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Today β€” November 12th 2019Broadband TV News: Channels

SPI/A1 ink Timeless Drama Channel deal

By Chris Dziadul

A1 Broadcasting subscribers in Croatia and Macedonia can now access SPI/FilmBox’s Timeless Drama Channel (TDC).

Commenting on the development, Murat Muratoglu, head of distribution at SPI International, said: “We are delighted to announce the launch of the first global Turkish drama channel TDC in Macedonia and Croatia with A1 Broadcasting. Turkish dramas are wildly popular across the globe due to the universal themes and values that they represent. We are confident that drama genre lovers in Croatia and Macedonia will thoroughly enjoy the award-winning series on this channel”.

TDC was launched in April and is now distributed by 14 operators in 12 countries to over 3 million homes. It plans to double its penetration in 2020.

Yesterday β€” November 11th 2019Broadband TV News: Channels

Discovery expresses surprise at YouSee decision

By Julian Clover

The vice president of Discovery in the Nordics has expressed surprise that YouSee has informed its customers that it will no longer be offering Discovery-owned channels from the New Year.

Last week the Danish operator said it wanted negotiations to continue, but it was getting close to the new year. It warned customers that Discovery Networks’ channels might not be a part of its ‘Bland Self’ packages from January 1.

“We are very surprised that YouSee have informed their customers that they will not offer our channels from January, as we were under the impression that we had conversations with them,” Espen Skoland told Broadband TV News. “But if that happens we will work to strengthen our partnership with the other Danish distributors, that behave as real partners. And right now we have the fastest growing streaming service in the Nordics, Dplay, so there are plenty of alternatives for customers that wants to watch our content.”

YouSee says it’s unable to raise prices because of regulatory issues, so when a channel provider wants to increase fees, the operator finds itself trapped.

Bland Self allows customers to build their own ‘personal’ TV package. It’s currently the operators most popular TV package among new customers.

“YouSee is talking a lot about giving their customers more flexibility, but what is really happening here is that YouSee and TDC are taking away beloved content so they can line their own pockets. Danish consumers just continue to pay the same price for less content,” says Skoland.

Last year, Discovery grew its international distribution revenues by 8%.

Competition intensifies for UK Champions League rights

By Julian Clover

BT Sport is facing stiff competition to hold onto its exclusive Champions League rights with ITV and Sky both expected to table bids ahead of Monday’s deadline.

The telco has enjoyed exclusivity on the UEFA European club competition since 2015, prior to which the rights were split between Sky and free-to-air broadcaster ITV.

In an interview with The Times, Sky Sports new managing director, Rob Webster, suggested the broadcaster would be making a bid. When Sky lost the rights in 2015, Webster’s predecessor Barney Francis suggested the competition was over-rated.

“It’s a fantastic set of rights, I’m not going to pretend otherwise and we adopt a disciplined and rational approach to the value of rights in the marketplace, but something like the Champions League is hard to walk past without taking a look,” Webster told the Thunderer.

This time around UEFA has split the rights into further packages for the new contract that begins in 2021.

It could be a crucial bid for BT Sport that has already lost the rights to the FA Cup.

The broadcaster screens a weekly match from the Premier League on Saturday lunchtimes.

Other broadcasters could open the fray, including streaming service DAZN, but Amazon Prime Video is said to have ruled itself out.

β€œFull BBC iPlayer experience” added to Sky

By Julian Clover

Sky and the BBC have reached agreement on a new partnership across content and technology, including the promo version of Sky’s AdSmart technology.

The latest version of the BBC iPlayer is now available in the Apps section of the Sky Q box. It takes first place, ahead of Netflix on the grid, though viewers will now need to sign in with a BBC ID.

As well from the Apps, viewers can now also access iPlayer from the Red Button on BBC channels, as well as the catch up section of the Sky Guide.

Another advantage is the ability to start a show from the beginning.

BBC children’s content will now also be added to the Kids section of Sky Q, including The Dumping Ground, The Worst Witch and Topsy & Tim, set to be available as box-set series

Stephen van Rooyen, CEO UK & Ireland, Sky, said: “We are pleased to be working with the BBC on such a broad-ranging partnership – it is a great example of how UK broadcasters can work together for the benefit of viewers and the industry. We are continuing to explore, together with the BBC, how it could use Sky’s innovative technology to help it better connect with licence-fee payers for the long term.”

The BBC and Sky are also in early stage exploration to use PromoSmart, powered by AdSmart Sky’s targeting technology, to serve up more personalised promotional content to BBC viewers. In practice, this will mean that viewers in different households could be shown different trailers for BBC content that are more relevant to their interests during the breaks between programmes when watching BBC channels live.

Bob Shennan, Group Managing Director, BBC, added: “We’re thrilled that viewers who watch our programmes on Sky will now be able to enjoy the full BBC iPlayer experience, and to access our full red-button service. We’re also very much looking forward to experimenting with PromoSmart in the future.

The broadcasters are also exploring a range of other partnership opportunities, including the availability of BBC Sounds on Sky and NOW TV platforms.

New football channel for Ukraine

By Chris Dziadul

Media Group Ukraine (MGU) will launch its third proprietary channel dedicated to football in February 2020.

Commenting on the upcoming service, which will be named Fulbol 3, Oleksandr Denisov, the company’s director of football channels, said: “At present, the programmatic policy of Futbol 3 is being elaborated. Contracts on new content are signed with counterparties, and there will be more. We plan to introduce the concept of a complete family of channels about one month later. Certainly, as the product line expands, the content will be split into three channels. And our viewer will have even more opportunities to watch quality broadcasts.”

Futbol 3 will be distributed by cable networks, the DTH platform Xtra TV and Oll.TV OTT service.

Before yesterdayBroadband TV News: Channels

New wave of European Disney+ launches on March 31

By Julian Clover

Disney+ will launch in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain on March 31, 2020.

Just announced: #DisneyPlus will be available in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain (and more to be announced soon) starting on March 31st. Please note: Titles may vary by territory. pic.twitter.com/lE6nzBeaXy

— Disney+ (@disneyplus) November 7, 2019

In a statement Disney said more titles would be announced soon.

Disney began testing its streaming service in the Netherlands on September 12 ahead of its launch in the US and Canada on November 12. By October 8% of Dutch households held a test account.

Canal+ is lined up to be the exclusive distributor in the French market.

Separately, it’s been announced Disney+ will be available on Amazon devices including Fire TV streaming devices, Fire TV Edition smart TVs, and compatible Fire Tablets timed with the US launch next Tuesday.

Viaplay made available to Telenor fixed line and satellite customers

By Julian Clover

NENT Group has extended its Nordic distribution agreement with Telenor. The announcement follows October’s news that NENT Group and Telenor Group are to merge their consumer operations, combining Viasat’s satellite pay-TV business with Canal Digital’s operations.

This new agreement spans Telenor’s fixed line and satellite TV offerings. NENT Group’s Viaplay streaming service, free TV channels and Viasat pay TV channels will be offered to Telenor customers.

The fixed line agreement covers Telenor’s cable and IPTV operations om Sweden and Norway. It includes NENT Group’s TV3, TV6, TV8, TV10 and TV3 Sport channels in Sweden; and TV3, TV6 and Viasat 4 channels in Norway. NENT Group’s premium Viasat sports and film packages, along with the Viasat Golf channel, will be available to Telenor’s fixed line subscribers in both countries.

The satellite agreement covers Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland and includes NENT Group’s TV3, TV6, TV8, TV10 and TV3 Sport channels in Sweden; TV3, TV6 and Viasat 4 channels in Norway; and TV3, TV3 PULS, TV3+, TV3 MAX and TV3 SPORT channels in Denmark. NENT Group’s premium Viasat sports and film packages will be available to Telenor’s Canal Digital subscribers in all four countries.

Kim Poder, NENT Group Chief Commercial Officer: “We want Viaplay and our TV channels to be available in as many homes as possible. Telenor customers across the Nordic region will now be able to add Viaplay to their TV subscription, and this will increase our reach even further.”

Telenor currently holds over 1.7 million TV customers across the Nordic region.

Discovery Channel grows 3%

By Julian Clover

Increases in digital licensing revenues in Europe helped Discovery Channel grow revenues by 3% to $2,678 million.

The international division, which saw revenues climb by 4% to $950 million, also benefited from increases in pricing and monetisation of digital content offerings.

Discovery’s purchase of UKTV lifestyle channels Really, Home and Good Food contributed to an increase in international advertising revenues of 10%.

International distribution revenues, where Discovery continues to negotiate aggressively, climbed by 8%.

Channel 4 deal kicks off Britbox

By Julian Clover

BritBox, the ITV-BBC, streaming venture has gone live in the UK.

The launch has been accompanied by the announcement of a multi-year deal with Channel 4 and Film4. Several thousand hours will be added to the service from 2020.

BritBox will bring All 4 to the service in Spring 2020, with new series being available 31 days following transmission of the last episode on Channel 4. Film4 will follow later in 2020.

Alex Mahon, CEO at Channel 4 said: “Channel 4 has always showcased distinctive and diverse British content and, in a world of almost unlimited choice, our public service brand values are more important than ever for viewers. The opportunity to collaborate as PSBs on BritBox extends our track record of partnership and will ensure there is a compelling single destination for the very best high quality, home-grown content.”

There’s also a partnership with EE which has been announced as EE’s exclusive mobile partner. Details will be released by BT and EE in the next few months, but the implication is that Britbox will be bundled in with subscriptions in some form.

The selling point is box sets. All 627 available episodes of the original Doctor Who series, originally broadcast between 1963 and 1989, will be available to stream for the first time. There are also box-of all six series and specials of Downton Abbey, all three series of Broadchurch, seven series of Only Fools and Horses, three series of Gavin & Stacey and both series of Extras.

Reemah Sakaan, Group Director ITV SVOD commented: “BritBox is all about bringing together the best of British creativity and talent in a new digital world. Today’s launch and announcement of our partnership deals with Channel 4 and BT underline the quality and scale we want the service to embody. It’s wonderful to be bringing such a wealth of brilliant British TV and film to subscribers from today, and I’m looking forward to revealing our exciting, original commissions in the near future.”

Samsung will be the first TV to launch the BritBox app and together, Samsung and BritBox have agreed a co-marketing partnership that will see BritBox featured as a “Recommended App” on Samsung Smart TV’s and joint marketing activity taking place in Q4 as the TV device market heads into its key sales season around Black Friday and Christmas.

Britbox is priced at £5.99 per month in HD.

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.

Content and digital driving RTL growth

By Julian Clover

RTL Group says it was content and digital that helped it grow revenue by 2.8% in the first nine months of 2019.

Revenue of €4,595 million included €3,178 million from its broadcasting operations that were down 2%.

A total of 1.4 million paying subscribers have signed up to its steaming services in Germany and the Netherlands, representing a 50% increase year-on-year.

Its French affiliate M6 is now building the technology for Salto – the joint subscription service with TF1 and France Télévisions to be launched in 2020.

European ad-tech business, Smartclip, is now developing an open ad-tech platform, tailored for European broadcasters and their streaming services.

NBA launches own OTT service

By Julian Clover

NBA TV is to become the first linear sports league network to launch direct-to-consumer.

The network, which is jointly managed by the NBA and WarnerMedia’s Turner Sports, will be offered through NBA.com and the NBA App. Advanced viewing options are available on mobile devices.

Over 100 exclusive live NBA basketball games, original programming, and an on demand library will be available for a monthly subscription of for $6.99 per month or $59.99 annually.

NBA TV recently announced planned to experiment with enhancements to its coverage including new camera angles, with footage captured exclusively on smartphones; live on-screen group chats with celebrity influencers; in-depth analytics and statistical graphics; and social media integration.

“Innovation has always been at the core of our NBA Digital partnership and the launch of this direct to consumer product, paired with new content initiatives, will provide NBA fans even greater opportunities to engage with NBA TV and our collective portfolio of brands,” said Tina Shah, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Turner Sports

“NBA TV is the ultimate destination for around-the-clock access to premium NBA games and programming,” added Chris Benyarko, NBA Senior Vice President, Direct to Consumer. “We are thrilled to offer more ways than ever to access NBA TV and provide a preview of the future live game viewing experience.”

The channel will be continued to be available through an authenticated basis for those receiving their subscription from a pay-TV provider.

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.

Report: Canal to secure Disney+ exclusive

By Julian Clover

Canal+ is in advanced talks with Disney for the exclusive distribution of new streaming service Disney+.

The move would shut out rivals Altice/SFR, Orange and Free.

According to Letter A, the House of Mouse wants to launch its Netflix buster “at the earliest in spring 2020”.

Vivendi subsidiary Canal has been a long-time partner of Disney and already carries its premium channels.

Disney+ would be offered as both a paid option and bundled in offers with the encypted channel, giving subscribers the option of taking the new service for just a few additional Euros a month.

This month Canal has begun to market Netflix to subscribers to its Cine/Series package.

Revamp for RaiPlay

By Julian Clover

The Italian public broadcaster Rai has upgraded its catchup TV and multimedia portal with a new look and feel, and added functionality.

The new RaiPlay will include exclusive international acquisitions, film festivals, TV series and documentaries.

RaiPlay is also adding a new original production, VivaRaiPlay!, released on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 8.30pm. Rai Due will broadcast a best of show each weekend.

Launched in September 2016, RaiPlay has 12.4 million registered users and 12 million apps downloaded. Between January and September 2019 488 million videos were downloaded, an uplift of 75% on January 2018.

BonGusto, Focus TV, Bunte.de join waipu.tv

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German internet TV platform waipu.tv will add cookery channel BonGusto, documentary channel Focus TV and entertainment portal Bunte.de to its line-up.

The distribution is based on a strategic partnership concluded with parent company Burda Studios Publishing.

Waipu.tv customers will be able to receive linear pay-TV channel BonGusto within the Perfect subscription package at no additional cost. The video content of Focus TV and Bunte.de will be available to all customers on-demand, independent of the selected package.

Capodistria to leave Hotbird

By Chris Dziadul

Radio and TV Capodistria will stop using Eutelsat’s Hotbird from November 9.

According to the public broadcaster RTV Slovenia (RTV Slo), this is due to financial reasons and alternative solutions for their distribution are now being sought.

One possibility is the rebroadcasting of Capodistria TV programmes on DTT in Croatia and an initial response from the Croatian regulator is expected shortly.

Similar initiatives are also under way in Italy, with cable and internet distribution being considered.

A free application named Capo4distria is already available to the public for all mobile devices and smart TVs and programmes can be followed live on the multimedia portal https://capodistria.rtvslo.si.

Radio and TV Capodistria are operated by RTV Slo and aimed at the Italian minorities communities living in Slovenia and Croatia.

Pay-TV sports channel EDGEsport launches in Germany

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German sports broadcaster Sportdigital will launch action and fun sports channel EDGEsport in Germany, Austria and Switzerland on November 5, 2019.

The new pay-TV service will offer a 24-hour schedule with live events from sports such as skateboarding, snowboarding, mountain biking, break dancing, BMX, water sports and motor sports.

The competitions include the Enduro World Series, Road to MotoGP, Street League Skateboarding, Crankworx World Tour, Freeride World Tour and FISE World Series. There will also be reports, documentaries and lifestyle programmes about the athletes.

EDGEsport will broadcast on German pay-TV platform Sky Deutschland in the new trendSports package in Germany and Austria from November 5 and will also become available on internet TV platform waipu.tv.

Parent company Sportdigital TV Sende- und Produktions GmbH, which received the green light for EDGEsport from German media regulator KEK in October, is planning large-scale distribution of the channel via satellite, cable, IPTV and OTT across German-speaking Europe. The Hamburg-based company is currently negotiating carriage with further platform operators.

The channel is operated through a sublicensing agreement with UK-based sports rights distributor IMG, which already offers EDGEsport in numerous other markets, including the US, Asia and Eastern Europe.

Susanna Dinnage to leave Discovery, Nancy Daniels to run Animal Planet

By Julian Clover

Susanna Dinnage, Global President of Animal Planet, is to leave parent Discovery after 10 years.

The channel is being moved to Discovery’s factual division, where it will come under the remit of Nancy Daniels.
Dinnage has been in charge of Animal Planet since September 2017.

Last November Dinnage was named as the new chief executive of the Premier League, but six weeks later it was announced she would remain at Discovery after all.

Since joining Discovery in 2009, she has served in several leadership roles, including as general manager of the UK and Benelux businesses, and most recently as President of UK/Ireland and Chief Content Officer for Discovery Networks International.

New horror channel for Russia

By Chris Dziadul

Gazprom-owned Red Media has added a horror channel to its growing portfolio of movie services.

Known as Kinozhas, it is the 17th proprietary movie channel and the 12th in a group entitled Cinema Mood.

Kinozhas’s library is made up of films from major Hollywood studios (Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures), as well as domestic titles, and amounts to 400 hours of original content.

Twice a month, on Monday, it will broadcast exclusive move premieres of the horror genre for the first time on TV.

Red Media is part of the GPM KIT group of companies, itself part of Gazprom-Media.