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Amazon launches subscription TV in UK, Germany
Amazon has launched its Amazon Channels offering in the UK, Germany and Austria, allowing Prime users to add live and on-demand TV as part of their subscription package.

Amazon Channels launches with a line-up of more than 40 channels in the UK and more than 25 in Germany and Austria, with Amazon promising more additions in the coming months.

Channels available at launch in the UK include Discovery, Eurosport Player, ITV Hub+, Hayu, Mubi, BFI Player, MGM, Hopster and Shudder. In Germany and Austria the line-up includes Cirkus, GEO Television, MGM, Syfy Horror and Mubi.

Prime members can add channel subscriptions for a monthly subscription fee, available individually without the need to sign up for a bundle or enter a long-term contract.

The move marks the European debut of Amazon’s premium channel offering, after it rolled out a similar scheme in the US in 2015 after teaming up with major TV networks and content makers like Showtime, Starz and AMC.

“From live sport to Bollywood, arthouse cinema to reality TV, and award-winning TV shows from popular channels like Discovery and ITV, Amazon Channels gives power back to customers to choose exactly what they want to watch,” said Alex Green, MD, Europe, Amazon Channels.

Amazon Channels is designed to let users pay for what they want to watch from a single Prime Video app and Amazon account, with the ability to search, browse and get recommendations across all their subscription channels.

In the UK, the per-month price to access Amazon’s line-up of channels ranges from £1.49 for a service like Panna, a cooking course and recipe channel, to £9.99 per-month for Daily Burn, with offers live and on-demand fitness workouts.

UK Prime users can get access Discovery for £4.99 per-month; Eurosport Player for £6.99 per-month; ITV Hub+, which offers ITV’s programming on an ad-free basis, for £3.99 per-month; NBCU’s Hayu reality TV service for £3.99 per month; and indie film streaming service Mubi for £5.99 per-month.

In Germany and Austria the range in price goes from €1.99 per-month for a channel like E! Entertainment, to €6.99 per-month for Motorvision TV, and €7.99 per-month for Zeit Akademie Selection, a channel run by national weekly newspaper Die Ziet.

“The ITV Hub is all about giving viewers more choice about how and when they access their favourite ITV shows, including watching without the ads via ITV Hub+,” said Simon Pitts, ITV managing director, online, pay and interactive.

Discovery Networks UK president and chief content officer, international, Susanna Dinnage, said: “This partnership underlines our strategic ambition to reach people across every screen.”

Commenting on the Amazon Channels launch in Europe, CCS Insight analyst and director of multiplay and media, Paolo Pescatore, described it as a “highly disruptive move” and one that could “threaten Sky’s dominance in the pay TV market both in the UK and Germany”.

“Beyond free to air services, the addition of Discovery’s channels is hugely significant,” said Pescatore. “This is the first time that its channels have been made available outside of the Sky universe and out of a bundle.

“In our opinion, this will force many households to think twice about their pay TV subscription and cut the cord as we’ve seen in the US. Especially if Amazon will add more live TV such as sports in the future.”

DTVE first reported in July 2016 that Amazon was planning to launch its channels outside of the US, after we uncovered a string of job posts claiming Amazon will be launching “similar services in Europe” – with fluency in English and German listed as two of the basic qualifications.
China leads OTT market in Asia
OTT video subscribers across Asia Pacific are on the rise: subscription revenues will reach $10 billion by 2021 from $6.5 billion today.

According to Rethink Technology Research the market will reach 200 million subscribers in 2021, twice that of 2016. Pure play SVoD services will dominate (at $6.29 billion) ahead of operator supplied services.

Asia Pacific is made up of a multitude of contrasting individual markets, making it fragmented and complex with broadband penetration above 50%, in some regions and below 10% in others.

China will make up 60% of SVoD revenue by 2021, but is low today, dominated by AVoD, with SVoD just introduced.

India is in second place behind China by number of OTT subscribers, reaching 14.6 million by 2021. Indonesia and Japan are close, with each increasing to 9.96 million and 8.1 million by 2021, respectively. We have further forecasts for Australia, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Taiwan
Telia Sweden, Finland may drop Discovery channels on 08 June
Telia Company said that the Discovery channels could vanish from its television line-up from 08 June if current negotiations fare badly. A new agreement could mean worse terms for Telia customers, the Swedish operator said. It said Discovery is trying to limit what customer watch and how, and is combining this with unreasonable price increases.

Telia said that flexibility is one of the reasons it keeps having Sweden’s most satisfied viewers year after year. If the negotiations fail, then Telia will substitute content from HBO, among others, for Discovery programmes.

TeliaFinland said the channels concerned are Discovery Channel, Discovery World,Investigation Discovery, Discovery Science, Animal Planet, Eurosport 1 andEurosport 2, as well as their HD versions. The packages that could be affectedare Discovery, Surf, Mix S and Mix M. Telia Finland said it would keep itscustomers informed
UltiSat wins Swedish military contract
UltiSat, a provider of managed satellite network services, said it has won a contract from the Swedish Defence Material Administration (FMV) to provide satellite bandwidth in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Russia, and Afghanistan. UltiSat is one of four parties to benefit from the FMV Agreement for Satellite Capacity over ITU-R Region 1 from 2017 to 2020.

Under the agreement, UltiSat will provide C-band and Ku-band satellite capacity to enable IP connectivity for forward-deployed Swedish Armed Forces troops. UltiSat use its global network and service infrastructure, Secure Network Operations Center (SNOC), and its engineering and technical operations expertise.
BT Sport to give away free VR headsets ahead of Champions League Final
Days after announcing that it was to provide what it claims is unprecedented coverage of the forthcoming UEFA Champion League final in 4K and 360° VR, BT Sport is giving away free Google Cardboard VR headsets to fans.

bt 20may2017The coverage of the clash between Cristiano Ronaldo’s Real Madrid and Juventus on 3 June will see, for the first time, says BT, the Champions League final available on the BT platform in 4K/Ultra HD on YouTube as well as in UHD with Dolby Atmos sound on its core BT TV IPTV offer. In another first, the Champions League final will also be available through a number of 360° streams on YouTube and the new BT Sport Virtual Reality App, allowing viewers to choose between a 360°-produced programme with commentary and graphics, or select their own camera viewpoint.

Football fans can register to get the free Google Cardboard VR headset from the BT Shop online or from EE stores throughout the UK from 23 May. BT will also be giving them away at London Waterloo, London Liverpool Street and Birmingham New Street stations on 2 June, and also from the BT Sport stand in the UEFA Champions Village in Cardiff Bay across the weekend of the final.

“We’re delighted to be giving people the chance to get their hands on these headsets for free, enabling our viewers to get even closer to the action,” said Pete Oliver, managing director, BT Consumer. This is the biggest club football match in world football and fans and viewers will be able to experience it on BT Sport in the most innovative and exciting way as the two footballing giants Juventus and Real Madrid take on each other for European glory. We believe that VR can offer our viewers an immersive second screen view, which will enhance our coverage. We’re excited to be broadcasting what we believe to be the biggest multi-camera live 360° sporting event ever for the first time to our customers.”
Eutelsat closes sale of Hispasat stake for €302MN
eutelsat 20May2017Eutelsat has reached an agreement with Abertis Group on the sale of its 33.69% stake in Spanish satellite operator Hispasat to Abertis.

The agreed price for Eutelsat’s stake is €302 million, representing an EBITDA multiple of 7.1x based on Hispasat’s 2016 results. The closing of the transaction is subject to Spanish government approval and other customary conditions precedent, and is expected in the second half of calendar year 2017.

Eutelsat said that the divestment of the stake was consistent with its strategy of rationalising its portfolio of assets in order to maximise cash generation.

It first announced its intention to divest its stake in Hispasat in July 2016 when it exercised the option granted in 2008 by Abertis, Hispasat’s majority shareholder. It began negotiations with Spain’s Abertis in March 2017.

The deal means that Abertis will own around 90% of Hispasat which during its last business year reported €228.9 million of revenues, a 4.2% increase compared with the previous year. By area, 35.4% of the revenue came from Europe and Northern Africa, while 64.6% came from the increasingly key North and South American markets. In January 2017, it launched the Hispasat 36W-1 satellite, while the Amazonas 5 and Hispasat 30W-6 craft are set for launch later this year.
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