BBC Worldwide has named Grant Welland as executive vice-president for central and eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa (CEMA). Based in London, Welland will oversee BBC Worldwide’s activity across CEMA and will be responsible for channels, TV and digital sales, format sales, licensing and live events across the region.Welland, who will report to Paul Dempsey, president of global markets, has held the role on an acting basis since the departure of Ian McDonough in April. He was previously finance director for global markets covering western Europe, CEMA, Asia and Latin America.“BBC Worldwide is a world class organisation and I’m delighted and proud to take on the role of executive vice-president. The region is a high priority for the company and I am looking forward to working with the team to grow the business over the next few years in one of the world’s most dynamic and exciting regions,” said Welland.
Amazon Prime Instant Video has struck a deal with Studiocanal to add a range of the latter’s content to its programming line-up in the UK and Germany. Prime Instant Video will get the exclusive first-run pay TV rights to all Studiocanal theatrical titles in the UK and Germany, including upcoming titles Paddington and Shaun the Sheep in the UK and Germany, as well as The Hunger Games: Catching Fire in Germany.Amazon will deliver further support to Studiocanal’s UK Productions through premium promotion across Amazon’s media group, with selective titles branded as Amazon Originals.The deal will also see library titles added to the service including Apocalypse Now and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. The first movie in the deal for the UK will be The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch.“We’re really excited to bring Amazon Prime Instant Video members in the UK and Germany more great films like Paddington, The Imitation Game and Shaun the Sheep fresh from the box office,” said Chris Bird, director of content strategy at Amazon Instant Video EU. “Extending our relationship with Studiocanal, a European superpower of film production and distribution, further cements our commitment to bringing customers the latest and greatest movies to Prime Instant Video.”“We are delighted to extend our partnership with Amazon who brings the very best film content to all audiences on all devices. Studiocanal has a very strong slate that resonates with a wide audience and Prime Instant Video subscribers will find the films they love, from family movies like Paddington and Shaun The Sheep to quality action thrillers, like Non-Stop, starring Liam Neeson,” said Olivier Courson.
Israel-based provider of cross-screen TV apps, Applicaster, has raised US$10.5 million (€9.2 million) in funding. The new cash takes the firm’s total funding to date to US$18.5 million, with the new round led by Pitango Venture Capital with participation from current investor, 83North.“Applicaster has championed the app-driven TV transformation for several years now, and we’re thrilled to see the take up in Europe, the United States, Latin America and Asia over the past 12 months.” said Jonathan Laor, Applicaster’s CEO.Applicaster claims to have launched more than 100 applications for over 40 customers around the world, including Univision, Endemol, FremantleMedia, Talpa, Mediaset, Televisa, Telefe, Fox Intl and Mediacorp.
Azerbaijan-based industrial conglomerate A+A Group is launching an OTT TV service, according to local reports.The HTML5-based service will offer about 50 live TV channels, including local Azeri services as well as Russian and Turkish channels, available via smart TVs, smartphones and tablets, for AZN7 (€5.80) a month.The service, which will include an EPG and the ability to record and playback programmes as well as create personal channels, has been launched initially in Sumqayit, the country’s third-largest city, before being made available to residents of the capital, Baku, later in the autumn, according to the reports.
BBC Worldwide has launched BBC Player, a branded TV Everywhere service in partnership with Singaporean pay TV giant StarHub.TV Everywhere services have proved popular with channels and operators in the US in particular, and allow authenticated pay TV subs to stream channels from their pay TV bundle.The branded BBC Player, which is now live, offers qualifying StarHub customers content from six of Worldwide’s international channels: BBC Earth, BBC First, BBC Lifestyle, CBeebies and BBC World News.Premium drama channel BBC Brit will also be included. Unlike the other services, it does not run as a linear offering on StarHub, and the addition to BBC Player effectively marks its launch in Singapore.The drama launch means the debut of BBC/Amazon drama The Collection, and that StarHub will be the exclusive home of Sherlock in Singapore.BBC Player app will be available over the top, and via iOS and Android apps. There will also be an offline viewing mode allowing users to download BBC shows to watch laterPaul Dempsey, president, Global Markets, BBC Worldwide said: “We’ve introduced BBC Brit, BBC Earth and BBC First to countries all around the world but this is first time we’ve given fans of premium British entertainment, documentary and drama, along with children’s and news their own dedicated space to stream, download and enjoy their favourite shows wherever and whenever they want.”He hinted that there are other TV Everywhere moves in the offing elsewhere. “While we are fully focused on the launch in Singapore, the potential of this product is very exciting.”Howie Lau, StarHub’s chief marketing officer added: “We are delighted that StarHub TV customers will be the first in Asia to enjoy BBC Player. BBC Player not only complements our pay TV offering, it also delivers BBC’s signature content seamlessly across our customers’ devices, deepening the overall entertainment experience.”
Jonathan Doran, OvumTelecoms companies will account for over half of all pay TV subscriptions in Western Europe and Latin America within five years, according to new research.Research house Ovum forecasts that over a quarter of all global pay TV subs will be through telcos, with additions largely going to be driven by organic expansion of IPTV services.Pay TV delivered by telcos, or pay TV platforms owned by telcos, will account for 310.9 million subs globally by 2021, Ovum says.In terms of subs numbers China will be the largest market with 86 million IPTV subs in 2021, some distance ahead of the US in second with 33 million.In terms of market share, however, Lat Am is the region where telcos will dominate, with 57% of all pay TV subs by 2021. The AT&T deal for DirecTV strengthened the telco TV share in the region, adding to strong telco-owned cable platforms already in place.Western Europe is another hotspot with telcos forecast to have a 53% market share.In terms of how telcos are delivering pay TV, IPTV will remain the dominant platform, accounting for 65% of all the telco’s subs.The market share gains are being driven by acquisitive telecoms firms buying into TV, Ovum noted.“M&A has played a substantial role in boosting the existing telco TV footprint,” said Ovum principal analyst Jonathan Doran.“The “traditional” cable and satellite customers that make up more than a third of the total telco TV base typically reflect either joint ventures or, more commonly, acquisitions of established pay-TV operations by telcos, such as AT&T (DirecTV), Vodafone (Kabel Deutschland, ONO, and Ziggo), and Telefonica (Digital Plus and GVT).”The Ovum analyst added that the move to buy traditional TV assets will now begin to slow down.“Moreover, acquired operations over traditional infrastructure tend to be mature and, therefore, are not expected to grow dramatically in the coming years,” Doran said. “As a result, organic IPTV expansion represents the lion’s share of anticipated telco TV growth going forward.”
Chinese conglomerate Beijing Xinwei Technology Group is to go ahead with the purchase of Israel-based satellite operator Spacecom, but for less than previously anticipated, according to Israeli press.Xinwei had previously agreed to purchase the operator of the Amos satellites for US$285 million (€253 million) and take on debt of ILS1.478 billion (€347 million).According to the latest reports, the Chinese company will now acquire Spacecom for US$190 million, about a third less than the previously agreed price, but still about 50% higher than the operator’s current market capitalization.Doubt had been cast on the acquisition when Spacecom’s Amos-6 satellite was destroyed on the launch-pad as its Space-X launcher exploded.Under the agreement, which reportedly could face regulatory hurdles in Israel, Spacecom will be under the control of Israel-domiciled company Big Bird, led by a former head of the communications arm of the Israel Defence Force. The company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Beijing Xinwei-owned, Luxembourg-based Luxembourg Space Telecommunications.Xinwei is led, as chairman and CEO, by Chinese billionaire Wang Jing. The group is known to have close ties to Great Wall Industry, China’s main space industry group, and is involved in plans to launch a group of low-Earth orbit satellites to enable mobile communications in China following a move in 2014 by the Chinese State council to open the country’s telecommunication infrastructure to private investors. It has also reportedly been involved in satellite plans in a number of international markets, including in Latin America.
Aviation-themed channels in France and Canada have joined forces to share their original content.Paris-based Aerostar TV and Canada’s AeroCinema are entering into a long-term strategic alliance covering production and distribution.The channels will continue to operate separate, but will now carry each others original, aviation-themed programming across all markets and platforms.“We are very excited to have put together the dream team of aviation specialised documentary producers and channels, able to reach a planetary TV audience in this exciting genre,” said Aerostar CEO and chairman Bernard Chabbert and AeroCinema chief executive Philip Osborn.Aerostar is Paris-based and distributed on French platforms Orange, Free and Bouyigues, giving it reach of 16 million in the territory. Its chief, Chabbert, previously made documentaries for France 3, and was an aviation journalist.AeroCinema Is part of Eureka Media, and operates as a VOD channel. It has around 150 hours of original HD documentary programming, and its staff have previously produced aviation-themed docs for Discovery Channel’s ‘Wings’ slot and Planete France’s ‘Legendary Wings’ slot.
A+E Networks, Discovery, AMC Networks and Viacom are among the major US broadcast groups confirming they will put channels on a new, factual- and entertainment-focused live TV streaming service.The new service, Philo, will be priced at US$16 a month, and will offer live TV streaming, DVR services and on-demandprogramming.It will have more than 35 US cable channels on its basic tier, with nine more available for an additional $4 per month.Networks offered include A&E, AMC, Animal Planet, AXS TV, BBC America, Cheddar, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, Food Network, GSN, HGTV, History, Investigation Discovery (ID), IFC, Lifetime, MTV, Nickelodeon, TLC and Travel Channel.Most of the content, therefore, will be from the entertainment, factual and knowledge spaces, and functionality includes unlimited 30-day DVR, live channel pausing and restarts, and catch-up from the previous three days.Rumours of the service first emerged in September, thought the Philo brand goes back further – initially launching in colleges in the US.The product and company name refers to Philo T. Farnsworth, who created electronic television.HBO, WME and Mark Cuban’s Radical Investments are among those to have invested in the business, which began life as a product for colleges that acted as a ‘laboratory’ to create a new-generation TV platform.“Our goal at Philo is to build a television service that people love as much as they love their favorite shows. We’re constantly looking for ways we can improve the experience because at the end of the day, we’re also building Philo for ourselves,” said Andrew McCollum, Philo CEO.“We started delivering streaming television at universities six years ago, and we’ve taken all of the unique insight we gained about this new generation of TV watchers in order to build a unique product and content package at an incredible value.”Philo will be made available on multiple platforms, including web browsers and Roku devices, in the US. There is no word if there service will be replicated internationally at this stage.
Netflix has agreed its first partnership in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region with local operator OSN.OSN customers will be able to access Netflix’s library of content via OSN’s new set-top box, which is due to launch towards the end of the second quarter.They will also have the option to pay for their Netflix subscription along with their OSN package as part of a single, consolidated bill.“The future of the entertainment industry in the MENA region will be shaped by providers who offer value and choice at every turn,” said Martin Stewart, CEO, OSN.“Through this ground-breaking partnership with Netflix, we are demonstrating our customer-centric focus on delivering convenience and flexibility for all.”Netflix’s vice-president of business development for EMEA, Maria Ferreras, said: “With this regional partnership and thanks to hundreds of Netflix’s original titles slated for 2018, OSN’s customers will be able to seamlessly access and enjoy all the best entertainment in one place.”Netflix has a number similar operator deals in place in Europe and around the world. In 2016 the SVOD giant struck a multi-year partnership with Liberty Global, making its content available to Liberty subscribers in 30 countries.Last year Netflix also extended its partnership with Deutsche Telekom, struck an expanded international deal with Orange, and made a multi-year agreement with Altice covering France, Portugal, Israel and the Dominican Republic.In 2017 it also penned deals with Spanish regional cable operator Euskaltel and Norway-based Telenor Group.