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Yesterday β€” November 18th 2018Broadband TV News: Channels

AMC terminates distribution in The Netherlands

By Robert Briel

AMC Networks is pulling the plug out of its Dutch language linear channel in The Netherlands and Belgium.

The broadcaster has let its distribution partners known that it will terminate its broadcast on December 31. AMC is currently available on Ziggo, KPN, T-Mobile, and somer smaller networks.

AMC has been available for viewers in the Benelux since 2014, when AMC Networks acquired the assets of Chellomedia. At the time, AMC replaced The MGM Channel.

The Benelux feed of the channel featured mostly older movies as well as a few AMC productions such as ear The Walking Dead.

Before yesterdayBroadband TV News: Channels

Canal+ French subs below 8 million

By Julian Clover

Canal+ Group has reported stable revenues for the third quarter as the French pay-TV operation continued its slow turnaround.

The French subscriber base suffered another decline, moving from 8 million to 7.9 million, despite a decrease in churn by 4 points over the last 12 months to 13.4%, the lowest since Q3 2012.

The decrease was put down to the continued decline in Canalplay subscriptions and the termination of the Canalsat offer in favour of the new Canal offers and subscriptions via wholesale partnerships. The Canal+ channel’s individual subscriber base recorded a year-on-year increase of 227,000 subscribers.

International pay-TV operations performed better with a 726,000 increased in subscribers, boosted by the football World Cup.

Mertens named Eleven Sports COO

By Julian Clover

Eleven Sports has appointed Anouk Mertens as its chief operating officer.

Mertens has been the managing director of Eleven Sports in Belgium and Luxembourg since October 2015. She took the business into profitability and in the highly connected country achieved 100% household distribution.

“Alongside her Belgium and Group colleagues, Anouk has helped turn our Belgian operation into a strong and profitable business in a short space of time. We are delighted that she has agreed to help us improve our operations around the Group,” said group CEO Marc Watson.

As Group COO, Mertens will amongst other things; manage budgets in all areas, review market performances and seek synergies and operational efficiencies across the group.

Mertens will also continue in her role as Managing Director in Belgium and Luxembourg.

“Having spent the last three years leading Eleven Sports’ operation in Belgium and Luxembourg, I have developed an intimate knowledge of the business and its global operations. I am thrilled to take up a formal role in the company at Group level at such an exciting time,” commented Mertens.

Prior to joining Eleven Sports, Mertens was managing director of Audio and Visual at leading media business Sanoma. Before that, she spent seven years as VP of Television at cable operator Telenet.

2019: 4K box and quality channels for Slovak Telekom

By Chris Dziadul

Slovak Telekom plans to introduce a 4K set-top box at some stage in 2019.

Speaking to Zive, Andrej Miklánek, the head of the company’s TV services department, also said that it will introduce major changes in its programme offer in the middle of next year, focusing on quality and dropping less popular channels.

In the case of 4K, Miklánek said out that Slovak Telekom may offer some content in 4K on Digi Sport via its new box.

At present, it can only be viewed in 4K on a mobile app, “but we’d rather go another way”.

Customers who buy the new box will have an interesting offer of 4K content.

ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery win ZDF for German Hulu

By JΓΆrn Krieger

ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery have won ZDF as a participant in their joint German streaming portal.

“We have just signed an agreement with ZDF,” ProSiebenSat.1 CEO Max Conze said at the company’s Capital Markets Day in Munich. In around one month the channels ZDF, ZDFinfo and ZDFneo will become available on the current platform 7TV as live-streams.

ZDF is the first public broadcaster to join the platform. The broadcaster recently said that it would approach the Federal Cartel Office in order to determine whether a participation was legally possible after similar attempts – the projects Germany’s Gold and Amazonas – had previously been blocked by the anti-trust authority.

Further partners are Axel Springer with news channel WELT and documentary channel N24 Doku as well as Constantin Medien with sports channel Sport1.

In June 2018, ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery announced their intention to expand 7TV into a joint streaming platform of all major German TV broadcasters, which could turn out to become the German equivalent of US portal Hulu. They invited ARD, ZDF and RTL to participate.

ProSiebenSat.1 will contribute its video-on-demand-service maxdome and Discovery subsidiary Eurosport its Eurosport Player to the platform launching in the first half of 2019. Both services will then no longer be offered as individual stand-alone products.

Insight TV expands in Russia

By Chris Dziadul

The 4K UHD broadcaster Insight TV has signed a new distribution deal with ER-Telecom, one of Russia’s leading cable operators.

As a result, its channel is now available to Dom.ru digital TV viewers with UHD-capable equipment.

Commenting on the development, Graeme Stanley, CCO, Insight TV said” “Russia is an important region for us and we’re pleased to partner with ER-Telecom to bring our content to a greater number of viewers there. This deal further underscores our huge growth in the past 12 months and our commitment to delivering immersive, 4K UHD content worldwide.”

Lyubov Vasilenkova, sales department head of First HDTV TV-company, added: “We’re developing jointly with our partners and we’re aiming to be ahead of the curve by partnering with modern operators such as ER-Telecom. The operator offers its subscribers the new format of 4? broadcasting and we are pleased that Insight TV will become the new 4K channel permanently available for ER-Telecom subscribers”,

Ksenia Borovikova, content management service Head, JSC ER-Telecom Holding, said: “When choosing a UHD channel, we focused on the interests of our clients. Insight TV broadcasts various topics that are interesting for a wide range of viewers: meetings with amazing people, their hobbies, action sports, unusual discoveries, extreme trips and many other things. The channel’s resolution is four times higher than HD format, and the clearer and the more realistic the picture is, the more vivid the viewers’ experience is. The new broadcasting standard is an important step for Dom.ru as one of the biggest operators in Russia.”

Ukraine eyes local DVB-T2 channels

By Chris Dziadul

The Ukrainian regulator National Council, in cooperation with other government bodies, is looking into the possibility of local TV channels employing the DVB-T2 standard.

They would be launched following the final switch off of analogue broadcasting on May 1, 2019 and cover both areas in which digital reception is possible and ‘white spots’ where there is no digital signal.

In a statement, the National Council says it has produced step-by-step instructions for broadcasters with analogue licences and not currently represented in digital multiplexes.

They are invited to submit documentation to the regulator by November 30.

PathΓ© Thuis T-VOD is biggest cinema in Holland

By Robert Briel

The Dutch T-VOD service Pathé Thuis claims to be the biggest cinema in The Netherlands.

Speaking at the Telecom Insights event from Telecompaper, CEO Thomas van de Weerd told the audience that revenue of the platform is growing 50% year-on-year. Pathé Thuis specialises in brand new movies, that can be rented six months after the theatrical release. Rental pricing varies between €1.99 to €5.99.

The platform covers almost all newly released movies that are available in the country, 432 last year (2017). Apart from rental Pathé also offers the possibility to buy the titles as electronic download (EST) for an average price of €14.95.

He also unveiled the ways people are accessing the streaming platform, 50% on smart TVs, 25% on mobile, 15% on the web and the remaining 10% on other devices, including Playstation and Apple TV. No surprise that smart TVs are the main platform for watching movies; at the moment 44% of all Dutch TV sets are connected smart TVs.

Of all new movies watched in the TVOD/EST window, already half the viewing takes place via OTT services, the other via traditional operators. Van de Weerd expects the OTT share to grow further in 2019.

The platform was started in 2011, when there were still rental stores and no streaming market. “We built the platform in six moths, but it took us three years to get all the VOD rights’ according to Van de Weerd.

Cartoon Network to open its first hotel in the US

By Robert Briel

In a rather surprising merchandising move, the Cartoon Network will open its first hotel in the US.

In partnership with Palace Entertainment, the Cartoon Network hotel will have 165 rooms on a nine-acre destination in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, next to the Dutch Wonderland Family Amusement Park.

The Network’s first hotel will feature animation and antics of characters from shows like Adventure Time, We Bare Bears, and The Powerpuff Girls. Through a combination of character animation and creative technology, the entire property will offer fun and unexpected ways to experience the animated worlds of Cartoon Network from the moment of arrival.

The nine-acre destination will feature an interactive lobby with surprises around every corner, a brand-new resort-style pool and water play zone, an outdoor amphitheater with an oversized movie screen, lawn games, fire pits and more!

The experience continues inside, where each guest room and suite will feature interchangeable show theming that can be customized around children’s preferences to make each visit a new adventure. An indoor pool, game room, kids play area, and Cartoon Network store will keep the fun going regardless of the season.

“With just the right mix of technology, design and animation, we’re aiming to bring our characters to life in a way that we haven’t seen done before”, said Christina Miller, President Cartoon Network-Adult Swim- Boomerang.

“We can’t wait to be part of many family vacations with the ultimate Cartoon Network experience.”

“This is going to be a game changer,” said Rolf Paegert, CEO of Palace Entertainment.

“With sleek contemporary designs that parents will appreciate and Easter egg type surprises for kids throughout the resort, the entire family will love this place. Cartoon Network’s stories and themes appeal to everyone in a fun whimsical way.”

“We are thrilled to be part of bringing the Cartoon Network experience to Lancaster, evolving the family hospitality and accommodations industry within the region. The new hotel will enhance the tourism in Lancaster offering several options in hospitality choices for families.”

The hotel is currently under construction and is scheduled to open in the summer of 2019.

CTC Media launches lawsuits

By Chris Dziadul

The Russian broadcaster CTC Media is taking legal action against violators of the rights to its Three Cats cartoon, which it has recently sold to foreign licencees.

According to Kommersant, quoting Vyacheslav Murugov, CTC Media’s general director, it plans to file 100 lawsuits in the period 2018-19. Since October 31, it has already filed nine against individual entrepreneurs, with the claims varying in size from R40,000 –R60,000 (€524-786).

The first season of Three Cats was broadcast in 2015 and now the cartoon is shown on CTC Media channels, Channel One and VGTRK’s Karusel.

The rights to the second season were sold last month to Viacom, while the Danish publisher Egmont has recently acquired the rights to sell goods under the Three Cats brand in Central and Eastern Europe.

Sky Sports adds near-live and mobile Premier League rights

By Julian Clover

Sky has added more rights to its already extensive collection of packages to the English Premier League.

From the 2019-20 season Sky has added in-game goals and clips for mobile devices from Sky Sports live matches and all other games not televised live plus extended highlights and On Demand through Game of the Day and Match Choice.

Sky already has rights to 128 exclusively live Premier League matches each season.

Sky Sports Managing Director Barney Francis said “The Premier League continues to be a captivating competition that we all love, so we’re delighted to add the final pieces of the puzzle from next season so that fans can continue to follow the whole story with Sky Sports.

The remaining Saturday 3pm kick-offs are excluded from the deal.

Richard Scudamore, Premier League Executive Chairman said: “Viewers increasingly want more choice over how and when they consume our competition and Sky’s ability to complement these digital clip and on-demand rights with their extensive live-match coverage is great news for fans.”

Sky Sports’ Premier League coverage has seen a 12% increase year-on-year.

Channel 4 News to create Facebook Watch show

By Julian Clover

Channel 4 News has announced plans for a new weekly news show, created exclusively for Facebook Watch, the broadcaster has announced.

Uncovered, which will make its debut in the New Year, will “go beyond the headlines to tackle the stories that often go unreported, focusing on one single major international issue each week.”

“When the credibility of news is being constantly challenged, never has it been more important to increase the visibility and reach of high-quality sources of news across social network platforms,” said Ben de Pear, editor, Channel 4 News. “That is why we are excited to work with Facebook Watch, bringing together compelling content on a platform that connects audiences with timely and reliable news videos, produced by serious news organisations and being properly funded.”

Uncovered will be produced in a made-for-mobile vertical format which can be viewed on phones in portrait.

It’s the latest news show that has been commissioned by Facebook. Other providers include ABC, CNN and Fox News.

In September, BBC World News was commissioned to produce a show for audiences in the United States.

“Channel 4 News has a proven track record for engaging their audiences with investigative reporting,” Shelley Venus, Video Lead, News Partnership, Facebook. “I look forward to seeing how ‘Uncovered’ highlights unreported international issues in a mobile-first format and shows people what else is happening in the world.”
Channel 4 News already has apps available for Apple and Google devices that lets users watch the latest edition of the programme or view individual reports.

JML Media fined over boss’s political funding

By Julian Clover

Ofcom has fined JML Media £7,500 after it emerged a director failed to disclose his political affiliations.

John Mills, the founder and director of the homeshopping channel group, was at one time Labour’s largest donor.

“We found that JML Media Limited failed to disclose to Ofcom the political associations of one of its directors and major shareholders. This meant that the Licensee rendered itself disqualified from holding its broadcasting licence, under restrictions in the Broadcasting Act,” the regulator said in a statement.

The fine, which takes into account the action taken by JML to rectify the breach and its full cooperation with Ofcom, goes to HM Paymaster General.

A spokesperson for JML said: “We welcome this decision. It makes clear the breach was not deliberate, the potential harm to viewers was limited, and we fully engaged and cooperated with Ofcom throughout the process.

“The breach was a result of clerical oversight, and once Ofcom made us aware of the issue, Mr Mills immediately resigned from all the political organisations to ensure compliance. To ensure this does not occur again in the future we have appointed a compliance officer to oversee all company regulatory processes.”

In July Mills resigned from positions at Labour Leave, Labour Future, The Pound Campaign, Business for Brexit, and Labour for Britain.

Nintendo to drop Wii video streaming

By Julian Clover

Games consoles were once seen as a route for OTT services into the living room, but now Wii is preparing to switch off the light.

Services including Netflix, Amazon Prime and the BBC iPlayer will stop working on the Wii from January 30, 2019.

Netflix customers have already begun to receive email notices warning them of the change and the streamer has also posted a notice on its website.

“We hope you’ll soon enjoy an even better Netflix experience with additional features on a supported device. Please visit netflix.com/wii for our device list.”

The 12 year-old gaming console has also made its own announcement, saying that its Wii Shop Channel.

Bob Iger reveals details of Disney’s new streaming service

By Robert Briel

The Walt Disney Company’s new direct-to-consumer OTT streaming service will be called Disney+. It will challenge Netflix’ domination on the SVOD market.

Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger revealed the service’s name during a live audio webcast of Disney’s fiscal full year and fourth quarter 2018 financial results. Disney+ is scheduled to launch in the US in late 2019.

Disney announced in August, 2017 that it would cut its ties with Netflix.

Disney+ follows the launch earlier this year of ESPN+ built around Disney’s sports-oriented media property. Iger says the service has already gained more than one million paid subscribers.

During an interview with CNBC Iger gave some more details about the Disney direct service that will feature Disney Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and ultimately National Geographic: “And then of course through the acquisition of 21st Century Fox, we’ll end up with a controlling stake in Hulu, or 60% of Hulu, and that will be a priority as well in terms of investment and growth in the — basically direct to consumer digital media space.

During the interview, Iger also said he would be interested in acquiring the 30% of Hulu that Comcast owns or the 10% that Warnermedia owns, ” we certainly would be interested in buying their stake. But with 60%, which is what we will own, we’ll have enough control to manage Hulu in a way that is consistent with — the strategy of the company is deploying.”

During the earning gs call, Iger said that he is looking at Hulu for “both global growth and investing more in content,” which points at an international roll-out of the service

Iger also announced that Lucasfilm is in development on a second Star Wars live-action series for Disney+ that will go into production next year. The series will follow the adventures of Rebel spy Cassian Andor during the formative years of the Rebellion and prior to the events of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Diego Luna will reprise the role of Andor, which he originated in the 2016 film.

“Going back to the Star Wars universe is very special for me,” said Luna. “I have so many memories of the great work we did together and the relationships I made throughout the journey. We have a fantastic adventure ahead of us, and this new exciting format will give us the chance to explore this character more deeply.” The rousing spy thriller will explore tales filled with espionage and daring missions to restore hope to a galaxy in the grip of a ruthless Empire. A release date for the series will be announced at a later date.

Disney+ is also assembling a live-action series centered around a fan-favourite character from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Iger today confirmed that Marvel Studios is developing a series based on Loki, the god of mischief, to star Tom Hiddleston.

The new projects join a slate of films and series planned for Disney+ that includes new stories set in the worlds of Disney•Pixar’s Monsters Inc. and Disney Channel’s High School Musical, as well as a galaxy far, far away.

Earlier this year, Lucasfilm revealed that Emmy-nominated producer and actor Jon Favreau will write and executive produce The Mandalorian for Disney+. The live-action series, which is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order, is currently in production.

TVP English channel launches

By Chris Dziadul

TVP’s new English channel Poland In has officially made its debut.

It was launched on November 11, the 100th anniversary of Poland’s independence, and is available as a streaming service on Polandin.com, as well as on YouTube and Facebook.

Commenting on the development, Maciej Stanecki, TVP’s VP, said: “we would like that thanks to us foreigners will be able to discover everything that is most interesting in our country, what we are famous for, what we are proud of and what is new. We want to show Poland, which they probably do not know. As it is in reality. Therefore, when creating a channel schedule, we follow the slogan ‘The best of Poland’.

“The intention of its creators is to journalistically show social phenomena from a certain distance. In a legible way for English-speaking audiences, not included in the daily, current topics of the country.”

He added: “The internet portal Polandin.com will be an integral part of the channel. Since the launch of the Poland In English service in spring, we have been asked by our colleagues from the EBU about the possibility of programme exchange between English-speaking channels in Europe. Now we can fully join in international cooperation by providing high-quality information materials about our country. Our plans for 2019 include the launch of a mobile app and extending the channel’s streaming servioce to satellite”.

Turkey’s TRT expands into Indonesia

By Chris Dziadul

The Turkish public broadcaster TRT’s international news channels TRT World (in English) and TRT Arabi (in Arabic) have entered into a partnership with the Indonesian free OTT mobile entertainment platform Oona.

As a result, they will now be available to 185 million Oona subscribers in the country.

Commenting on the development, Christophe Hocahrt, Oona’s founder and CEO, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer these renowned award-winning channels to our Indonesian viewers. Now they can stay ahead 24/7 with TRT’s breaking and in-depth news, current affairs, and gripping documentaries, which are available in both English and Arabic.”

Furkan Han, TRT World’s head of global digital & satellite distribution & partnership, added: “We’ve been investing in digital growth since day one, and provide our content to all demographics, in which ever way they prefer. Our partnership with Oona TV enables delivery of TRT World and TRT Arabi content to millions of people in Indonesia.”
TRT World was launched in 2015 and is based in Istanbul, with three newsrooms in other parts of the world.
Oona is a subsidiary of NFCX in synergy with Metranet, a subsidiary of Telkom Indonesia. It is on course to expand its free and premium service to other parts of Asia, Africa, South America, the Middle East, US and Europe.

Czech regulator approves teleshopping channel, acts against AMC

By Chris Dziadul

The Czech Radio and TV Council (RRTV) have granted FBC Media a licence to operate a 24-hour teleshopping channel.

In a summary, the regulator says the licence for the channel, named Galerie, is for a period of 12 years and applies to regional terrestrial broadcasting on Network 7, as specified by the Czech Telecommunications Office (CTU).

The RRTV has also launched an administrative procedure to withdraw licences for the channels Sport4 Czechia and Slovakia, Sundance TV FR and SportM.

They are held by AMC Networks Central Europe, which has failed to launch the channels 360 days after being granted the licences.

AMC has now ben given a time limit of 15 days from the start of the procedure to launch the channels.

Atresmedia launches global OTT platform

By Robert Briel

Atresmedia is launching a new OTT platform, accessible from anywhere in the world with no commercial breaks.

Based on a subscription model with the first month free and no long-term commitment, Atresplayer is also available outside Spain with a fresh design, and new features, such as 4K video and Dolby Digital sound, live playback control, offline viewing, customisation and recommendations.

The international version of the Atresplayer offers access to live content from Atresmedia’s online channels in Spain (Antena 3, laSexta); to Flooxer, the most recent addition to the platform, aimed at a younger audience; to the group’s internationally successful series, with extra content in catch-up mode; to news and current events -500 hours in prime time, 1,500 hours of news bulletins and 2,200 hours of daily magazines- and an extensive SVOD catalogue of series (7,500 hours) and programmes from the group.

Atresplayer is also available on every screen, including Android and Apple iOS, as well as on PCs, tablets and smart TVs.

SPI’s Fast&FunBox HD launches on Orange Spain

By Robert Briel

SPI has extended their channel distribution in Spain with the launch of Fast&FunBox HD on Orange TV in Spain.

6SPI will bring action-packed sports and fast-paced entertainment in HD quality to Orange sports fans. This multi-discipline channel offers 400 new hours every year of adrenaline filled car racing, skydiving, sailing and much, much more.

“Following the successful launch of the Orange sports pack over the summer, we are excited to be adding even more value to the sports proposition with this high energy channel. The Spanish market is a key TV market and I am pleased to have begun this great partnership with Orange,” commented Georgina Twiss, MD Western Europe & Africa.

Orange TV’s Spain Head of Marketing, Eva Baltes says, “Fast&FunBox HD is a unique solution for adrenaline lovers, offering the perfect medley of extreme sports and we think it’s a great fit for the Spanish market.”