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US cable achieves best quarter in years May 16, 2014 10.20 Europe/London By Broadband TV News Correspondent The number of

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    US cable achieves best quarter in years

    May 16, 2014 10.20 Europe/London By Broadband TV News Correspondent



    The number of U.S. household subscribing to pay TV services surged in the first quarter, as the increasingly resilient cable segment moderated its customer loses, according to IHS Technology.


    US pay TV subscribers, encompassing cable, satellite and IPTV, rose by 202,670 during the first three months of the year, as presented in the table. This represented the best performance for the market since one year ago in the first quarter of 2013, when subscribers declined by 214,580.


    Although cable subscribers fell by 132,330 during the period from January through March, this actually was a victory for the pay TV segment, marking the lowest number of losses since the first quarter of 2011. The last two years have been brutal for the U.S. cable industry, with subscribers falling by an average of about 480,000 per quarter.





    “The first quarter is generally the best time of the year for the US cable market, and the start of 2014 was no exception,” said Erik Brannon, senior analyst for television media at IHS.


    “Cable achieved its best quarter in years. However, the negative outlook for cable remains the same, as it is expected to continue to contract as AT&T’s IPTV service is anticipated to keep gobbling up subscribers. Cable’s renewed strength could be foreboding for satellite players Dish and DirecTV.”


    Cable operators Comcast and Time Warner Cable played a major role in the overall performance of the pay TV business during the quarter.


    Comcast added 24,000 video subscribers in the first quarter, the second straight quarter of positive video subscriber growth for the company and a rare feat for any cable operator in today’s highly competitive pay TV landscape. Comcast credits its Xfinity entertainment operating system and promotions for the strong upswing.


    Time Warner Cable is coming off 2013 struggling more than most cable operators, but its first-quarter results were the strongest in several years. Time Warner Cable mitigated its video subscriber losses to just 34,000, a huge improvement over the 118,000 lost during the first quarter of 2013.


    Comcast announced a methodology change in the way it counts multi-dwelling unit (MDU) subscribers. As a result, total pay TV households artificially increased by nearly 1million subscribers in the quarter to reach 101.56 million.


    Even without the Comcast effect, however, the picture for cable remained positive as there was a moderate loss of 132,000 cable video subscribers, a major improvement compared to the loss of 265,000 in the first quarter of 2013.


    The term “pay TV operators” is increasingly becoming an oxymoron. Of the top five cable operators, only Comcast has fewer customers for its broadband service than for TV, due to its mammoth size. Among the next five largest companies, two have more broadband customers than for TV.


    Broadband is compensating for the slower growth experienced on the video side of the business. But video still commands the most revenue and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. In 2013, broadband generated around half of the revenue that video did. With the addition of broadband and voice, former cable TV operators who have become cable Internet service providers (ISPs) are more profitable than ever.


    A strong quarter from Dish helped mask a soft quarter for satellite, as DirecTV and Dish combined for a gain of 52,000 video subscribers in the quarter, slightly less than the 57,000 gained in the first quarter of 2013.


    Pressure from IPTV continues to buffet both DirecTV and Dish, considered as direct-broadcast satellite (DBS) providers, as the two players are beginning to feel pressure shifting away from cable.


    Dish finished strong in the first quarter, adding 40,000 subscribers, thanks to a marketing campaign that put its message everywhere, and a strong execution of its Hopper/Sling strategy.


    DirecTV grew by 12,000 subscribers in the quarter, a sign that the high end of the pay TV market may be shifting back to cable, or migrating to IPTV.


    The two largest U.S. IPTV operators, AT&T and Verizon, combined for the weakest quarterly IPTV subscriber growth since 2007. AT&T and Verizon generated collective video subscriber additions of 258,000, compared to 401,000 in the first quarter of 2013.


    Verizon’s deceleration has been dramatic, with the maturation at the company responsible for the weaker IPTV growth. With Verizon’s FiOS build-out approaching completion, along with no further signs of aggressive expansions and rejuvenated cable operators, Verizon expanded its video subscriber base by just 57,000, much less than the 169,000 it added in the first quarter of 2013.


    In contrast, AT&T’s U-verse TV is in a completely different position, having ended the first quarter of 2014 on an upbeat note. The company continues to acquire customers at a blistering pace, picking up 201,000 U-verse video subscribers during the quarter. With a larger footprint than FiOS, an aggressive build-out, and a video penetration at only 21 percent, AT&T has plenty of room to grow and will continue to gain subscribers comfortably for the foreseeable future.


    IHS predicts that the number of pay TV households will remain flat overall and that cable’s positive momentum of the past three quarters will likely continue, meaning that gains for U-verse and Verizon’s FiOS will have to come from somewhere. And up until today, Dish and DirecTV had enjoyed an easy ride. However, it now may be satellite’s turn to share in cable’s pain. It seems very likely that both US DBS providers will experience future quarters with negative subscriber growth.

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    Canalplay boost for Canal+ Group

    May 16, 2014 10.29 Europe/London By Julian Clover



    canalplay-playstationThe popularity of Canalplay has helped Canal+ Group grow first quarter revenues by 2.4%. The video on demand service, available throughout France, contributed to a growth in subscriptions of 250,000.

    The total number of subscriptions now stands at 14.6 million, including the French dependencies, and Africa and Vietnam that have performed particularly wel.

    Revenues from Canal+ and Canalsat in mainland France remained relatively stable excluding the VAT increase from 7% to 10% on January 1, 2014.

    Free-to-Air channels advertising revenues grew thanks to an increase in D8’s audience.

    EBITA was €175 million, compared to €183 million at the end of March 2013, largely attributable to an additional day of French Ligue 1 football.

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    TalkTalk claims to be UK’s fastest growing TV business

    May 16, 2014 10.40 Europe/London By Julian Clover



    Dido-HardingTalkTalk says it is the fastest growing TV business in the UK after passing the one million subscriber mark.

    The TalkTalk service, which leans on the YouView broadband TV platform, reached the total on May 12th.

    Growth within the TV business helped the alternative telco achieve the 6th consecutive quarter of net additions and the fifth quarter of revenue growth.

    Dido Harding, Chief Executive of TalkTalk commented: “I am delighted to report our first full year of revenue growth since demerger demonstrating that our strategy for growth is delivering. We have built a TV business with over one million customers in just 18 months – a quarter of our total customer base. We continue to grow faster than all the other UK TV operators put together and are confident that in time, all our customers will take TV. Our focus on data products for businesses is also delivering very strong growth and as a result, TalkTalk Business is one of the fastest growing B2B telecom operators in the UK.”

    The quarter itself added 185,000 subscribers to reach 917,000 on March 31, 2014.

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    28 East loss hits Eutelsat video revenues

    May 16, 2014 11.07 Europe/London By Julian Clover



    Eutelsat - Communications System Control Centre (Rambouillet, France)The loss of frequencies at 28 degrees East hit video revenues at Eutelsat Communications, but the operator was able to compensate by growth at its new Latin American foothold Satmex.

    The frequencies, held through the German operator Media Broadcast, are used to broadcast to the UK, largely for the BSkyB and Freesat platforms. A long running dispute with SES came to an end on October 4, when the Luxembourg-based SES took over the running of the frequencies.

    Excluding Satmex video revenues for the quarter fell by 1.2%, there were also issues with frequency availability, but overall the sector climbed to €219.7 million. The important sector contributed to overall revenues of €342.3 million.

    “In the third quarter, Video Applications revenues reflected the impact of the suspension of operations on certain frequencies at 28.5 degrees East and the lack of available capacity at other key video neighbourhoods,” Michel de Rosen, Chairman and CEO of Eutelsat Communications, said. “The integration of Satmex is progressing well and the Latin American market continues to confirm its potential, with two multi-year contracts signed for the sale of High Throughput Payloads serving the Brazilian market, while Satmex’s order backlog has almost doubled over the last 12 months.”

    The group confirmed its full year objective of above 2.5% organic revenue growth, excluding Satmex, which the company says is well on track to add around US$70 million to revenues in the current fiscal year.

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    Russian satellite launch fails

    May 16, 2014 11.32 Europe/London By Chris Dziadul



    russia-flagThe Russian communications satellite Express-AM4R has failed to go into orbit, its loss being estimated to have cost over R1 billion (€21 million).

    According to Vedomosti, this followed an emergency that developed in the start-up rocket Proton M after 545 seconds of the launch.

    Express-AM4R would have been the third Express satellite to be launched this after Express AT-1 and Express-AT.

    It would have been used as a backup for Express-ATM4, which was lost in August 2011 when launching from Baikonur.

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    Wilhelm.tel & willy.tel to add KabelKiosk HD channels

    May 16, 2014 11.48 Europe/London By Jörn Krieger


    Kabelkiosk logoGerman cable operators wilhelm.tel and willy.tel will commence distribution of the Basis HD package from Eutelsat’s direct-to-cable platform KabelKiosk with 17 channels in July 2014.

    The two companies which serve around 300,000 households in federal states Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein with TV, internet and telephony services have signed the carriage deal with Eutelsat. The customers will thereby gain access to further channels in HD quality in addition to the current KabelKiosk proposition.

    The Basis HD line-up includes the HD channels operated by Germany’s two major commercial TV groups RTL and ProSiebenSat.1 as well as further commercial channels such as Comedy Central HD, DMAX HD, Nickelodeon HD, Sport1 HD, Tele 5 HD and VIVA HD.

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    Media Broadcast launches cable TV package BIQ

    May 16, 2014 13.38 Europe/London By Jörn Krieger



    Media BroadcastGerman technical service provider Media Broadcast has won the first customer for its digital TV platform BIQ Services: City carrier Stadtwerke Rüsselsheim and its partner gewobau will distribute the package to their fibre-optic customers.

    The line-up of the white-label B2B service comprises around 200 TV channels including public and commercial channels, around 50 HD channels as well as local channels and radio stations. Viewers can sign up for further HD and foreign-language channels as well as pay-TV packages from Sky Deutschland.

    The BIQ platform which replaces the previous channel delivery by a cable operator has been implemented as part of the fibre-optic network roll-out in the core areas of the region since spring 2014.

    With BIQ Services, Media Broadcast offers cable companies, city carriers and IPTV operators a turnkey product for the provision of their customers with a TV platform without having to deal with rights issues and technical aspects.

    The signals are distributed to the partners IP-based through Media Broadcast’s next-generation broadband network (NGN), thus, no satellite reception system has to be installed at the local head-end. The marketing and customer relationship remains in the partners’ hands.

    With its TV delivery service which Media Broadcast unveiled two years ago, the company competes with Eutelsat’s KabelKiosk, Deutsche Telekom and large cable companies which also provide smaller network operators and the housing industry with TV services.

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    Mediapro buys TotalChannel

    Juan Fernandez Gonzalez
    | 16 May 2014

    Spanish over-the-top (OTT) and online platform TotalChannel has been bought by Mediapro after a year struggling to find a position in Spain's small pay-TV market.

    Mediapro will add TotalChannel's offer to the Gol T package, while the premium football channel will be added to TotalChannel's schedule. The platform is available online and its app runs on smart TVs, tablets and PlayStation consoles.

    Through TotalChannel, the pay-TV channels FOX, AXN, TNT, Comedy Central, AXN White, FOX Crime, History, National Geographic and Crime & Investigation (CI TV) are available, in addition to a video-on-demand (VOD) catalogue with series, films and documentaries. Due to Mediapro's purchase, former TotalChannel subscribers will also have access to the latest matches of La Liga and the entire Brazilian World Cup.

    Mediapro has been after TotalChannel since March when it communicated its interest in buying the platform in order to jump into a market which seems to be taking off in Spain. The market is topped by Canal+'s Yomvi and Wuaki.tv, although other platforms such as Filmin, Atresmedia's VOD service Nubeox and Magine - the Swedish platform which is still on trial – have solid positions.

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    Arkena partners with European champions

    Juan Fernandez Gonzalez
    | 16 May 2014

    Arkena has announced a six-year contract with Spanish football team Sevilla FC, the recent champions of the European League.

    The TDF Group-owned company will provide its online video platform (OVP) services to this major La Liga club.

    Sevilla FC currently has a fully-dedicated 24/7 TV channel, SFCTV, available on pay-TV through IPTV and DTT, while the live streaming of the channel is offered free-to-air (FTA) on the club's website through the Arkena OVP. The platform will also provide on-demand content, such as interviews and other exclusive footage related to the club.

    "The pitch is no longer the only place where football clubs need to perform. We need to engage with our fans: we need a strong team as much as a strong brand. Arkena's OVP is a powerful tool helping us spread Sevilla FC's values and create awareness," says Francisco Romera, marketing manager of the football club.

    Rami Alanki, deputy CEO at Arkena Spain, added: "We believe video is the most efficient way to communicate. We want to help brands spread the message and engage with their audience. Today, football clubs are strong brands, with very committed audiences that need to be provided with premium content. Sevilla FC is a pioneer on the matter and we are delighted they chose us to communicate with their fans and with the football world."

    Arkena is providing its OVP platform for Sevilla - which won the European League final against Benfica - with a full set of features such as multiscreen players and pre-roll advertisements. The content, both live and on-demand, is available on all connected devices.

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    Canal+ increases HD offer

    Juan Fernandez Gonzalez
    | 16 May 2014

    In a troubled week restructuring the platform's future, Canal+ is continuing to increase its HD portfolio, one of the largest of Spain's pay-TV market. The recently launched Comedy Central and AXN White will now be broadcast in high definition.

    The two new channels top a schedule with over 30 HD channels which are available through Canal+'s interactive set-top box (STB), iPlus.

    Viacom's Comedy Central was launched this week, replacing Paramount Comedy as part of the company's worldwide strategy to reinforce the network's brand. The channel is broadcast in HD on every Spanish pay-TV platform and has premiered the in-house production El Roast de Santiago Segura to reinforce the channel's spirit: national shows as well as international shows which have achieved audience success.

    AXN White HD focuses on series and films, one more premium HD entertainment network for Canal+ subscribers. Smash, Pretty Little Liars and Hart of Dixie are among the channel's most watched shows.


 

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