The BBC is to reduce the video offering on its Red Button service on Sky, Freesat and Virgin Media from five streams to one as part of a series of changes to the Red Button service.Tom Williams, development editor for red button and dual screen in BBC Vision, said the consolidation of the video service, which will take place on October 15, was necessary because the cost of using linear broadcast technology to deliver multiple streams. The Freeview version of the service delivers only a single video stream.Williams said the change “in no way signals the demise of BBC Red Button”. He said the service would continue to support a wide range of TV and radio output including events such as Wimbledon and the Glastonbury Festival. However, the reduction in the number of video streams will mean that the BBC will no longer be able to offer multiscreen coverage of big events via broadcast platforms. The multiscreen services will continue to be available online, meaning that viewers with access to connected TV services will be able to view them on TV. Williams said the BBC was “developing new ways of bringing enhanced coverage of major events to your televisions in the future”.The BBC will move forward with plans to develop its ‘Connected Red Button’ service, outlined earlier this year by BBC on-demand general manager Daniel Danker, combining elements of the Red Button service with elements of BBC Online. New functions will include live restart of programmes. The first version of the service is set to launch later this year.
French pay TV operator Canal Plus has launched a companion screen app for rugby fans.The Canal Rugby App will allow viewers to watch Top 14 French rugby clubs’ matches from a range of different camera positions as they are broadcast live on Canal Plus on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.The app will also make available additional video content covering the arrival of players at the stadium, warm ups and other behind the scenes action, post-match interviews and complete coverage of press conferences. Viewers can also access highlights of all Top 14 matches, as well as interviews and analysis.Other features include the ability to take notes on the match and players and compare these with those of other subscribers and the ability to exchange and share commentary via Twitter.The launch of the app follows Canal Plus’s successful launch of similar service for football fans, which has been downloaded 700,000 times.
Sky Deutschland CEO Brian SullivanAfter four years of rebuilding the business, Sky Deutschland is set to turn a positive EBITDA this year and will grow rapidly in 2014, according to CEO Brian Sullivan.“We’ve been going through recapitalising the business for four years and with the completion of that we’ve completed the restructuring of the business. We are finally going to turn the corner and, on a small scale, we will be profitable on an EBITDA basis this year. In 2014 that growth will increase rapidly,” said Sullivan, speaking on the opening panel at ANGA COM today.Sullivan said Sky had a “straightforward” pay TV business model. Pay TV is not a “mandatory product” yet for consumers in Germany, so Sky had to differentiate by providing something different, he said.Sullivan said the company had invested and sought to provide more value over the last four years, and that quality of coverage of sports and content from the likes of HBO meant that Sky could now provide “good value”.He said that relative to competitors and pay TV peers, Sky Deutschland was still relatively small. “We are approaching the scale where we can have a profitable business…but we are still quite small,” said Sullivan. “We aspire to be in many more homes and hopefully we are doing the right things to achieve that.”Sullivan said the Bundelsiga was “undoubtedly the most exciting product on the market” and this year, the involvement of German teams in the final of the Champions League had carried interest right through to the summer. He added that Sky would continue to invest in additional content for the platform.“We are expecting to invest in more programming, content and even channels. We still believe in channels,” he said, claiming that Sky would “invest in places where we feel we can differentiate” rather than compete directly with free to air channels.Sullivan said Sky’s audience was typically younger than the average for free-to-air channels, and that the average age of new customers had gone down over the last four years. Services including Sky Sports News and Sky Go have a stronger appeal to a youthful demographic, he said. This was beneficial, he said, because younger users were more likely to recommend services that they used than older viewers.
Didier BellensBelgian telco Belgacom has said it is searching for a new permanent CEO after the Belgian government, which is the majority owner of the firm, ousted current boss Didier Bellens at the end of last week.In a statement, Belgacom said it has “taken note of the Government’s decision to end the collaboration with Mr. Didier Bellens” and said it has handed over the CEO responsibilities on an interim basis to executive vice-president of finance and chief financial officer Ray Stewart, and Belgacom chairman of the board Stefaan De Clerck.The firm said it has immediately started its search for a full time CEO and has selected an external headhunting agency to draw up a list of potential candidates for the role. The government will make the final appointment decision.Prime Minister Elio di Rupo told reporters last week that the Belgian state, which has a 53.3% holding in Belgacom, had lost confidence in Bellens due to his “repeated criticism” of the authorities.Commenting on the changes, De Clerck said that Stewart, who has been at Belgacom since 1997, was “ideally placed to ensure a smooth transition period. For this he has the explicit support of the entire board of directors and the whole management team.”
Russian service provider Rostelecom has awarded contracts for the supply of equipment to build Metro Ethernet fibre-to-the-building and GPON fibre networks.The operator placed contracts worth RUB1.570 billion (€34.5 million), saving over 35% on its initial maximum budget.Rostelecom is placing orders worth RUB375.7 million for access switches, RUB183.1 million for aggregation equipment, RUB708.1 million for FTTB cabinets and RUB303.3 million for GPON equipment.
ABox42 will exhibit at IBC on stand 14.J13 ABox42’s set-tops have been chosen by FTTH operator Deutsche Glasfaser to deliver TV services over its fibre network in Germany. Deutsche Glasfaser has chosen the ABox42 M-Series SmartSTB platform including the ABox42 advanced DVB feature set for its DGTV service, which will include around 100 SD channels, 50 HD and 100 radio channels and will be launched in October.Deutsche Glasfaser is one of the first major operators to deliver a full live IPTV service using unicast technologies, avoiding the need to set up and operate a complex multicast network for its service.The deployment will use technologies including HTML5, HLS adaptive bitrate streaming, and HbbTV services in combination with a HTML5 GUI and HLS Unicast adaptive bitrate streaming.Verimatrix is providing conditional access for the project, which will support Germany’s major VoD services and smart TV apps. Deutsche Glasfaser is also using ABox42 OPX Smart SaaS and cloud TV services for management of the box deployment in the field.“Operator services over time get more and more complex and offer much deeper functionality than in the traditional TV world. With our SmartSTB platform and the advanced Software Development Kit, Deutsche Glasfaser was able to develop a compelling user experience with all modern TV features quickly,” said Matthias Greve, CEO of ABox42. “Our SDK is based on fast performing HTML5 and can easily be integrated into existing operator backends of our customers.”
TV technology outfit Kudelski Group has posted strong full-year results, with a 12.3% increase in revenues driven by digital TV and its public access arm.Kudelski posted revenues of just over CHF1 billion (€940 million) and operating profit of CHF98 million, up 20.4%.The group said it expected to continue growing this year, although profitability will not reach the same level as 2016. It expects revenues of US$1.15-1.2 billion (€1.1-1.13 billion) and operating profit of US$60-80 million.Digital TV revenues grew by 10.5% in 2016, reaching CHF730.2 million, and segment operating income increased by 19.3% to CHF99.4 million.The growth was boosted by a number of new contracts, including a contract to supply conditional access for Altice USA’s 4K Ultra HD cable offering and a new multi-year contract with Canal+ covering its domestic and international services. Canal+, in addition to CA, will use the Nagra Insight analytics platform. Revenues were also boosted by the ongoing supply of CA for Dish Network in the US.In South Africa, Sentech partnered with Nagra to launch its satellite gap filler programme in order to bring service to areas not covered by its DTT network, while DTH operator Platco switched from competition to Nagra cardless security technology for its new Openview HD service offering, which was launched in November 2016.Nagra cross the 10 million digital cable subscribers milestone in India, while Taiwan Broadband Cable shipped close to one million OpenTV5 set-top boxes, making Tawian one fo the largest OpenTV5 deployments in Asia.Kudelski’s other conditional access brand, Conax, signed 11 new deals in the course of the year across Europe, Latin America and India, and signed 20 additional contracts with existing customers.Revenues in the public access segment also grew strongly, by 14.4% to CHF318.7 million.
‘Best of the web’ channel provider QYou Media has struck a deal with Ericsson to use the latter’s Unified Delivery Network (UDN) platform, designed to provide an alternative to traditional CDNs by enabling content providers to reach Ericsson’s customer base of service providers.Under the pair’s deal Ericsson will deliver QYou content over the UDN to existing customers while also introducing QYou’s millennial-focused programming to Ericsson’s service provider customer base. Ericsson said that the ad-supported content distribution model is designed to create new opportunities for QYou, Ericsson and service providers.In addition to delivering QYou’s content via the UDN, Ericsson will also distribute The QYou app on connected TVs and set-top boxes. There will also be provision for The QYou to add localised content to new connected devices and new markets.Marcus Bergström, Director of UDN programme and strategy at Ericsson, said: “Many of the world’s largest service providers and content providers use our UDN ecosystem to deliver content to connected customers around the world. With many millennials opting for skinny bundles or free short-form content online through social media, there is an opportunity to use our network, to add value, and to monetise the content that clearly appeals to this hard-to-reach market segment. QYou’s best-of-web content will provide our partner and customers with a ready means to attract and retain younger subscribers.”Curt Marvis, CEO and co-founder of QYou Media, said: “More and more TV providers are recognising the need to match millennial tastes with millennial programming. We strongly believe that digital-first content, expertly curated and packaged, has a home on television’s multiscreen landscape. Hot on the heels of our expanded distribution into 17 million homes with Tata Sky in India, comes this deal that has the potential to deliver QYou to hundreds of millions of subscribers globally. Partnering with Ericsson, one of the leading companies in the content-delivery industry and as part of a broader ecosystem that now encompasses 55 content providers and 40 service providers around the world, is another step to bringing web-first content to a wider audience, and showcasing its monetisation potential.”