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Yesterday β€” July 20th 2018Broadband TV News: Channels

BeIn Sports to pull out of Spain

By Robert Briel

The BeIn Sports channel will cease broadcasting in Spain from August 1, as a result of Telefonica’s acquisition of rights to Uefa’s Champions League and Europa League football.

BeIn Connect’s website is no longer accepting subcriptions to BeIn Sports, offering instead a stripped-down football bundle similar to that unveiled this week by Vodafone Spain, which is in dispute with Telefonica over the cost of screening UEFA content over the coming season.

Telefonica revealed in June that it will pay UEFA EUR360 million per year for the rights to screen Champions League and Europa League games in Spain over the next three seasons and while Orange agreed to pay for access to the content, Vodafone refused.

BeIn Connect’s website however that UEFA games will be available to its clients on an as-yet-unnamed “new channel” for which details will be announced “soon”.

In the competitive Spanish market, Telefonica also acquired the rights to LaLiga for the period 2019-2020, making it the premier provider of football coverage.

KPN signs Insight TV for more UHD content

By Robert Briel

Insight TV has signed a distribution deal with Dutch telecoms operator KPN.

The agreement will allow viewers in the Netherlands to watch Insight TV’s 4K UHD HDR and HD content via KPN’s IPTV service.

KPN provides a wide range of services offering both 4K UHD and HD packages to suit the requirements of its subscribers. The 4K UHD package is made available via its 4K UHD TV receivers.

Graeme Stanley, Commercial Director of Insight TV adds, “We’re thrilled to announce that we’re working with KPN. This latest distribution deal further underlines our strong position in the market. We are working with distributors and partners across the world so that more people have access to the best content in stunning 4K UHD HDR.”

Before yesterdayBroadband TV News: Channels

Virgin Media to drop UKTV channels

By Julian Clover

Virgin Media has said it will replace UKTV channels including Dave, Gold, Alibi and Drama after it failed to reach a new agreement with the broadcaster.

In a message released on Thursday evening, Virgin said while it was still in discussions with the BBC-Discovery-backed network it had already lined up a slate of replacement channels and on demand content. UKTV said Virgin Media was seeking a significant reduction in the amount paid for its channels.

“Virgin Media has had a long relationship with UKTV, but viewing behaviours amongst our customers are changing and we are committed to investing in the kind of programming they want to watch, whenever and however they want to watch it,” said David Bouchier, Chief Digital Entertainment Officer, Virgin Media “Unfortunately, due to the restrictions put on UKTV by the BBC, UKTV is not able to provide the significant on-demand programming that we know our customers want.”

At issue is UKTV’s content supply agreement with the BBC. While the linear channels feature a mix of recent and classic BBC shows and an increasing number of popular original productions, BBC content is absent from on demand service UKTV Play. Instead the BBC sells the rights directly to streaming services Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Darren Childs, Chief Executive of UKTV, said: “We want to continue to provide our channels to Virgin Media, but the huge cut in fees that Virgin has requested doesn’t reflect the value we bring to customers.

“UKTV’s channels account for over a quarter of pay entertainment channel viewing within Virgin Media’s basic subscription pack, while our on demand viewing has grown by over a third in the last year.”

As part of a new deal, UKTV is proposing to offer Virgin Media an increased range of on demand catch-up and boxsets, enhanced distribution rights, and an additional channel, Gold HD.

The existing agreement will expire at midnight on Saturday 21 July.

Virgin in touting new launch the Paramount Network as well as new Fox launch Your TV and quiz network IQTV.

It’s not the first time that Virgin has been involved in a row with a major channel supplier. In March 2007 it began an 18 month dispute that saw the loss of Sky basic channels including Sky News and Sky One.

Match TV secures key football rights

By Chris Dziadul

Match TV has signed a new four-year contract with the Russian Football Premier League (RFPL) following months of negotiations.

Kommersant reports that the channel, which is owned by Gazprom Media, will pay R1.7 billion (€23.2 million) plus R250 million production costs a year for the rights to the Russian Football Championship.

The next (2018/19) league season kicks off on July 28. The last contact between the two parties was signed in 2015 and worth R1.98 billion a year, including production costs.

Although the RFPL wanted more on this occasion, loss-making Match TV was unwilling to increase the amount paid.

The RFPL also held talks with a company named ASM, which was supported by a group of investors and had implied support from Channel One.

On demand quiz channel IQTV to launch on Virgin

By Julian Clover

IQTV, the on demand quiz channel for the more cerebral contestant, is to launch on Virgin TV.

The channel focuses on points-based, game shows such as Mastermind, Countdown, The Weakest Link and Only Connect, with over 100 episodes available at launch.

David Bouchier, Chief Digital Entertainment Officer at Virgin Media, said: “Quiz shows prove hugely popular with viewers and have been a staple of British television over the years. What makes these programmes so appealing and enjoyable is not only that you can watch on your own but also they can bring out friendly family competition. We are sure Virgin TV customers will love this addition to our Video on Demand service.”

Rod Henwood and Nick James, co-founders of IQTV, added: “There are 3.5 million superfans of intelligent quiz shows in the UK and Eire, and IQTV is the first service dedicated exclusively to them. The great thing about intelligent quiz shows is that they entertain and challenge in equal measure; it’s a form of television that viewers can fully participate in. Launching IQTV on Virgin TV, a pioneer in on demand television, is a great boost to our service and a strong addition to their offering.”

IQTV is available through Virgin TV’s Video on Demand service and can be accessed by customers on Mix packages and above.

Sky Deutschland to distribute DAZN via satellite

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German pay-TV broadcaster Sky Deutschland will transmit selected live sports coverage from streaming portal DAZN via satellite for Sky sports bars in Germany and Austria.

As part of the three-year collaboration, Sky will offer two linear DAZN channels in HD quality on Astra (19.2° East). Sky sports bars visitors can thus continue to watch all matches of the German teams in the UEFA Champions League as well as all top games of the UEFA Europa League live.

Background: Sky and DAZN will share the Champions League rights from the 2018/19 season; DAZN is the sole owner of the Europa League rights.

Additionally, games from international leagues such as the UK’s Premier League and the Spanish La Liga as well as the Tennis WTA Tour, darts, NBA and other sports will be shown on the two DAZN satellite channels – up to 14 hours of live sports per day.

Besides Astra, the two linear DAZN channels will in future also be made available to sports bars served by cable networks.

Record fine for illegal Sky use

By Julian Clover

Two pub directors and licensees have been ordered to pay a record £327,405 for the illegal use of Sky transmissions.

A total of four people who between them ran Prince of Wales in Stafford, the Beaufort Arms in Birmingham and the Pheasant Inn in Wolverhampton were convicted of 64 offences after showing Sky Sports in their pubs without permission.

The prosecution was brought by the intellectual property protection organisation FACT.

Jonathan Hunt was convicted of 19 offences, Robert Stevens was convicted of 19 offences, Mark Jones was convicted of 19 offences in his absence and Carol Keenan pleaded guilty to 7 offences of a television transmission with the intent to avoid payment of the applicable charge.

The offences were in contrary to Section 297(1) of the Copyright Design and Patents Act 1988.

Stephen Gerrard, Prosecuting Manager, FACT, said: “The licensees and company involved in this case have consistently refused to engage with us and ignored numerous warnings and offers of advice sent to them. This clearly demonstrates their conscious decision to offend, over a significant period of time. We were left with no option but to prosecute these individuals and we will continue to prosecute publicans who are fraudulently showing Sky programmes in their premises.“

George Lawson, Head of Commercial Piracy at Sky, added “We take illegal use of our programming very seriously and we remain committed to protecting our legitimate Sky customers who are unfairly losing business due to this illegal activity.”

Sky will visit several hundred pubs during the course of the football season, following up organisations it believes are screening its content illegally.

RTL UHD to show live football matches

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German commercial broadcaster RTL willl transmit four football matches live on its linear Ultra HD test channel.

The first match will be the friendly game between record champion FC Bayern Munich and Manchester United in the Allianz Arena in Munich on August 5, 2018. The coverage will start at 20.00 CET.

On August 28, Bastian Schweinsteiger (pictured) will play his farewell match in which his current club Chicago Fire will take on FC Bayern Munich.

RTL UHD will also show games of Germany’s national team, starting with the friendly match against Peru on September 9. On November 15, the German team will meet Russia in Leipzig.

RTL UHD can be received via satellite exclusively on German DTH platform HD+ on Astra (19.2° East). The football matches are broadcast using the HDR format Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG).

RTL UHD which launched in April 2018 also shows all Formula 1 races of the current season live.

Netflix updates user design

By Julian Clover

Netflix will today introduce a new user interface for its subscribers.

In a blog post Stephen Garcia, director, product innovation, at the streaming service explained the objective was to make it easier to find titles on TVs where fewer buttons on a remote control can make navigation more difficult.

Garcia said the objective was to make the Netflix experience and more intuitive: “Our research has shown us that while a member generally isn’t sure what exact title they want to watch, they have a pretty good sense of whether they are in the mood for a quick series episode or a longer movie experience.” Titles saved for later viewing can now be found more easily through My List. It could be said that a sidebar interface isn’t particularly innovative, but it’s Netflix, so excitement levels are raised.

“While this may feel like an obvious update to some, validating that this TV experience was better for our members took extensive research, testing and technology improvements.”

Garcia said Netflix would continue to learn from its members and evolve the service.

An earlier introduction of video previews had significantly reduced the amount of time spent browsing.

New sports channel for Czech Republic

By Chris Dziadul

The Czech DTH and IPTV operator Digi TV will launch a further sports channel in time for the start of the upcoming football season.

Although the company already has three proprietary channels – Digi Sport 1 HD, Digi Sport 2 HD and Digi Sport 3 HD – it secured the rights to Italy’s Serie A and the English FA Cup earlier this month and no longer has enough capacity.

It will therefore add Digi Sport 4 HD to its line-up and Vladimir Rusnak, the company’s CEO, has hinted that more football-related news will be shortly announced.

Digi TV is operated by Digi CZ, which has been owned by the Czech investment group Lama Energy Group since 2015.

TV streaming services overtake pay-TV

By Julian Clover

UK viewers are now more likely to subscribe to a streaming service than they are to a traditional pay-TV platform.

New research from the UK regulator Ofcom has found that while the appetite for streamers such as Netflix is increasing, the amount of money spent by broadcasters the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 on new, UK-made TV programmes fell to a 20-year low.

The amount of time spent in front of the TV is also on the way down – average daily viewing on the television set fell by nine minutes in 2017 – and has fallen by 38 minutes since 2012.

Between them Netflix, Amazon Prime and Now TV now reach 15.4 million subscribers, overtaking the 15.1 million subscribers that take a pay-TV service.

But the report also reveals that subscription video on demand services are often complementary to a traditional pay-TV sub. In Q1 2018, 71% of those with an SVoD subscription also had a pay-TV service – approximately the same proportion as the previous year.

Total daily viewing time across all devices stands at 5 hours one minute, of which two-thirds (three hours 33 minutes or 71%) was broadcast content, and 1 hour 28 minutes was non-broadcast content.

“Today’s research finds that what we watch and how we watch it are changing rapidly, which has profound implications for UK television,” said Ofcom chief executive Sharon White. “We have seen a decline in revenues for pay TV, a fall in spending on new programmes by our public service broadcasters, and the growth of global video streaming giants. These challenges cannot be underestimated.”

Across all devices, the UK’s total television and audio-visual viewing in 2017 reached five hours and one minute per day.

The majority of this (three hours 33 minutes or 71%) was broadcast television, with the remainder (one hour 28 minutes or 29%) non-broadcast content such as YouTube and services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

However, viewers aged 16-34 watched more non-broadcast than broadcast content – an average of 2 hours 37 minutes a day (54%) across all devices, compared with 2 hours 11 minutes (46%).

Marco Kraft joins Riedel from Salzbrenner

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Riedel Communications has appointed Marco Kraft as head of sales for Germany.

In his new role, Kraft will manage the company’s sales and rental businesses serving the German broadcast and AV markets, reporting directly to Jens Miedek, sales director at Riedel.

“Marco is an outstanding addition to our sales organisation. He has shaped established companies in the industry, both operationally and strategically, and his deep experience and leadership skills are a powerful asset,” said Miedek. “Plus, Marco knows the requirements of the ever-changing broadcast and AV world very well. With his proven expertise, he will continue to drive opportunities in the German market and take our business to new levels.”

Kraft previously spent several years as sales manager for Germany, Austria and Switzerland as well as Southern and Eastern Europe at Salzbrenner Stagetec Mediagroup where he was responsible for the audio solutions and systems business. Other previous positions include sales manager for network management systems at Dimetis and general sales manager for Central and Eastern Europe at JVC Professional.

Riedel Communications designs, manufactures, and distributes real-time video, audio, data and communications networks for broadcast, pro audio, event, sports, theatre and security applications. The German company also provides rental services for radio and intercom systems, event IT solutions, fibre backbones and wireless signal transmission systems. Riedel employs over 500 people in 19 locations throughout Europe, Australia, Asia and the Americas.

New Canal+ channels gain Polish licences

By Chris Dziadul

banery nc+

Poland’s National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT) has awarded ITI Neovision licences to operate two new sports channels.

In a statement, the regulator says that the satellite licences, for Canal+ Sport 3 and Canal+ Sport 4, are valid for a period of 10 years.

As previously reported by Broadband TV News, they will join a portfolio of Canal+ sports channels that already includes Canal+ Sport, Canal+ Sport 2 and nSport+ and is distributed on the DTH platform nc+.

QVC UHD launches on German cable

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German teleshopping channel QVC Deutschland can now also be received in Ultra HD quality on cable.

wilhelm.tel and willy.tel are the first cable operators carrying the channel. Around 300,000 cable customers in the Hamburg and Norderstedt region can receive QVC UHD, further cable networks are to follow.

QVC UHD launched in December 2017 for DTH satellite households on Astra (19.2° East).

BBC World Cup breaks online records

By Julian Clover

England’s best performance in the World Cup for 28 years contributed to a record-breaking tournament for the BBC’s online services.

The Three Lions’ quarter-final against Sweden became the BBC’s highest online-viewed live programme ever with 3.8 million (3.9 million including on-demand) live requests on BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport.

Neil Hall, Head of Sport Product, BBC Design & Engineering, says: “This World Cup has seen a huge increase in people following the action over the internet, through BBC Sport and BBC iPlayer. Live match requests rocketed from a total of 15.9m at Brazil 2014 to 56.3m this year, and World Cup content on the BBC Sport website went up from 32.3m UK unique browsers to 49.2m in the same period. We continue to improve things behind-the-scenes and create new experiences that make these major events even more engaging for our audiences.”

The VR app was downloaded over 400k times, and over 2.5m people registered for a BBC account
In all the tournament saw a record-breaking 66.8 million match requests (live and on-demand) with 56.3m of these being live requests.

The World Cup final between France and Croatia on Sunday delivered 2 million live requests (with 36,000 on-demand) to stream the match online on BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport.

Netflix disappoints investors with slower growth

By Robert Briel

Netflix added 5.2 million users worldwide in the second quarter, or over 1 million fewer than the streaming service had expected.

Investors punished Netflix hard and the company’s valuation went down sharply on Wall Street. With a drop of more than 14%, the video giant lost some $24.2 billion in market capitalisation.

Netflix writes in a letter to shareholders that it has overestimated growth. For this quarter, the group has revised its growth forecasts downwards to 5 million new users.

Turnover was $3.9 billion, profits rose to $384 million, compared with $66 million a year ago. Netflix had some 130 million paying users worldwide at the end of the quarter.

Netflix said it will be investing more in its own non-English-language productions in the near future. This is necessary because the company observes that HBO and Disney (as well as Amazon and Apple) are catching up. This year, the company investing about $7.5 to $8 billion in content.

“In addition to succeeding commercially, we are starting to lead artistically in some categories, with our creators earning enough Emmy nominations this year to collectively break? HBO’s amazing 17-year run?,” wrote Reed Hastings in his letter to investors.

The company expects growth to level off in the coming years, partly due to the emergence of large competitors in countries such as Germany and France.

Hastings: “We anticipate more competition from the combined AT&T/Warner Media, from the combined Fox/Disney or Fox/Comcast as well as from international players like Germany’s ProSieben and Salto in France. Our strategy is to simply keep improving, as we’ve been doing every year in the past.”

Abramovich share sale wins approval

By Chris Dziadul

Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) has approved the sale of a 4% stake in Channel One currently held by Roman Abramovich to National Media Group (NMG).

As a result, Abramovich will see his interest in Channel One reduced to 20%, which will comply with the levels of foreign ownership in media outlets permitted under Russian law.

As previously reported by Broadband TV News, Abramovich took out Israeli citizenship in May but has no intention of selling his entire stake in Channel One.

Channel One’s main shareholder is the Federal Agency for State Property Management (39%), while NMG will see its share increase from 25% to 29%.

Vivendi closes Studio+ mobile video services

By Robert Briel

Vivendi is closing down its Studio + service aimed at young mobile viewers after racking up losses of EUR48 million in less than two years time.

Studio+ is a mobile TV service offering short form videos for a monthly subscription fee with original made-for-mobile content.

According to BFM Business, the service managed to acquire only 2,567 paying subscribers in France. The venture, which was launched in November 2016, only brought in EUR6.8 million income, resulting in a total loss of EUR48 million.

Vivendi reported a total of 5.3 million subscribers to the service, but as it now turns out, these were on the Telefonica networks in Latin America and not direct subscribers. In France, Studio+ managed an income from subscribers of only EUR77,000 in 2017.

Exclusive: ProSiebenSat.1 to launch UHD service on July 22

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German commercial broadcast group ProSiebenSat.1 will launch its Ultra HD (UHD) service on July 22, 2018 with a special edition of science programme Galileo.

Galileo Spezial will be transmitted at 19.05 CET in UHD/4K in HDR format for DTH satellite households free-to-air via Astra (19.2° East) on showcase channel UHD1 by HD+, Nicole Agudo Berbel, Chief Distribution Officer & Executive Vice President Digital Publishing, told Broadband TV News.

The UHD version of Galileo Spezial – focussing on different types of holidays – will be broadcast in parallel to its regular SD and HD distribution on the ProSieben channel. It will also be offered on ProSieben’s own digital platforms including the website, app and smart TVs (HbbTV).

The kabel eins format Rosins Restaurants will also air in UHD quality, according to Agudo Berbel.

Agudo Berbel announced another highlight to be shown in UHD: The Sat.1 original movie Amokspiel (working title) based on the novel of the same name by Sebastian Fitzek. The thriller featuring actors such as Franziska Weisz, Eko Fresh, Johann von Bülow and Christian Tramitz is directed by Oliver Schmitz and produced in UHD by TV60Film. The film shootings began on June 19, 2018 in Berlin and are scheduled to run until July 18.

The Sat.1 original movie Hilfe, meine Mutter bekommt mein Kind! (working title) featuring Andrea Sawatzki will also be produced and shown in UHD.

There is strong interest in the market in ProSiebenSat.1’s UHD programmes, said Agudo Berbel (pictured), with many platform operators asking for distribution possibilities, but no decision has been made yet regarding carriage by third parties beyond broadcasting on UHD1 and ProSiebenSat.1’s own digital platforms for on-demand reception of the content in UHD. The demand for catch-up access to original content of ProSiebenSat.1 via mobile, online or HbbTV is increasing steadily, Agudo Berbel said.

ProSiebenSat.1’s first UHD move was in August 2017 with kabel eins documentary series Abenteuer Leben made available to smart TV owners in the new format through the red button (HbbTV). After the broadcast, the programming remained accessible on-demand on the channel’s catch-up service.

Competing broadcaster RTL launched a linear UHD test channel on April 28, 2018. The opening event was the live broadcast of the Formula 1 race from Baku in Azerbaijan. RTL UHD will show all Formula 1 races and qualifying rounds of the current season live. On May 5, the test channel screened the final of talent show Deutschland sucht den Superstar (DSDS) live in UHD.

FIFA takes action against beoutQ’s pirate World Cup

By Julian Clover

With just two matches left, football’s governing body is preparing to take legal action against the Saudi pirate that has been illegally retransmitting the World Cup.

Since October 2017, the beoutQ pirates have been selling subscriptions to ten satellite channels carrying premium live sports content stolen from beIN and other broadcasters.

“FIFA has engaged counsel to take legal action in Saudi Arabia and is working alongside other sports rights owners that have also been affected to protect its interest,” the organisation said in a statement. “FIFA urges the authorities of Saudi Arabia and of the different countries where these illegal activities have been observed to support us in the fight against piracy.”

The beoutQ set-top boxes are being openly sold in retail outlets across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other countries.

Oman has already decided to put a halt to the import of the STBs.

Last month, the Formula 1 organisation has launched an investigation into the illegal broadcasts by the Saudi outfit.