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Today β€” March 23rd 2019Broadband TV News: Channels

Discovery to launch Home & Garden TV in Germany

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Discovery will launch Home & Garden TV (HGTV) in Germany on June 6, 2019.

The channel, which shows programmes on topics such as house buying, renovating and interior design, will be offered as an unencrypted free-to-air channel via satellite and on the main cable networks, reports German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.

“We show how professionals are passionate about buying, renovating and beautifying houses,” Susanne Aigner-Drews, managing director of Discovery in Germany, told the paper. “It is the genuine life, which we accompany with cameras.”

Initially, mainly US shows will be broadcast with German original productions planned in the second step.

After Eurosport, men’s channel DMAX and women’s channel TLC, HGTV will be Discovery’s fourth advertising-funded free-to-air TV channel in Germany.

Yesterday β€” March 22nd 2019Broadband TV News: Channels

Insight TV launches in the Middle East on Jawwy TV

By Robert Briel

Insight TV is launching its linear HD channel in the Middle East on Intigral’s new OTT streaming service, Jawwy TV.

The deal was managed by SAWA Rights Management (SRM), a content provider and producer and new Insight TV channel distribution partner in the region. SRM offers a line-up of broadcast TV channels and third-party titles to platforms throughout the Middle East and North Africa. This is the first time that viewers in the region will have access to Insight TV’s full line up of authentic and topical content, 24/7.

Jawwy TV, a wholly owned OTT platform by Intigral Internatinal FZ LLC, provides subscribers with a wide range of entertainment from live TV and the latest on-demand premium content to digital sports. Subscribers will now be able to watch Insight HD TV via the Jawwy set-top box or the Jawwy TV app starting this April.

“We’re delighted to make this double whammy announcement,” says Graeme Stanley, COO, Insight TV.

“The launch of Insight TV in the MENA region and our new, non-exclusive distribution partnership with SRM will enable us to reach more viewers who are hungry for our adrenaline-fuelled content featuring action heroes, content creators, trending communities and inspirational topics.”

Ali Ajouz CEO of SRM adds, “Insight TV is an exciting prospect for viewers across the MENA region as its content is totally unique and compelling. We’re looking forward to working on future projects and making further announcements over the coming months.”

Prima aims to block time shift functions in pay-TV

By Chris Dziadul

The Czech national broadcaster FTV Prima plans to block some the features available by default to pay-TV operators in the coming months.

View back functionality should only be available for programmes that have broadcast rights settled for this purpose.

According to Rozhlas.cz, FTV Prima’s idea is that the pay-TV customers would not watch channels from operators’ list.

Instead, their set-top box would reach into FTV Prima’s database.

This would give the broadcaster control over what viewers are watching and potentially offer then in future such services as personalised advertising.

TVP targets Lithuania

By Chris Dziadul

The Polish public broadcaster TVP has signed an agreement with Poland’s foreign ministry to launch a TV channel aimed at ethnic Poles in Lithuania.

In a statement, it says that work on the channel, known as TVP Wilno (‘TVP Vilnius’), has been taking place for a year.

It adds that the channel will be in the Polish language and produced by ethnic Poles in Lithuania.

Its offer will initially be based on TVP Polonia, the long-established channel targeting the Polish diaspora around the world.

In a separate development, TVP says that its supervisory board has suspended Piotr Palka, a member of its management board.

Before yesterdayBroadband TV News: Channels

Netflix testing new UK pricing

By Julian Clover

It’s emerged that Netflix is testing a number of new pricepoints on UK consumers.

Currently, the streaming service has three tiers available, Basic, costing £5.99 per month, Standard at £7.99 and Premium for £9.99.

However, some would-be customers have begun to notice the headline rates vary according to which browser or device they use to sign in. Prices have varied by between £1 and £2.

It is not the first time that Netflix has tried out various pricing strategies before bringing in an across the board increase in a particular market.

In a statement, Netflix told Broadband TV News: “We are testing slightly different prices to better understand how members value Netflix. Not everyone will see this test and we may never roll out these specific prices beyond this test. Our goal is to ensure that Netflix is always great value for money.”

Earlier this month, Broadband TV News reported a price test was underway in Poland with reports of a similar scheme in Italy.

In January, Netflix introduced increases for its US subscribers with Basic, Standard and Premium plans all rising by between one and two dollars.

TV ad revenue in the UK totals Β£5.11bn

By Julian Clover

Online businesses represent the largest category of advertiser on UK television.

According to 2018 data from Nielsen released by Thinkbox, brands such as Google, Just Eat, and Trivago invested a total of £760 million in TV advertising, £47 million (7%) more than in 2017.

Amazon spent £60 million on TV advertising, a 21% increase year-on-year, making it the third biggest advertiser. Only Procter and Gamble (£169 million) and Reckitt Benckiser (£79 million) invested more in TV during 2018.

Food advertisers between them spent £534 million (3% down), Cosmetics & Personal Care stood at £437 million (1% up), Entertainment & Leisure spent £380 million (no change) and Finance: £378 million (18% up).

The increase in Finance advertising spend on TV was due in part to Capital One and VISA returning to TV advertising after a period of not spending on TV.

Lindsey Clay, Thinkbox CEO said: “TV advertising put in a strong performance in 2018 given the challenging economic environment. TV remains the pre-eminent form of advertising, proven to outperform all others. It is a testament to TV’s continuing power to deliver that a company like Amazon, which understands its customers so well, is using TV to power its success.”

The total TV advertising figure of £5.11 billion represents all money spent by advertisers in commercial TV in the UK across all formats and screens: broadcast TV spot and sponsorship, Broadcaster VOD, addressable TV, interactive TV advertising, and product placement.

Serbia Broadband extends TV service

By Chris Dziadul

Serbia Broadband (SBB) has made its TV offer available to everyone outside the SBB network via the new generation platform EON.

New customers who opt for EON can also access such advanced features as seven-day catch-up, a video service with over 14,000 titles and the ability to switch viewing from one device to another.

SBB is offering EON free of charge for a promotional period of 15 days, after which it costs RSD699 (€5.9) for the first six months on a two-year contract. Prepaid packages with online payment are also available for users who want flexibility.

Separately, SBB has announced that the channels CineStar TV Fantasy and CineStar TV Comedy&Family are being made available in HD from March 21.

M7 and Deutsche Glasfaser extend partnership

By JΓΆrn Krieger

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

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

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

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

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

BBC to screen FA Cup to 2025

By Julian Clover

The BBC has signed a new four-year broadcast deal with the Football Association for live coverage of the FA Cup.

The new agreement will start at the beginning of the 2021-22 season. It will include free-to-air coverage on BBC One, highlights and clips.

Mark Bullingham, FA chief commercial & football development officer, said: “The popularity of the competition goes from strength to strength and continues to draw some of the largest audiences in sport.

“The Emirates FA Cup is a competition that captures the imagination of the fans year after year and, without fail, creates incredible stories that become folklore in English football history.

The new deal gives the BBC additional coverage – with up to 18 live matches across the competition per season. It also includes greater coverage of the early rounds – with up to six live matches from across the first and second rounds.

Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, said: “We are delighted to have secured these FA Cup rights until the 2024-25 season, ensuring the millions that tune into free-to-air TV can continue to enjoy the most famous domestic Cup competition in the world.

No announcement has been made on a renewal of BT Sport’s pay-TV rights on the competition.

Gravitas launches new SVOD streaming service

By Robert Briel

Gravitas Ventures, a Red Arrow Studios company, has launched the streaming service Gravitas Movies.

The new SVOD streaming service is now available over the internet on Comcast’s Xfinity X1, along with Apple TV and iOS devices, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Android mobile and Android TV devices. Gravitas Movies is also available at gravitasmovies.com. Gravitas Movies is available in the US now and will be available globally later this summer. The OTT streaming service is powered by a combination of Float Left’s Flicast platform, JW Player, and Cleeng.

Boasting at least 1,000 movies from film festivals and filmmakers, Gravitas Movies is ad-free and new movies are added all the time. Movie fans of all genres including, comedy, horror, thriller, documentary, action, and drama can subscribe to the service for $4.99 per month, which will include notable titles including the Platoon reunion documentary Brothers in Arms with Johnny Depp, Charlie Sheen and Willem Defoe; thriller Billy Boy with Melissa Benoist; Katie Holmes’ directorial debut drama, All We Had; Michael Caine’s documentary portrait of the 1960s, My Generation; and performances from stars including Jason Bateman, Olivia Wilde, Joel Edgerton, Karen Gillan, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Alicia Silverstone.

Launched in 2006, Gravitas Ventures has become a film distributor, bridging the gap between filmmakers and consumer-friendly technology in order to reach a global audience.

“At Gravitas we have always taken pride in being a distributor that can connect the artist and the consumer. By launching our SVOD service, we are taking the next step in bringing our vast young library of films to a global audience,” said President of Gravitas Ventures, Michael Murphy.

“Given the volume, diversity of programming, and refresh rate, we have one of the best value propositions in the marketplace today for fans of independent films and documentaries and plan to keep the offering fresh and new for years to come.”

Cinedigm to acquire Future Today

By Robert Briel

Cinedigm Corp has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Future Today, an OTT platform and AVOD channel network, for $45 million in cash and $15 million in Cinedigm common stock.

The acquisition increases Cinedigm’s OTT footprint to over 7.6 million monthly active users and 67 million total app installs and is expected to be immediately accretive. Future Today generates positive net income and healthy cash flow, with revenues increasing by almost 150% in calendar year 2018 to an estimated $23.9 million in full year revenues.

Future Today Inc owns and operates more than 700 content channels with more than 60 million app installs, and manages more than 200,000 film, television and digital content assets that currently receive more than 85 million video views per month in a variety of categories including entertainment, movies, food & lifestyle, animation, and kids.

Future Today has several proprietary brands which have become market leaders in the ad-supported marketplace, headlined by flagship channels Fawesome.tv focused on general entertainment movies & television shows, and HappyKids.tv, the #1 free kid’s channel providing age-specific edutainment in the connected TV market.

Future Today’s cloud-based technology and ad-based monetisation platform manages OTT services for more than 350 content owners, producers, distributors and major media companies helping them launch and monetize complex Connected TV channels across devices in a matter of days. Key partners such as Filmrise, WatchFreeFlix, and several others have experienced major growth in watch time and user engagement since moving to the Future Today OTT platform.

Alok Ranjan and Vikrant Mathur, co-founders of Future Today, will continue to lead and operate Future Today as Co-Presidents and will enter into long-term employment agreements with Cinedigm upon deal closing.

The transaction is expected to close in the second calendar quarter of 2019 and is subject to customary closing conditions.

BBC chair says Ofcom regulation holding it back

By Julian Clover

The chairman of the BBC has said Ofcom’s regulation of the broadcaster is too narrow, criticising the regulator’s requirement for a Public Interest Test on its plans to expand the BBC iPlayer.

Sir David Clementi told the Oxford Media Convention that new launches from Apple, Disney, Comcast and WarnerMedia were well-positioned to make a major impact in a market in which to stand still is to go rapidly backwards. He said the aim was to make important and straightforward changes to bring the iPlayer into line with what the rest of the market was doing.

“The Board determined that the BBC’s planned iPlayer changes for 2018/19 did not amount to a material change, and therefore should not be subject to the delay of a Public Interest Test. Ofcom disagreed. That is their right…

“But every month is precious, and comes with the risk of lagging even further behind audience needs and expectations.”

Sir David gave the example of Netflix, which he said updated their app over 50 times a year, without the need for regulatory approval and called for a look at whether the regulation of the past remained for the global, digital age.

“The current regulatory system has its origins in an era where the BBC was seen as the big beast in the jungle, the big beast against whom all others needed protection. But that view of the world has now passed. Increasingly, our major competitors are well funded, international giants – Netflix, Spotify, Facebook, YouTube – whose financial resources dwarf our own.”

Sir David recognised that its funding through the Licence Fee meant there should be constraints on how the BBC operates, but a way forward must be found that does not just play into the hands of global competitors at the expense in particular of UK PSBs.

BBC boxed sets come to Sky

By Julian Clover

Sky and BBC Studios have reached an agreement to offer a new range of BBC comedy and drama box sets to Sky and NOW TV customers.

They’ll be available under the UKTV channel brands of GOLD and Alibi from next month.

The box sets include iconic British comedies The Vicar of Dibley and Only Fools and Horses, and recent hits McMafia and Spooks.

“Bringing all of these box sets together for the first time will cement Sky and NOW TV’s reputation as the home of entertainment,” said Rob Webster, Group Director of Partner Channels, Sky. “It’s a great example of collaboration between Sky and BBC Studios, and we are pleased to be bringing our customers even more great British content.”

The first titles will be seen from April 1 and join British box sets already available from Channel 4 and Sky’s own original productions.

Marcus Arthur, President, UK & ANZ, BBC Studios, said “We are delighted to have licensed this range of titles which Sky and NOW TV customers will soon be able to enjoy under the much–loved UKTV channel brands.”

The BBC continues to work on its own branded platform BritBox with partner ITV.

Ukraine media ownership deadline approaches

By Chris Dziadul

The Ukrainian regulator National Council has reminded broadcasters and TV channels that the deadline for submitting details of their ownership is March 31.

In a statement, it says that failure to submit details or their late submission will result in them incurring a fine equivalent to 5% of their licence fee.

A requirement to submit ownership details to the National Council on an annual basis is in accordance with the law On Television and Radio Broadcasting, amended at the end of 2017.

SPI/FilmBox moves Gametoon HD to cloud-based platform

By Chris Dziadul

SPI International/FilmBox has shifted Gametoon HD to a next generation platform employing Evrideo’s broadcast solution.

Commenting on the development, Guney Yasavur COO at SPI International, said: “We were looking for state of art technology that would be more flexible and helpful to reduce time to market. By starting to broadcast Gametoon HD from the Evrideo platform we were able to first test the ground with our new channel’s concept, present it quickly and simply to potential customers and audiences, then deliver the commercial feed easily with Evrideo’s unique tools”.

Avi Zenou, founder and CEO of Evrideo, added: “Evrideo lets any broadcaster to ingest, QC, manage its content, live events, scheduling and graphics on a cloud-based platform running on Amazon AWS with full flexibility to manage the TV channel from anywhere in the world using a web browser and simple internet connectivity. We are thrilled to serve SPI as a leading European broadcaster which joins many other broadcasters and more than 30 commercial channels”.

Gametoon HD, which is the first SPI/FilmBox channel to employ Evrideo’s cloud-based playout platform, covers e-Sports and computer games and it is IP-distributed to a pay-TV platforms in Europe and the Middle East with multiple audio languages.

Meanwhile, Evrideo is an end-to-end cloud-based broadcast platform that can get TV channels up and running, manage content and deliver professional grade TV feeds to any distribution platform such as cable TV, DTH, DTT, IPTV, OTT and social media networks Facebook and YouTube.

High View teams up with HD+ for Ultra HD

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German broadcaster High View is expanding its Ultra HD (UHD) offer: After Deluxe Music, Planet and Waidwerk will also show UHD content on DTH satellite platform HD+.

Pay-TV documentary channel Planet will kick off the new slate of UHD programmes by broadcasting Costa Rica – Nature under the Rainbow on March 18, 2019 at 21.15 CET in parallel on UHD1 by HD+ in Ultra HD resolution.

Waidwerk, the subscription video-on-demand service for hunters and fishermen, will follow on April 8, 2019: The documentary River Jaws – Giant fish in our rivers will be shown on UHD1 by HD+ at 20.15 CET.

Deluxe Music has been present with selected programmes on the Ultra HD channel operated by HD+ on Astra (19.2° East) since 2016.

“The technical development is progressing rapidly. There are already over 10 million UHD TV sets on the market today. Through the cooperation with UHD1, we have the ideal partner at our side to show the viewers of Planet, Waidwerk and Deluxe Music even more content in high-resolution in future,” said Alexander Trauttmansdorff, managing director of High View.

Georges Agnes, managing director operations and product development at HD Plus, added: “More and more broadcasters are producing their formats in UHD quality. The first choice for broadcasting is currently UHD1. We provide broadcasters with an excellent infrastructure for testing their UHD productions in top quality. At the same time, viewers can choose from an ever-increasing range of UHD formats on their UHD TV set with HD+. That’s a good thing, because viewers appreciate the development and are increasingly demanding better picture quality.”

MBC secures broadcast rights for Formula One

By Robert Briel

The MBC Group has acquired the rights to the FIA Formula One races. The broadcaster will offer F1 racing free-to-air.

The deal gives MBC five-year exclusive rights to broadcast the races, commencing last Friday with live coverage of the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Last month, premium broadcaster BeIn Sports said it did not renew its Formula 1 contract for the Middle East and North Africa rights due to rampant piracy.

“This marks the return of the world’s biggest motorsport event to a free-to-air network in the MENA region, following years of being available on subscription-only networks,” MBC said in a statement.

The Formula One World Championship is the highest class of single-seater auto racing regulated by the FIA, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile.

MBC will air all stages of the tournament, including training sessions, qualifiers as well as the Grand Prix finale day.

Special technical and logistical arrangements have been put in place to cover the Formula One tournament from March 15 to 17 for regional fans, MBC added.

After the Melbourne championship, the event returns to the Middle East for the Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2019 from 29 to 31 March. The final event of the season, the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2019 will take from 29 November to 1 December.

Sky Arts to drop linear channel in Germany

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German pay-TV broadcaster Sky Deutschland will convert its arts and cultural channel Sky Arts into a sole on-demand service as of April 3, 2019, at the same time closing down the linear channel.

“With Sky Arts, we are addressing all viewers interested in art and culture. The majority of them have already taken advantage of our broad offering via Sky Q and our streaming services,” said Dr Malte Probst, Senior Vice President Film & Entertainment Portfolio at Sky Deutschland.

“By concentrating the Sky Arts brand on streaming and on-demand services and integrating the ARTE app on Sky Q, we are responding to this behaviour and the wishes of our customers,” added Probst.

With the move, Sky Arts is returning to its roots: Sky Deutschland initially introduced the brand in Germany and Austria on its on-demand services in July 2015, before launching Sky Arts as a linear TV channel one year later.

Iko Media Group re-launches Kurdsat TV

By Robert Briel

Iko Media Group, a global end-to-end service provider for broadcasters and content owners, has announced a re-launch of Kurdish television station Kurdsat.

The boutique service provider was able to successfully re-launch the Kurdish TV station in SD and HD on a global scale – US, Latin America, Middle East and Europe. In addition, they also provided Kurdsat with their OTT platform, iKOFLiX.

“We were looking for the most professional and complete solution to reclaim our #1 ranking in the Kurdish market. iKO provided us with the expertise, knowledge and experience needed to reach and grow our audience on a global scale.” Amanj Kamal CEO Kurdsat

“We are proud to re-launch one of the leading Kurdish channels on a global scale. We are confident that our collaboration with Kurdsat will assist in returning the channel to its leading position in the local and global market.” David Treadway, Chairman, Iko Media Group.

Kurdsat Broadcasting Corporation is the second Kurdish language satellite television station in Iraqi Kurdistan, broadcasting since 2000. It belongs to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and is based in Sulaymaniyah.

The channel broadcasts programs in Kurdish language. Other languages such as Persian and Arabic are also used in some programmes. Kurdsat was among the Kurdish satellite stations in Kurdistan. Kurdsat maintains a website for recent news and commentaries in Kurdish, Arabic and English.

RTL rejects joint streaming venture with ProSiebenSat.1

By JΓΆrn Krieger

RTL Group does not intend to accept ProSiebenSat.1’s invitation to participate in the latter’s joint German streaming venture with Discovery for the time being.

The collaboratoin offered by the competitor is currently not an option, CEO Bert Habets said at the presentation of RTL Group’s 2018 annual report in Berlin. “We are very confident that we can develop this as an independent entity that successfully achieves growth and economies of scale,” Habets added. “We want to be among the top three streaming platforms in each of our markets.”

ProSiebenSat.1 has so far gained ZDF, Sport1 and WELT for its streaming venture which is to launch in summer 2019, aiming to become the central German OTT platform for live and on-demand TV.

According to Habets, RTL would lose too much time by entering a joint venture with ProSiebenSat.1: “These are complex negotiations. A lot of elements have to be negotiated.”

In France, however, RTL subsidiary M6 has agreed to set up a joint streaming platform together with its competitors TF1 and France Télévisions, dubbed Salto.

Originally, RTL and ProSiebenSat.1 wanted to create a joint streaming portal in Germany. The Amazonas project, however, failed in 2012 following objections from the Federal Cartel Office, which considered it to be an unacceptable concentration of market power.