John WilsonJohn Wilson, the long-standing chairman of the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) has died aged 82. Wilson, who was credited as being “the architect of IBC as we know it today,” helped to move the convention from its old home of Brighton back in 1990 and became chairman and later president of the new-look organisation.“John Wilson was always the perfect gentleman who in his own quiet way worked extremely hard for the benefit of IBC and the broadcast industry in general. His chairmanship transformed IBC into the well-drilled organisation it is today,” said David McGregor, founder of integrated broadcast systems firm TSL and a veteran of every IBC.Prior to working for IBC, Wilson was a successful member of the business community, both as sales director at Link Electronics and as the founder a displays business called Anna Valley.A memorial service to celebrate the life of John Wilson will be held at 14:30 on 24 June, at All Saint’s Church, Upper Clatford, SP11 7HB – a village in Hampshire, in south east England.
HTTV is partnering with set-top box maker Skyworth to provide an HbbTV-compliant STB to DTH pay TV operator Parabole Réunion. Parabole Réunion provides satellite TV to customers in the East Indian Ocean Islands of Réunion, Mauritius, Madagascar, Mayotte and Comoros.The firms claim that the deal marks the first time that viewers in the region will be able to access the French national channels’ HbbTV applications, which are currently available in mainland France.HTTV works with TV operators to enable advanced hybrid TV services. The firm will deploy its hybrid TV operating system for connected TV receivers, which uses the HbbTV 1.5 and HTML 5 standards.The Skyworth designed and manufactured set-top box will carry four DVB-S2 tuners, support a large set of advanced services such as PVR, and an IP connection will enable OTT video services for the main TV screen and second screens.The STB’s new services will start to roll out before the end of the year, with more to follow in the future.“Parabole Reunion Group has been a key DTH pay TV provider over the East Indian Ocean Islands for the last 16 years, and is proud today to bring HbbTV 1.5 standard for its subscribers through this new strategic partnership with HTTV and Skyworth,” said Reunion Group CEO Michel Juanico.“This innovative Set Top Box will provide to the 80,000 subscribers of the Parabole Reunion Group the best of the hybrid -DTH and IP- TV experience in the future.” HTTV will exhibit at IBC on stand 4.B77 read more
German free-to-air entertainment channel Ebru TV has rebranded as QLAR. The Offenbach-based channel airs a mix of movies, series, documentaries, magazine shows and tele-shopping windows.The channel is available via the Astra satellite position at 19.2° East and is carried by cable operators Tele Columbus and Wilhelm.tel. it is also available on OTT service Zattoo, along with on-demand programming.
Shane SmithA+E Networks and Vice Media have confirmed reports that the pair will launch a Vice-branded channel as a joint venture.The new 24-hour youth-oriented channel, provisionally titled Viceland, is expected to launch early next year and will replace A+E Networks’ existing H2 service. The channel will be available in about 70 million homes at launch.H2 will continue to operate internationally, where it is present in 68 countries. A+E said it remains committed to the history channel’s international expansion and the production of content for it.Viceland’s development will be overseen by movie director Spike Jonze, who also serves as Vice’s creative director. The channel will launch with a raft of shows including Gaycation with Ellen Page and Ian Daniel, Huang’s World with Eddie Huang, Noisey, VICE World Of Sports, Black Market, Flophouse, Party Legends and Weediquette.A+E Networks will oversee technical operations and distribution and will work with Vice on ad sales and sponsorships. Vice will also handle all marketing across all platforms, utilizing its various relationships with partners across mobile and digital.The announcement followed A+E’s US$250 million (€225 million) investment in Vice, taking a 10% stakes, and speculation that the US media company will increase this with capital from joint owner Disney.“This network is the next step in the evolution of our brand and the first step in our global roll-out of networks around the world. First: It allows us to be truly platform agnostic and enable our audience to view our content wherever they want. Second: It represents a continued growth in our content quality and raises the ceiling even higher for our brilliant teams to attack stories from long form features to multi-episode series and even short-form interstitials that will challenge the accepted norms of current TV viewing. Third: We will test new and innovative monetisation strategies placing Viceland at the pointy tip of the spear of the rapidly changing terrain of TV advertising,” said Shane Smith, Vice co-founder and CEO.“All in all, this new network allows us to continue our innovation in storytelling and content creation and take it to the next level. We couldn’t be happier working with Nancy [Dubuc] and her team at A+E and we couldn’t be more excited to offer this opportunity to our Vice family of partners, producers, shooters, editors, and staff, to go out and make our indelible imprint on the cultural fabric of this modern age.”Nancy Dubuc, president and CEO, A+E Networks said, “Vice has a bold voice and a distinctive model in the marketplace. This channel represents a strategic fit and a new direction for the future of our portfolio of media assets. Shane Smith has led VICE from a fledgling magazine into a global media brand and all of us at A+E are excited to work with him and his passionate and innovative team.” read more
BBC Worldwide’s new online store has launched as an application for Windows 10 PCs and mobile devices – its first app deployment since going live as a web service last week.The BBC Store currently offers more than 7,000 hours of BBC programming – both recent shows and content from the archive – with Microsoft teaming up with the BBC’s commercial arm as the marketing launch partner for the service.Using the BBC Store app, Windows 10 users will be able to browse, stream and download the programmes they’ve bought on the store to watch on their laptop, tablet or mobile.Windows 10 users will also have exclusive access to a digital boxset of BBC Two comedy, The Fast Show, via the BBC Store App. This collection was selected by Fast Show creators Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson, and also includes an interview programme about the show called The Fast Show at 21: An Evening With Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson.“This relationship has allowed BBC Store and Microsoft to create exclusive branded content for fans. The Fast Show is one of the best-loved BBC sketch shows and The Fast Show at 21 allows both brands to talk to audiences in a really engaging way about BBC Store and the Windows 10 app,” said Sara Holt, vice president marketing, BBC Store.Robert Epstein, head of Windows Consumer Marketing, Microsoft UK added: “We’re thrilled to be working with the BBC for the launch of the BBC Store app. Being the first to share in this way these exclusive, iconic programmes with our customers is really exciting and with the power of Windows 10 this app will be an amazing experience no matter what tablet, PC or phone you’re using.” read more
Spanish regional cable operator Euskaltel ended the first half of 2016 with 548,000 residential customers, up 0.5% year-on-year, while product sales for the first half numbered 59,000, taking products contracted to 1.86 million.According to Euskaltel, 65.2% of its customers now take three or more services, up from 61.2% last year. The average number of services sold per customer now numbers 3.4 as against 3.2 a year ago.Euskaltel said that 82% of new customers were taking three or four products. The operator saw net mobile additions in the order of 90,000, representing growth of 13.7%. The company said that 76% of customers now had a contract for at least one mobile phone from the group.Pay TV additions during the first half numbered 27,000, 11.2% more than for the first half of 2015. Pay TV customers now account for 54% of the company’s base as against 47% for the prior year.Euskaltel, which operates in the Basque Country and – via subsidiary R – in Galicia, said that churn had declined from 14.1% at the end of last year, to 14.8% in June.Total revenues for the first half amounted to €286 million, up by 76.9% year-on-year. EBITDA was €139.3 million, up 83.3%. read more
French broadcaster TF1’s performance for the first nine months of the year has been hit by a series of factors, including increased sports rights costs, the negative impact on the cost of drama programming of legislation affecting co-production last year, amortisation of goodwill associated with the acquisition of Newen Studios and the year-on-year impact of the deconsolidation of Eurosport.The broadcaster posted revenues of €1.427 billion for the first nine months, up 1.9%, with the deconsolidation of Eurosport and the boost revenues from the prior year resale of Rugby World Cup rights leading to negative year-on-year growth in the third quarter.TF1s operating income for the nine months period was €46.6 million, including a €10.9 million third-quarter loss, compared with net income of €106.8 million for the first nine months of 2015. Other contributing factors included operating losses in the first quarter at news channel LCI ahead of its move to free-to-air.TF1’s audience performance was also hit by the popularity of sports broadcasts on rival stations over the summer.On the positive side, TF1 saw solid growth in digital, with MYTF1 attracting 10.7 million unique visitors via IPTV service providers in September, its second-strongest performance in two years. The broadcasters also saw solid revenue growth from its acquisition of Newen Studios and its TF1 Entertainment unit that however only partly compensated lower revenues from TF1 Studios and its tele-shopping division. read more
Arnaud de PuyfontaineStrong revenue growth in Africa helped to partially offset a continued precipitous decline in pay TV operator Canal+’s fortunes in France in the third quarter and for the first nine months of the year, contributing to a relatively strong showing for parent group Vivendi.For the full nine-months period, Canal+’s revenues fell by 2.7% in constant currency terms to €3.9 billion overall, but the African operation saw revenue growth of 20%. Canal+ added 505,000 subscribers in Africa in the year to September, taking its total there to 2.2 million.In France, the pay TV operator lost about 400,000 customers over the year to end with 5.4 million, leading to a 5.6% decline in revenues.Overall, Canal+ had a subscriber base of 11 million in September, down 19,000 year-on-year.SVOD service Canalplay lost 154,000 subscribers in the year to September, taking its total to 620,000.Parent company Vivendi’s chief financial officer Hervé Philippe told analysts that the relaunch of the pay TV offering in France on November 15, together with Canal+’s new distribution deals with Free and Orange, would bear fruit in the first half of 2017. However, Vivendi’s analyst presentation focused more on the strong showing from its Universal Music arm, which saw revenues rise by 4.8% at constant currency terms to €3.62 billion.One bright spot for Canal+ was free-to-air, where revenues were up by 9.2% despite strong competition in the advertising market and competition for eyeballs from the Olympic Games and Euro 2016 football competition.Canal+ production arm StudioCanal also underperformed, thanks to what Philippe described to analysts as “a lighter line-up compared to last year”. StudioCanal revenues declined by 14.9% due to fewer theatrical and DVD releases compared with the previous year.CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine told analysts that “the transformation play at Canal+ in France is well underway”, with the full impact of its €300 million cost saving programme likely to be seen in 2018.De Puyfontaine highlighted the greater “choice and more freedom” that the pay TV outfit was offering subscribers through its new low cost offerings and tie-ups with IPTV providers.De Puyfontaine confirmed that Studio+, the Canal+ mobile-targeted short-form content offering that debuted in Latin America last month would be launched in France and Italy soon. He also highlighted the launch of WatchMusic, a new premium video music service for mobile, in Brazil.Vivendi’s results were lifted by the strong contribution from Universal Music. Overall, the company posted revenues of €7.712 billion for the first nine months, up 1.3% or 0.6% in constant currency terms. EBIT stood at €1.278 billion, up 15.9%, while cash flow from operations was up 46.3% to €555 million.De Puyfontaine declined to take any questions from analysts on Vivendi’s ongoing conflict with Mediaset, which looks set to enter a new stage soon with Mediaset’s claim for the seizure of a 3.5% stake in the French group due to be heard in a Milan court.Morgan Stanley said that Vivendi’s results were “surprisingly strong”, with “damage limitation” at Canal+ helping keep things on track and the strong showing in music lifting the group’s performance.While Canal+ results “were weak in the absolute”, the investment bank said they were improving. Morgan Stanley raised its privde target on the group to €21.Goldman Sachs made a similar assessment, describing Universal Music Group as “the highlight of the quarter”. The investment bank said that Canal+’s turnaround was “on trace”, with third quarter subscribers losses an improvement on the second quarter, with the 8.5% international growth helping offset domestic losses. It said that the cost-savings programme had also boosted the outfit’s overall result. Goldman Sachs reiterated a buy recommendation. read more
A no-deal Brexit would have a disastrous impact on the UK broadcasting sector, according to commercial broadcasters association COBA.Ahead of the UK parliament’s likely rejection of prime minister Theresa May’s Brexit agreement with the EU, COBA warned that crashing out of the EU would create huge disruption for broadcasters, their workforce and suppliers and said that the sector would have no choice but to implement contingency plans in the weeks prior to a cliff-edge exit.COBA warned that UK-based channels that are received in EU countries swill be forced to secure broadcast licences in other EU states by the end of March so that they are still able to broadcast once the UK leaves the single market. This, it said, will entail restructuring their European operations to support those new licences.“International broadcasters have faced huge uncertainty ever since the Referendum in 2016. The UK is Europe’s leading international broadcasting hub for good reason, and no broadcaster wants to restructure their operations,” said Adam Minns, COBA’s executive director. “Some broadcasters have been forced to so do already, but many have waited until now before taking this immensely complex and difficult decision. The costs and uncertainty of a hurried relocation will be felt by businesses, their employees and the supply chain. COBA urges MPs to consider the importance of avoiding a cliff edge, whatever ultimate scenario they favour.”COBA has repeatedly called for greater clarity on what arrangements will be made for the UK broadcasting sector as part of any Brexit deal, with warnings that the future of the £1 billion (€1.1 billion) sector is under threat.A number of broadcasters are already believed to have applied for licences in other EU countries as Brexit looms. Under the EU’s country of origin principle, broadcasters are required to obtain a licence and observe regulatory standards in any one EU member state in order to be able to offer its services in the others.Just under half of channels based in the UK primarily target another country, while just over half of video-on-demand services based in the country do so. read more
The ongoing political dispute between Qatar and those who boycotted it – principally Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the UAE – resulted in a concerted campaign to boycott Qatar commercially as well. One of the casualties was Qatar-headquartered beIN and its premium sports services, for which it had paid huge sums of money for exclusive MENA-wide broadcasting rights. The boycott left a huge vacuum for sports broadcast in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the UAE. Although the UAE relented somewhat by allowing IPTV opcos Etisalat and Du to resell beIN packages, the campaign against beIN was sustained in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.The first serious indicator as to what would fill this vacuum was the 2018 FIFA World Cup. A streaming service by the name of “BeoutQ” – on the back of social media fanfare in Saudi Arabia – appeared, providing access to premium beIN channels for a nominal fee. In a last-ditch attempt to keep viewers distracted from BeoutQ, the Qatari company was forced to change its FIFA World Cup 2018 distribution strategy and air matches for free to viewers in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.In the interim, BeoutQ became available on set-top boxes. Since then, these boxes have flooded Saudi Arabia and, by extension, neighbouring markets. What was a case of online piracy has become a sophisticated effort to undermine the pay-TV industry in the region. Virtually every major sporting body and organisation with content broadcast by beIN has come out in protest against BeoutQ’s unauthorised distribution. Legal measures have been taken at the WTO to tackle BeoutQ, with beIN initiating a US$1 billion lawsuit against Saudi Arabia, who it claims are the institutional backers of BeoutQ.MENA’s pay TV forecasts have been revised downwards to reflect the impact BeoutQ is expected to have. BeoutQ is a relatively cheap service at around $100 per year for a full roster of beIN’s premium sports channels. As a result, growth there is set to contract in premium sports services over the coming years – except in 2022 when regional interest is likely to be heightened by Qatar hosting the FIFA World Cup (see Figure 1, right).It isn’t only sports rights that are being affected. KIPCO, the majority shareholder in Kuwaiti-headquartered OSN (MENA’s pay-TV incumbent for entertainment), is set on selling its stake in the company following poor performance. It blames this disappointing performance on – among other things – piracy from BeoutQ, which now also carries entertainment channels, traditionally the regional mainstay of OSN.This case of regional piracy is now threatening to morph into a global issue, raising the stakes substantially, as BeoutQ-enabled boxes are finding their way to Europe and America. Both NBC Universal and Eleven Sports (a streaming service that last year won a swathe of sporting rights across European markets, including top-flight soccer) have complained because their broadcasts are being distributed by BeoutQ. Prominent broadcasting organisations like Sky and the BBC have lined up to condemn the outfit.Ovum believes the following will occur as a result of the BeoutQ piracy phenomenon:BeIN is sustaining existential pressure on its business, with heavy subscriber losses in its key markets of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, at a time when pay TV is under pressure from streaming platforms and cheaper alternatives. As a result, it is possible that beIN will restructure its businesses and reorient its strategy for future growth.BeoutQ jeopardises investments by content licensees, which will impact valuations in future rights deals. Content investment across the region is likely to be constrained as a result.Rights will no longer be sold en bloc to the Arab MENA region. In any fragmentation of rights packaging across the region, Saudi players like STC and other pay-TV distributors will bid for the separate packages on a national basis when beIN’s rights to individual sports events expire. Until then legal battles and counterclaims are likely to characterise MENA’s pay-TV landscape.BeoutQ’s model has not only normalised piracy, it is a tool in the political campaign against Qatar. Ironically, this attitude to piracy might come back to bite future Saudi/Egyptian rights owners of sports events.In conjunction with anti-piracy and security vendors, Western broadcasters and major global sporting brands will intensify their efforts to curb the impact of BeoutQ on their services, and there will be further collaboration by them to counter this threat.Ismail Patel is senior analyst, media and entertainment at Ovum.Straight Talk is a weekly briefing from the desk of the Chief Research Officer. To receive this newsletter by email, please contact us. read more