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Before yesterdayBroadband TV News: Channels

Free-to-air games at centre of Premier League return

By Julian Clover

Sky Sports will make 25 of the remaining 92 Premier League matches available free-to-air.

The BBC will also screen live Premier League for the first time when the season resumes on 17 June.

Premier League shareholders agreed to the resumption at a meeting on Thursday, subject to safety requirements being put in place. Aston Villa v Sheffield United and Manchester City v Arsenal, which were postponed because of the League Cup final will be the first matches to be played, followed by a full match round beginning on Friday 19 June. Due to COVID-19, games will take place behind closed doors.

“Premier League Shareholders also approved a proposal that would see all 92 remaining matches broadcast live in the UK by the League’s existing broadcast partners: Sky Sports, BT Sport, BBC Sport and Amazon Prime,” the Premier League said in a statement.

“The planned kick-off times in the UK for live matches will also differ from the traditional times.”

Sky will show 64 live games including the 25 that will be free-to-air. These include the Merseyside derby between Everton and Liverpool.
Games on a Friday will kick off at 8pm, while on Saturday the slots will be 12.30pm, 3pm, 5.30pm and 8pm. Sunday matches will kick off at either 12pm, 2pm, 4.30pm and 7pm, with Monday games starting at 8pm.

Midweek games on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays will kick off at either 6pm or 8pm.

The BBC’s four matches will be the first to be seen live on any terrestrial channel since the launch on the league in 1992.

Euronews global expansion continues

By Chris Dziadul

Euronews has added more than 25 million homes in the last few weeks alone across Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.

According to the group, it has extended its distribution through existing operators to their entire subscribers’ base on three major platforms in Canada, one in the US, four in Scandinavia, one in Romania, three in Africa, one in Georgia and another in Ukraine. This extended offer represents an incremental 22.5 million homes who are now able to access Euronews.

In addition, the group reached several distribution deals with new partners since the beginning of the year launching Euronews, adding 2.5 million homes, through agreements with Telekom Romania and Vodafone in Romania, PSI in Thailand, Elektrons in Latvia, Click TV in Mexico and Nenda in Scandinavia. Africanews is also reaching new audiences through launching with operators such as DSTV, ZAP and Moobifun.

Commenting on the expansion, Maxime Carboni, director of worldwide distribution at Euronews, said: “In the last few months, the Euronews group has put in place a new content strategy allowing us to diversify the way we address our partners and their consumers. The diverse array of languages available on our channels has also allowed us to target new markets and audiences. Coupled with the rising interest in recognised impartial and trusted news brands, Euronews and Africanews have both experienced significant growth since the beginning of 2020.”

Younger viewers turn UKTV’s classics during lockdown

By Broadband TV News Correspondent

UKTV says its seen a 55% volume increase in 16-34s since lockdown.

Alongside the linear viewing, UKTV’s on demand service, UKTV Play, has seen a 16% volume increase in 16-34s using the platform and a 27% increase in views to the service overall. Younger viewers are watching more vintage and factual shows on UKTV Play with Birds of a Feather and early episodes of Casualty, Classic EastEnders and The Bill all seeing upticks in 16-34 volume, alongside UKTV Originals such as Expedition with Steve Backshall and Borderforce: America’s Gatekeepers.

UKTV CEO Marcus Arthur commented: “Television can bring great comfort in these troubled times. We’re staying at home and the news is bleak, but escapist, entertaining and comforting TV can bring great joy. Shared viewing has increased by a quarter as families sit down together to watch TV and the boost in 16-34-year-olds visiting UKTV’s channels has contributed to the network’s strong growth in share of commercial impacts.

The UKTV network is reaching a higher volume of young people more frequently with weekly reach up 22% and daily reach up 37.8%. UKTV’s entertainment channels have also seen big SOCI gains in recent weeks with Dave now the biggest non-PSB owned channel for 16-34s.

Dave and Gold have each increased their 16-34 profiles by 3 percentage points (to 19% and 16% respectively). Overall, the network has added 0.70 of a SOCI point during the lockdown period with its share of commercial impacts rising to 8.25% (an increase of 9%).

Serbia Broadband enriches video offer

By Chris Dziadul

Serbia Broadband (SBB) has added three more strands to its Video Club service.

The Diva catalogue offers romance and drama, while the E! catalogue includes popular reality series and Sci-Fi catalogue science fiction.

All users of the EON package (Light, Full and Premium), as well as D3 users of Silver, Gold, Gold Extra and Gold Premium packages via the EON platform, have access to the Diva and E! catalogues.

Users of the EON Full and Premium packages and D3 users of Gold, Gold Extra and Gold Premium packages, via the EON platform, have access to the Sci-Fi catalogue, while users of Total TV Extra and Premium packages can view the contents of all three.

DAZN seeking new investment

By Julian Clover

Len Blavatnik’s DAZN is said to be exploring its options to secure its financial future.

Dubbed “The Netflix of Sport”, DAZN has been a big spender in its acquisition of European football and boxing. However, the global Covid-19 pandemic has meant subscribers have paused their payments, telling the streaming service they are disappointed at the lack of live action.

The Financial Times reports DAZN’s preferred option to be a sale of an equity stake in the company, but an outright sale hasn’t been ruled out.

Among those to be approached is John Malone’s Liberty Global, but so far there has been little interest in the deal.

Blavatnik’s Access Industries acquired UK-based Perform Group in 2014, which included a number of businesses such as sports betting services and the Opta statistics company.

In 2018. Japanese advertising company Dentsu became a 10% shareholder in the company before rebranding as DAZN.

The Perform division itself merged with the US sports group STATS a year later, following a deal with Vista Equity Partners.

More channels for Poland’s TVP

By Chris Dziadul

The Polish public broadcaster TVP has plans to add four more channels to its thematic portfolio.

In addition to the previously announced TVP Dokument and TVP 4K, Wirtualne Media reports that they are TVP Muzyka and TVP Nauka.

It adds that information about TVP’s plans is contained in an ‘Obligation Card’, namely a document that TVP has sent to the National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT) outlining its plans for 2020-2024.

TVP Muzyka would offer various musical genres, music videos, concerts, documentaries and feature films, while TVP Nauka would be educational in nature.

TVP has proposed spending PLN36 million (€7.98 million) on TVP 4K in 2021 and the same amount in the next three years.

TVP Dokument would have PLN19.2 million allocated to it in 20201, rising to PLN25.1 million in 2024.

TVP Muzyka would receive PLN20 million annually between 2021-2024 and TVP Nauka PLN40 million each year from 2022.

Play Now adds news TV content

By Chris Dziadul

The Polish mobile operator Play has added a package of news channels to its Play Now and Play Now TV services.

It contains TVN24, TVN24BiS, Euronews, Bloomberg and BBC World News and costs PLN10 (€2.21) a month for all customers receiving its Play Now or Play Now TV Box offer, with the first month available for free.

The package can be activated on TV Box, in the mobile app Play Now, on playnow.pl and the Play24.

Customers can also stop receiving the package at any moment.

Play Now TV is a streaming service that gives access to over 80 TV channels.

Users can expand the service with five additional packages, namely Sport, Kids, Extra, HBO Go and now also News.

Mediaset launches international OTT platform

By Julian Clover

Mediaset is to take its streaming service Mitele Plus to international markets.

The Spanish service includes the CincoMAS channel, which has so far been broadcast as a linear channel in the Americas. There will also be Telecinco news, Mediaset’s original productions, access to the Mediaset film library, and everything from talent shows, sports and docusoaps.

Mitele Plus will be available for a monthly €3 and €30 for the year. It can be accessed via the web and mobile applications, with plans to extend this to smart TV.

The availability of live and on demand content will vary according to the territory; features include restart and the ability to download content to the mobile for later viewing.

Netflix begins gentle subscriber cull

By Julian Clover

Netflix has begun to clean its database and is asking subscribers that haven’t been using the service to confirm whether they want to continue their subscription.

“The last thing we want is people paying for something they’re not using,” said Eddy Wu of the Netflix Product Innovation team in a gentle blog post entitled Helping members who haven’t been watching cancel.

Anyone who has not watched anything on Netflix for a year since they joined to confirm they want to keep their subscription.

If no reply is received the subscription will be automatically cancelled, though it will be possible to reactivate it at a later date.

The same will apply to anyone who has not watched anything for two years.

“These inactive accounts represent less than half of one percent of our overall member base, only a few hundred thousand, and are already factored into our financial guidance,” explained Wu.

Subscribers will start seeing the emails or in app notifications this week.

Orange and Mediapro ink content deal

By Chris Dziadul

Orange España and The Mediapro Studio have reached an agreement for the joint acquisition of content.

Commenting on the development, Josep Maria Rabés, director of Orange TV, said: “our company is decidedly committed to promoting the production of quality content in Spain and this alliance with Mediapro allows us to strengthen this objective, as well as to enrich the offer for customers of our television platform, one of the most evolved and innovated in recent years in our country, both from a functional and content point of view”.

Laura Fernández Espeso, corporate and television director, The Mediapro Studio, added: “The greater the interest in the original content of platforms and operators, the more opportunities we have to strengthen production. Orange TV is betting heavily on its television offering, which we are pleased to be part of with an important selection of our most important productions. film and television this year”.

Javier Méndez, director of global content at The Mediapro Studio, said: “We are proud to be a guarantee of quality for all our partners. Agreements like this not only confirm the confidence of the sector, but also strengthen our position as a leading partner in the production and distribution of content at an international”.

BBC Four could become global subscription service

By Julian Clover

The BBC is considering turning its arts-based channel BBC Four into a global subscription service.

The broadcaster has become to arts and music shows, alongside international dramas, and re-runs of Top of the Pops.

In its annual report the BBC says the service would take “our strengths in specialist factual to the world stage.”

The move comes at a time when the channel faces budget cuts in the UK as the BBC turns its intentions back to BBC Three, the online youth channel.

The BBC is exploring the possibility of restoring BBC Three as a linear channel following recent ratings success, but there are fears that BBC Four may face the brunt of any realignment in programme budgets.

No decision is expected until the autumn.

HBO Max expands distribution slate

By Julian Clover

WarnerMedia has given details of the distribution agreements that have been set up for the launch of HBO Max on May 27, 2020.

The list includes cable and broadband operators, gaming consoles and connected TV. HBO Max will be available on Altice USA, Cox Communications, Microsoft, National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC), Samsung, Sony Interactive Entertainment and Verizon

The expanded slate is in addition to the previously announced AT&T, Apple, Charter, Google, Hulu and YouTube TV.

“The launch of HBO Max is an important milestone for our company, and we’re excited that these valued partners will be on board for the launch,” said Rich Warren, president of WarnerMedia Distribution. “Through our expansive distribution pipeline, millions of customers will have immediate access to a best-in-class streaming experience come May 27.”

HBO Max will be available in the United States at $14.99 per month.

My TF1 to close MyTF1 VOD

By Julian Clover

Tf1 is to shutter its video-on-demand service MyTF1.

The French commercial broadcaster is planning to close the store by the end of July and is said to be in talks with Canal Plus to take on the rights to the content, some of which extends beyond the proposed closure date.

The service has been struggling to make headway in a market that has been in decline since 2017. Viewers prefer the option of an all in one streaming service such as Netflix or the planned Salto in which TF1 holds a significant stake.

France Télévisions closed its VOD service in 2017.

In 2017/2018 MyTF1 was the subject of a series of disputes over the service’s continued carriage.

SPI extends Red Bull Media cooperation

By Chris Dziadul

SPI/FilmBox and Red Bull Media House have signed their second content acquisition deal for SPI’s general entertainment channel FunBox UHD.

The deal grants SPI both the broadcast rights to the series Culinary Heights at Ikarus on their 4K & HD channels and its sublicensing rights to third parties in select territories.

Commenting on the development, Revi Benshoshan, Director of Acquisitions at SPI International, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Red Bull Media House once again to expand our portfolio of dynamic programming with incredible visual quality.

“The addition of Culinary Heights at Ikarus to SPI’s portfolio reflects our commitment to providing our audiences with a diverse range of quality programming to suit different tastes”.

SPI had previously acquired the adventure series The Rocky Mountains Traverse from Red Bull Media House.

German Bollywood channel Zee.One to close

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Indian media company Zee Entertainment Enterprises will close down its German channel Zee.One at the end of May 2020.

The channel’s head Friederike Behrends announced the decision in a letter to business partners, reports German industry magazine DWDL.

Mukund Cairae, COO International Business of parent company Zee Entertainment Enterprises and thus also responsible for Zee.One, confirmed the withdrawal from the German market.

The effects of the Coronavirus are the reason for the closure of the ad-supported free-TV channel, he told the magazine. “In view of unresolvable challenges and increasing losses, we can no longer subsidise the company.”

Zee.One launched on July 29, 2016, for fans of Indian series and movies. The channel quickly gained nationwide coverage via cable, satellite, IPTV and OTT platforms.

Love Nature 4K expands in Russia

By Chris Dziadul

Thema Rus has announced the launch of Love Nature 4K on Rostelecom’s Wink video service in Russia.

The deal to bring the channel to Rostelecom was brokered by Them Rus and overseen by Chiara Mckee, VP, EMEA Global Networks, Blue Ant Media.

Commenting on the development, Ward Platt, CEO Global Networks, Blue Ant Media, said: “Love Nature has seen explosive growth in the last 18 months, growing to be in 110 territories on 55 different platforms reaching over 150 million households.

“Launching on Russia’s incumbent pay-TV platform, Rostelecom, continues that trajectory allowing us to share captivating wildlife stories with a significant Russian audience”.

Natalia Kabikova, MD of Thema Rus, said: “Our company is a channel distributor in Russia and the CIS. We are thrilled that Love Nature’s amazing stories and breath-taking visuals are now available for Rostelecom viewers to enjoy. Bringing Love Nature to Rostelecom and to other significant partners across Russia is a significant milestone for the brands ongoing global expansion”.

Alexander Kosarim, director of content policy at Rostelecom, added: “We see that in modern conditions the demand for cognitive and developing content is growing. Spectators try to quench their thirst to travel and discover, which are not yet available, in virtual mode. The new Love Nature 4K television channel gives you the opportunity to get acquainted with the picturesque corners of the planet and explore wildlife in the highest quality TV”.

Love Nature 4K is also available in Russia on the pay-tv platform Tricolor and in the on demand content of the OTT platform Okko.

Altice to close RMC Sports News

By Julian Clover

Altice is to shutter its RMC Sports News channel with effect from June 2.

The channel has effectively been silent since the start of the corona crisis, its demise being signalled by Canal+, which stated on its website that RMC Sports News would no longer be available in its packages from Friday week.

Altice has not made an official statement on the channel’s future.

The unions are said to be furious over finding out about the channel’s future from a third party.

RMC Sport News was launched in summer 2016 under the name of BFM Sport, changing its name two years later on the launch of the RMC Sport bouquet.

BBC β€œconsidering case” for BBC Three return

By Julian Clover

The BBC says it is “considering the case” for bringing back BBC Three for linear transmission. It’s also expected to receive an increase to its programming budget.

The channel went online only in 2016 in a £30 million cost saving, though many of its shows are also seen on BBC One and BBC Two.

In recent weeks BBC Three has enjoyed a series of ratings successes with programmes including Normal People, RuPaul’s Drag Race UK and Stacey Dooley investigates.

An announcement is expected as part of the BBC’s Annual Plan that will be revealed on Wednesday.

However, a return for BBC Three is also likely to be accompanied by cutbacks in other areas, with arts network BBC Four potentially facing the axe.

The corporation’s income has also been reduced by £125 million as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Ancestry named as Sky History sponsor

By Julian Clover

Family history specialist Ancestry has been named as channel sponsor for Sky HISTORY.

Sky will take on co-branding for the A+E Networks UK channel, and its sister channel Sky HISTORY2 on May 27.

It maintains distribution on Sky, Virgin, BT, Talk Talk and NOW TV.

“We are delighted to be working with Sky HISTORY and we are confident it will help even more people to begin their journey of self-discovery with us,” said Ancestry’s Russell James.

As part of the partnership, Ancestry-branded promos for the new Sky HISTORY are running across the full suite of channels in the A+E Networks UK portfolio: Crime+Investigation, Lifetime and BLAZE. The campaign launched on 27th April and will run until 30th November 2020.

Adrian Pilkington, SVP Commercial and Digital Strategy at A+E Networks, said: “Ancestry is a perfect partner for the new Sky HISTORY. We’re very pleased to combine two such well established brands that help people explore the past on a personal and societal level. Viewers watching Sky HISTORY are discovering more about the people, events and trends that have shaped the world around them, so they are an ideal audience to engage with how they can find out more about their own lineage.”

Ancestry wants to use its presence on the channels, which reach an affluent 40+ audience, to convert its high brand awareness into consideration of its genealogical subscription. The seven-month agreement will run across linear TV, VOD and digital.

There will also be bespoke short-form social content that will sit across the Sky HISTORY social channels, as well as sponsorship of the channel’s two podcasts: Love Letters From World War Two and Not What You Thought You Knew.

Telia licenses standalone OTT rights to Discovery

By Julian Clover

The European Commission has given its approval to Telia Company’s decision to license standalone OTT rights, in Sweden and Finland, to Discovery Networks.

As part of the approvals process when Telia Company took control of TV4, C More and MTV Finland, Telia committed to license standalone OTT rights to one other market player in each of Sweden and Finland, respectively.

It’s a far cry from earlier this year when Discovery channels were dropped from Telia’s networks in a carriage dispute.

“We have run a process to license our OTT rights with several players, fully in line with the commitments. Monday’s approval means that we can continue to move forward and realise the advantages for our customers of combining our leading mobile and fixed networks with the most successful commercial media house in the Nordics,” says Allison Kirkby, President and CEO of Telia Company.

The decision means that Discovery Networks will distribute TV4 Media’s linear channels (TV4, Sjuan, TV 12, TV4 Fakta, TV4 Guld, TV4 Film, Sportkanalen, C More Hockey, C More Fotboll, C More Golf, C More Sport, C More Live 1-5), as well as MTV´s linear channels (MTV3, Sub, AVA, C More Juniori, C More Max, C More Sport 1, C More Sport 2) and Telia´s Liiga channel package over the internet, without the need for a traditional TV subscription.