Archive for the ‘Industry News’ Category

UPC Hungary and Liberty Global’s Stephen Kelly Win Cable Europe Innovation Awards at #CableCongress

(Brussels, 12 March) Cable Europe, the trade association representing the European cable industry, today awarded UPC Hungary and Liberty Global’s Stephen Kelly with awards for innovation and individual achievement, respectively. Caroline Van Weede, Managing Director of Cable Europe, and Peter Percosan, Partner, Digital Strategy, presented the honours on the second day of Cable Congress taking place this week in Brussels.

UPC Hungary won the Cable Europe Innovation Award, voted on by delegates at Cable Congress, for bringing more than 20 TV apps to legacy set-top-boxes (STBs) in partnership with Metrological and ActiveVideo Networks and others such as YouTube. Bringing online content to pay-TV subscribers is a win-win for the online and pay-TV industries, but last summer, no one had been able to do it at scale without the purchase of costly set-top-boxes (STB). This has provided UPC Hungary with a powerful new service differentiator that is a world’s-first achievement for cable: the ability to offer an almost limitless source of online content to every subscriber, without the cost and time-to-market that rolling out new set-top boxes would have entailed.

In accepting the award, Severina Pascu, CEO of UPC Romania & Hungary, said: “This idea is truly innovative. It’s a beautiful way to bring together innovation and customer experience, and at the end of the day, this started from a real customer need – content anywhere, anytime, on any device.”

The Innovation Award celebrates special projects of cable companies that make a difference for customers and demonstrate opportunities for future growth. Other nominees in the category this year included OptimizAIR by Telenet and Celeno, an airtime management solution to enhance Telenet’s W-Fi Hotspot service and improve the end user experience. In addition, Spanish operator R was nominated for its cloud video engine allowing real-time generation of interactive channels and integrated VOD, catch-up and zapping.

Stephen Kelly, Communications Architect at Liberty Global, was honoured with the Cable Europe Fellow Award in recognition of his many contributions over 15 years in the industry. Kelly was instrumental in the launch of the hugely successful Virgin Media London Underground Wi-Fi solution, which was deployed in advance of the 2012 Olympics. Most recently, he defined Liberty Global’s Pan European Wi-Fi Architecture, which is being rolled out across its footprint. He has also been a key contributor to CableLabs’s development of industry-wide Wi-Fi specifications and standards.

For the latest news on Cable Congress, please visit www.cablecongress.com, talk to us on Twitter via @CableEurope, and follow all of the discussion live using #cablecongress.

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European Cable Revenues Grow 4.6% in 2014 #cablecongress

Industry’s tight focus on investment-driven innovation yields more than €1 billion in new revenues

 

(Brussels, 11 March) In an era of intense platform competition, content convergence and audience fragmentation, the European cable sector grew top-line revenues to €21.5 billion in 2014, up 4.6%, according to new IHS statistics released today by the industry’s trade association, Cable Europe, at Cable Congress in Brussels. The more than €1 billon increase in annual revenues came on the back of cable’s continued investments in high-speed broadband networks, new platforms and services as it challenges both incumbents and new market players.

Cable’s connectivity-driven growth continued with a 9% increase in broadband revenues and a 5.3% rise in telephony revenues. Telephony and internet new comprise 50% of cable’s total revenues. In addition, more than 2.7 million Revenue Generating Units (RGUs), the industry metric for the total sum of TV, internet and telephony subscribers, were added in 2014, up 2.4% and now totalling 112.5 million. Despite a net loss in cable TV subscribers, total TV revenues increased by more than 2% in 2014 as the switch to digital services accelerated. With 6% growth in digital TV revenues and a more than 13% uptick in video-on-demand revenues almost 75% of total TV revenues are now digital.

Manuel Kohnstamm, President of Cable Europe, commented: “Our sector is growing through a time of tremendous change both in terms of the speed of technological development and new market entrants. Over-the-top players delivering services through the internet are reinventing business models and shaking up the traditional competitive scene. Consumers on the other hand expect affordable prices, good quality service and great content. Our smart investments to build superior networks are paying off in the form of state-of-the-art broadband access and a better-than-ever content experience.”

“Cable’s 2014 performance is particularly impressive in the face of increased competition from new entrants and alongside a new generation of digital savvy consumers, added Cable Europe Executive Chairman Matthias Kurth. “We are the main challenger to the telco incumbents in most member states across Europe. But we’re not only making massive investments to take on the traditional competitors, our smart pipe is actually enabling the emergence of new ‘frenemies’ in an era where broadband internet has become a primary mode of content distribution. Our future success will hinge on continued technology, infrastructure and service investment, a favourable
regulatory environment, and deeper partnerships with global content providers.”

Cable Congress 2015 is taking place in Brussels until Friday 13 March. Please visit www.cablecongress.com for the latest updates, talk to us on Twitter via @CableEurope, and follow the conversation live using #cablecongress.

Cable Europe and CTAM Europe Announce Enhanced Partnership with Global Content Providers #CableCongress

HBO Europe and Viacom International Media Networks Northern Europe first to sign up

(Brussels, 11 March 2015) Cable Europe and CTAM Europe are announcing today at Cable Congress in Brussels that they are joining forces to enhance cooperation with the content, programming and production sector. HBO Europe and Viacom International Media Networks Northern Europe are the first to sign formal joint membership agreements with the two bodies in a move that reflects increasing convergence between content and distribution platforms and offers Associate Membership of Cable Europe alongside continued engagement in CTAME’s marketing and intelligence activities.

Cable Europe Executive Chairman Matthias Kurth commented: “This move puts consumers even more firmly at the heart of all we do by combining cable’s high quality connectivity service and technology superiority with world-class, deeply enriching content. Cable is a truly smart pipe based on future-proof technology that is unmatched by other platforms. That’s why our industry is uniquely positioned to work horizontally with multinational cross-platform providers to set the agenda in an increasingly converged content environment.”

The membership package will enhance co-operation and expertise on strategic issues of mutual interest and concern as well as strengthen both sectors’ respective activities. Together the members will build ‘know-how’ across all aspects of the wider industry in order to advise and learn, strengthen relationships and build on synergies in their external dialogue with mutual stakeholders. The partnerships will also create a new forum for the development of collaboration and best practice in areas such as affiliate marketing.

Stefan Liebig, Vice President Content, Distribution and Sales Northern Europe, Viacom International Media Networks commented: “Closer cooperation between cable and content drives growth for all players in the ecosystem and deliver a better experience for consumers. We’re excited to be teaming up with cable operators and other content players.”

Alek Kutela, Senior Vice President of Marketing at HBO Europe, said;
“We are delighted to partner with Cable Europe and CTAM Europe and we look forward to working together in the future.”

Cable Congress, taking place in Brussels from 11-13 March, will dive deeper into the issues and opportunities raised by convergence, changing content consumption trends and increasing platform competition. To learn more please visit: www.cablecongress.com

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For more information, please contact:
Virginia Lee
Cable Europe
Director of Communications
T: +32 2 556 2102
E: virginia.lee@cable-europe.eu

www.cable-europe.eu

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Cable Europe’s 2015 Innovation Award Nominees announced #CableCongress

LogoInnovation is the key to growth, competitiveness and social well-being in this fast changing industry

The Innovation Award aims to recognise the most innovative cable companies that bring new technologies, products or services to market.

The winner will be announced on Day 2 of Cable Congress, only registered attendees will be able to vote – don’t miss out, find out how to attend.

Cable Europe is pleased to announce this year’s three nominations:

  • Cloud video Engine for the realtime generation of interactive channels by R, Syntheractive & Cinfo
  • OptimizAIR by Celeno & Telenet
  • TV Apps on legacy set-top boxes by UPC Hungary, Metrological and ActiveVideo

www.mundo-R.comNominee 1: Cloud video Engine for the realtime generation of interactive channels by R, Syntheractive & Cinfo

R has launched a cloud video encoding platform. This platform can handle hundreds of video inputs, either from the cable tv headend, from the field (mobile cameras, IP cameras) or from stored video libraries. The platform transforms those inputs into thousands of videostreams. Each videostream script is created by a “cloud video app” residing on the servers. Local app in the device is minimised just to sending user keystrokes upstream and DRM protection, if needed.

This Project has been developed in house, through our daughter video company Cinfo in collaboration with a local startup (Syntheractive) and the University of La Coruña.

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celonoNominee 2: OptimizAIR by Celeno & Telenet

Celeno’s innovative OptimizAIR 2.0 enables Telenet to safely turn home routers into community hotspots while ensuring home users continue to receive uninterrupted Wi-Fi service with a high quality of experience. It also provides Telenet with exciting new opportunities to expand their service offering and entice new and existing customers.

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UPC hungaryNominee 3: TV Apps on legacy set-top boxes by UPC Hungary, Metrological and ActiveVideo

Bringing online content to pay-TV subscribers is a win-win for the online and pay-TV industries, but until UPC Hungary teamed up with Metrological and ActiveVideo last summer, no one had been able to do it at scale without the purchase of costly set-top boxes. UPC Hungary worked with its partners to offer over 20 apps on TV via any set-top box in the UPC Hungary subscriber footprint. This has provided UPC Hungary with a powerful new service differentiator that is a world’s-first achievement for cable: the ability to offer an almost limitless source of online content to every subscriber, without the cost and time-to-market that rolling out new set-top boxes would have entailed.

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The winner will be announced on Day 2 of Cable Congress – don’t miss out, find out how to attend.

TV Everywhere: a growth trend which consumers are embracing #CableCongress

TV Everywhere is a broad church, incorporating the fast growing services which take you across multiple devices inside the home, right through to nascent services which travel with you outside your own four walls.

One thing is certain: it’s a growth trend which consumers are embracing. Analyst Mohammed Hamza of SNL Kagan takes us through their latest research into the phenomenon that is TV Everywhere.

Mohammed Hamza SNL Kagan, TV and Video Analyst

By Mohammed Hamza
SNL Kagan, TV and Video Analyst

Strong TV Everywhere – by which we usually mean accessing content across multiple screens and devices within the home – would appear to be good news for operators as well as subscribers, contributing to stability in the subscriber base. Moreover, its performance provides new opportunities for revenue growth via deeper customer engagement and the ability to sell targeted advertising across connected screens.
Comparing the latest data collected against that from the surveys conducted in October 2012 and July 2013, you could argue that it has been the satellite operators who have embraced the more consistent marketing approach to TV Everywhere. Fewer pay TV operators on other platforms have followed such a consistent approach to building a marketing message, hindered in part by a more fragmented roll-out and difficulties in service applications at launch.
However this picture is quickly changing as intense competition in this area drives a faster pace of innovation across other platforms. Between Liberty Global’s Horizon platform and TiVo Inc. on cable as well as renewed efforts from IPTV players, continued next-generation roll-outs mean that rival TVE services to those offered by satellite are quickly and effectively overcoming early challenges that included the lack of multiscreen rights and TV platforms in early maturity.

TV Everywhere Adoption, Cable, Western Europe (%)
In some respects cable TV Everywhere services have progressed at a slower pace compared to rival platforms, as operators in some geographic regions focussed on upgrading core TV services. But this picture is rapidly changing, and the research is now showing that as of February 2014 cable is comfortably on a par with other platforms with 78% of the 23 cable operators reviewed having launched a TV Everywhere service. This sits alongside the parallel 78% of satellite operators offering such a service, and IPTV operators at 76%. In terms of centralised home gateway technologies, Virgin Media Ltd’s partnership with video recorder pioneer TiVo and Liberty Global’s Horizon projects have the highest visibility in seven countries, representing 50% of major cable territories in the region. Horizon launched in the Netherlands and Switzerland during the second half of 2012, with other markets joining during 2013. Liberty reported 500,000 Horizon TV subscribers at end 2013 in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Ireland. TiVo in the UK launched in the first quarter of 2011 on the Virgin Media platform, reaching 2 million subscribers at end 2013, while Ono’s TiVo service, which launched at end-2011 in Spain, hit 323,000. In October 2013, TiVo launched in Sweden on ComHem’s network and upgraded 38,000 customers to the service.

 

Cable operators

Cable operators also continue to ramp up support for smartphone and tablet video apps as well as for live TV channels, with support for each of the services increasing from 57% of surveyed cable operators as of May 2013 to 78% as of Feb 2014. Moreover, cable operators now support significantly more live channels compared with satellite. The number of live TV channels accessible via TV Everywhere with ComHem, for instance, was up to 140, while the majority of operators are offering at least 30 channels. Satellite operators on average support around 30 live channels but tend to focus more on specific live events or content.

IPTV operators

For IPTV operators, bundled services have been the goal from the start, while much of the earlier platform development focused on providing basic TV services as opposed to more advanced services. To compete against incumbent cable and satellite operator key content supremacy, IPTV players have had to break down more walls to get noticed. IPTV operators have progressed since the last survey, with 76% (was 72%) of the 29 IPTV operators covered offering VOD as part of their TV Everywhere service. However, 79% (previously 90%) offered live TV, typically with more than 30 channels, with the decline due to cancellation of services, including Vodaphone TV in Spain and Norwegian incumbent telco Telenor ASA’s Comoyo service, among others.

A number of IPTV operators, including Swisscom AG continue to provide stand-alone mobile TV alongside a TV Everywhere offer, while others, including Telekom Austria Group’s A1 mobile TV and France Telecom Group’s Orange in Switzerland, have evolved those services to a more complete offering.

In summary, as part of operators’ TV network business model innovation, TVE plays a critical role for long-term competition, growth and ARPU, whilst building stability on value – especially in increasingly saturated and hypercompetitive markets. Getting TV Everywhere right will also put operators on a better footing to launch “lite” pay TV and OTT services. The key takeaways are consistent approaches as well as openness via APIs to enable third party app developer participation and to ensure the universality of apps.

To find our more – visit CABLE CONGRESS, 11-13 MARCH 2015, THE SQUARE, BRUSSELS

Net Neutrality: have we lost sight of what this issue is really about? #cablecongress

Dominating the political agenda on both sides of the Atlantic, the debate about Net Neutrality is far from resolved.

WWW

But have we lost sight of what this issue is really about?

Speaking at the ANGA COM congress in Köln, Mike Fries, President and CEO of Liberty Global, was asked for his viewpoint on the Net Neutrality debate. His response was immediate and unequivocal. “In my thirty years in the industry, I have never encountered a topic that is less well understood, that is so misinterpreted, misused, and I might even say abused, by different people in the ecosystem of the debate than this.”
With his global perspective, Fries’ frustration is understandable given the timing of his words in the early summer of 2014. The FCC’s examination of the Net Neutrality issue had pitched US commentators, lobbyists and PR machinery at levels of near hysteria. Not many issues of technical legislative detail have US citizens demonstrating in the streets of Washington DC and command headline slots on primetime satirical TV shows.
The Net Neutrality debate in Europe has thus far been conducted in calmer tones, but there’s no doubt that there’s just as much to play for. Fries’ concern that the issue is too important to be hijacked is true on both sides of the Atlantic.

Freedom to grow

When the internet was created 25 years ago, one of the core principles set out by its founders was that there should be a level playing field for those using the internet, irrespective of size and provenance. That principle has been one of the cornerstones of its phenomenal success. The other has been freedom from prescriptive regulatory measures which could have stifled investment, innovation and growth.
Yet the internet of today is a very different place from that of 1989 and the desire to intervene and regulate is perhaps inevitable. The exponential growth of traffic could hardly have been predicted by those early web visionaries. Networks have become increasingly congested, not just by sheer volume but by the variety of types of applications and services with very different needs such as HD video. An open internet remains at the heart of what is being defended; a fair and transparent way to manage the ecosystem to allow the widest variety of services not only to co-exist but to thrive and grow is now the political football.

Access all areas

Fries sees a simple split between two different issues which are being confused. On the one hand, it’s about consumers and the need to ensure that any consumer can go anywhere they want to go on the internet. This, he said at ANGA COM, is a given – and not just for moral or societal motivations. “As a network operator I have no interest in upsetting consumers. And I have no interest Dominating the political agenda on both sides of the Atlantic, the debate about Net Neutrality is far from resolved. But have we lost sight of what this issue is really about?

in upsetting content providers. What good does it do me? I lose on both sides.” On the other hand is the issue between corporations, the question of who pays for building and maintaining the internet highway, and how to manage the volume and complexity of traffic to deliver the best quality service to end users, which Fries maintains is what this debate is really about.

A B2B debate

The task in hand for the European Institutions, looking at this issue as part of the “Connected Continent” regulation, is an unenviable one. The heat and noise surrounding Net Neutrality in the US, coinciding with the European elections, has had an inevitable ripple effect. Yet the ingredients in the debate in Europe are not an exact mirror of the US situation. There is of course the need for harmonisation, and where European Member States have initiated their own regulatory initiatives then a levelling of some kind is not only desirable but necessary. Yet backstop powers already exist for National Regulatory Authorities to intervene against service providers when necessary. So any threat of commercial abuse is already taken care of with existing and specific regulation.
The European Institutions need to achieve a considerable feat – that of creating a regulatory infrastructure which is future proof enough to allow continued innovation and investment whilst negating the desire of individual Member States to take standalone action. And all in a context where regulatory powers already exist.

Managing the traffic

At the heart of this lies the unequivocal need for ISPs to apply effective management tools to their networks to ensure quality of service, and the corresponding requirement for them to do so in a transparent, fair and non-discriminatory way. Finding the regulatory balance to enshrine these principles whilst allowing the web to thrive looks set to dominate the agenda for many months to come.
The proposals made by Mrs Kroes in September 2013 are striking the right balance and Cable Europe supports the Commission’s solution. The Parliament and Council should not jeopardise a proportionate outcome, which will keep a thriving internet ecosystem intact.

 

Cable Congress, 11-13 March 2015, The Square, Brussels

Exclusive Interview: Josh Sapan, President and CEO of AMC Networks Inc

Episodes of Evolution: Slow-burn Drama, High Speed Connection

4Cable News spoke with Josh Sapan, President and CEO of AMC Networks, the company largely credited for changing modern television with groundbreaking slow-burning original scripted drama. An early adopter of VOD and a believer in working with OTT, Josh gives us an exclusive on TV’s second golden age. Josh gives us an exclusive on TV’s second golden age. Josh will join us this year at Cable Congress to give a keynote presentation. Check the event programme here.

1. It’s great to catch up with you, Josh. You’re considered a true cable pioneer on your side of the Atlantic. And on our side of the Atlantic, Europeans are rather familiar with your pioneering programming whether it is Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, the hipster-mocking comedy Portlandia, The Killing and most recently Rectify which we premiered this year in London at Cable Congress. Let’s start with what might be a tough question because it’s so obvious but, why cable? Why is cable such a good home to the new wave of must-see television in what you have termed TV’s second golden age?

Josh Sapan:
I think that probably the best answer that I might provide is that cable has been able to pursue quality craft storytelling, writing, directing and casting without the compromise or the ambiguity of early on in the process being seized with a focus on how big the audience will be in week three. And that may sound like a smallish thing, and indeed some of our shows have got big audiences, but if they’re developed with anxiety about week three or week two and how big the audience is, it leads to what one sees in American broadcast television: There is very little that is seriously distinct. That’s not accidental because if you want a big, big audience it is riskier to follow the “great creative” and it is statistically more likely and better to follow degrees of formula. So I think that’s “why cable.”

32. Innovative ways of reaching audiences are not new to you as we know that you ran a mobile cinema project literally driving 16mm projectors around the Midwest in your younger days before you got into the cable business. Fast forward to today and your award-winning content is available on-air, online, on demand and mobile. As an early mover with VOD, can you tell us a bit about the strategy behind such wide availability for your content over so many platforms?

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Statement on the Single Market #cable @cableeurope

A Single Market as a Platform to Boost Investments in Networks and First Class Broadband Experience in Europe

European Heads of States have given their green light this week for EU action in support of the digital economy to create an integrated single digital and telecoms market. It is the first time that the digital economy has been brought to the highest level of European decision making and this is applauded by Cable Europe.

To support a booming European digital economy there is a need for a continuous flow of investments in to underlying broadband infrastructure. A number of network providers have emerged over the last 15 years competing for customers and supplying broadband connectivity to the benefit of the whole economy at large.

“We are committed investors in our networks that we upgrade in anticipation of our customers’ needs. Cable companies have recently launched 500 Mbps services and further upgrades of the networks to deliver ultra fast speeds are yet to come, pushing competitors to react.  The continued growth of 8.4% in cable broadband subscribers tells us that the demand for connectivity is healthy – and on an upward growth trajectory” says Cable Europe Chairman Matthias Kurth.

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Kroes-aid for a Connected Continent

Invest, Innovate and Compete (and growth will come organically)

imageTimes are challenging in Europe. And for some it is tempting to use a wide brush to paint a dark picture for the whole continent. While there are difficulties for some players in the ICT arena, it is too early to draw comparisons to a Lehman Brothers-style collapse for the sector. It’s no coincidence that companies peddling negative messages are the ones with negative or flat growth. But it’s not just a “can’t do” attitude that is holding some in the sector back. The debate kick started by Vice President Neelie Kroes’ “Connected Continent”, pro- posed EU telecoms legislation, represents an opportunity to get Europe back on track.

28 Elephants, 28 Rooms

Judging from the importance that governments across the globe give broadband policy, Commissioner Kroes is right to be pushing the broadband envelope. She also makes an important link between investment and performance. But to invest, you need a good investment environment where risk levels are not aggravated by significant variations in the market that Europe is still trying to turn into a single one. One cannot ignore the differences in Europe among member states – it remains the
proverbial elephant in the room for both the business and political community. And it’s a big enough elephant that it got a mention in European Commission President Barroso’s State of the Union address. He asked a poignant question, “Isn’t it a paradox that we have an internal market for goods but when it comes to digital market we have 28 national markets?”

The F Word

The European Parliament who will be combing through Neelie Kroes’ proposals along with the European Council which brings together relevant ministers from Europe’s 28 members (which the Commissioner recently referred to as “28 ring-fenced telco markets”). Breaking up Kroes’ proposed package into pieces – an – other kind of equally unwanted fragmentation – brings with it significant risks in urgent times, as the Commissioner warned the European Parliament (its first reading is expected to take place in March 2014).

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Cable is the new cinema

The Net Effect:
Evolving Landscapes on What We Used to Call Television Encouraging Investors

A net effect imageCable is the new cinema. Or so AMC’s CEO Josh Sapan says in this issue of Cable News when talking about TV’s second golden age which many attribute to long-arc shows that define modern TV today. But Sapan calling cable TV the new cinema is more than just pithy CEO talk. It is shorthand for an evolution in how people watch television and connect to the internet.

TV: Hey, We’re Trending!
Consumers are also using a second connected device when watching the long-burning plots that have come to define the television landscape of today. A recent study by Ericsson ConsumerLab tells us that 75% of people multi-task by using mobile devices while watching TV. It’s not hard to guess why Twitter is testing “TV trending”, has teamed up with Neilsen for Nielsen Twitter TV rating and even acquired a social TV analytics firm earlier in the year. It’s easy to make stats sing the right tune but at the same time, it’s impossible to not spot the trend when considering that the number of connected TVs in Europe has exploded by over 120% in the last year according to IHS (see the back page for more detail).

Are you experienced?
Cable industry leaders like to refer to the melded TV/internet offering as an “experience” given the reworking of what was once a mono-directional broadcast into a viewer’s home that has now evolved with the consumer at the centre. Holding the remote control these days means holding a lot more power than even just ten years ago – the viewer can decide when and on which device they want to watch whatever they want. TVs are smarter and they have to be given the increased sophistication of the cable consumer.

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