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Before yesterdayBroadband TV News: IPTV

IPTV gains in Slovenia

By Chris Dziadul

IPTV accounted for 56.1% of pay-TV connections in Slovenia in the first quarter.

According to figures published by the regulator AKOS, its market share continues to grow, while those of other technologies is falling. Cable accounted for 37.8%, satellite TV 5.1% and MMDS 1% as of Q1.

Meanwhile, penetration of fixed broadband grew by 0.5% in the first three months of this year to reach 83.7%. NGA broadband internet access is also growing and accounted for 83% of connection in Q1.

Triple play packages continued to grow in popularity had a market share of 36% in the first quarter.

On the other hand, the share of quadruple (40.2%) and double (9.5%) play packages fell, while standalone broadband access (8.9%) and converged services that do not include service packages (5.6%) remained unchanged.

Over a third (34.7%) of broadband users opted for access speeds of over 100 Mbps.

Media Group Ukraine combines OTT and DTH services

By Chris Dziadul

Media Group Ukraine (MGU) is combining its Oll.TV OTT and Xtra TV DTH services into a single operation.

According to the company, the process began last month and Yulia Trybushna will lead the project on behalf of MGU, while Yuriy Cherednichok will remain the director of both legal entities of the Oll.TV and Xtra TV brands.

Commenting on the development, Fedir Grechaninov, director of strategy and business development of MGU, said: “The idea of merging our Oll.TV and Xtra TV platforms lies on the surface – every Ukrainian should have access to high-quality legal content, anywhere in the country, regardless of the type of reception. Not all of Ukraine is covered by high-quality high-speed internet, which is necessary for comfortable viewing of Oll.TV internet TV. Therefore, the satellite remains a priority type of reception for many viewers. A single operator will help to choose for each viewer the best type of reception, or their mix, depending on the needs of the user. Big changes are not possible without professionals, and I am happy to present an updated team. Yulia Trybushna, a former operator who previously headed the pay TV & digital division at StarLightMedia, will head the joint operator. Yuriy Cherednichok will be responsible for sales and communication with customers. Vitaliy Chirkov will develop the direction of the content strategy. Mykola Koretsky will manage the development and support of the platform software. Andriy Ornatsky will be in charge of marketing. Oleksandr Remezovsky will be responsible for negotiations with content owners, continuing to manage the distribution of MSU TV channels and platforms.

“The updated team began to implement the first changes. In particular, a new unique tariff grid of the Oll.TV service – all inclusive – was launched. We already have a lot of data and positive feedback to say – users like the new rates. I think in the near future we will announce even more positive news, achievements and changes”.

Yulia Trybushna added: “Ukraine’s pay-TV market is growing rapidly, both in terms of the number of consumers and in terms of money. Promoting streaming platforms, combating piracy, increasing the consumption of video content on demand, changing the behaviour and preferences of viewers. Of course, competition is growing: existing platforms and services are growing their subscriber base, experimenting with content and functionality, and international players are beginning to pay attention to the market. Becoming a leader in such a market is a real challenge, but I am sure that with the team of proactive professionals Oll.TV and Xtra TV the goal is quite achievable in the coming years”.

MGU also says that Boris Danilov has left Oll.TV and will continue to develop his career outside the company.

Czech Telly outlines strategy

By Chris Dziadul

Almost 80% of the Czech operator Telly’s new customers opt for its internet TV rather than DTH service.

Speaking in a wide-ranging interview with Parabola, Vladimir Rusnák, the company’s director of strategy, technology and content, added this was a major change on the previous situation despite internet TV still accounting for only some 20% of its total customer base.

Commenting on Ultra HD, Rusnák said that while there is a demand for services in the Czech Republic the purchasing power is lacking. Providers demand extra money for Ultra HD content and this must ultimately be obtained from customers.

Telly is nevertheless preparing to offer such content and broadcasting via the new, Ultra HD/4K ready codec H.265, which is supported in the new user interface of the Arris VIP4205 set-top box. The H.265 codec is available for more than 25 of the most watched HD channels. The moment more channels are available on acceptable financial terms, Telly will be able to offer Ultra HD to its customers.

Significantly, Rusnák also said he believed the first Ultra HD will show could be the English Premier League.

Furthermore, he revealed that Telly is currently working on an application for LG smart TVs that it plans to release this autumn.

It already has applications for Samsung smart TVs and TVs with the Android TV operating systems. While their importance is growing, most viewing is still through home TVs using Arris set-top boxes.

Ten Cent buys into Asian streaming platform iFlix

By Julian Clover

Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings is buying struggling streaming platform iFlix.

The operation has around 25 million users principally in south and south east Asia.

Tencent will acquire iFlix’s content, technology and resources, however it won’t be taking on the company’s debt. “This is in line with our strategy to expand our international streaming platform, WeTV, across Southeast Asia and provide users with international, local and original high-quality content in a wide range of genres and languages,” the company said in a statement.

Launched in 2014, iFlix now runs in about a dozen markets after abandoning the Middle East and Africa. Earlier this year, the company let go of 50 staff, and it abandoned an IPO originally scheduled to launch on the Australian stock exchange in May.

The iFlix brand will survive in the short term, though ultimately it’s likely to be merged into WeTV, which Ten Cent runs outside of China.

Successful turnaround at OSN

By Julian Clover

The owners of Middle East pay-TV operator OSN say they’ve achieved ‘operational turnaround’ at the company.

It follows the launch of OTT platform OSN Streaming that has given the business a larger reach across 25 countries in the region. Since April OSN Streaming has included Disney+ alongside exclusive content from seven major Hollywood Studios.

Speaking at the Annual Shafafiyah ‘Transparency’ Investor’ Forum, the company said savings of US$120 million had been made against 2019 and a 28% reduction made in general and administrative expenses and staff costs.

KIPCO said it would continue to monitor the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is significant and evolving. Mr Faisal Al Ayyar, KIPCO’s Vice Chairman (Executive) said: “While we continue to be operationally ready for a full-scale launch of business in the different markets we operate in, we are also mindful that new business opportunities that may present themselves as a result of these difficult times that the world is living.”

Ocilion adds Sky Sport News HD to IPTV platform

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Austrian IPTV service provider Ocilion has added German sports news channel Sky Sport News HD to its IPTV platform.

The move enables all cable operators and city carriers using Ocilion’s cloud-based TV service to offer the free-TV channel to their customers. In total, more than 50 network operators in the German-speaking markets rely on the B2B end-to-end solution.

“Thanks to our first agreement with Sky through our TV licence rights provider content4tv we are able to offer another top channel to our customers”, said Hans Kühberger, managing director of Ocilion IPTV Technologies. “We continue expanding our channel variety while our customers don’t have to worry about contracts with individual channel groups.”

IPTV growth continues in Croatia

By Chris Dziadul

The number of homes in Croatia receiving IPTV services grew by 1.94% in the year to March 31.

According to data published by the regulator HAKOM, it stood at 437,096, while the number of cable (177,021) and DTH (146,288) homes fell by 2.96% and 1.49% respectively in the same period.

The number of pay-DTT homes stood at 71,042 (+3.37%) and those receiving independent TV services 119,180 (-26.68%), while 649,058 (-1.13%) only watched FTA digital terrestrial TV.

As of the first quarter, terrestrial-only TV homes had a market share of 43.8%. They were followed by IPTV (29.5%), cable (12%), satellite (9.9%) and pay-DTT (4.8%).

Total TV revenues in Q1 amounted to HRK201,158,868 (€26,566,600), or 3.99% more than in the corresponding period last year.

Court deals new online blow to Sky Italia

By Julian Clover

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.

Ocilion supplies Discovery channels to network operators

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Austrian IPTV service provider Ocilion will provide the operators of cable networks and IPTV platforms in Germany and Austria with Discovery Deutschland’s TV channels.

The agreement covers free-TV channels DMAX HD, TLC HD, Eurosport 1 SD/HD and Home & Garden TV HD as well as pay-TV services Discovery Channel HD, Animal Planet HD and Eurosport 2 HD.

Ocilion also secured extensive additional rights, including options like in-home streaming and multi-room access. The free-TV channels will be part of the basic HD package, the pay-TV channels will be bundled in a separate subscription package. The agreement with Discovery applies to both IPTV and DVB-C.

“We are pleased that we can now provide the entire Discovery content portfolio via Ocilion and thus create another B2B alternative for network operators in the German-speaking market,” said Thomas Bichlmeir, director distribution & commercial strategy at Discovery Networks Deutschland.

Hans Kühberger, managing director of Ocilion IPTV Technologies, added: “We offer network operators everything from a single source: A complete IPTV system with a comprehensive channel line-up including signal delivery for a TV product under their own brand. Thanks to the agreement with Discovery, we add more premium content to our platform. This enables our customers to bring even more variety to their customers’ living rooms.”

Ocilion provides network operators and city carriers with an end-to-end IPTV system including 4K set-top boxes, apps, integrated video library and distribution rights. They have the choice between local, on-premises integration and a cloud solution.

More than 60 network operators are already using Ocilion’s IPTV platform for their TV services.

Major IPTV deal in Lithuania

By Chris Dziadul

Providence Equity Partners-backed Bite Lietuva has agreed to buy the internet, data transmission and IPTV business operated by Lithuania’s Telecentras.

In a statement, Telecentras, which is the country’s national transmission company, says that Bite Lietuva was chosen because it bid the highest amount – over €20 million – for the business, which is being developed using the Mezon brand.

It adds that that the transaction still has to be approved by the Competition Council and market surveillance authorities.

Commenting on the development, Vidas Danielius, chairman of the board at Telecentras, said: “Telecentras is selling the Mezon business because it links its future to core activities – the transmission of television and radio programs – and state information and telecommunications infrastructure development projects. As the market situation changed, the company’s administration and board decided to focus the company on the development of infrastructure projects important to the state. In order for a company to effectively implement these projects, it must no longer provide services in the retail market. That is why in 2019. a strategic decision was made to separate them into a separate asset unit and sell them”.

Mezon currently accounts for around 2% of Lithuania’s telecom market.

Some 97,000 customers use its internet and 11,000 IPTV via LTE services.

Bite Lietuva is part of Bite Group, one of the leading media and telecom operators in the Baltic Republics.

Eurochannel joins Swisscom TV

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Eurochannel, the pay-TV channel focusing on European cinema, has launched on Swiss telco Swisscom’s IPTV platform.

Eurochannel is offered in a German-language version in the Top Deutsch+ subscription package. The channel is also available in a French language version as part of the Top Français+ bouquet.

“We are pleased to expand our presence in Switzerland and launch the German version of Eurochannel,” said Gustavo Vainstein, Eurochannel’s CEO. “We thank Swisscom for their trust in our award-winning content and the opportunity to reach a wide audience in Switzerland.”

Besides Swisscom TV, Eurochannel is also available on Net+ in Switzerland.

Spiegel Geschichte joins MagentaTV

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German pay-TV channel Spiegel Geschichte can now be received on Deutsche Telekom’s TV platform MagentaTV.

Parent company Spiegel TV Geschichte und Wissen has renewed and expanded its long-standing cooperation with the German telco. The channel is offered in HD quality, a spokeswoman confirmed to Broadband TV News.

The carriage agreement also covers the distribution of sister channel Spiegel TV Wissen, which has been part of the line-up since 2011. Both channels can be subscribed to via the Big TV package and the Doku package.

In addition to the linear 24-hour services, selected content will also be available within Telekom’s video-on-demand service Megathek in future.

Viasat Consumer and Canal Digital merger completed

By Julian Clover

The merger of Viasat with Canal Digital has been completed, bringing to an end three decades of competition between the satellite-based pay-TV operators at 5 degrees East and 1 degree West.

The combined company and its consumer offering will be known as Allente. It will bring together Consumer, Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT Group)’s satellite pay-TV and broadband-TV business, with Canal Digital, Telenor Group’s satellite pay-TV business.

The announcement follows approval by the European Commission on April 30.

Allente will offer TV distribution via satellite, streaming and other services including IPTV and fibre broadband via open networks to a total of 1.2 million customers in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. It will have 400 employees across Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland, and will be co-headquartered in Stockholm and Oslo.

“The TV industry is developing tremendously, however it is not every day that a new, major TV distributor enters into the playing field. We are incredibly proud of our employees and the efforts they have put in lately. It is impressive to see everyone’s ‘can do’ spirit and how they always put customers first. We are looking forward to continue doing so in Allente,” says CEO of Allente, Bjørn Ivar Moen.

NENT Group and Telenor Group each own 50% of the shares in Allente, which will operate at an arm’s length from NENT Group and Telenor Group. It will distribute the Viasat pay-TV channels that will be rebranded as V from June and continue to be made available to third party platforms.

Anders Jensen (pictured), NENT Group President and CEO said: “We are a streaming company and our new long-term distribution deal with Allente means that our Viaplay subscriber base will grow even more this year. A total of more than 2.5 million Nordic subscribers were paying for Viaplay at the end of Q1 and, with the stated ambition of 400k net new subscribers in 2020, we will come close to 3 million paying subscribers across the Nordics by the end of the year.”

Streaming service Viaplay will be made available to the “vast majority” of Allente’s subscribers over time. 476,000 direct-to-consumer subscribers were already paying for Viaplay subscriptions at the end of March, Canal Digital made the streaming service available to its customers at the end of March. Separately, 364k third party network subscribers had Viaplay as part of their pay-TV packages at the end of March.

On this basis, NENT Group would have had a total of 2,510k paying Viaplay subscribers at the end of March.

DTH satellite TV remains on top in Germany

By JΓΆrn Krieger

DTH satellite continues to be the leading TV reception infrastructure in Germany.

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.

Ocilion extends IPTV white-label service

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Austrian IPTV service provider Ocilion provides its B2B customers with a major update for the IPTV white-label service.

The update contains a comprehensive extension of the supported end devices with the new TV Fellow app for first and second screens as well as new set-top boxes.

In addition to the set-top box solution (DVB-C/IP), providers can also use the TV Fellow app to obtain a stand-alone solution and offer it to their customers as a streaming product, for example on smartphones, tablets, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV.

In addition, the design of the user interface has been revised and the programme details of the EPG and the search function improved.

“With this major update our B2B customers get a huge package of new features and possibilities to extend their TV product,” said Hans Kühberger, managing director of Ocilion IPTV Technologies.

“This allows them to create an even more individual offer and provide their customers with an all-in-one product experience, starting with the packaging up to their own apps in their individual design,” added Kühberger. “In the next step we will offer network operators a solution for the supply of housing companies.”

Ocilion offers theatrical movies on VOD

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Due to the current cinema closures, Austrian IPTV solutions provider Ocilion has put together a Premium Movie Package for its B2B customers.

The service allows network operators to offer their end customers the possibility to watch premieres of current movies at home. The offer starts with Emma, The Invisible Man, Trolls World Tour (from April 23, 2020) and The Hunt (from May 14) from Universal.

Usually, films are offered on video-on-demand (VOD) in parallel with the DVD and Blu-ray release, thus a few weeks after the movie has left the cinemas. With the new premium exploitation window, the films are already available in the living room in parallel with the theatrical release.

“We are the only provider offering network operators an IPTV solution with a seamlessly integrated video store. Now we additionally provide movies at the time of the theatrical release”, said Hans Kühberger, managing director of Ocilion IPTV Technologies.

“Currently, we are noticing a twofold increase in the number of film viewings, which speaks for the attractiveness of our VOD service. Furthermore, network operators can promote their offer with licensed image material,” Kühberger added. “We are in negotiations with other studios to offer even more films in the Premium Movie Package.”

IPTV dominates in Moldova

By Chris Dziadul

The number of IPTV subscribers in Moldova grew by 13.4% to 180,500 in 2019.

At the same time, according to the regulator ANRCETI, revenues from IPTV services increased by 12.8% to around MDL89.3 million (€4.4 million).

All told, the country ended last year with 335,400 pay-TV subscribers, or 1.7% more than in 2018, while total pay-TV revenues increased by 20% to MDL298.6 million.

Pay-TV penetration increased by 0.4 percentage points to 12.5% per 100 inhabitants, and ARPU fell by 6.5% to MDL39.1.

IPTV was the dominant technology, accounting for 53.8% of subscribers. It was followed by cable with 46.2%. Almost two thirds (61.8%) received digital and the remainder analogue services.

Moldtelecom was the leading provider in revenue terms, with a market share of 38.2%. It was followed by TV Box (16.4%), Sun Communications (15.8%) and others (29.6%).

O2 TV viewership rises sharply

By Chris Dziadul

The coronavirus lock-down in the Czech Republic resulted in a 19% increase in O2 TV’s viewership last month.

Moreover, according to Anna Lenerová, the head of O2 TV content, interest in live broadcasting increased by 21%.

Much sharper increases were seen by the news channel CT24 (+346%) and adult channels (+191%).

She added that the proportion of linear (live) and recorded viewing also changed, with almost two-thirds of programmes watched live, equivalent to a 10 percentage point increase on the previous month.

Also, linear viewing was largely through the set-top box, while over half of back view viewership was via the website or a mobile app.

The free inclusion of PornHub TV also attracted great interest, with every fourth O2 TV customer watching the channel at least once, for an average of 21 minutes.

PornHub TV will remain free of charge until April 15.

Tricolor goes free

By Chris Dziadul

Russia’s leading pay-TV operator Tricolor is making its main channel and film packages available for free to all people who are not its customers during the period of coronavirus quarantine imposed in the country.

In a statement, the company says that the packages can be accessed through the Tricolor Cinema and TV online application, as well as via DTH. Both new and existing customers will be able to view the content on up to five devices connected to the internet at the same time.

It adds that from March 19 until April 12, during the additional quarantine holidays introduced in Russian schools, new customers will be able to watch over 230 satellite channels, 37 of which are in HD, in the Single package, and over 240 channels, nine of which are in Ultra HD, in the package for free via DTH.

In addition, they will, like existing customers, have free access to 30 online channels, an online movie service and extensive library of over 350 films from the Lenfilm and Mosfilm gold fund and live broadcasts of sporting, cultural and other events.

Commenting on the development, Tricolor’s deputy DG for strategic and operational marketing Andrei Nesterov said: “In light of recent events, the issue of social responsibility of business is especially acute, therefore Tricolor, being the largest player in the pay-TV market, is ready to temporarily provide free access to content for all citizens of our country. We are confident that this decision will partially compensate for the lack of leisure that has arisen among residents due to the current situation in the country”.

Spanish IPTV revenues on the rise

By Chris Dziadul

IPTV revenues reached almost €400 million in Spain in Q3 2019, or 16% more than a year earlier.

At the same time, according to data published by the regulator CNMC, revenues from FTA services fell by 5.9% to around €320 million.

The pay-TV subscriber total at the end of Q3 2019 stood at 6.9 million, with the number increasing by 145,000 in the third quarter.

The leading technologies in terms of take-up were IPTV (offered through fibre and xDSL networks) and cable, with 4.5 million and 1.3 million subscribers respectively.

The overwhelming number of pay-TV subscribers (91%) received their services as part of packages.

In terms of distribution for both free and pay-TV, DTT accounted for 76.6%, cable and IPTV 21.5% and DTH 1.9%.

Compared to previous years, DTT and especially DTH continued to decline while cable and IPTV grew.

CNMC notes that this trend is related to an increase in pay-TV subscriptions, especially through fibre networks.