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Before yesterdayBroadband TV News: Channels

Britbox launch confirmed for Q4

By Julian Clover

ITV and BBC have signed an agreement that will see the launch of their joint streaming service Britbox in the UK during the fourth quarter.

The venture will be controlled by ITV, who will have a 90% equity stake, the BBC will hold 10%. The BBC has an option to acquire additional shares over time up to 25% in total and ITV will have the ability to bring additional investors on board, leaving the door open for he publicly-owned tChannel 4, and potentially Viacom’s Channel 5.

Britbox will be priced at £5.99 per month for which viewers will receive an HD version available across multiple devices.

It will comprise of archive shows from the broadcasters’ libraries, including what’s described as “the largest collection of British boxsets”, and original commissions.

BritBox will pay market rate fees for content provided by ITV, BBC and other rights owners.

“The agreement to launch BritBox is a milestone moment. Subscription video on demand is increasingly popular with consumers who love being able to watch what they want when they want to watch it. They are also happy to pay for this ease of access to quality content and so BritBox is tapping into this, and a new revenue stream for UK public service broadcaster,” said ITV CEO Carolyn McCall.

It’s not the first time the two public service broadcasters have worked together. The partners were also at the foundation of ventures including Freeview, Freesat and YouView. They already run Britbox in the US and Canada.

Content such as Gavin & Stacey, Victoria, Happy Valley, Broadchurch, Les Miserables, The Office and Benidorm will be available at launch or, significantly, “when licences with other SVODs end”, a nod to US rivals Netflix and Amazons where the Britbox partners have previously concluded agreements.

“But this service isn’t just about the past,” said BBC director-general Tony Hall. “I am really excited about the new shows it will commission. With a remit to be daring and different, many future classics will be commissioned and live on BritBox for the future.”

The new shows are expected to be commissioned soon and make their debut from 2020.

BritBox will have its own dedicated management team led by Reemah Sakaan, Group Director ITV SVOD, responsible for making editorial decisions about the service content while also ensuring alignment with ITV’s and the BBC’s branding and editorial policies. Reemah reports to Kevin Lygo, ITV’s Director of Television, who has overall commissioning responsibility for BritBox.

Consumers who are interested in subscribing to BritBox when it becomes available can register their interest now at www.BritBox.co.uk.

• Ofcom has provisionally concluded that the BBC’s involvement in the BritBox service is not a material change to its commercial activities, and no further assessment is required ahead of its launch.

NENT seizes Nordic streaming market

By Julian Clover

NENT added 65,000 subscribers to its Nordic streaming business in the second quarter.

The figures are significant in what is traditionally a quiet quarter.

The company says it made “substantial progress” during Q2 in seizing what it sees as a significant opportunity in the Nordic streaming market.

A total of 244,000 subscribers were added in the last 12 months and Viaplays 1,421,000 subscribers now represent 60% of its total subscriber base.

“NENT Group comes out of Q2 even better positioned to benefit from the shift to on-demand and online viewing. Scaling Viaplay is the best way to create long-term shareholder value, and we intend to do so while continuing to deliver profitable growth,” said President & CEO Anders Jensen.

Net Income for the quarter was SEK 348 million (€33.1m), up from SEK 329 million.

Sky Deutschland to launch Sky Cinema Summerfeeling

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German pay-TV broadcaster Sky Deutschland will show more than 40 films about summer, holidays and travel on pop-up channel Sky Cinema Summerfeeling.

The line-up includes titles like Hangover, Hangover 2, To Rome with Love, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (pictured) and Crazy Rich.

Sky Cinema Summerfeeling will broadcast from August 23 to September 1, 2019, replacing Sky Cinema Comedy during this time.

Many of the films will also be available on-demand and on streaming services Sky Ticket (Germany) and Sky X (Austria).

Netflix suffers a setback

By Chris Dziadul

Netflix shares fell by as much as 13% in late trading following the publication of disappointing Q2 results.

These showed that in the US it lost 130,000 paid customers in the quarter, ending June with 60.10 million.

Meanwhile, its international operations ended Q2 with 91.46 million paid memberships, up from 88.63 million three months earlier but lower than forecast.

In summarising its results, the company says: “Our missed forecast was across all regions, but slightly more so in regions with price increases. We don’t believe competition was a factor since there wasn’t a material change in the competitive landscape during Q2, and competitive intensity and our penetration is varied across regions (while our over-forecast was in every region). Rather, we think Q2’s content slate drove less growth in paid net adds than we anticipated. Additionally, Q1 was so large for us (9.6 million net adds), there may have been more pull-forward effect than we realized. In prior quarters with over-forecasts, we’ve found that the underlying long-term growth was not affected and staying focused on the fundamentals of our business served us well”.

All told, Netflix’s paid membership total increased by 2.7 million in Q2, less than the 5.5 million in the second quarter last year and its 5 million forecast.

It now expects to grow by 7 million paid memberships in Q3, more than the 6.1 million in Q3 last year.

Netflix had revenues of $4,923 million in Q2, up 26% year-on-year, while its net income was $271 million, down from $384 million a year earlier.

NENT Group secures ISU ice skating

By Julian Clover

ISU speed skating and figure skating events will be available on NENT Group’s Viaplay and Viafree streaming services and Viasat pay-TV channels from autumn 2019.

The broadcaster is also promising “substantial exposure” on its free-TV channels for the events that had been seen on public service channels.

More than 400 hours of the popular Nordic sports will be shown across the region, complementing NENT Group’s existing Alpine and Nordic winter sports rights.

Anders Jensen, NENT Group President and CEO: “ISU skating attracts millions of viewers and is an ideal complement to our recently acquired winter sports rights. The planet’s fastest and most skilled skaters, at least three ISU competitions in the Nordic region, and NENT Group’s world-class commentary and production capabilities mean our viewers have even more to look forward to over the next four seasons.”

The deal is one of the first for brokers Infront since it secured the ISU rights previously held by the EBU.

Bruno Marty, Senior Vice President of Winter Sports at Infront, said: “This marks one of our first deals in our new partnership with ISU. We are proud to have brought NENT Group on board, who with their intensifying commitment to winter sports and diversity of platforms and outlets will surely help us further elevate interest in these thrilling sports.”

In April 2019, NENT Group announced a long-term, pan-Nordic deal to become the home of Alpine and Nordic winter sports from 2021.

SPI expands in Russia

By Chris Dziadul

SPI/FilmBox has expanded its channel distribution agreement with Russia’s Beeline TV to include six of the most popular SPI/FilmBox channels.

Aside from the flagship FilmBox, they are FilmBox Arthouse, DocuBox, Fast & FunBox, FashionBox and FightBox.

Commenting on the development, Murat Muratoglu, head of distribution at SPI, said: “We are delighted to announce that SPI/FilmBox will now be able to deliver hundreds of hours of quality programming to the homes of Beeline TV subscribers in Russia. This important collaboration was made possible through our partnership with Orion and we are excited to provide top-quality content to more viewers across Russia”.

Alexei Zhuraviev, director of development at Beeline TV, added: “Today’s users of video services are expecting a wide variety of high-quality content. We fulfil that expectation with our Beeline recommendation system, which is designed to make sure our viewers will have full access to all of SPI/FilmBox’s channels”.

Irina Divnogortseva, global projects director of Orion Group of Companies, said: “Orion is proud to partner with SPI/FilmBox. We made sure that all technical and production aspects were ready on time for this launch and we are excited that all Beeline TV subscribers in Russia, will now have access to these fantastic SPI/FilmBox channels”.

SPI expands in Russia

Premier League audiences continue to rise

By Julian Clover

The international popularity of the Premier League has contributed to a rise in audiences during the 2018/19 season.

Using audience information collated from international markets, research agency Nielsen Sports has calculated cumulative audiences for live Premier League programming rose 11 per cent to 1.35 billion.

A cumulative audience of 3.2 billion watched the action between August 2018 and May 2019, an increase of six per cent on the previous season.

The figures are only for standard in-home viewing and exclude out-of-home and viewing on mobile devices.

Only in Afghanistan, Moldova, Turkmenistan, North Korea and Cuba was coverage not available.

There were 262,102 hours of Premier League coverage broadcast around the world last season, reaching 1.03 billion homes for all broadcast types.

The household reach for live coverage only was 978 million homes.

Media Group Ukraine teams up with Kartina.TV

By Chris Dziadul

Media Group Ukraine (MGU) has entered into a partnership with Kartina.TV, one of Europe’s leading OTT operators.

As a result, the latter will be able to rebroadcast the international versions of TV channels such as Ukraine and NLO TV, Ukraine 1/Ukraine 2 and NLO TV 1/NLO TV 2 respectively.

Kartina.TV can be received online anywhere in the world and currently has 5 million viewers in Europe, the US, Israel and UAE.

Commenting on the agreement, Aleksandr Remezovsky, director distribution pay-TV channels and media platform department, MGU, said: “The international channels promotion is one of MGU’s strategic activity areas. The partnership relationship with Kartina.TV, a major international player, opens exciting prospects, because from now on the worldwide multimillion audience will become acquainted with the media group’s product. We are pleased and honoured to witness Ukrainian content erasing the boundaries and getting closer to viewers the world over”.

Croatian broadcasters on a roll

By Chris Dziadul

Seven of Croatia’s top 10 TV broadcasters performed better last year than in 2017.

Furthermore, reports Poslovni, only one ended the year with a loss and the two leading stations – Nova TV and RTL Televizija – saw their profit increase to HRK51.9 million (€7 million) and HRK13.4 million respectively.

Now under new ownership, Nova TV’s profit effectively doubled from the HRK26.5 million posted the previous year, while its revenues rose by HRK30 million to HRK418.7 million.

RTL Televizija, on the other hand, saw its profit triple from the HRK4.5 million posted in 2017, while its revenues increased from HRK303.9 million to HRK342.6 million.

Although the public broadcaster HRT’s profit fell from HRK100 million in 2017 to HRK81.3 million last year, it was much higher than the planned figure of HRK5.5 million.

2018 saw HRT launch a fifth channel and also invest significant funds in covering a number of sporting events.

Euronews advances into Serbia

By Chris Dziadul

Euronews has entered into a partnership with the Serbian media group HD-WIN to launch Euronews Serbia, a news channel and digital platform aimed at a Serbian-speaking audience.

HD-WIN is owned by Telekom Srbija and currently broadcasts sport-themed channels.

According to Euronews, ahead of Euronews Serbia’s broadcast launch, almost 100 members of staff will be recruited locally. The Serbian media’s editor-in-chief will be recruited by Euronews and will be a Euronews employee. An editorial board will be established and controlled by Euronews: it will, in particular, delimit strategic editorial orientations, and will take any decision establishing rules regarding the editorial line and the general balance of programmes, which are linked to the media’s fundamental values such as editorial independence, freedom of expression and impartiality.

Commenting on the development, Michael Peters, Euronews’ CEO, said: “We are delighted to be collaborating with HD-WIN to create a quality independent media. The launch of Euronews Serbia is yet another testament to how reliable and attractive the Euronews brand is. In the past 25 years, Euronews has become a recognised and trustworthy media, thanks in particular to our “All Views” editorial line, which guarantees an impartial treatment of news. It’s this experience, this expertise and this requirement that we are bringing today to Euronews Serbia, which will be an independent media as Euronews has always been.”

Predrag Culibrk, CEO of Telekom Srbija, added: “It is our great pleasure to offer our viewers in Serbia and the region a new news channel in Serbian with content tailored to a local audience, by associating ourselves with the brand and standards of one of the leading media houses in Europe and the world – Euronews. In addition, we appreciate the trust that Euronews placed upon us by this partnership, as it unambiguously confirms that we are a company operating in compliance with high European standards. Embracing the role of the regional leader in the field of telecommunications, we will strive to achieve and maintain partnerships with the best players in their respective industries in order to provide our customers with top-quality services.”

EspaΓ±aTV to debut in Portugal

By Chris Dziadul

The Spanish-language channel bouquet EspañaTV will launch in Meo in Portugal on July 22.

In addition, the bouquet, which is operated by AMC Networks International Southern Europe (AMCNISE) and Atresmedia Internacional, will soon be launched in the pay-TV market in France and made available to operators across the rest of Europe.

Commenting on the development, Manuel Balsera, executive VP and MD of AMCNISE, said, “This is an important part of AMCNISE’s international expansion, and this new alliance with MEO underscores the value we provide to distributors and our commitment to offering diverse, premium quality content to audiences. EspañaTV builds on our company’s presence in the Portuguese pay-TV market and highlights the growing demand for our content and brands. We are looking forward to our continued partnership with Atresmedia for additional launches of EspañaTV in Europe in the months ahead.”

Javier Nuche, MD of Atresmedia Internacional, commented, “There is an untapped opportunity to reach the community of Spaniards living in Europe and the joint offer between Atresmedia and AMCNISE’s channels creates a very attractive product for these customers. We expect that this alliance will help us grow significantly in the European market and we are confident that this launch on MEO will be the first of many more to come.”

Ukrainian TV station attacked

By Chris Dziadul

The Ukrainian TV station 112 has been subjected to what the local police have described as a “terrorist attack”.

Telekritka reports that two unknown persons used a grenade launcher in the action, causing minor external damage to its headquarters in Kiev.

112 is supportive of the Kremlin and following the attack, believed to have been undertaken by Ukrainian nationalists, its editorial board have decided to cancel a screening of Oliver Stone’s documentary film The Untold Story of Ukraine.

New sports channels from nc+

By Chris Dziadul

The Polish DTH platform nc+ has added two new proprietary sports channel to its offer.

Known as Canal+ Sport 3 and Canal+ Sport 4, they are dedicated to coverage of the Polish premier football league PKO Ekstraklasa and will be made available for distribution by other TV operators. Local reports indicate that one of them could be Cyfrowy Polsat, nc+’s main competitor.

Commenting on the launch, nc+ CEO Edyta Sadowska said: “The launch of two new channels dedicated to PKO Ekstraklasa games will allow the extension of the distribution model of national competitions to include further TV platforms. The long-term advantage is not only for all fans, but also for PKO Ekstraklasa and football clubs. For us, it is also possible to monetise expensive sports rights in the entire market, and not only on our own platform”.

eoTV negotiates with investors / HD distribution continues

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German free-to-air channel European Originals TV (eoTV) is holding talks with several interested investors.

In the meantime, the decision was taken to continue HD broadcasting and temporarily suspend SD transmissions, according to sources close to the broadcaster. This also affects the satellite distribution on Astra (19.2° East) for DTH households.

In HD quality, eoTV continues to be carried by Deutsche Telekom’s MagentaTV, several cable operators, Zattoo, waipu.tv and Swisscom TV, among others, reaching a total of almost 10 million households.

On May 1. 2019, the District Court of Munich opened insolvency proceedings against the assets of the eoTV operating company EO Television GmbH. Talks with potential new investors have been ongoing since then.

eoTV launched in December 2015. The advertising-financed channel shows films and series produced in Europe, in some cases as German TV or free-to-air TV premieres.

MyZen TV 4K debuts in Russia

By Chris Dziadul

The wellbeing channel MyZen TV 4K has launched in partnership with Thema in Russia on the pay-TV platform Planeta.

Founded in 2003, Planeta reaches over 100,000 households in the Ekaterinburg region and was one of the first operators in the country to broadcast 4K content.

Commenting on the launch, Nela Pavlouskova, MD of MyZen TV, said: “We are very proud to launch MyZen TV’s 4K linear signal with native 4K programmes produced mostly by MyzenTV. The 4K is a new milestone in the chain’s development and demonstrates that well-being and technology can go hand-in-hand”.

Natalya Kabikova, MD of Thema Rus, added: “We are happy that the first launch of MyZen TV 4K happens in Russia, which enables our audience to watch their favourite programs in the best quality. Of course, for Thema Rus it’s also a new significant step of long-term cooperation with MyZen TV”.

Viacom deepens Orion cooperation

By Chris Dziadul

The Russian DTH platform Orion has added the Viacom channels Nickelodeon and Paramount Comedy to its offer.

Under the terms of the agreement between the two parties, Orion will also provide maintenance of the channels and signal delivery to cable operators.

The latter will be done through two satellites that are part of the Orion group of companies, namely Horizons 2, located at 85 degrees East and covering European Russia, Urals and Siberia, and Express-AM5, located at 140 degrees East and covering eastern Russia.

Cooperation between the two companies began in 2016 and Orion already delivers MTV Russia, Paramount Channel and Spike to cable operators.

Commenting on the latest development, Andrei Trufanov, head of the telecom services department at Orion, said: “It is a great honour for us that a client with such high standards as Viacom once again chose our platform to host its TV channels. We know how carefully colleagues approach this choice. Our range of services to broadcasters is by far the most comprehensive of the media platforms represented in Russia on the basis of a single media platform. This allows us to provide our clients with comfortable “one-window” service, as well as economic benefits”.

Lajos Okos, director of technology and operations for Viacom in the CEE region and Russia, added: “Turning to Orion, we are confident that we will receive high-quality services, and, most importantly, at all stages of implementation, our tasks will be treated with attention, not only following the requirements, but also offering the most profitable solutions. This has been verified by us more than once, and we confidently transfer our flagship channels to the Orion media platform”.

Home & Garden TV Germany launches in HD at Vodafone

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Discovery Deutschland will launch an HD version of its new free-to-air TV channel Home & Garden TV (HGTV) on July 11, 2019.

The first distribution partner is Vodafone Deutschland: All GigaTV customers can receive the HD service on the cable network on channel slot 92.

With the move, the partners respond to the request of many viewers wanting to watch the programmes in HD quality, according to Discovery Deutschland. HGTV launched in Germany on June 6, 2019 and has so far only been available in SD resolution.

The HD carriage of HGTV is part of a new distribution agreement through which Discovery and Vodafone extend and expand their long-standing partnership, also in the pay-TV area. For example, Discovery Channel in HD and Eurosport 2 in both SD and HD will remain in the Premium HD Plus package as part of Vodafone’s add-on options. New OTT rights and extended video-on-demand (VOD) offers also form part of the agreement.

The four free-to-air TV channels DMAX, TLC, Eurosport 1 and HGTV are all available in SD and HD resolution, and Discovery will also provide more content on demand via the Vodafone catch-up service, including selected content in Ultra HD/4K.

“Our common goal is to provide viewers with the best possible choice of unique content, and the new agreement underscores this commitment,” said Thomas Bichlmeir, Director Distribution & Commercial Strategy at Discovery Deutschland. “With HGTV in HD as well as increasing and more diverse OTT and VOD opportunities, we can now offer Vodafone customers an even more compelling experience of the fascination of factual entertainment. I’m therefore very pleased about the expansion of our long-standing, successful cooperation.”

Freeview Play strengthens offer

By Chris Dziadul

Freeview Play viewers in the UK can now choose from over 20,000 hours of on demand content, all for free.

This follows the addition of My5 on Freeview Play devices in June, joining BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, UKTV Play, CBS Catchup Channels UK and Horror Bites on the Freeview Play line up.

Freeview Play was launched in 2015 and has now sold over 7 million devices. It boasts over 4 million viewers, who can in also top up the service with Amazon Prime, offering 22,600 hours of content, as well as Now TV.

Commenting on the development, Owen Jenkinson, marketing director at Freeview, said: “To put 20,000 hours in perspective– that’s over two years of solidly watching TV, day and night. We’re not sure anyone would want to do that, and while we don’t advise it, isn’t it great to have the option”.

Zee5 expands in Middle East

By Chris Dziadul

The global digital platform Zee5 has embarked on a number of initiatives across several priority markets, with the Middle East being among the first.

Alongside offering a four-week movie experience every Thursday at different locations, with the first two held in Dubai in the first half of this month, they include a partnership with the local brand Choithrams.

Commenting on the development, Archana Anand, chief business officer, Zee5 Global, said: “Given the vast diaspora of South Asians in The Middle East as well as its appetite for desi content, this is the first of the three markets where ZEE5 kicks-off a range of consumer engagement activities. Our new campaign ‘Full-on Entertainment’ invites people into a world of entertainment that takes them on a journey of emotions and keeps them on the edge of their seats. For this we are rolling out a multitude of interactive initiatives, where we have the chance to engage with our audiences across the Middle East and build deep conversations with them.”

Canal confirms job cuts

By Broadband TV News Correspondent

Canal+ Group has confirmed the loss of 492 jobs as the French pay-TV company said its project to transform its French activities was not enough.

The company says it has been responding to the “upheavals of the audiovisual sector” for several years, redefining its growth model, to become a global player both in France buy in Europe as a whole.

However, initiatives such as a new €20 entry point for Canal+ and a €3 billion annual investment if content technology hasn’t been enough to escape the global players which it says “have considerable financial strength and escape the fiscal and regulatory constraints” imposed on Canal.

Canal says the 492 jobs it wants to shed will be lost on an entirely voluntary basis.

Talks will begin shortly to establish the terms and conditions of the scheme.