiscreen TV and video-on-demand offers instead of just passing through OTT services such as Netflix or Amazon.

“Network investments can’t be refinanced by the ‘modern robber barony’ of OTT providers,” purtel.com managing director Dr Markus von Voss said in Munich. On the contrary: They threaten to destroy the investments of local network operators.

“The arguments put forward by free-riders such as ‘increase in competitiveness’ are lip service from operators in order to use externally financed infrastructures free of charge. This is to the considerable disadvantage of the local network operators and their investments,” warns von Voss.

Instead, he advises to focus on first-class original services, local content and closeness to customers – while maintaining the customer relationship.

Purtel.com offers a white-label platform for TV, internet and telephony used by over 90 network operators in Germany.