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Today β€” September 24th 2018Broadband TV News: Channels

Cirkus launches in Austria on A1 TV

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Cirkus, the video-on-demand service offering series from the UK and Scandinavia, is now available on the IPTV platform A1 TV of Austrian telco A1 Telekom Austria.

A1 TV customers can subscribe to Cirkus as a stand-alone service for €2.90 per month. The offer can be tested free of charge for one month.

Cirkus was founded by TV managers Mark Bradford and Hugh Williams and launched on the Scandinavian market in 2013. In 2014, UK-based commercial broadcaster ITV acquired a stake, now holding the majority.

In addition to A1 TV, Cirkus is available on Amazon Prime Video Channels in Austria. In Germany, the service also uses Amazon’s OTT platform while for Switzerland a distribution partnership with local pay-TV operator Teleclub has been agreed.

In addition to Cirkus, the company also operates Curio, a sister service specialising in documentaries from all over the world which is currently available in Norway and Sweden.

Yesterday β€” September 23rd 2018Broadband TV News: Channels

ESPN+ hits one million paid subscribers in just over five months

By Robert Briel

The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer and International (DTCI) segment has announced that ESPN+, the multi-sport, direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service from DTCI in collaboration with ESPN, has surpassed one million paying subscribers in just over five months since its April 2018 launch.

“Reaching one million paid subscribers is an important milestone for any video subscription service, but reaching this benchmark in such a short amount of time is an incredible testament to the teams from DTCI and ESPN who have worked tirelessly to bring this product to market and continually improve it since our April launch,” said Kevin Mayer, chairman, Direct-to-Consumer and International, The Walt Disney Company.

“We’re thrilled so many sports fans have quickly come to love the service. The future is bright and we believe growth will continue as we add features, distribution partners and more exclusive content in the coming months.”

Jimmy Pitaro, President of ESPN and co-Chair, Disney Media Networks added, “Combining sports, technology and the ESPN brand is a very powerful combination, and we are just getting started. Very quickly, a wide range of sports fans have seen the value of ESPN+. With high quality programming and an outstanding user experience, ESPN and DTCI are expanding the ways Disney is serving sports fans.”

Before yesterdayBroadband TV News: Channels

Comcast outbids Fox in Sky auction

By Julian Clover

Comcast is to be the new owner of Sky after the US cablenet outbid 21st Century Fox in an auction for the broadcaster.

Its offer of £17.28 per share values the company at more than £30.45 billion. Fox offered £15.67 per share.

It came in a three-round auction was orchestrated by the Takeover Panel, which saw no movement in the battle to takeover the broadcaster.

However, the Murdoch Family Trust, which is in the process of selling the majority of 21st Century Fox to Disney, still owns 39 per cent of Sky. The Murdochs would then hold 5% in Disney.

Rupert Murdoch had been hoping that he would be able to take full control of the broadcaster he had established as a single channel European cable service in the 1980s, before commencing a four-channel satellite service from the Astra satellite in 1989.

A statement issued by 21st Century Fox read: “We note the increased cash offer for the fully diluted share capital of Sky by Comcast, and that it has been recommended by the Independent Committee of Sky. 21CF is considering its options regarding its own 39 percent shareholding in Sky and will make a further announcement in due course. Sky is a remarkable story and we are proud to have played such a significant role in building the incredible value reflected today in Comcast’s offer.”

Comcast had previously bid £14.75 per share, but had received relatively few acceptances, despite being ahead of the £14 per share bid by Fox.

Italian operas from RAI to air on Funbox UHD platform

By Robert Briel

SPI has formed a strategic deal with Italian public broadcaster RAI to bring Italian operas to Filmbox UHD platform.

As the first opera, SPI will now present Carmen on the FunBox UHD world channel and TV app that will be accessible to all viewers in 4K resolution. The Rome Opera House located in Italy introduced their opera performance to RAI in 2018 aiming to reach a wider international audience. This one-of-a-kind opera was captured live in 4K and will now be aired globally through SPI’s channel and TV app as SPI acquired worldwide TV and VOD rights.

In order to promote Italian operas, RAI created a project called All Opera that brings the best Italian operas in cinemas all over the world.

“We wanted to bring the best of the season from the greatest Italian theaters to the cinema in the world and partnering with SPI will expand our vision to at-home entertainment worldwide,” said Valentina Carrasca, stage director for Carmen.

“We are proud to announce our partnership with RAI to create our unique RAI-FUNBOX UHD experience that will feature the best Italian opera content captured in breathtaking 4K resolution to our worldwide platform. Our agreement with RAI will only enhance the wide array of content that SPI has to offer,” added Berk Uziyel, CEO at SPI International.

Sky Deutschland to launch Ryder Cup channel

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German pay-TV broadcaster Sky Deutschland will accompany the Ryder Cup golf tournament with a dedicated TV channel.

From September 25 to October 1, 2018, Sky Sport Ryder Cup HD will broadcast the entire competition live and exclusively. There will also be highlights from previous years and other features.

The golf channel, which will replace Sky Sport 2 HD during this time, will be available to all subscribers of the Sky Sport package as well as users of the Supersport ticket of the Sky Ticket streaming service.

Some of the coverage will also be available free of charge as livestreams to non-subscribers at www.skysport.de/rydercup.

All Flamenco 4K expands into France

By Chris Dziadul

The 24/7 Spanish 4K channel All Flamenco has secured distribution on Orange in France.

In what is the first step in its international expansion, All Flamenco is now offered in Orange’s bouquet of Spanish channels, which also contains Antena 3, Star TVE, Atreseries, Canal 24 horas, TV3 Catalunya, ETB Sat and TVG, for €6 a month.

All Flamemco was launched in 2017 and has over 650,000 subscribers in Spain. It is produced by Digital Cornucopia, a leading Spanish distribution company specialised in linear and OTT thematic channels that already has a bouquet of seven TV channels, both as linear and OTT services.

All Flamenco plans to expand into Europe, America and Asia both as a linear 4K TV channel and as an OTT service, with individual subscriptions to be launched shortly.

According to Carlos Navia, CEO of Digital Cornucopia, “We aim to reach the extensive community of flamenco fans throughout the world. Flamenco is well known internationally and has a great potential with operators loving the quality content in 4K we propose with over 300 great artists in a year”.

Motorsport.tv drops linear in favour of online

By Julian Clover

Motorsport.tv says it will move to an online and on demand channel from September 30.

Thema, the company that distributes the channel, says the audience is shifting towards digital channels, and consuming more video content.

“Our customers are changing the way they consume content and as a global media business and the number one motorsport destination, our role is to deliver an unparalleled customer experience,” the company said in a statement.

“The future of Motorsport Network is exciting as we continue to use our unique convening power to provide unrivalled access, analysis and insight to all motorsport fans across the world. We are looking forward to the road ahead.”

Last month the broadcaster lost carriage on Canal+ in France.

Launched in September 2001 under the brand Motors TV “Télévision Grande Vitesse”, the high octane channel will continue to be broadcast by other French operators.

Canal+ to carry RMC Sport bouquet

By Julian Clover

Canal+ Group has signed a commercial agreement with SFR for the distribution of the RMC Sport bouquet.

The agreement was signed in time for this week’s round of Champions League matches that are being screened on the Altice-owned channels.

Existing subscribers to Canal will be able to subscribe to RMC Sport at the discounted rate of €9 per month, as opposed to the regular rate of €19.

In addition to the Champions League, the six RMC Sport channels also have tights to the Europa League, English Premier League and Portuguese football championship.

Canal also carries its own sports channels, together with Bein Sport and Eurosport.

Digi TV offers olive branch to AMC Networks

By Chris Dziadul

The Czech DTH and IPTV operator Digi TV has sent an open letter to AMC in which it “offers co-operation under transparent and favourable terms” with the company.

The letter says: “We invite you to cooperate with audiences interested in watching AMC stations. We are ready to create an AMC package from all of our previous AMC programmes and offer it to our customers at a price that AMC will determine. All AMC package revenues, excluding VAT and our broadcasting costs, will be met by AMC”.

Digi TV says that it is ready to provide the AMC package to customers who are interested in receiving it under normal conditions. In the event of AMC providing its programmes for free, Digi TV will also give its viewers free access. It is now waiting to hear from AMC Networks to make its offer public by the end of this month.

As previously reported by Broadband TV News, Digi TV withdrew AMC channels from its offer at the beginning of September.

Sky introduces Netflix inclusive subscription pack

By Julian Clover

Sky has confirmed Netflix will make its debut on Sky Q in November. Its arrival coincides with the launch of a new Sky subscription pack that will combine Sky’s on demand platform with the full Netflix service.

Recommendations for both Sky and Netflix shows will appear on Sky Q’s homepage. Netflix shows will also be discoverable through the Search facility.

“Innovation is at the core of Netflix. We are delighted to partner with Sky to offer fans a new and exciting way to access the best of entertainment from around the world,” said Chris Whiteley, Director Business Development UK/IE, Netflix.

Ultimate On Demand will be £10 a month for all new and existing customers alongside their Sky Q subscription, and with a 31-day rolling contract available. Netflix customers will be able to move their account to Sky or sign in with their existing accounts.

“We want Sky Q to be the number one destination for TV fans. Partnering with Netflix means we will have all the best TV in one great value pack, making it even easier for you to watch all of your favourite shows,” said Stephen van Rooyen, Chief Executive Officer, Sky UK and Ireland.

The £10 pricepoint equates to Netflix’s top tier Premium pack.

Customers with a Sky Q Entertainment subscription will get Netflix’s Standard plan (HD 2 streams) and Sky Box Sets in HD as part of Ultimate On Demand. And customers with Sky Q’s premium subscription, Sky Q Experience (multi-room viewing and Ultra HD), will enjoy Netflix’s Premium plan (Ultra HD, 4 stream).

Titles available to download can be watched on the go, with Sky shows available through the Sky Go app and Netflix shows through the Netflix app.

Sky D and Eurosport agree on Bundesliga for sports bars

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German pay-TV broadcaster Sky Deutschland has reached an agreement with Discovery regarding the distribution of Bundesliga channel Eurosport 2 HD Xtra, but this only covers the gastronomy sector.

Private Sky subscribers continue to require a subscription and hardware (set-top box/CI+ module) from DTH satellite platform HD+ for reception.

The partnership between Sky and Discovery runs until the 2020/21 Bundesliga season and enables Sky sports bars, hotel bars and clubhouses with satellite reception to show Eurosport 2 HD Xtra in their premises.

The channel transmits 40 mostly exclusive Bundesliga matches, mainly on Friday evening.

Prior to the cooperation with Sky, gastronomy businesses were able to show the Eurosport Bundesliga matches via OTT service Eurosport Player by signing up for an end-consumer subscription. According to Discovery, this option no longer exists with the Sky deal.

FRK gains TV carriage rights from content4tv

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German TV carriage rights supplier content4tv and German cable operator association FRK have agreed on a long-term cooperation.

The framework contract signed at the FRK Broadband Congress in Leipzig on September 18, 2018 secures the independent provision of FRK members with linear and non-linear TV distribution rights.

The agreement covers both cable and IPTV rights, enabling hybrid offers, transition models and new products such as IPTV which strengthen FRK members in competition.

According to FRK chairman Heinz-Peter Labonte, the move provides FRK members with the opportunity to offer tailor-made products at competitive prices including modern national and international TV and streaming services within a legal framework.

Martina Rutenbeck, managing partner of content4tv, said: “The small and medium-sized cable operators represented by FRK can benefit most from the advantages of their high-performance broadband networks by offering modern, attractive services complementing classic television with new usage forms from video-on-demand to multiscreen TV. We supply the necessary rights from a single source and thus ensure that even small and medium-sized cable operators can provide a compelling offer securing their TV business in the long term.”

Danish pubcaster DR to close three TV channels

By Robert Briel

Danish public broadcaster DR has announced the imminent closure of three TV channels and three radio stations, due to a 20% reduction of tis budget..

DR’s six TV channels will be reduced to three and radio channels will drop from eight to five. At the same time, around 400 positions will be axed.

DR3 and DR Ultra will be reduced to streaming services by 2020, while cultural channel DRK will be merged with second station DR2.

The announcement follows the decision by the Danish government to abandon the radio and TV licence fee last March.

“A political decision has been taken to reduce DR’s expenditure by 20 percent. That will be tough, but we have taken on the challenge,” according to DR director general Maria Rørbye Rønn.

“The background is both the necessary cuts and to ensure that DR can place even more focus on conversion to digital. In terms of content, we will now focus even more on our strengths. All in all, these are relatively drastic changes, but we think we’re on the right path,”

Commnenting on the budget cuts, EBU Director General Noel Curran said: “We are deeply concerned by the budget cuts that have forced DR to announce the closure of a significant number of public media services.

“DR is hugely valued by audiences in Denmark and has built amongst the highest market share and weekly reach of all public service media organisations in Europe.

“The 20% budget cuts imposed on DR will undoubtedly impact its ability as a national broadcaster to offer the same wide range of output to audiences across Denmark.”

ProSiebenSat.1 chooses MPP Global for OTT joint venture with Discovery

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German media company ProSiebenSat.1 has chosen UK-based subscription and billing solutions provider MPP Global to drive its joint OTT platform with Discovery Communications.

“To be successful with the ProSiebenSat.1 Digital products and new OTT platform, we wanted to replace our in-house subscription VOD solution with a much more flexible service to support subscription management and alternative monetisation of our assets. This was when we discovered MPP Global’s eSuite platform,” said Dirk Daumann, CTO of ProSiebenSat.1 Digital.

“We chose eSuite mainly for its feature-richness and complete APIs, especially when it comes to the flexibility in defining products and subscriptions. The platform also brings unique features which provide us with the ability to upsell our services through metering and paywalls,” added Daumann.

“In the future we envisage a model where we let consumers ‘try before sign-up’. So, consumers can watch the start of one of our premium shows for free and, after getting a sneak preview, they can decide if they want to subscribe so they can enjoy the rest of the show. This kind of functionality is essential to the future of the consumer-friendly platform we are developing.”

ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery joined forces to build the leading German OTT platform by integrating their existing streaming venture 7TV, video-on-demand (VOD) service maxdome and Eurosport Player in one place.

The yet unnamed platform will comprise live-streams, a catch-up service with local content as well as Hollywood productions and sports coverage. It will feature a free, advertising-funded service, a subscription-based advertising-free service and premium packages offering exclusive sports and movies.

Resembling Hulu set up by major broadcasters in the US, ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery have invited fellow major German public and commercial broadcasters ARD, ZDF and RTL to join the platform scheduled to launch in the first half of 2019.

NENT Group secures Danish UEFA Euro 2020 rights

By Julian Clover

NENT Group has secured the Danish rights to UEFA Euro 2020, which will be made available on its streaming service Viaplay.

Copenhagen will host three group matches and one round-of-16 game UEFA Euro 2020, which will be played in 12 cities across Europe.

The competition will begin in June to with the final kicking off at London’s Wembley Stadium on 12 July.

Anders Jensen, NENT Group President and CEO: “This is yet another milestone for NENT Group – the first time we’re covering a UEFA European Football Championship in a Nordic country. We launched our company this summer with the region’s biggest ever week of sports rights announcements, and as this fantastic news shows, NENT Group is just getting started.”

NENT Group will sublicence part of the rights to DR (Danmarks Radio), including matches featuring the Danish national side if the team qualifies for the tournament.

Exclusive: TV Spielfilm live to drop free package

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German streaming service TV Spielfilm live will shut down its free Basic package on October 1, 2018, a spokeswoman of operating company Hubert Burda Media confirmed to Broadband TV News.

Only the subscription package will be continued. “With the move, we are reacting to the usage behaviour of our customers,” explained the spokeswoman. The customers of the Premium package used the service for much longer and more frequently on a smart TV set than Basic users. “For this reason, we decided to simplify our portfolio, focus on one package and make it even more attractive.”

From October 1, 2018, the Premium package will be called the Live TV package and include more HD channels at no extra charge: For €9.99 per month, customers will receive over 80 TV channels, more than 60 in HD quality – in future including the channels of the ProSiebenSat.1 group. The programmes can be recorded, restarted and paused. The recording space amounts to 50 hours.

Further HD channels will follow shortly, said the spokeswoman. In addition, the restart and recording functions will be expanded.

The OTT service TV Spielfilm live launched in July 2015 and is accessible via smartphone, tablet and PC as well as on the TV set via Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV and Google Chromecast.

Vivacom partners with Stream Television Company

By Chris Dziadul

Bulgaria’s Vivacom has entered into an agreement with Stream Television Company to deliver its international feed for pay-TV platforms across Europe and the CIS.

As a result, Vivacom, the largest telco in Bulgaria operating one of Europe’s few Tier 3 certified teleports in Europe, will distribute the international version of the hunting and fishing channel Rybalka I Okhota.

Commenting on the development, Dmitry Sokolov, Stream Television Company CTO, said: “With Vivacom, we have now found a partner to help us deliver the international version of the popular TV channel in the best way, increasing the footprint, reliability, and providing outstanding service”.

Vladimir Rangelov, head of broadcasting in Vivacom, added: Vivacom’s MCPC platform on Eutelsat 36E, provides unique wide coverage over the whole of Europe, Middle East and part of Asia, allowing content providers to reliably distribute their channels across large number of head ends in an efficient and cost-effective way”.

Stream Television Company is based in Russia and owns 17 channels, including Rybalka I Okhota.

Insight TV launches across Latin America through SES Ultra HD

By Robert Briel

Insight TV has announced its foray into Latin America through SES’ Latin American Ultra HD platform.

As of today, Insight TV’s 4K UHD content is available on a 24/7 basis in English, Spanish and Portuguese to all cable, IPTV and DTH providers who are working with SES in Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and South America.

Launched in April, SES’s new Ultra HD platform is an all-in-one package of pre-configured Ultra HD content, reception equipment, and satellite distribution hosted on SES-14 that will enable quick and easy Ultra HD deployments throughout Latin America.

“We have been partners with Insight TV since 2015. From launching Ultra HD channels in Europe via SES satellites, to joining SES’ North American Ultra HD platform to grow its audience beyond Europe in 2016, we are delighted to have the Ultra HD channel on our Latin American UHD platform so it can expand further,” said Steve Corda, VP, Media Platform North America at SES Video.

“In Latin America, demand for Ultra HD content doesn’t cease and has reached a critical mass since the World Cup. We are dedicated to helping industry players satisfy this demand as our satellites are the optimal way to deliver Ultra HD content to large audiences, and our platform the ideal solution for Pay-TV operators and channels to get started in the region.”

“Insight TV is excited to bring its immersive and exciting action sports, entertainment and lifestyle specials and series to viewers across Latin America and South America via SES’ Ultra HD platform,” said Robert Gold, VP for Americas of Insight TV.

“Building on the incredible growth we have experienced in Europe, North America and Asia, this new distribution platform gives Insight TV a strong foothold in all of Latin America and enables us to deliver award-winning programming to millions of new 4K viewers.”

Like SES’ North America Ultra HD solution, the SES Latin America UHD platform is an end-to-end delivery system and is distributed over SES-14 at 47.5 degrees West. SES-14 provides delivery throughout Latin America and is home to SES’ leading Latin American Pay-TV neighbourhood. In Latin America, SES carries over 900 channels, of which almost 400 are in HD and Ultra HD.

eoTV launches on Entertain TV

By JΓΆrn Krieger

European Originals Television (eoTV), the German free-to-air TV channel for fans of European movies and series, is now available on Deutsche Telekom’s IPTV platform Entertain TV.

The move increases the channel’s reach by 3.2 million households.

eoTV shows classics and premieres of European TV productions. Two sports programming windows are offered in cooperation with Motorvision TV and DAZN.

Super RTL selects Ooyala to streamline video workflow

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German children’s channel Super RTL has chosen the Flex Media Platform from US video delivery solutions provider Ooyala to streamline its video operations.

Ooyala’s content supply chain optimisation platform automates tasks, simplifies workflows and speeds up the time-to-market for content creators and distributors, according to the company.

Ooyala is delivering an end-to-end solution with Germany-based Logic Media Solutions, built using Microsoft Azure Media Services to optimise Super RTL’s operations and simplify content delivery to OTT platforms.

“Today’s broadcasters and media companies typically face the question of whether to build or buy a solution to manage and deliver their video content,” said Jonathan Huberman, CEO of Ooyala. “By migrating to the Ooyala Flex Media Platform, Super RTL has the best of both worlds – a solution that’s quickly and efficiently deployed off-the-shelf, but is also highly customisable and that seamlessly integrates with existing technology.”

The project grew out of Ooyala’s collaboration with Microsoft, who had been in talks with Super RTL on migrating its digital video platform to the cloud. Microsoft introduced Ooyala to the broadcaster to provide the workflow and content management components. For the implementation and local support, Ooyala subsequently brought in its local partner Logic.

“The media landscape is evolving faster than ever, introducing new and growing challenges that left our existing technology obsolete,” said Boris Bolz, Chief Digital and Marketing Officer at Super RTL. “We needed a solution that could provide greater flexibility and deeper insights across our entire operations, all while future-proofing our services. The Ooyala Flex Media Platform has allowed us to build the best solution for our needs, and being implemented on Microsoft Azure, it can easily be scaled as our service grows and new technology is introduced.”

Rainer Kellerhals, Media & Entertainment Industry Lead EMEA at Microsoft, added: “As part of the media industry’s digital transformation, we are seeing many media customers migrate their online video platforms to the cloud. Microsoft Azure Media Services and Azure CDN provide a complete set of cloud services for this scenario. The project at Super RTL is an excellent example for how we work with customers and leading industry solution providers like Ooyala to help customers migrate their services to the cloud for improved scalability and shorter time-to-market.”

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