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US government awards $10MN contract for TV/radio upgrades Defense Media Activity (DMA) has awarded DigitalGlue a $10+ million contract to

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    US government awards $10MN contract for TV/radio upgrades


    Defense Media Activity (DMA) has awarded DigitalGlue a $10+ million contract to supply a full scope of design and engineering services, software and equipment to upgrade The American Forces Network’s (AFN) transmission systems.


    AFN is the worldwide radio and television network serving US troops, Department of Defense employees and government civilians and their families stationed overseas, as well as US Navy ships.

    The project will replace the network’s existing systems with four standalone MPEG-4 AVC multichannel compression systems with DVB-S/S2 RF modulation, thus allowing standard definition channels to be upgraded to high definition. This new system is also deploying a Simulcrypt Verimatrix conditional access system with the existing PowerVu conditional access system, enabling an economical path to the latest technology as it is deployed while not interrupting the currently deployed set-top boxes (STBs).

    Via its in-house software development team, DigitalGlue is also providing several key software systems customised to DMA’s needs – including a subscriber management system, a high-level monitoring and control system, and an artwork server for an audio-only channel.

    “DigitalGlue has long provided services to government and military organisations but we are particularly honoured to play such a significant role in designing and delivering the transmission systems to AFN,” said Sean Busby, president of DigitalGlue. “This contract illustrates the US government’s continued confidence in DigitalGlue’s solutions and equipment, and we are especially proud of our ability to simulcrypt both the Verimatrix and PowerVu conditional access systems providing AFN and its viewers an economical upgrade path.”
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    Media giants mull sports-free skinny TV


    The skinny TV phenomenon continues apace: Viacom, Discovery Communications and AMC Networks are reportedly in talks with pay-TV distributors about creating new online TV services for consumers who don’t want to pay for sports.


    Bloomberg, citing “people familiar with the situation,” said that the media giants are in discussions with four to six pay-TV providers, and that such a service could debut by the end of the year. The idea is that without sports rights, which can cost twice as much as other networks, these TV bundles can still offer a good number of channels at a price point of under $20.

    It’s unclear as to the exact nature of the positioning, however. While none of these three are part of YouTube’s just-launched live TV service, AMC and Viacom have networks on both Sling TV (DISH’s live package) and DirecTV Now from AT&T, while Discovery is part of DirecTV Now. AMC and Discovery also are both in talks with Hulu to be included in its bouquet when it launches, though Viacom publicly opted out of the Hulu service. But in short, the programmers are not without representation in the live streaming realm.

    As for as the content/cost equation, existing skinny TV bundles in the market each have their own special mix of content and price points. Sling TV and DirecTV Now both offer a mix of sports channels, cable fare and broadcast, and start at $20 per month; YouTube Live starts at $35 for more sports networks than either of its two existing competitors but a much more truncated set of cable networks — and no broadcast. Hulu’s Live service is rumoured to launch with 40-60 channels for $40 per month, and include all broadcast networks, sports and a wide swathe of cable nets.

    Will under-$20 sports-free TV have enough of a differentiated niche to gain much traction? And will it have enough of everything besides sports to justify its existence? One of the keys to succeeding here will be the ability to break up channel families.

    Presumably the programmers are looking to pay-TV distributors to make their vision a reality, because they can aggregate channels based on their existing carriage rights. But this is actually a notable obstacle to the proceedings.

    Disney for example owns ABC and ESPN. It’s unlikely that a skinny TV service that doesn’t include ESPN, even as an add-on, will be able to score ABC and Disney on a standalone basis — carriage contracts usually preclude this kind of a-la-carte structure.

    Thus, sports-free TV will also be free of one of the Big 4 broadcast players—and the top kids’ network.

    When Verizon tried to pioneer this territory with Custom TV back in 2015, it landed in legal trouble.

    It may make more sense for Discovery, AMC and Viacom to consider their own over-the-top standalone network, similar to CBS All-Access, for around $5 per month. $7 to $8 per sub is about what ESPN commands in its carriage contract versus much, much less for regular cable nets. So, they could split the difference
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    India: Hybrid STB from Airtel

    Airtel Digital TV, the DTH arm of Indian multiplay operator Bharti Airtel, has launched ‘Internet TV’ – India’s first hybrid STB, powered by Android TV, which brings the best of online content to the TV screen along with a bouquet of over 500 plus satellite TV channels.

    Airtel ‘Internet TV’ transforms any TV into a Smart TV and enables users to switch seamlessly between online and linear TV content with a single device. With consumption of online content within Indian Homes increasing rapidly, Airtel ‘Internet TV’ will offer customers a superior experience by enabling them to enjoy their favourite content on the biggest screen in their Homes. Customers can now stream and cast their favourite content directly on to their TV as well download their favourite apps and play games. All of this along with the best satellite TV experience with 500 plus satellite TV channels offers the complete Home entertainment experience.


    Sunil Taldar, CEO & Director – DTH, Bharti Airtel said: “Growing broadband penetration is driving the popularity of online content, particularly in urban homes, and with Airtel ‘Internet TV’ we are bringing world-class content from the web and much more to the TV screen. This latest innovation has been designed keeping in mind the needs of Indian homes and it bridges the gap between online and offline worlds to enable an end to end entertainment experience with the convenience of a single device. We will continue to add exciting content platforms to Airtel ‘Internet TV’ and invite customers to experience this innovative offering.”

    Airtel ‘Internet TV’ comes preloaded with Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Music, Google Play Games, Airtel Movies and more. It also comes with access to Google Play Store that allows users to download their favourite apps, content and games on to their TV.

    “India is one of the most important and vibrant countries in the world and we are delighted to be teaming up with Airtel to make it much easier for consumers to enjoy Netflix,” said Reed Hastings, Co-founder and CEO of Netflix. “In the months and years to come, we look forward to bringing our Indian members more compelling stories from all over the world, an ever-improving viewing experience and incredible joy.”

    Airtel ‘Internet TV’ comes with inbuilt-Wi-Fi receiver, Bluetooth based remote control and is integrated with Google voice search feature. Customers can discover their favourite content by simply telling the remote and choose from a variety of content sources.

    Airtel ‘Internet TV’ STB is 4K content ready and enables Live TV shows to be paused, recorded or even rewound. It also supports content via USB (external HD) and Bluetooth. Customers can also cast, mirror content from mobile devices, tablets and laptops on to the TV screen with Airtel ‘Internet TV’.

    Gaming enthusiasts can make the most of the Internet TV with the best of gaming apps for an experience that is truly larger than life. Gamers can use physical game controllers, or even their smartphones as a game pad with Internet TV.

    Airtel ‘Internet TV’ STB requires a broadband or a 4G hotspot connection with a minimum recommended speed of 4 Mbps for a smooth online experience. A regular Airtel Digital TV dish antenna will also be a part of the installation. Existing Airtel Digital TV customers can also upgrade their existing STBs to ‘Internet TV’ STB.

    Airtel ‘Internet TV’ is priced at Rs. 4999/- (€72.85) with a three-month Digital TV subscription. Also, as limited period offer customers can pay Rs. 7999/- and get the Airtel Internet TV with one-year subscription.

    Airtel has also rolled out bundled offers for its home broadband customers. ‘Internet TV’ Customers just need to register for myHOME on MyAirtel app and can avail upto 25GB additional data on their Airtel broadband account every month.

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    Digital UK boss cautions on Silicon Valley view

    The man who runs the Freeview digital terrestrial platform says we shouldn’t believe the hype put about by Silicon Valley

    Jonathan Thompson, chief executive of Digital UK, told the Broadcasting Press Guild while it could not be denied that the UK was at a moment of profound change technology alone cannot dictate the future of television.

    “Twenty years ago, it was predicted that the arrival of digital television would lead to fragmentation of audiences to the big main channels. It didn’t turn out that way with that same handful of major channels still attracting more than half of all viewing. We should learn from that and be a bit more sceptical about some of the big claims we hear about OTT leading to the death of broadcast television.

    “We should be less willing as an industry to adopt the Silicon Valley view of the world based on flimsy evidence and half-truths. We should be wary of big claims when coupled with a lack of transparency over audience figures and instead focus on real world evidence of what viewers are actually doing.”

    Thompson suggested that even the much talked about millennials, who have fully embraced the on demand world were still watching more live TV than anything else.

    Evidence, he said, was pointing to a blend of viewing and technologies. And that the TV industry itself was not representative of viewing trends as a whole.

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    60% US ‘net homes have at least 1 connected TV

    Year over year, the number of homes with an installed connected TV device increased by six million, now totalling 60 per cent of US Internet homes, according to the NPD Connected Intelligence Connected Home Entertainment report. As the number of connected TV homes continues to grow, the devices used to make those connections have shifted. In January 2017, streaming media players were the most commonly installed internet-connected TV device. Thirty-five per cent of US Internet homes now have a streaming media player, up from 29 per cent in 2016.

    “The average connected home has three devices installed and able to deliver apps to their TVs, but the mix of those devices continues to change,” advised John Buffone, executive director, industry analyst, NPD Connected Intelligence. “Shifts are also occurring in the industry as TV manufacturers migrate to operating systems from Roku, Amazon and Google. This benefits content owners, as they can reach a larger audience through distribution on fewer platforms, and viewers, as they’ll be able to find more of the programming they want in a single location.”

    Streaming media players also generated the highest incidence of usage for most of the top video apps including Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. According to the latest Application & Convergence report, while all the top subscription video services saw increased incidence of usage on connected TVs and attached devices, Prime Video experienced increased usage among all demographics and on all connected TV platforms from January 2016 to January 2017. In the same timeframe, Hulu’s incidence of use on a connected TV device saw the highest percentage of growth when compared to other services.

    “As consumers decide which devices to use and apps to leverage for content, original and exclusive programming are likely to be key drivers,” stated Buffone. “Industry leaders, like Amazon, Netflix and others will continue to put increased investments into these programmes in order to drive demand and viewer engagement.”

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    Samsung and Amazon introduce HDR10+

    Samsung and Amazon Video Deliver Next Generation HDR Video Experience with Updated Open Standard HDR10+

    Samsung Electronics and Amazon Video today announced the introduction of HDR10+, an updated open standard that leverages dynamic metadata to produce enhanced contrast and colors on an expanded range of televisions.

    HDR10+ elevates the HDR10 open standard with the addition of Dynamic Tone Mapping. The current HDR10 standard utilizes static metadata that does not change during playback despite scene specific brightness levels. As a result, image quality may not be optimal in some scenes. For example, when a movie’s overall color scheme is very bright but has a few scenes filmed in relatively dim lighting, those scenes will appear significantly darker than what was originally envisioned by the director.

    HDR10+ incorporates dynamic metadata that allows a high dynamic range (HDR) TV to adjust brightness levels on a scene-by-scene or even frame-by-frame basis. With the ability to display outstanding contrast with detailed highlights and a richer range of colors, HDR10+ produces images that are much closer to the director’s intent.

    All of Samsung’s 2017 UHD TVs, including its premium QLED TV lineup, support HDR10+. In the second half of this year, Samsung’s 2016 UHD TVs will gain HDR10+ support through a firmware update.

    “As an advanced HDR10 technology, HDR10+ offers an unparalleled HDR viewing experience — vivid picture, better contrast and accurate colors — that brings HDR video to life,” said Kyoungwon Lim, Vice President of Visual Display Division at Samsung Electronics. “We’re excited to work with world-class industry partners, including Amazon Video, to bring more amazing HDR content directly to our 2017 UHD TVs, including our QLED TV lineup.”

    “Together with Samsung, we are excited to offer customers an enhanced viewing experience on a broad range of devices,” said Greg Hart, Vice President of Amazon Video, worldwide. “At Amazon, we are constantly innovating on behalf of customers and are thrilled to be the first streaming service provider to work with Samsung to make HDR10+ available on Prime Video globally later this year.”

    The launch of the HDR10+ content continues Samsung’s and Amazon Video’s leadership in the HDR space. With the move to HDR 10+, Amazon Video is the first streaming service provider to begin development of the standard for its audiences. In May 2015, Samsung and Amazon Video brought HDR to the market using the HDR10 open standard, the first in the field. This bold and innovative advancement laid the groundwork for several HDR launches. From Hollywood film studios to global TV manufacturers, HDR10 is the most broadly used HDR standard today.

    Samsung has also partnered with other industry leaders to deliver the best HDR10+ content viewing experience by establishing an HDR10+ ecosystem. Previously, Samsung collaborated with Colorfront to improve HDR10+ workflows for creative post-production mastering by using Colorfront’s Transkoder. Samsung also partnered with MulticoreWare to complete the integration of HDR10+ support in the x265 High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), which is available for free under an open source license, and is used by many popular commercial encoding system providers including Telestream, Haivision, and Rohde and Schwarz.

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    Netflix’s Q1 miss rattles some investors


    Netflix’s disastrous Q1 miss on subscribers has some investors feeling nervous.


    As Alex Cho at Seeking Alpha puts it, he’s cautious about the next-quarter results, as they will “make or break” Netflix for the fiscal year. He said that he anticipates Netflix’s share price to trend lower in the summer months and counsels investors to avoid buying shares.

    The subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) leader disappointed Wall Street by missing its subscriber forecast badly. For the quarter ended 31 March, Netflix claimed 98.75 million streaming video subscribers worldwide, adding 4.95 million new members in the three-month period. This missed analyst estimates of 5.27 million and its own guidance of 5.2 million. New domestic members came in at 1.42 million, versus Wall Street forecasts 1.59 million, and Netflix guidance of 1.5 million.

    In terms of revenue, Netflix saw a 35% year-on-year increase to reach $2.64 billion in the first quarter, just meeting expectations, and EPS was $.40 per share, above the $0.37 that analysts expected. Wall Street had been modelling for Netflix to earn 24 cents a share excluding items on sales of $2.76 billion.

    Nonetheless, Netflix has revised its guidance upward for Q2, expecting to add 3.2 million new subscribers worldwide, well above Wall Street's forecast for 2.45 million, and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said he expects the service to pass the 100 million subscriber milestone any day. It also expects to earn $.15 per share vs. $.09 a year earlier, on sales of $2.76 billion, up 31%, for the second quarter.

    “Netflix's management could have guided conservatively,” Cho said in a column. “As such, we’ve reduced our rating from buy to hold. We're reducing our revenue/earnings estimate on Netflix, and we're revising our price target lower to reflect discrepancies in reported actuals versus estimates.

    “We’re expecting a broad market correction and sustained weakness in share price following the less-than-spectacular earnings report.”

    Bryan Kraft of Deutsche Bank also maintains a hold rating on Netflix's stock with an unchanged $125 price target. He cited Netflix's "light" subscriber results in the first quarter along with the "many years of negative free cash flow to support growth”.

    That said, analysts are a bit all over the place on the company’s stock. Piper Jaffray for instance has an overweight rating and a $166 price target; Kip Paulson of Cantor Fitzgerald maintains an overweight rating with a price target raised from $160 to $165.

    Analysts at Rosenblatt Securities maintain a neutral rating with a $155 price target, and Mark May of Citi maintains a neutral rating and $145 price target.

    Analysts at Loop Capital Markets are bullish, and have a buy rating with a price target raised from $162 to $172.

    Cho does acknowledge a long-term upside potential for the company.

    “I believe the reset to expectations is healthy and will be supportive of the stock price once we move into 2H 17,” he said. “As such, we anticipate the stock to pull back on near-term weakness but to recover on the Q2 17 financial outlook, as subscriber figures will likely pick up given the timing of the content slate and continued penetration into certain geographies like Japan, India and so forth. So, if you're an investor looking for a more favourable re-entry into Netflix, we'd wait a couple months so you can move through market cyclicality and usual selling following a weak quarterly earnings report.”

    Cho’s revenue estimate is $10.956 billion for fiscal year 2017, which is 2.48% below consensus figures of $11.235 billion. He also has lowered his 12-month price target from $160 to $155.
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    UK General Election delays 21st Century Fox’s Sky takeover decision


    sky sports mx1 1 Dec 2016 copyThe snap announcement by Theresa May to call a General Election in the UK on 8 June has extended the deadline for submission of the public interest report into the proposed Fox-Sky merger until 12 days after the nation votes.


    The news, delivered by UK Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Karen Bradley, comes only weeks after the European Commission approved unconditionally the proposed acquisition of Sky by 21st Century Fox.

    Commenting on the announcement, UK broadcast regulator Ofcom reiterated its position by confirming that the issues related to the deal that it was required to consider in the public interest assessment could overlap with its own consideration of Sky’s fitness to hold broadcasting licences. It added that given this overlap, it was extending the consideration of its fit and proper assessment, and expected to reach conclusions on 20 June.

    In its investigation of the proposed deal, the EC concluded the transaction would raise no competition concerns in Europe. It found that the proposed transaction would lead to only a limited increase in Sky's existing share of the markets for the acquisition of TV content as well as in the market for the wholesale supply of TV channels in the relevant member states.
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    NAB 2017: Televisa taps Ericsson for end-to-end HD delivery


    Ericsson is implementing a new end-to-end primary HD distribution system for Mexico’s leading broadcaster and content provider Televisa.


    canales televisa 22 april 2017The system features Ericsson’s AVP encoder with the latest HEVC compression module, the MX8400 multiplexer and many RX8200 HEVC receivers with integrated DVB-S2X de-modulator. It enables Televisa to efficiently deliver content to digital ATSC stations distributed throughout Mexico.

    Through the new equipment, Televisa can increase the number of high definition services it distributes while maintaining picture quality without requiring additional bandwidth. Televisa has also selected Ericsson’s management platform nCompass Director, which offers a more flexible approach to managing and protecting content delivered to its affiliates.

    “This new agreement is the next milestone in our long-standing relationship with Televisa. Ericsson’s latest portfolio incorporating HEVC HD compression technology and DVB-S2X transmission technology will play a fundamental role in enabling more expansive HD content delivery without increasing demand on valuable satellite bandwidth,” said Elisabetta Romano, VP and head of media solutions at Ericsson.

    Ericsson has worked with Televisa for over 25 years. Nearly a decade ago, Ericsson helped Televisa to migrate from its original Ericsson supplied MPEG-2 SD system to an MPEG-4 AVC SD, enabling the broadcaster to become the first to market with HDTV in Mexico.
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    Mediapro digs US, UK gold mine with Global Series Network


    Barcelona-based production house Mediapro has announced the third distribution deal in a short time with Global Series Network.


    nit i dia 22 april 2017Through the new agreement, Nit i dia, a Catalan series originally produced by the public broadcaster TV3 and Mediapro, will premiere in the US and the UK on the video-on-demand platform Walter Presents, owned by Global Series Network and Channel 4.

    Under the terms of the agreement, closed by Imagina International Sales, the series will first premiere in the US and will air in the UK in 2018.

    Nit i dia marks the third deal between Mediapro and Global Series Network. A year ago, the company acquired VOD rights for Vis a Vis, which became the first Spanish drama to air in the UK, and two months ago an agreement was reached for Pulsaciones.

    The series, created by Lluis Arcazaro and Jordi Galceran, reached an average of 385,000 viewers and 13.2% share for the regional broadcaster TV3 during its first season. A second season of Nit i dia is now about to premiere.
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