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Sky is to add music service Spotify to its Sky Q box as part of its latest series of innovation.

Spotify will launch on Sky Q in the UK and Ireland in the spring. It’s Sky’s latest move towards the premium audio market following the recent launch of the Sky Soundbox device. Customers will be able to use the ad-supported Spotify service free-of-charge or log in to their premium account.

Jeremy Darroch, Group Chief Executive, Sky commented: “Sky Q keeps getting better and better. With this suite of innovation, we are taking the user experience to another level – and we won’t stop there. We will continue enhancing Sky Q and finding new ways to bring customers more of what they love, and in so doing ensure we appeal to every household and every one in that household. With Spotify joining our Sky Q platform, we are giving customers the best home entertainment experience in Europe.”

From the beginning of March new features will be introduced that include a further enhancement to Sky Q’s Voice functionality with personalised recommendations such as “show movies for me”.

There will also be a new widescreen user interface and a doubling of the amount of Ultra HD content. This includes content in the HDR format, a bonus for subscribers with 4K television displays. A newly designed homepage will feature ‘Most Recent Recordings’ and ‘Favourite Channels’ along with editorially curated selections of Box Sets, Movies, and Catch-Up TV

A new kids mode will also be introduced running in tandem with the existing Sky Kids app and a Sky Q app will be introduced on Smart TV and third party devices.

Along with Sky Soundbox, customers will be able to augment their existing Sky Q audio services, including the ability to stream to TV speakers via AirPlay or Bluetooth.
Scripps Networks Interactive had consolidated revenues of $3.6 billion in 2017, or 4.7% more than a year earlier.

Ad revenues amounted to $2.5 billion (+3.7%) and distribution revenues $955.4 million (+6.8%). Its consolidated adjusted net income was $752.6 million (16.9%), reflecting an increase in operating revenues, higher foreign currency transaction gains and lower interest expense compared with 2016.

Looking at Scripps’ international operations, the company notes that in Q4 operating revenues were $203.7 million (+23.2%) and those at the Polish commercial broadcaster TVN 11.7% higher in local currency compared to the previous year. It also says that in Q4 TVN was the number one media company for the 16-49 demographic for the fourth quarter, growing its audience share by 2%.

Commenting on the results, Kenneth W. Lowe, chairman, president and CEO, said, “Scripps Networks Interactive finished a pivotal 2017 year with a strong fourth quarter, executing on our strategic objectives and delivering financially with record revenue and growing segment profit. We reached new consumers through the thousands of compelling experiences created by Scripps Lifestyle Studios. We invested in our core business as well as our fast-growing digital offerings, allowing us to capitalise on the popularity of our powerful lifestyle brands across the globe. And, of course, we announced our merger with Discovery Communications, creating an unmatched opportunity to deliver our real-life content to a greater number of audiences.”

He added: “We have great momentum as we head into 2018. Our incredible teams remain intently focused on doing what we do best: creating great lifestyle content that connects with audiences through ideas, information and inspiration. We are excited about the prospects for the combination with Discovery and are diligently working toward finalising the transaction to bring these two great companies together.”
M7 Group and AMC Networks International – Central and Northern Europe (AMCNI CNE) have signed an agreement, effective March 1, further extending their long-standing partnership.

As a result, Skylink subscribers in the Czech Republic and Slovakia will continue to be offered the full AMCNI CNE portfolio of eight channels.

The deal includes the extension of the carriage agreement for Film+, AMC, Sport1, Sport2, JimJam, Minimax, TV Paprika and Spektrum. Furthermore, the infotainment channel Spektrum HD will be placed in Skylink’s Multi package, increasing the number of households where it becomes available.

Commenting on the development, Jaromir Glisnik, member of the board of directors of M7 Group, said: “We are delighted to continue working with AMCNI CNE and offer our audiences the portfolio they provide. In addition to the continued distribution via our satellite platform, their channels will also be added to Skylink Live TV, allowing our subscribers to also enjoy the channels via mobile devices”.

Balázs Hajós, VP of affiliate sales, AMCNI CNE, added: “This new deal is another milestone in our long-running relationship with M7 Group. Making our channels available on all platforms and across a wide range of devices, adds a whole a new dimension to our partnership. We are sure that Skylink audiences will thoroughly enjoy the great variety of our quality content across a portfolio of film, television series, sports, infotainment and children’s programming”.
Vodafone Deutschland has integrated Netflix in its home gateway GigaTV.

The streaming service is available both on the GigaTV 4K box and in the GigaTV app on smartphones and tablets. Vodafone’s customers can also access Ultra HD content from Netflix, currently more than 1,200 hours.

Through the integration, viewers wanting to use Netflix no longer have to leave GigaTV and launch the Netflix app, but can access the service directly on the GigaTV user interface, along with other third-party offers such as Sky Deutschland or maxdome.

Competitors Deutsche Telekom and Unitymedia have integrated Netflix on their platforms since 2017.
The Russian DTH platform operator Orion has signed a cooperation agreement with Sony Pictures Television Networks.

Under it, Orion will deliver TV signals from Sony’s headquarters in London throughout Russia, distributing them in its Telecard satellite TV packages and also providing them to cable operators.

Starting this March, Orion will employ the Horizons 2 and Express-AM5 satellites to deliver three channels. Sony Sci-Fi, Sony Channel (Sony Entertainment Television) and Sony Turbo will be offered to Telecard subscribers in its Standard and Unlimited packages.

Orion will employ unique technology guaranteeing content delivery over the internet. The main feature is that only HD versions of each channel will be delivered from London to Moscow, with SD versions then be produced at Orion’s playout centre.

The channel Sony Channel (Sony Entertainment Television) will be distributed in Russia in both SD and HD versions, and Sony Sci-Fi and Sony Turbo only in SD.

Commenting on the agreement, Andrey Trufanov, head of the department for the implementation of telecommunications services at Orion, said: “I am glad to say that another major international player has chosen our satellite media platform as a key technical partner in Russia. The channels of the Sony Pictures Television portfolio are traditionally distinguished by high quality content. I am sure that both the operator’s partners and subscribers will appreciate them”.

Sergey Plotnikov, DG of Sony Pictures Television Networks in Russia and the CIS, added: “We highly appreciate the potential of our cooperation with Orion. On the international market the company has established itself as a professional partner capable of promptly solving issues of any complexity related to the production and distribution of TV channels. The level of services provided fully complies with the international standards of the television industry”.
ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall has admitted that the broadcaster is operating in a challenging environment.

The broadcaster has seen its steepest fall in advertising revenues in a decade amid what McCall said was an ongoing political and economic uncertainty that was leading to cautiousness among the big brands.

Pre-tax profits slipped 9.5 per cent to £500 million, including £154 million of exceptional costs due to acquisitions and restructuring.

“We are very focused on our strategic refresh. This will enable us to define a clear strategy and priorities that will highlight the opportunities and address the challenges that we face in an increasingly competitive media landscape,” said McCall. ITV wants to grow its Studios business, acknowledging the continued importance of broadcasters owning their own content.

One question for ITV is how it better monetises its ITV Hub on demand service, where despite a 39 per cent growth in viewing, even its most popular shows carry a fraction of the advertising seen on a linear transmission.

The broadcaster says it continues to explore and trial new ways, both free and pay, to distribute content to broadcasters and platform owners as well as directly to consumers.

“We’ve just stated doing Marcella as a box set, so you’ll start seeing more boxed sets and that really improves the user experience. We now need to work out what we should do that will actually place us in a better position competitively and what gets us the greatest returns. You can get very excited about doing lots of whizzy things that actually don’t make money.”

McCall described ITV Box Office as a trial and said there were lessons to be learnt from the Eubank-Groves fight where viewers reported signing up. Nevertheless, the fight still had 350,000 buys
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