Aster’s new owner UPC is increasing the Polish cable operator’s broadband speeds.As part of the ongoing integration of Aster and UPC, the lowest broadband speed on Aster’s network will increase to 5Mbps from 0.5Mbps. The maximum speed will increase to 120Mbps from 60Mbps. The increases will be introduced gradually until the end of February. UPC completed the acquisition of Aster earlier this month. The deal will see UPC Poland increase its customer to 1.5 million customers, with a total of 2.5 million homes passed.
Ericsson has renamed its Business Unit Multimedia arm to Business Unit Support Solutions in order to incorporate a new focus on service fulfillment, assurance, network optimisation and real-time charging following its acquisition of OSS/BSS specialist Telcordia.Ericsson completed its acquisition of Telcordia on January 12. The new unit combines the focus on OSS/BSS with Ericsson’s existing TV and media enabling technologies and mobile commerce technology. Ericsson is now focusing its m-commerce technology on business-to-business activity and plans to close its existing consumer-facing Money Service at the beginning of April. The company’s new Converged Wallet product will allow service providers to deliver m-wallet accounts to pre-paid customers.“With the new strategic focus, we will strengthen our leadership as we build on our installed base and competence. We will capture the growth momentum in the selected areas and leverage on our acquisition of Telcordia. We already have a leading position in key areas such as charging and billing, where we serve 1.6 billion people with our solutions,” said Per Borgklint, head of Ericsson’s Business Unit Support Solutions (pictured, left). “The new name Business Unit Support Solutions reinforces our commitment to support our customers’ business growth through value creating solutions for customer experience, content management and delivery and mobile payments.”
Rovi has signed two Chinese DivX deals that will see the video technology integrated into Changhong digital TVs and Philips-branded TVs set for distribution in the country.The deal with consumer electronics manufacturer Changhong means that Rovi has now signed DivX agreements with each of the top five digital TV manufacturers in China. Changhong TVs will have DivX HD video certification as well as offer support for DivX streaming.The Philips distribution will result from a new deal Rovi has reached with TVP Technology Limited, a display solutions provider that plans to add add DivX Plus HD certification into Philips-branded TVs in China.Rovi, which announced both deals today, hailed the Changhong deal as a “significant milestone” for the company as it continues to gain momentum in the country with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and original design manufacturers (ODMs) – companies that design products that are then branded by another firm.The TVP Technology comes after Rovi in January announced a deal with Mei Ah Digital and China Mobile Hong Kong to use DivX Plus Streaming to deliver premium entertainment services to mobile users.“As a premier ODM, TVP’s support for DivX technology further reinforces Rovi’s momentum in this rapidly growing market and highlights the universal value and appeal of the DivX Certified Program,” Rovi senior VP, sales and marketing, Simon Adams.“Philips TVs will add to the already expansive DivX ecosystem and increase the number of options for consumers who want to access and enjoy a growing catalog of Hollywood entertainment available in the DivX format.”The DivX Certified Programme lets consumer electronics manufacturers differentiate their products and guarantee reliable DivX video playback across all devices that bear the DivX logo. The format can be read on devices including phones, tablets, televisions and other digital media players.DivX Plus Streaming is an end-to-end solution for secure adaptive streaming for over-the-top content service providers on multiple platforms.
Finnish telco Elisa is to use Agama Technologies’ DTV Monitoring Solution to provide quality assurance for its EpicTV over-the-top TV service.Elisa, which serves about 3.6 million consumer and corporate customers in the Nordic countries, the Baltics and Russia, launched OTT extreme sports service EpicTV across iPads, Android tablets and smartphones, PCs and connected TVs last year.“As a leading provider of high-quality TV services we are committed to meet and exceed our viewers’ high expectations, both for our traditional TV services in Finland and for our pioneering multinational OTT service,” said Jarkko Järvinen, EpicTV’s chief engineer and senior development manager at Elisa. “One vital part of this is, of course, to really be able to ensure the delivered service quality to all our customers, and for this critical mission we turned to Agama, which has video service quality assurance as its core business and field of expertise, and a solution that perfectly matches our needs and requirements.”
Discovery Communications has signed a content partnership deal with WASU Digital TV Media Group for WASU’s new pay-TV channel Qiu Suo.Under the deal, Discovery will provide factual and lifestyle programming and act as channel and content consultant to WASU for Qiu Suo, which launched in China on March 16.Qiu Suo, which translates as “quest for knowledge,” has a target audience of adults aged 25 through 54 years old and will air Discovery programming including The Big Brain Theory, Tanked and Bear Grylls series Man vs Wild.“This content partnership with WASU complements Discovery’s 20-year history of providing high quality, nonfiction programming to the Chinese market,” said JB Perrette, president, Discovery Networks International.“Through WASU’s new channel, Qiu Suo, Chinese viewers now have 24/7 access to the best of Discovery’s factual and lifestyle programming.”Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific’s president and managing director, Arjan Hoekstra hailed the deal as a “significant milestone for Discovery’s business in China.””The new channel will introduce millions of Chinese viewers to some of Discovery’s best content and, building on the success of our existing business in China, paves the way for the next phase of growth for Discovery in one of the world’s fastest growing economies,” added Hoekstra.
French media regulator the CSA has ordered public broadcaster France Télévisions to make its channels available to internet TV provider Playmédia’s Play.tv service with minimum delay following a request by the latter to force the broadcaster to engage with it.The CSA said that Playmedia’s services were not incompatible with France Télévisions’ public service mission and that the fact that the broadcaster did not hold all the rights necessary for the distribution of its programmes on the open internet did not allow it to avoid its obligation to make its channels available to third-party service providers. It said it was up to France Télévisions to obtain the necessary rights to meet its obligations and called on the broadcaster not to oppose the distribution of its services by Playmédia.The move is the latest development in a long-running dispute between Playmédia and France Télévisions, which has consistently refused to make its channels available to the service and has in the past denied that the CSA has any authority to intervene where this would violate its agreements with rightsholders. However France Télévisions’ services are available via other online platforms, such as that of Orange.
Internet penetration has increased almost seven-fold from 6.5 to 43 per cent of the global population between 2000 and 2015, according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The ITU’s latest global research claims that by the end of 2015 there will be 3.2 billion people using the internet, 2 billion of whom will be from developing countries.However, four billion people in the developing world will remain offline, with 851 million of the almost one billion people living in the least developing countries not using the internet.The report claims that by the end of the year there are more than 7 billion mobile cellular subscriptions globally, corresponding to a penetration rate of 97%, up from 738 million in 2000.“Mobile broadband is the most dynamic market segment; globally, mobile broadband penetration reaches 47% in 2015, a value that increased 12 times since 2007,” said the ITU.The ITU is an agency for information and communication technology issues, and claims to be the “focal point” for governments and the private sector in developing networks and services.
Kenya’s Communications Authority has approved local telecom provider Safaricom’s application for licences to broadcast four TV channels, allowing the operator to create its own content for the IPTV service it launched in May, according to local reports.Safaricom’s broadcast licences will enable it to distribute content both over-the-air and online, as well as to compete with existing pay TV and multi-play operators, including Wananchi’s Zuku TV service.Safaricom began marketing an IP-enabled set-top, the BigBox, for KES10,000 (€88) plus a KES4,000 monthly fee for TV and 4G-enabled broadband services in May, with limited success.
The Estádio do DragãoPortuguese cable and pay TV operator Nos has teamed up with Samsung and Sport TV to broadcast a football match in virtual reality.Viewers equipped with Samsung Gear VR virtual reality headsets were able to watch the match between FC Porto and Benfica at the Estádio do Dragão yesterday in the format.Nos claimed a world first for the live broadcast in VR, using five cameras to enable viewers to choose different angles to watch the game, providing a 360-degree experience.The experience was made available to viewers in the Samsung store at the Fórum Almada and at the Nos theatre in the Shopping Colombo centre.Nos transmitted the match over fibre and a 1Gbps 4G network, using 300Mbps of dedicated capacity.“The Portuguese League is immensely proud to associate to these partners and to this revolutionary initiative in watching a football match. The match opposing FC Porto and Benfica will surely be followed by an even greater number of viewers, to add to the thousands of fans that will be at Estádio do Dragão and to the millions that will watch it at home, on the television. Portuguese professional football and all the emotion it offers will now be taken to a never before seen level,” said Pedro Proença, the president of the Portuguese league, ahead of the match.“We are aware that football is a passion point for the Portuguese people, which means that this initiative, the first of its kind worldwide, has all it takes to allow the users access to an experience that promises to change the way we look at live broadcasts,” said Frederico Paiva, business manager of Samsung Portugal.
Ryan AfsharVideo advertising platform Videology has appointed former Time and Telefonica Digital executive Ryan Afshar as its new vice-president and media director.Afshar will be tasked with leading business development in Europe and driving continued growth and use of Videology’s technology in the region.Reporting to John Tigg, Videology’s senior vice-president of strategic partnerships in EMEA, Afshar will be based in London at Videology’s EMEA headquarters.“Videology develops industry-leading solutions to empower the continued convergence of TV and video, and I’m very grateful to be given the opportunity to contribute to a company that is helping to address this seismic change in the ad industry,” said Afshar.He previously worked to develop digital businesses in a number of roles with the likes of Time and Telefonica Digital. More recently, he worked as director and co-founder of Affable Digital, working with start-ups and tech companies to help them develop monetisation and revenue strategies.
Yuliana SlashchevaRussian broadcaster CTC Media has teamed up with audience measurement specialist TNS Russia and technology provider Vi to offer advertising space based on measurement of audiences across both linear and digital domains.The new ratings tool – known as Big TV – will measure the non-linear viewership of all the Federal – nationally available – Russian channels that are currently measured by TNS Russia’s audience panel, but CTC Media said it would be the first to use the data provided to offer a new advertising product.Vi will use its ViMB ad sales system as the technology platform to sell advertising based on Big TV ratings.“We embarked on the strategy to build a content holding two and a half years ago. Today our products are everywhere our viewers are, including web, mobile, and Smart TV. CTC projects consistently have strong digital audience. Today the viewership of certain CTC projects on new platforms is comparable to their on-air viewership. Now our partners and advertisers will be able to understand the real audiences of CTC projects, and later of our other channels as well,” said Yuliana Slashcheva, CEO of CTC Media.Ksenia Achkasova, TV Audience Research Director, TNS Russia, said: “The technology landscape is changing, and so is the measurement methodology to ensure they fully match. The new measurement technology offers a more accurate evaluation of content audience regardless of particular screen, time or place of its consumption.”
Viacom has signed a multi-year deal with comScore that covers cross-platform audience measurement.Viacom says it will have access to comScore’s cross-platform measurement tools and advanced demographic capabilities – which span the linear TV, video-on-demand, digital, and over-the-top environments.Viacom said it will use the data for its proprietary advertising products, unlocking “maximum value to marketing partners” by delivering a complete view of the consumer.“This partnership with comScore marks a fundamental watershed moment in the business of television,” claimed Viacom’s senior vice-president of data strategy, Bryson Gordon.“This revolution in targeting, currency and measurement is the equivalent of shifting from black and white to colour. Viacom’s longstanding investment in data and innovation and our unique ability to merge creativity and science has positioned us far ahead in the marketplace by delivering what partners crave – the most comprehensive view of the consumer and the most effective way to reach them.”
Youth-focused broadcaster The QYou has struck a deal with T-Mobile’s Dutch over-the-top service, Knipppr.Under the deal, The QYou’s linear channel of curated web content will be available to subscribers of Knippr, which went live in June.The agreement marks The QYou’s latest expansion in the Netherlands, following its partnership with Ziggo Sport earlier this year.“As we have witnessed working with Ziggo and TV Vlaanderan, there is a huge video culture in the Netherlands, and we are thrilled to help Knippr by bringing our ‘best of the web’ short form content to its subscribers,” said The QYou CEO, Scott Ehrlich.Knippr vice-president, Johan Trouwborst, said: “Our goal is to build a service that delivers a broad selection of channels – both popular and niche – and to provide our viewers with the freedom to watch what they want, when they want, on whatever device they choose.“This type of flexible, a la carte model reflects what most consumers today want – not just younger viewers but everyone who is dissatisfied with the traditional cable offer.”Knippr costs €10.99 per-month and lets users stream channels and on-demand content to their smartphones, tablets and computers. Networks already available via the service include NPO 1, NPO 2, NPO 3, RTL 4, RTL 5, SBS6, RTL 7 and Disney XD.The QYou is a linear TV channel and video-on-demand offering around short-form video content sourced from the web.
Netflix will launch widely on US pay TV operator Comcast’s X1 set-top boxes this week.In a joint statement the firms said that the subscription video-on-demand service will go live on millions of X1 devices across the country.The move will make it easy for X1 customers to browse the Netflix catalogue alongside the other live, on demand, DVR and web programming included with their Xfinity TV subscription.“We are excited to add Netflix to X1 and give our customers access to all the content they love in a way that has never been done before,” said Comcast Cable CEO, Neil Smit.“Netflix has been a terrific partner, and our incredible teams of engineers and designers have come together to create an experience that is not only seamless and intuitive, but also lets viewers search and watch tens of thousands of movies, shows, specials and documentaries with the sound of their voice.”Netflix CEO Reed Hastings added: “The Netflix integration into the X1 platform means our mutual customers will no longer need to change inputs or juggle remotes.”The rollout comes after Comcast started offering a beta version of the Netflix app in the ‘Comcast Labs’ section of its X1 boxes in September.
French service provider Free has added movies on-demand service LaCinetek to its Freebox offering – the first time the service has been made available by an IPTV operator.The service, which features classic movies of the 20th century chosen by international directors, will be available from June on the Freebox Révolution and Freebox Mini 4K services.The idea behind LaCinetek is to allow 45 top international directors to present and comment on their top 50 movies of the last century, including the likes of Jacques Tourneur’s La griffe du passé, chosen by Bertrand Tavernier, the Coen brothers’ Blood Simple, chosen by Jacques Audiard and Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, chosen by Cédric Klapisch.The VOD service has a catalogue of about 600 titles in SD or HD quality, available from €2.99 each.LaCinetek was launched two years ago by a group of French and international film directors and Meilleurs du Cinéma, the group behind video-on-demand platform Univers Ciné.The service has been available via the LaCinetek website, but the group behind the project stated their ambition at the time to make it available on IPTV boxes.