Pay TV platforms and channel operators need to work together to provide second screen services and content or risk letting OTT players take market share, according to Informa Telecoms & Media.The level of personalisation that second screen services offer can drive deeper engagement and pay TV operators can benefit from this, strengthening customer relationships and generating new revenue, chiefly from advertising, which can be synced with ads on the main TV screen or targeted at specific user demographics within operators’ companion apps, Informa notes in a briefing on second screen strategies for pay TV operators.“Informa Telecoms & Media believes that continued cooperation and collaboration between pay TV providers and broadcasters in the new second-screen era will provide the best route to success for all those in TV value chain seeking to benefit from this important new trend,” notes Informa senior analyst Ted Hall. “Operators that fail to take ownership of the second screen will open the door to new OTT players in TV looking to exploit the increasing prevalence of connected devices to gain a foothold in the premium-content-distribution market.” read more
UK broadcaster Channel 4 has teamed up with Bauer Media to launch second-screen interactivity for three shows to be aired over the summer.The first ‘digital event’ will take place on June 8 around an episode of teen drama Hollyoaks, featuring bespoke companion screen content and a live, interactive online 15-minute show about the show following the credits.The live interactive shows will be produced for Channel 4 by Box TV.
Eurosport’s new CEO has restructured the broadcaster’s management, giving several existing executives new titles and responsibilities.Jean-Thierry Augustin succeeded Laurent-Eric Le Lay as company CEO in April. He has now appointed Julien Bergeaud as development director with a job description that includes “reinforcing global coherence across all TV channels”.Eurosport France managing director Arnaud Simon will take on a wider role, adding TV content director, broadcast and programmes to his title and taking charge of the international versions of the channels he runs.Vincent Gérard-Hirne, Eurosport’s technical director, takes over the responsibility for production and distribution technology for the different language versions of Eurosport’s channels.Simon and Gérard-Hirne will report to Eurosport deputy managing director François Schmitt. Bergeaud reports directly to Augustin.The changes are effective immediately.Discovery recently bought in to Eurosport with an option to take a controlling stake in 2015. French commercial broadcaster TF1 remains the majority shareholder in the meantime. read more
Sky Italia will be the first platform globally to air the new 3D version of James Cameron’s Titanic in 3D.The film will premier on the Italian pay TV operator’s 3D channel on July 14 and will be shown simultaneously on the Sky Cinema 1 HD channel.The 3D conversion of Titanic in took about one year and an over US$18-million (€14 million) investment.
BT Sport has teamed up with production company Boomerang to co-produce a new live sports chat show presented by broadcaster Clare Balding.The weekly sports magazine show will feature interviews and discussions of sporting interviews.The programme will launch on BT Sport on August 8, and will be recorded in front of a studio audience in BT Sport’s new studio at the iCITY development at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford. BT Sport and Boomerang will co-produce 30 live episodes per year split into three blocks of 10 shows.Simon Green, head of BT Sport, said: “We are very excited to be co-producing the new Clare Balding show on BT Sport. Working closely with Clare, we want to shine a spotlight on a variety of different sports and really give the viewers the inside track on their sporting heroes.” read more
The BBC this week rolled out improved video stream quality on its Android iPlayer app and is working to launch programmes downloads on the Android app “as soon as possible”.In a company blog post, the BBC said “today we have an Android development team that is almost three times the size of the iOS team,” adding that it has been working to support a full range of Android screen sizes, deliver mobile downloads to Android devices and offer “video playback quality parity with Apple iOS devices.”
The BBC said that earlier this week it “flicked a switch in MediaCityUK, Manchester, which enabled those higher quality streams on all of our most popular Android phones, tablets and ‘phablets’” and said that its Android team is “now entirely focused on downloads.” read more
The head of marketing and sales at cloud-based TV service Magine, Ulla Koivula, has been selected as a member of The International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences – the producer of the International Emmy Awards.Koivula, whose full title at Magine is ‘executive vice-president for customer delight,’ will now be entitled to attend all board meetings and panels held by the Academy worldwide, International Academy Day, as well as the International Emmy World Television Festival.“This is an exciting time for Magine, and the fact that I, and other new members from organisations such as Netflix, have been welcomed as members by the Academy is an indication of how new players in television are contributing new perspectives and ideas within the industry,” said Koivula. read more
More Roku owners than Apple TV owners use an over-the-top (OTT) video service, according to consumer research by Parks Associates, presented at the NAB Show in Las Vegas. Parks’ Streaming CE and Content Purchasing Habits report claims that 86% of Roku owners use a subscription OTT service compared to 77% of Apple TV owners.Some 75% of Roku owners use Netflix, compared to 63% of Apple TV owners, according to the research. However, Amazon Prime Instant Video is used by just 28% of Roku owner, compared to 40% of Apple TV owners.“Many pay TV subscribers are also OTT users, but they have to move outside of their provider’s service interface to access OTT content. Pay TV providers ultimately need to retain access to the viewer, but operator set-top boxes have long been closed to anyone other than the pay TV provider. Some are considering how they can facilitate the OTT experience without losing connection to the consumer,” said Brett Sappington, director, research, Parks Associates. read more
Dutch telco KPN has carried out a trial of LTE broadcast technology using Ericsson’s platform.KPN carried out the first live trial of the technology in the Netherlands in collaboration with Amsterdam Arena, Ericsson, Qualcomm Technologies, Samsung and IBM.The trial took place on Saturday in the stadium during a football game between Ajax and NEC.The Ericsson LTE Broadcast solution combines technologies based on multicast standard eMBMS, compression standard HEVC and adaptive bit-rate standard MPEG-DASH.“Our experience with our country-wide 4G network demonstrates there is a clear customer demand for video content during events. Therefore our aim was to find a solution for delivering high quality video content to large groups of people,” said Joost Steltenpool, director, access, KPN.“The key for such a solution is greater network efficiency and guaranteed service quality. Ericsson’s LTE Broadcast solution has been shown to deliver such a solution to our customers in the Amsterdam Arena. KPN is enthusiastic about the success of the pilot and is currently exploring next steps “. read more
Arris has appointed former Bell Labs president and Alcatel-Lucent chief strategy officer, Jeong Kim, to its board of directors. Prior to these roles, Kim was also founder and CEO of Yurie Systems, a data networking access technology firm that he took public and ultimately sold to Lucent Technologies in 1998.“Dr. Kim brings to the board his outstanding experience and leadership in the telecommunications industry from an engineering and strategy point of view as well as keen acumen from a business and operations prospective. Dr. Kim’s membership adds uniquely to the skill sets of our board that will help guide Arris through these transformative times in the information industry,” said Robert J. Stanzione, Arris’ chairman and CEO. read more
Cloud-based over-the-top TV service Magine has shelved its Spanish launch plans, announcing that it will shut down its beta trial in the country after 18 months.In a tweet posted on the Magine Spain account, the cloud TV company said it is postponing the commercial launch in the country and that its existing beta trial will end on February 1.The firm added in a statement: “whilst the response has been positive from both consumers and broadcasters, the company has decided to focus its attention on other markets where a commercial product can be launched in a shorter time frame.”Magine said it will “continue exploring new markets” through partnerships with content providers and that it plans to expand into new markets in 2015.The company first soft-launched its service in Spain in July 2013 after securing US$19 million (€15 million) in investment and striking partnerships in the country with firms including Viacom, National Geographic Channel and Chello Multicanal.At the time Magine, which provides cloud-based live TV and catch-up programming to connected devices, said that “the Spanish marketplace is an ideal one for Magine, as it enjoys high broadband penetration with a relatively low pay TV penetration.”Magine is currently also live in Germany and its home market of Sweden.The firm first went live in Sweden in March 2013 and added Germany in April last year, with the latter quickly establishing itself as the company’s biggest market by customers. Magine claims that in Germany its sign-ups have reached a seven-figure level. read more
Vincent BolloréVivendi chairman Vincent Bolloré has again upped his stake in the company, raising his shareholding from 12.01% to 14.52% by investing about €800 million. The move is the third by Bolloré to raise his holding in the last two weeks and the fourth since the beginning of March. Bolloré’s holding in Vivendi is now worth a reported €4.7 billion.Under France’s Florange law, designed to protect long-term investment and employment in the country, shareholders of long standing are entitled to double voting rights. One of Vivendi’s shareholders, PhiTrust, has tabled a resolution opposing the application of the law in Vivendi’s case, to be put to the company’s general meeting next week.Bolloré has now secured a deal with hedge fund P. Schoenfeld Asset Management whereby the latter has promised to oppose the PhiTrust resolution. Bolloré can reportedly count on sufficient votes from a number of other shareholders to block the attempt to prevent the application of Florange.Bolloré’s move came as Vivendi chief executive Arnaud de Puyfontaine played down reports of Vivendi’s interest in acquiring European pay TV giant Sky. De Puyfontaine told the Financial Times that Vivendi had no interest in acquiring Sky, although it is “thinking about transformational transactions” on its journey “to become a fully dedicated player in media and content”. He also ruled out a bid for UK broadcaster ITV, saying it was “too expensive”. read more
End-market demand for TVs, monitors, notebooks and tablets has “weakened significantly” this year, according to IHS.The research firm claims that the demand outlook has deteriorated due to a “variety of product and economic reasons” – especially the rise of the US dollar against most other global currencies, which has caused local prices for a variety of consumer electronics products in many countries to rise.IHS said that large-area, thin film transistor LCD displays have remained profitable since the end of 2012, with profit margins reaching 10% in the first quarter of 2015, their highest level since the first half of 2010. However, these profit margins are forecast to fall to 0% in the fourth quarter.According to the report, high factory utilisation rates at leading panel makers, and swelling inventories at TV set makers, are now pressuring prices and margins downwards, with many large panel sizes currently selling at “marginal profits.”“At least for now, panel makers have decided to keep utilisation high and minimise overhead costs, in order to chase as much profit as possible while they are still able to. The downside to this strategy is that panel inventories at set-makers have ballooned, widening the gap between TV panel shipments and TV set shipments,” said Charles Annis, senior director at IHS.The research firm said that as this excess inventory is sold down, panel prices are also expected to “decline rapidly”, with large-area display profitability likely to follow the same pattern.At the same time, a substantial number of new factories are currently ramping up production, with dedicated capacity for large-area displays will grow at a rate of 6% in 2015 and 8% in 2016, the highest rates in several years, according to the report.“Growing concerns about the global economy and its effect on end-market demand – combined with high utilisation rates, inventories at set makers and increasing capacity – will likely weigh heavily on large-area display profit margins for the remainder of 2015 and even well into 2016,” said Annis. read more
Jana BennettHistory chief Jana Bennett is to leave A+E Networks to create a London- and New York-based production company.A+E CEO Nancy Dubuc told staff Bennett had informed her of the plan to launch a new business earlier this spring.Former BBC Worldwide channels chief Bennett has been with History parent A+E for nearly four years, initially relocating from London to New York to launch the female-skewed FYI cable channel.She also ran the LMN network before moving to lead flagship channel History to replace Dirk Hoogstra during a period where ratings were flagging. There she oversaw a major push into scripted programming through series such as Roots and Six, and helped the network back into growth.A+E is searching for a replacement, but in the meantime,History executive VP and head of programming Paul Cabana and his team will report into A+E Networks Portfolio and A+E Studios president Paul Buccieri.“I am enormously grateful for the leadership, passion and commitment she has brought to A+E Networks,” Dubuc wrote in a note to staff. “Please join me in wishing Jana all the best in her new endeavor.”“When I came to the US to launch FYI and run LMN, I had no idea I would end up staying on to lead History,” said Bennett. “I’m very thankful to Nancy for giving me such amazing brands to run and I am hugely proud of what the talented teams at all three channels have achieved.Now that History is back to growth, it’s time for me to start my next chapter. This was a difficult decision and Nancy was incredibly understanding about my desire to spend some of my time in the UK.“Having been lucky enough to have worked in media on both sides of the Atlantic, I’ll be leaving later this summer to set up my new venture based here and in London.”Bennett’s departure comes after History UK programming chief Rachel Job also exited her post. read more