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Before yesterdayBroadband TV News: Mobile TV

Rohde & Schwarz and Digita complete DVB-T2 upgrade in Finland, 5G Broadcast trial

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German technology company Rohde & Schwarz has successfully completed the DVB-T2 terrestrial TV transmitter network upgrade across Finland.

Working with Helsinki-based Digita, owner and operator of Finland’s nationwide terrestrial network for TV and radio transmission services, Rohde & Schwarz has supplied more than 80 UHF HD transmitters.

The network of transmitters was installed and commissioned by Digita’s services team. The first phase became operational January 1, 2020, enabling Digita to expand their pay-TV UHF terrestrial network to up to 90% coverage. In addition, Digita reports significant enhancements in power efficiency and redundancy concepts throughout the new HD TV network.

Timescales have been short throughout this project: there was just two months between Digita placing the order and delivery of the first transmitters. Network installation took six months to complete even though several logistical challenges were presented to Digita’s engineers, mainly associated with the country’s rugged landscape.

In addition to the DVB-T2 upgrade, Rohde & Schwarz and Digita have initiated a 5G Broadcast trial in the Greater Helsinki region. The pilot utilises the same transmitter sites and the first phase of this pioneering project will be completed this summer.

Tele 5 launches TV app 5flix

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German broadcaster Tele 5 has launched a new TV app: With 5flix, movies, series, original productions and other programmes can be watched online via smart TVs, smartphones, tablets and browsers.

The free, advertising-financed 5flix app includes Tele 5 as a livestream as well as the channel’s catch-up service with on-demand content.

In cooperation with smart TV service provider Foxxum, the application is already available on Amazon Fire TV, Samsung, LG, Android TV (e.g. Sony, Philips, Xiaomi), Vestel (e.g. Toshiba, Telefunken, Hitachi, JVC, Ok.), Grundig, Sharp, Medion, Hisense, Metz and JTC, among others.

Further apps, for example for Panasonic, Blaupunkt and Orion, are to follow shortly.

UPC Polska expands Horizon Go

By Chris Dziadul

The Polish cable operator UPC Polska has expanded the capabilities of its Horizon Go platform.

As a result, users can now send content from the mobile TV app directly to devices supporting Chromecast and Airplay solutions. This improves the comfort and ability to use the service during the coronavirus lock-down.

The new content transfer function is available when watching live TV programmes, content played via the Replay TV option, as well as movies available as part of the on-demand offer.

Horizon Go can be used on mobile devices with the operating system iOS, Android, Windows, website www.horizon.tv, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV or Apple TV.

Channel One teams up with MTS

By Chris Dziadul

Russia’s Channel One is to create a venture with the mobile operator MTS.

Kommersant reports that an agreement signed by Channel One’s director Konstantin Ernst and MTS president Alexei Kornia assumes that MTS will receive exclusive content from the broadcaster, which will in turn receive tools for analysing its audience on the internet.

It adds that the joint venture will be created in the near future and the agreement is unlimited and without financial investments.

Although Channel One and MTS’s TV service together currently account for only less than 1% of Russia’s online video market, the agreement should allow them to grow this figure.

Deutsche Telekom to offer Disney+ for free for 6 months

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Deutsche Telekom will be the exclusive distribution partner of Disney+ in Germany and offer the streaming service for free for six months to its customers.

The offer is valid for the customers of Telekom’s IPTV platform MagentaTV and its fixed-line and mobile customers. After the free period, Disney+ will be offered at the reduced monthly rate of €5.00, €1.99 less than the regular fee.

Users of the OTT version of MagentaTV, which, in contrast to the IPTV service, is not tied to a fixed-line Telekom internet and telephony subscription, pay the standard fee of €6.99 per month for Disney+. In both cases, the subscription can be cancelled monthly.

At launch, Telekom customers will be able to use the Disney+ app on their tablet and smartphone as well as on their smart TV set through the MagentaTV stick.

Until the full deep integration of Disney+ on the MagentaTV set-top boxes has taken place, customers will be offered the new 24-hour linear channel Disney+ Select, showing a selection of Disney+ content.

Registration for Disney+ under Telekom’s conditions is possible from now on at www.telekom.de/disneyplus. The streaming service will launch in Germany on March 24, 2020.

Deutsche Telekom recently confirmed that the company is in discussions with Walt Disney regarding the distribution of Disney+. The deal follows similar agreements Disney has formed with platform operators in the UK and Ireland (Sky Q), France (Canal+), Italy (TIMVision) and Spain (Movistar).

T-Mobile Czech/Slovak Telekom opt for 24i

By Chris Dziadul

T-Mobile Czech Republic and Slovak Telekom have deployed the next generation 24i Smart Operator product.

It will be used to provide IPTV and TV Anywhere to T-Mobile TV Go, Magio Go and Digi Go customers in the two countries.

The deployment has now gone live on iOS, Android, Android TV, web and Smart TVs from Samsung, as well as Linux and Android IPTV set-top-boxes (STBs).

24i has provided a single code base approach across all three of the T-Mobile Czech Republic and Slovak Telekom services and includes data-driven content optimisation, discovery and engagement tools including recommendations, analytics, targeted content and audience measurement.

Commenting on the development, Marcel Satanek, head of PM connected home&terminal management, Slovak Telekom, said: “24i Smart Operator provides us with a productised solution that provides a next-generation, personalised video experience for each subscriber.

“A key motivation for choosing the solution is it’s unique ability to enable a ‘develop once, deploy everywhere’ content workflow, effortlessly handle device proliferation, legacy and third-party integrations, while providing instant access to new technologies and platform capabilities. Furthermore, Smart Operator has the ability to manage the linear and on-demand content services for all three brands via a single centralised back-end system. By combining the functionality to provide IPTV and TV Everywhere, 24i saves us time and effort managing our services and the power and flexibility of their solution enables us to provide our customers with an incredible video experience on all devices, both now and in the future”.

Martijn van Horssen, joint-CEO of 24i, added: “I am thrilled that Slovak Telekom is the first, large-scale multinational to deploy our new, next-generation Smart Operator product.

“We worked very closely with the Slovak Telekom and T-Mobile Czech Republic project teams to ensure that our platform provides all the functionality they need, as well new features that really excite customers such as continue watching (cross-platform), binge viewing, view showtimes and recordings to a STB or the cloud. Before creating our solution for operators, providing a unified experience across territories and so many devices would have required a massive engineering effort. Both operators are already seeing the benefits of combining IPTV and TV Everywhere in one platform with powerful branding capabilities. We’re looking forward to ensuring that the T-Mobile Czech Republic and Slovak Telekom video experiences we are powering continue to excite and attract consumers throughout the region.”

Rohde & Schwarz, Cellnex, RTVE trial 5G Broadcast in Barcelona

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German technology company Rohde & Schwarz, together with its partners Cellnex and Spinner, will demonstrate live broadcast and multicast capabilities over 5G in Barcelona, Spain.

In a project that goes live on February 25, 2020, the team will transmit a 5G Broadcast signal provided by Spanish public broadcaster RTVE on air, marking a new mobile live experience serving smartphones, tablets and a range of SIM-less devices across central Barcelona.

According to Rohde & Schwarz, 5G Broadcast is one of the main pillars of the 5G ecosystem as it offers network operators and broadcasters “revolutionary opportunities” in several new business areas while offloading data capacity to create high spectral efficiency and reduced costs without affecting the cellular 5G mobile network.

Using 5G’s broadcast and multicast capabilities, mobile network operators can deliver video content to consumers on the move with high quality of service and quality of experience.

“5G Multicast has some way to go before it becomes commercially available, but what the current and upcoming trials are proving is that this new technology could radically change the way people access high quality digital media on the move,” said Manfred Reitmeier, Vice President Transmitter and Amplifier Systems at Rohde & Schwarz.

With active large-scale trials of its 5G Broadcast system currently underway in Munich, Beijing and Rio de Janeiro, Rohde & Schwarz is pioneering the development and implementation of this new mobile live transmission service worldwide.

The on air signal in Barcelona will be broadcast on channel 56 with 5MHz bandwidth (750-755MHz) from Cellnex’ facilities on the Collserola transmitter tower. The content offered includes booth live and non-live 4K streams.

The live content is provided by RTVE and comprises TV channel Canal 24H and radio station Radio 5. The 4K content is a promotional video.

Netflix rows back from speed-up function

By Julian Clover

Netflix has insisted that a new function that enables subscribers to vary the speed at which they watch content is a test limited to mobile devices alone.

Filmmakers including The Incredibles director Brad Bird and Knocked Up’s Judd Apatow have expressed concern over the functionality that is being tested on Android phones.

Apatow, who is also behind Netflix series Love, described the function as “ridiculous and insulting”.

In a blog post Keela Robison, Vice President said the ability to vary the speed at which they watch on phones or tablets – choosing from normal to slower (0.5X or 0.75X) or faster (1.25X and 1.5X) was a feature long available on DVD players and that it had often been requested by subscribers.

“We’ve been sensitive to creator concerns and haven’t included bigger screens, in particular TVs, in this test. We’ve also automatically corrected the pitch in the audio at faster and slower speeds. In addition, members must choose to vary the speed each time they watch something new – versus Netflix maintaining their settings based on their last choice,” said Robsion, adding there were no plans to roll out any of the features in the short term.

In addition to the speed function, Netflix said the new functionality also included the ability to lock the screen and find language and audio settings more easily.

Germany successfully trials 5G Broadcast

By JΓΆrn Krieger

The participants of German research project 5G Today, in which linear TV was transmitted in 5G broadcast mode for the first time, have drawn a positive conclusion.

“We were able to achieve good mobile TV reception in large parts of the measurement area. These findings form an important basis for further standardisation work on 5G broadcasting,” said Aneta Baier, project manager at German broadcast technology research institute IRT.

The aim of the field trials, carried out on two transmitter sites in federal state Bavaria, was to examine the efficient distribution of TV channels for reception on future mobile 5G devices such as smartphones and tablets. 5G Broadcast offers advantages like high video quality, low latency and cost-effective distribution with high coverage, according to the 5G Today partners.

The project, funded by the Bavarian Research Foundation, has been running since 2017; it is scheduled to end on October 31, 2019. The participants IRT, Kathrein, Rohde & Schwarz and associated partners Bayerischer Rundfunk and Telefónica Deutschland jointly investigated the possibilities of a 5G-based broadcast solution. The project covered the development of components for transmission and reception technology, preliminary examinations, simulations and field measurements. In addition, various antenna polarisations were investigated, especially for reception on smartphones.

Due to the new status of the utilised LTE/5G broadcast mode FeMBMS, detailed research on the synchronisation behaviour and the resulting supply quality is still necessary, according to the partners. They have therefore agreed to continue the work started with 5G Today and to operate the test field beyond the planned duration of the project. Nevertheless, the participants conclude that the field measurements of 5G Today have shown that FeMBMS can achieve the characteristics of a classic broadcast transmission system.

Media Broadcast: 5G Broadcast still β€œyears away”

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German technical services provider Media Broadcast is following the development of 5G Broadcast, but sees a regular deployment in the distant future.

“As a leading service provider, we are taking a very close look at the potential of 5G for the broadcast industry,” Media Broadcast managing director Arnold Stender said at the occasion of upcoming German media conference Medientage München 2019. “5G Broadcast is an exciting topic for the future, but due to technical and regulatory hurdles and a lack of business models, it will probably take many years before the technology can be considered for terrestrial broadcasting of linear TV.”

“On the other hand, we already see a market potential for 5G campus solutions for TV broadcasters and for distributing larger and also temporary events in the medium term. We have therefore decided to add 5G campus solutions to our existing fibre-optic and satellite-based event broadcasting portfolio. We can support our customers from frequency application, frequency and network planning to operation, maintenance and servicing,” explained Stender.

In a live showcase at Medientage München on October 23 and 24, 2019, Media Broadcast will demonstrate 5G-capable solutions for TV production. The company has set up its own mobile communications test network at the trade fair grounds to simulate a future 5G campus network for TV producers. Up to four different cameras, from a professional TV camera to a smartphone, and an outside broadcasting van will be used. The TV signals wil be transmitted to the control room via a commercial 4G/5G base station.

Media Broadcast’s partner for the showcase, Smart Mobile Labs from Munich, will supplement the test run with live metadata with its own sensors and a smartphone app with real-time statistics. Since no local 5G frequencies in the 3.7 to 3.8 GHz range are currently available for test purposes, a 20 MHz carrier at a test frequency of 2.3 GHz in LTE Advanced mode will be used for the demo.

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.

Elsat launches mobile TV service

By Chris Dziadul

The Polish cable operator Elsat has added mobile TV to its portfolio.

The new service, known as ElsatGo, offers up to 50 TV channels and is available free of charge to digital TV subscribers who receive the White+, Blue+, Purple+ and Gold + packages.

It can be received on Android smartphones, tablets and TVs, iOS and Windows devices.

Elsat was established in 1991 and is based in Ruda Slaska.

It currently has 14,000 subscribers.

Mainstream Media launches live TV app

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German media company Mainstream Media now offers its three pay-TV channels Romance TV, Heimatkanal and GoldStar TV not only on classic TV platforms, but also via its own app.

With the Fernsehen mit Herz (‘Television with heart’) app, which can be downloaded free of charge, the channels can be received on smart TVs via the Sky Ticket TV stick.

The subscription package can be booked from €4.49 per month via the website www.fernsehen-mit-herz.de and used on up to five devices.

The app will soon also be available for browsers, smartphones, tablets, selected cable and IPTV networks as well as Amazon Fire TV, Android (mobile devices/TV set) and iOS (mobile devices/TV set).

The Fernsehen mit Herz package is also offered on streaming platforms Amazon Prime Video, Zattoo and TV.de.

Flix Snip debuts in Asia with a Singapore launch on Toggle

By Robert Briel

Short-form content app and VOD service, Flix Snip has announced a partnership with Mediacorp to host content on its digital entertainment platform, Toggle.

The partnership marks the expansion of Flix Snip to the Asian market.

Toggle subscribers can now enjoy the cutting edge, international selection of films from Flix Snip, without the hassle of having to install a set-top box. Created for life’s little breaks, Flix Snip offers a large curated and premium collection of short form movie and series.

All in an under 20 minute format, Flix Snip is adapted to the modern way of consuming entertainment. Flix Snip brings global content of short format movies, animations and mini-series available in multiple genres such as Drama, Family, Comedy, Romance, Thriller, and Sci-Fi.

Flix Snip will be fully accessible within Toggle, available on mobile devices, computers, Smart TVs, Apple TV and ChromeCast.

More than half of smartphone owners access video services

By Broadband TV News Correspondent

More than half of owners now using their smartphones to access video services.

The smartphone has taken a major step in its evolution from a voice-centric device to a media-centric platform, with more than 50 percent of owners now using their device to access video services on a monthly basis, according to a multinational survey conducted by IHS Markit|Technology.

An average of 53 percent of internet users across six countries now utilize their smartphones for video services both in and out of the home, as reported by the Out of Home Video Viewing Report 2019 from IHS Markit | Technology. Video-service usage varies widely among different countries, ranging from 42 percent of smartphone owners in Germany to 73 percent in India.

Owners across the different countries report using an average of 3.5 video services per month on their smartphones.

“Smartphones increasingly are transforming into multipurpose platforms—moving beyond voice communications to become media entertainment systems,” said Fateha Begum, associate director at IHS Markit | Technology. “As a result, video has become a key component of mobile strategies with smartphones adopting larger screens, more processing power and better picture quality. Wireless carriers now are bundling video services with data plans, a trend that’s likely to accelerate with the launch of 5G.”

Indian and Brazilian consumers favor smartphone video

Of the six markets surveyed, respondents in India were most likely to say they watch video content out of the home via mobile devices. Indians also view this content more frequently than residents of any other country surveyed, with nearly half claiming to do so at least once a day. Viewing rates are similar for live and on-demand content, with Indian respondents most likely to engage in both viewing types.

Smartphone owners in India access 5.9 video services monthly, the highest of any country surveyed.

In Brazil, two thirds of Internet users claim to watch video content out of the home on a monthly basis, with similar rates of viewership seen across live and on-demand content. A total of 73 percent of those watching out-of-home content in Brazil select long-form content types as their most watched out of home, higher than any other market. Films are most watched on mobile devices out of the home with 41 per cent selecting it, while TV shows lead in nearly all other markets.

“Smartphone owners in the developing economies of India and Brazil watch more video on smartphones due to lower broadband penetration and a lack of other connected devices capable of receiving Internet video services,” Begum said.

“In India, smartphones account for nearly eight in 10 Internet connected devices, compared to a global average of four in 10.??”

YouTube is the most accessed video service on smartphones across all countries. More than 80 percent of people who use smartphones for video access are using them to watch videos on YouTube on a monthly basis.

Other interesting developments in the out-of-home viewing market include:
– Those in urban areas are 60 percent more likely to stream live content out of the home on mobile devices than rural populations are.
– Data plans and content partnerships have been key in driving out-of-home video viewing in the past few years, particularly with the launch of 4G. Nearly two thirds of consumers who stream content out of the home on a monthly basis select long-form content types as their most watched type of video.
– Despite the high usage of smartphones as video consumption devices, only 14 percent of all respondents surveyed selected their phone as their first choice for a device when looking for something to watch.

Sky Deutschland enables Sky Go downloads

By JΓΆrn Krieger

The customers of German pay-TV broadcaster Sky Deutschland with a Sky Q receiver will soon be able to watch TV programmes recorded at home on their smartphones and tablets even without internet access.

The download function will be enabled with the latest update of the Sky Go app, which will become available for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets as well as for PC and Mac in the next few weeks.

If the Sky Q receiver and the mobile device are on the same network, both devices will connect automatically. The ‘recordings’ button will then appear in the navigation bar of the Sky Go app. All available recordings of the set-top box will be listed here.

There is one limitation: For Sky Q customers on Vodafone Deutschland’s cable network, recordings can’t be used via Sky Go.

With the update, the Sky Go app also receives a new main navigation, intended to make it easier for users to find the desired content.

Ziggo claims 1.5m active users of TV Everywhere app Ziggo Go

By Robert Briel

Dutch cable operator Ziggo said it’s TV Everywhere app Ziggo Go now has 1.5 million active users.

According to the Dutch Apps Market report, the app is in the top 3 most downloaded video apps of last year (after YouTube and Netflix).

“The app also plays an important role on holidays”, said Marcel de Groot, Consumer Market Director at VodafoneZiggo:

“With more than 1.5 million active users, the Ziggo GO app is extremely popular. During the holiday period at home and abroad, the use of the app is growing daily. In order to give holidaymakers extra support this summer in bringing along their favourite programmes, films and series, a Ziggo Go team will be available at Schiphol Airport until mid-August”.

Dutch holiday makers can use the Ziggo Go app in the whole European Union. In addition, Ziggo has also made the app available for viewing in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Overseas, the service can be used in the Canary Islands, the Azores, French Guyana, Réunion, Guadeloupe, Madeira, Martinique, Mayotte, and Saint-Martin.

IBC 2019: Rohde & Schwarz to show 5G Broadcast solution

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German technology company Rohde & Schwarz will present the world’s first complete 5G Broadcast transmission solution at IBC 2019.

The system consists of the core network functionality provided by the new R&S BSCC broadcast service and control centre and R&S Tx9 transmitters, which support FeMBMS. This all-in-one solution covers all entities from the content provider to the consumer and is fully compliant with 3GPP release 14, according to Rohde & Schwarz.

It enables broadcasters to contribute their assets for efficient distribution of high-quality video to the future 5G ecosystem, reaching smartphones and other devices. The solution will be showcased at the Rohde & Schwarz booth B.21 in hall 7.

As a part of Bavarian research project 5G Today, Rohde & Schwarz is investigating large-scale TV broadcasts in FeMBMS mode. Using high-power high-tower (HPHT) transmitters allows broadcasters to distribute video over 5G networks in downlink-only mode with the advantages of classic broadcasting.

This provides the high-quality levels known from HDTV broadcasting, low-latency live content as well as spectrum efficiency and wide coverage, according to the company. There is no need for a SIM card in the mobile device.

Play adds NBCUni channels

By Chris Dziadul

Poland’s largest mobile operator Play has expanded the offer of its Play Now TV platform with three channels from NBCUniversal International Networks (NBCUIN).

Starting today (August 1), viewers will be able to receive Sci Fi, 13 Ulica and E! Entertainment Television in the Extra package.

Furthermore, they will be offered as part of an open window for the whole of this month.

Play Now provides access to TV channels and movies, TV series, entertainment programmes and animated series on demand, anywhere and anytime.

The platform is available on mobile devices, the www.playnow.pl website, Play Now TV Box set-top box, as well as various devices with the Android TV system.

Flix Snip expands European video distribution with Huawei Video

By Robert Briel

Short-form content app and VOD service Flix Snip has announced a major distribution partnership with Huawei.

Flix Snip’s premium, short form content is now available to Huawei mobile phone users across Spain and Italy as part of the Huawei Video SVOD service. This announcement builds upon the momentum of Flix Snip’s recent launch in Russia on the MegaFon and Rostelecom telecoms services.

Huawei Video delivers a wide selection of regularly updated international, European, and local content. Subscribers in Spain and Italy can now access Flix Snip’s catalogue of short format premium entertainment content, which has a running time of 20 minutes or less. Flix Snip offers a range of genres including: drama, animation, children, family, comedy, science-fiction and horror. All content is localised and dubbed in Spanish and Italian.

“Flix Snip is a perfect fit for our Huawei Video service because it lets subscribers access high-quality, short-form content conveniently on the go,” says Jaime Gonzalo, VP of Huawei Mobile Services in Europe.

“Our users want compelling short movies and series that they can dip in and out of. The Flix Snip service provides a huge range of content in a number of genres that meet the viewing requirements of our expanding mobile video platform.”

Sebastien Perioche, Founder and CEO, Flix Snip adds, “The way in which we consume content has changed dramatically. Viewers are more often watching video on their mobile devices and they want to access curated, premium content that’s congruent with their busy lifestyles at the touch of a finger. We are delighted to partner with Huawei and we look forward to announcing more content distribution deals around the world in the near future.”

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