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Today β€” April 20th 2018Broadband TV News: Channels

Sky Deutschland keeps DFB Cup rights

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German pay-TV broadcaster Sky Deutschland will show all matches of German football tournament DFB Cup live for another three years.

The new agreement with German football association DFB covers the TV rights for the 2019/20 to 2021/22 seasons. The contract enables Sky to continue broadcasting all 63 matches of the competition live, 50 of them exclusively on German television. Financial details were not disclosed.

The rights deal covers transmissions via cable, satellite, IPTV, internet and mobile TV.

The free-to-air TV rights for selected matches were acquired by public broadcaster ARD and commercial sports channel Sport1.

Amazon Prime delivering to 100 million customers

By Julian Clover

13 years after its launch Amazon’s Prime service has now exceeded 100 million members across the world.

In a letter to shareholders, founder and CEO Jeff Bexos said more than five billion items had been shipped in 2017, while more members joined Prime than in any other previous year.

What began as an extension to its parcel delivery service, promising unlimited free two-day shipping, has expanded into streaming music and, significantly, video.

In March, documents obtained by Reuters revealed the US audience for video streamed on the Prime service amounts to around 26 million and has become a key tool in both member adoption and retention.

Last Prime Channels launched in the UK and Germany and the service is constantly linked with big sports acquisitions.

This week it was announced that Amazon had acquired the exclusive live rights to US Open Tennis in the UK and Ireland.

Amazon Prime Video wins US Open tennis rights in the UK

By Julian Clover

Amazon has signed an exclusive agreement with the organisers of the US Open Tennis Championships.

The five-year deal with the USTA gives the streaming service live rights to the tournament in the UK and Ireland. Prime members will have access to live matches and on demand highlights.

“We are proud to partner with the USTA to add the US Open to the growing portfolio of sports available on Prime Video,” added Alex Green, Managing Director, Channels & Sports, Prime Video Europe. “This prestigious event, along with the other exciting tennis coming this year and next, makes Prime Video a destination for tennis fans in the UK and Ireland.”

“This new partnership allows the USTA to showcase our live and on-demand content to Amazon Prime members throughout the U.K. and Ireland,” said Lew Sherr, USTA Chief Revenue Officer. “We are excited to market the telecasts via Prime Video and provide fans more ways to watch tennis matches.”

Up until 2016 the rights had been shared between Sky Sports and Eurosport, before Eurosport took on the coverage exclusively in 2017.

Amazon is also said to be in conversation with the Premier League over one or more of the two unsold packages in the 2019-22 rights round.

Yesterday β€” April 19th 2018Broadband TV News: Channels

RTL Nederland to merge OTT services

By Robert Briel

RTL Nederland is to merge its two OTT activities, Videoland, RTL XL, into a single platform.

Just recently RTL terminated its catch-up service RTL Gemist, which was available for free on a number of smart TVs as well as on various distribution platforms including KPN and Ziggo.

The combined platform provides the basis for further online activities. Videoland is a SVOD service offering movies and TV series, priced at €8.99 a month, while RTL XL offers catch-up programming as well as paid-for premieres of TV series.

The move is part of a new strategy outlined by RTL in the Netherlands, where under the banner ‘fan centric’ the viewer and RTL fans are at the centre of the broadcaster’s decision making process.

“Videoland is growing faster than ever. We have to, because not only do we want to be the market leader on TV, we also want to be the local number 1 in video on demand,” said RTL Nederland CEO Sven Sauvé.

“Our video on demand activities have taught us a lot about ‘fan centric’ working. It is about continuous testing while you are developing something, learning from your mistakes and sometimes it means to kill your darlings if that is in the interest of the consumer. By talking to our subscribers, we know that they want to have one place where they can see everything and where a lot of attention is paid to Dutch content. This year we are taking the step of merging all our online activities.”

HSE24 owners said to favour sale over IPO

By JΓΆrn Krieger

US investment group Providence is moving ahead with plans to sell German home shopping TV network HSE24.

Providence has selected Apax, BC Partners and Pamplona as second-round bidders, reports Reuters with reference to several people close to the matter.

The suitors will get management presentations next week with a view to getting ready for final bids in a few weeks for the asset which is expected to fetch more than €1.5 billion, according to the report

The simultaneous preparations for a pre-summer flotation (IPO) of HSE24 on the Frankfurt stock exchange are currently not the first choice, but may be revived if final bids come in below expectations, reports Reuters.

HSE24 launched in 1995 as Germany’s first home shopping channel under the name H.O.T. (Home Order Television). The broadcaster which mainly competes with Liberty’s QVC also covers Austria and Switzerland and operates subsidiaries in Italy and Russia. In 2012, Providence acquired the majority stake.

Hungary’s Hir TV to shed staff

By Chris Dziadul

The Hungarian news channel Hir TV has announced layoffs in a move that reflects wider changes in the country’s media landscape.

BBJ reports that the channel is owned the entrepreneur Lajos Simicska, who was until three years ago considered close to the Prime Minister Viktor Orban and ruling Fidesz party. However, the relationship has since deteriorated, with the channel becoming increasingly critical of the government.

It adds that the changes in the Hungarian media got under way following the re-election of Fidesz earlier this month and have already seen the closure of the daily Magyar Nemzet and radio station Lanchid.

Hir TV, which was officially launched at the beginning of 2003, is expected to shed 30-40 staff, though it will continue to show popular programmes.

Before yesterdayBroadband TV News: Channels

Salisbury poisoning sparks Ofcom investigation into RT

By Julian Clover

RT could see its licence revoked after Ofcom opened an investigation into the Russian-backed news broadcaster.

It follows a marked increase in the number of potential Broadcasting Code breaches in the wake of the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

In a statement, the regulator said that prior to the events in Salisbury in March, the compliance record of licence holder TV Novosti was “not materially out of line with other broadcasters”.

Since Salisbury Ofcom has stepped up its monitoring of RT and found seven programmes that it believes are potential breaches of the Broadcasting Code. Among them are editions of Sputnik, Worlds Apart, Crosstalk and news bulletins themselves.

In response, RT told Broadband TV News“We are pleased to see that Ofcom has acknowledged RT’s compliance record has been in line with other broadcasters – putting to bed any of the salacious political statements and challenges made against our channel. Our editorial approach has not changed since the events in Salisbury, and we will be directly addressing this matter with the regulator.”

Depending on the severity of the breach, Ofcom could revoke RT’s licence on broadcasting compliance grounds. Alternatively, a financial penalty could be imposed.

Previous breaches on items about Syria, Libya, the Ukraine, Turkey and NATO have revolved around Russia’s foreign policy.

Given TV Novosti is financed by the Russian Federation Ofcom considers that TV Novosti is ultimately controlled by the Russian Federation.

Dailymotion launches on Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick

By Robert Briel

Vivendi-owned Dailymotion has expanded its distribution to Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick.

Effective immediately, Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick customers can access the Dailymotion app. The introduction of Dailymotion to Amazon’s smart TV product is the latest in a series of OTT video integrations that include Apple TV, Android TV, and XBox One.

Dailymotion’s OTT expansion follows a major global relaunch of the heritage video platform that prioritises discovery and personalisation as core to the user experience.

“Cross-channel video consumption is an important and growing global trend, with OTT viewership demonstrating double-digit growth year-over-year,” said Guillaume Clément, Chief Product and Technology Officer at Dailymotion.

“The rollout of Dailymotion’s app for Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick provides yet another opportunity to connect new audiences with fresh content from the world’s best publishers.”

Dailymotion’s global content partners include BBC News, Billboard/The Hollywood Reporter, Bloomberg Media, CBS Sports, Cheddar, Condé Nast Entertainment, Fox Deportes, Genius, Group Nine Media, Hearst Magazines Digital Media, NESN, Stadium Sports Network, UFC, Vice, and more.

France 24 signs US cable distribution deal

By Robert Briel

France 24 has signed a comprehensive and long-term agreement with the National Cable Television Cooperative in the US for the distribution of its English language channel.

The Cooperative will offer the news channel to its hundreds of member companies who own and operate cable systems in the United States. The multi-faceted deal includes the 24/7 linear feed and a suite of digital rights including TV Everywhere and VOD.

“We are thrilled that France 24 is now available to the nearly 900 member companies that contract through the NCTC,” said Marie-Christine Saragosse CEO of France Médias Monde.

“We know first-hand the value the NCTC represents and appreciate their partnership in rolling out France 24 to viewers across the U.S.”

Ginx Esports TV expands in Finland

By Robert Briel

Ginx Esports TV is expanding its distribution footprint in Europe with the launch of its 24/7 linear channel on Elisa Viihde in Finland.

“Finland has been an undeniable forerunner when it comes to European esports. We are very pleased to partner with Elisa Viihde to bring our channel to this new audience. We look forward to work with Elisa to establish GINX Esports TV as the major destination for Finnish esports lovers.” said Michiel Bakker, CEO of Ginx Esports TV

The channel is available in 55+ million homes. With this new launch, Ginx Esports TV will have full distribution in Finland.

Funding boost for Spanish regional TV

By Chris Dziadul

Spanish regional TV stations are set to receive over €900 million in public funding this year.

El Economista reports that regional governments have boosted their spending in what is a pre-election year, with the media being one of the beneficiaries. As a result, the public contribution to regional TV will increase by 2.8% to €922.27 million.

This will be the second consecutive year in which it has risen, with the amount growing by 5.3%, or €64 million, in 2017.

Furthermore, the latter excluded the new regional TV station in Valencia, which cost €48.2 million of public money to set up.

This year, the new channel, named À Punt, is expected to receive €52.8 million in public funds. Taking this in account, public funding for regional TV stations in Spain as whole will increase by 11.3% this year.

The biggest increases will be in Andalusia and the Canary Islands, with lower ones being in Madrid, Galicia and the Basque Country.

There will be no rises in Catalonia and Asturias.

Serie A tender suspended

By Julian Clover

Mediapro’s tender for rights to Italian Serie A football has been suspended, following an intervention by Sky.

The broadcaster had been outbid by Mediapro for the rights for the 2018-21 seasons. Sky successfully argued that the Spanish broker was not in a legal position to make an offer.

“The announcement of Mediapro being assigned Serie A’s television rights raises so many perplexities, that it’s necessary to verify the legality […] before it can present any important offers,” Sky said in a statement.

“Sky emphasises that it wants to keep guaranteeing subscribers a quality product, with full journalistic and editorial autonomy in a non-discriminatory system and free competition among operators.”

A decision is expected on May 4.

International subs prepare to pass Netflix US sales

By Julian Clover

Increases in both subscriber numbers and prices helped Netflix to a 43% first quarter revenue increase year-over-year.

The streaming service passed a new Q1 record by adding 7.41 million new subscribers, a 50% increase on the year. There are now 125 million subscribers across the globe, split 56.71 million in the United States and 68.29 million internationally.

Total revenues of $3,602 million are currently weighted in favour of the United States, but it is anticipated that this will be eclipsed by international revenues in the next quarter.

Chairman and CEO Reed Hastings said that the company’s strategy was more similar that it was different. “We’re continuing to invest in the marketing of content, all the things that we’ve been doing, there’s certainly some secular shift towards internet viewing, and then we’re seeing just the breadth of content that we’ve got going that’s really remarkable.”

Netflix says its investing in more marketing of its new titles to create a bigger conversation around a particular title, leading to a bigger hit within a particular market or demographic.

Bundle offers have been launched with Proximus (in Belgium), SFR Altice (France) and T-Mobile (US), and the company says it plans to introduce more in the future. Chief product officer Greg Peters said such partnerships have been beneficial in terms of subscriber retention and access to new customers.

It’s also announced the bundling of packages with Comcast and Sky

BBC news for Belarus

By Chris Dziadul

Belsat TV broadcasts to Belarus now feature primetime news bulletins in Russian from the BBC.

The bulletins consist of selected topics relevant and timely for viewers in the country, with the BBC story of the day being introduced live by a presenter in the BBC’s Broadcasting House in London.

Commenting on the development, BBC World Service Europe region editor, Artyom Liss, said: “We are very pleased to be able to bring our journalism to Belsat’s audiences. The BBC is well known for its accurate, independent and unbiased news coverage which, I am sure, will be of great interest to viewers in Belarus.”

Poland-based Belsat TV was created in 2007 by a group of Belarusian and Polish journalists as part of public broadcaster TVP, in partnership with Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and several European governments and foundations.

Agnieszka Romaszewska-Guzy, Belsat TV’s Director, added: “It’s great that we can start our cooperation with such a renowned company as the BBC and further improve our ability to serve the needs of our viewers in Belarus and neighbouring countries. I also believe that our new relationship with the BBC is a sign of recognition for the professionalism of Belarus- and Russia-based journalists who work with us, often in very difficult conditions.”

The BBC’s TV news content in Russian is available via the website bbc.com/russian, Moscow-based TV Rain and its website tvrain.ru, and on some of the BBC Russian social-media channels.

In addition to the website, bbc.com/russian, the BBC connects with its Russian-speaking audiences via social media such as Facebook,VKontakte, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Telegram, Google+, LiveJournal and OK.ru.

Satellite TV encryption gathers pace in Ukraine

By Chris Dziadul

The Ukrainian regulator National Council has reissued satellite licences for the channels Inter, NTN, Mega, K1, K2, Pixel, Enter-film and Zoom, all of which are part of the Inter Media Group.

According to Mediasat and Detector Media, this is due to changes in the technical characteristics of the channels, which are now encrypted.

The only requirement of the licences is that Inter Media Group has to allow the National Council access to the channels so that they can be monitored.

The National Council has also issued a satellite licence for Inter+, which is aimed at viewers living outside Ukraine.

By this autumn, all four leading media groups in Ukraine – StarLightMedia, 1 + 1 Media, Media Group Ukraine and Inter Media Group – plan to have their satellite-delivered channels encrypted.

Zattoo to close B2C service in UK, Spain and Denmark

By JΓΆrn Krieger

TV streaming provider Zattoo is focusing its B2C business on the core markets Switzerland and Germany and will discontinue its B2C offer in the UK, Spain and Denmark in May 2018.

Internationally, Zattoo wants to expand its B2B business with partners. “We will continue to grow in our key markets,” said Nick Brambring, CEO of Zattoo. “Our goal is to offer our users the best TV streaming experience and to provide the best alternative to traditional TV reception methods. In the past years, we have already focused our B2C activities on Switzerland and Germany. On the B2B side, we will further expand our international business as a technology partner for network operators.”

Zattoo has around 1.5 million users on its platform every month. The company’s new strategy is based on several pillars: “In the B2C sector, we want to grow with premium users through paid subscriptions. In addition, we want to establish Zattoo increasingly for smart TV use in addition to mobile TV,” said Brambring. “In addition, with dynamic ad insertion we offer advertisers an innovative TV advertising format, namely the integration of TV spots in the live stream. We have great growth potential in this area. In the B2B segment, we are focusing on strong internationalisation. Hotwire is already our first US customer and we opened our Singapore office at the beginning of the year”.

Since 2007 Zattoo has been available in the UK, Spain and Denmark. Due to licensing regulations, only a limited service has been provided to users. In the UK, for example, Zattoo users could only stream their TV channels on computers, but not on mobile devices. In Denmark, Zattoo’s service was only offered as a premium subscription and not as a free version.

The withdrawal from these European markets has no impact on the EU-wide streaming that Zattoo has been offering to its premium users since the beginning of the year, underlines the company. German premium users can continue to stream German TV channels via Zattoo during a temporary stay in another EU country – including the UK, Spain and Denmark.

eoTV joins Vodafone Deutschland’s cable network

By JΓΆrn Krieger

eoTV, the German free-to-air channel for European films and series, is now available on Vodafone Deutschland’s cable network and, via the GigaTV app, on smartphones and tablets.

“The distribution via Vodafone is an important step in expanding our technical reach. For us, this means an increase in reception through the Vodafone cable network in 13 German federal states and across Germany via the GigaTV app,” said eoTV’s Managing Director Jürgen Hörner.

The ad-supported channel which launched in December 2015 can be received via Astra (19.2° East), on cable networks and IPTV as well as through a live-stream on its website.

eoTV additionally broadcasts as a window each evening from 20.15 to 01.00 CET on the slots of German children’s and family channel RiC.

ESPN launches new app with ESPN+ paid service

By Robert Briel

The new ESPN App has launched and now includes ESPN+, the direct-to-consumer premium subscription streaming service from The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer and International group, in partnership with ESPN.

ESPN+ features thousands of hours of live sports events and library content. However, the $4.99-per-month (or $49.99 a year) streaming service will not offer premiere games from the NFL and NBA, instead focusing on niche sports and underserved fanbases. The first month of ESPN+ is free, thanks to a sponsorship contract with American Express.

ESPN+ will offer a daily Major League Baseball game (adding up to 180 games throughout the season), plus more than 180 National Hockey League games, more than 250 Major League Soccer games, college sports, golf, cricket, rugby and matches from three of the tennis Grand Slams.

ESPN+ is launching in the US on devices including Fire TV, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Android phones, Android TV and Chromecast, with more devices planned. There are no current plans for outside the US, but in the future might launch in other territories where ESPN operates.

“This next-generation app is ESPN’s most sophisticated and elegant digital product experience, and a central piece of our next era of innovation,” said James Pitaro, ESPN President and Co-Chair, Disney Media Networks.

“No one is in a better position than ESPN to serve sports fans. With this launch, fans will find a re-imagined, easy to use and increasingly personalized experience that puts all of ESPN’s incredible content at their fingertips like never before. With the exciting introduction of ESPN+, they’ll also get more sports content than ever, with direct access to thousands of live games, incredible original programs and an unmatched on-demand library, all at a great price.”

Added Kevin Mayer, Chairman, Direct-to-Consumer and International, The Walt Disney Company.

“The launch of ESPN+ marks a new era of innovation for The Walt Disney Company, defined by a direct and personal relationship with our consumers. This product reflects our new direct-to-consumer strategy focused on combining our incomparable brands and unmatched content with industry-leading technology to give users an unparalleled digital experience. With BAMTECH Media’s state-of-the-art video platform, ESPN+ delivers an incredible experience for fans with a rich slate of content only ESPN can deliver.”

Ukraine approves Blue Hustler

By Chris Dziadul

The Ukrainian regulator National Council has approved the distribution of the adult channel Blue Hustler in the country.

In a statement, it says it reviewed an appeal by Amsterdam-based Sapphire Media International regarding the compliance of the channel with the requirements of the European Convention on Transfrontier Television and current Ukrainian legislation.

Blue Hustler now has been added to the list of foreign channels permitted in Ukraine.

Its distribution will be allowed on cable networks between midnight and 4am.

Poland’s MWE starts international expansion

By Chris Dziadul

The Polish TV production company and thematic channel operator Michal Winnicki Entertainment (MWE) has established a branch in the Czech capital, Prague.

In a statement, it says that as a result its proprietary channels Power TV HD, Adventure HD and Top Kids HD will shortly make their debuts in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

It adds that aside from being distributed via cable and satellite, they will for the first time also be offered on terrestrial TV (DVB-T). All the channels will be fully localised and also carry locally produced content.

MWE says that the Czech broadcast centre will use the most modern distribution technology including HD and 4K Ultra HD.

Significantly, it also says that the company will expand to more markets this year.