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  • UPC adds Replay TV to Horizon in Austria

    Austrian cable operator UPC has commenced offering its customers the possibility to watch the TV programmes of the past seven days following their broadcast.

    The Replay TV function was integrated into the Horizon Go app and it can be used by UPC TV Start and Plus customers at no extra charge. The current version of the app has to be installed for access. The app is available for smartphones, tablets, laptops and computers.

    When launching the app or selecting a replay programme on Horizon Go’s TV guide, the replay function has to be activated through a pop-up. From this point in time, the TV programmes are recorded and can be watched at a later stage.

    The replay TV function will become available on the Horizon HD recorder and the UPC Mediabox later this year, according to UPC.

    Around 40,000 households have opted for TV and multimedia platform Horizon introduced by UPC in Austria in October 2016. The cable company’s largest competitor A1 Telekom Austria has been offering a 7-day replay TV function on its mobile TV platform A1 Now since March 2016.

    In total, Liberty Global’s subsidiary UPC is currently offering Replay TV in seven countries including Switzerland, the Netherlands and Poland.


    • Sling TV Extends Paid Cloud DVR Access to Roku, Android Users

      ‘First Look’ program sells 50 hours of cloud DVR storage for $5 per month (Updated)

      Sling TV said it has expanded its Cloud DVR “First Look” program to customers who access the OTT TV service on Roku and Android platforms, including Roku players, integrated Roku TVs, as well as Android TV devices and Android smartphones and tablets.

      The program, which sells 50 hours of Cloud DVR storage for $5 per month, was originally offered to Sling TV subscribers who access the service via the Amazon Fire TV box, Fire TV Stick, and Fire tablets.
      RELATED: Sling TV Offers Paid Access to Cloud DVR Beta
      “We heard more customers wanted our DVR, so we are eager to now offer Roku and Android users the same ability to purchase 50 hours of storage for $5 per month with any Sling TV subscription,” Ben Weinberger, Sling TV’s chief product officer, said in this blog post.

      Sling TV plans to expand Cloud DVR support to more devices in the “coming weeks,” starting with Apple TV devices. AirTV, the new OTT-OTA product from Dish Network that’s focused on cord-cutters and supports Sling TV, is currently not compatible with Sling TV’s Cloud DVR product.

      UPDATE: Sling TV confirmed that its original Cloud DVR beta testers won’t be charged, and will continue to have access to 100 hours of DVR storage during the beta period. Sling TV has not announced when the Cloud DVR product will exit beta.

      Sling TV launched a beta trial of its Cloud DVR late last year.
      The OTT TV provider is expanding access of its Cloud DVR as Sling TV faces off with more online competition.

      Among virtual MVPDs, YouTube TV, now available in five markets, fuboTV and PlayStation Vue all offer cloud DVR options with different capabilities and limitations. YouTube TV’, for example, allows for unlimited recordings with the caveat that they’ll expire nine months after they are recorded. PlayStation Vue’s cloud DVR also allows unlimited recordings, but subs must watch them within 28 days after a show or movie is recorded. DirecTV Now has a cloud DVR on its roadmap.


      • Ampere: consumers spend more than ever on TV services

        The average consumer is spending “more than ever before” on TV services by combining pay TV, VOD and SVOD, according to Ampere Analysis.

        The Europe and North America study claims that viewers are building their own TV bundles from all the options available, rather than deserting their pay TV operators through cord cutting.

        In North America, average subscription television spend for 12 months in 2016 was found to be $311 (€294) – up US$30 per-person, per-year compared to five years ago.

        In Western Europe the average consumer spent US$95 per year on subscription television after sales tax, up from US$78 five years ago, according to the research.

        “The often-predicted mass cord-cutting from pay TV, driven by the growth of SVOD, has yet to arrive. But let’s not get complacent. There are warning signs,” said Ampere Analysis research director, Richard Broughton.

        “Our research has found that consumers who are doubling-up on their TV services, combining their pay TV service with one or more SVOD services, are twice as likely to be strongly considering leaving their main TV provider in the next six months.”

        Broughton said that pay TV operators must offer the same ‘watch everywhere’ features of SVOD providers and continue to invest in exclusive content to “avoid being left behind by more flexible competitors.”

        Ampere said that consumers are “doubling up” their TV services because SVOD exclusivity means that their catalogues rarely overlap, claiming that in the UK and Germany 94% of titles are exclusive to a single SVOD service.

        It also said that Netflix and Amazon have been the “catalysts”, accounting for more than half of SVOD contracts across the markets surveyed by Ampere Analysis.

        “We estimate that subscription TV services have generated US$18bn of entirely new revenue over the last two years across the globe. Almost half (45%) of this new revenue was driven by SVOD services, the remainder by traditional cable and satellite companies,” said Broughton.

        “While a degree of cannibalisation of subscription TV services is undoubtedly occurring as some consumers decide to cut the pay TV cord, the general trend is for more, not less, access to television services.”

        Overall, Ampere found that at the end of Q1 2017 some 40% of respondents had built a custom TV bundle, up from 24% in mid-2015.

        The proportion of homes taking just pay TV, or pay TV in combination with an SVOD service, has remained roughly stable at approximately 70% of respondents.

        However, the number of homes with on-demand services as their sole subscription television platform has increased from 5% of internet users in 2015 to 13% at the beginning of 2017. The proportion of consumers taking pay TV alone declined from 49% of internet users to just 30% over the same time frame.

        Households with access to subscription on-demand in Europe and North America now typically take between two and three SVOD services each, according to the research.

        The findings are based on a survey of 53,000 internet users from across Europe and North America over the past 18 months.


        • Altice boss Drahi reportedly preparing US IPO registration

          Altice boss Patrick Drahi is preparing to kick of the process of floating a minority stake in his US operation by the end of this month, according to French press reports.

          According to financial daily Les Echos, Altice is preparing to publish its IPO registration by the end of April ahead of the flotation of a minority stake in Altice USA.

          Reuters meanwhile reported at the end of last week that the cable and telecom group had hired Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Citi to lead the IPO.

          Citing two unnamed sources, Reuters reported that two existing Altice USA shareholders, private equity outfit BC Partners and Canadian pension fund CPPIB, which together hold about 30%, would use the IPO to reduce their stakes slightly, with Altice itself seeking to retain its existing 70% stake.

          The IPO will give Altice access to funds to pursue further acquisitions in the US, and could also be used to pay down the considerable debts raised during the acquisition of cable operators Suddenlink and Cablevision, which has made Altice the number four US cable operator behind Comcast. Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications.

          In its Annual report, published at the end of last week, Altice reiterated that it is “exploring the possibility of an initial public offering of a minority interest in Altice USA” and cautioned once again that “the structure or timing of any such IPO is still uncertain and no assurance can be given that an IPO will be completed”.

          Altice also plans to invest significantly in Suddenlink and Cablevision’s networks, with a commitment to deliver a next-generation fibre-to-the-home network capabile of 10Gbps speeds across also of the Cablevision footprint and part of the Suddenlink footprint.

          Separately, Altice confirmed that it planned to invest further in 4G and fibre in France, and in fibre in Portugal, with a plan to cover 22 million homes in France with fibre by 2022 and 5.3 million in Portugal by 2020.

          The telecom group is also planning to implement a new voluntary redundancy plan at SFR in France in July.