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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
Prima creates new hybrid TV environment
The Czech broadcaster Prima has launched an upgraded red button that offers audiences an enhanced menu and an intuitive video archive.

According to Prima, viewers can now find HbbTV information about a programme currently being broadcast and watch that programme from the beginning; enter a programme page; create a custom programme; or enter “What to watch?” Just like, the new TV archive in HbbTV is user-friendly with simple graphics and offers easy access to video content.
Commenting on the launch, Daniel Grunt, director of new media at FTV Prima, said: “We wanted to create user-friendly control with fast access to video content in hybrid TV, and we wanted to unify HbbTV’s graphical and functional site and, under the iPrima brand, and we’re seeing an increase in viewership and video on HbbTV. In the last quarter of 2017, the number of videos being played increased by 73%.”

Prima notes that viewers can watch content without ads for CZK 59 (€2.32) per month.

If users activate it on, they can add their hybrid TV as another device where they will not see ads while watching Prima TV.
Online boosts US TV providers
The Top 10 TV providers in the United States have shown small gains in the last quarter of 2017.

However, the informitv Multiscreen Index reports that between them they still lost 1.62 million subscribers in 2017.

In a mixed picture, the three operators that reported gains did so through growth in online television services, which the traditional platforms continued to experience continued subscriber erosion.

The DirecTV Now online service added over a third of a million customers in the quarter and 855,000 over the year, for a total of over a million. DISH Network broke out figures for its Sling TV offering for the first time, accounting for well over two million, up by 711,000 in a year to around a sixth of its subscriber base. If the company continues to report separate quarterly numbers Sling TV would qualify as a distinct service and rank eighth, just below Optimum cable.

“Sling TV and DirecTV Now are adding significant numbers of online subscribers but overall the traditional platforms are slowly leaking television customers,” noted Dr William Cooper, the editor of the informitv Multiscreen Index. “These two online services currently only represent 4% of the television subscribers to the top 10 services in the United States as ranked in the Multiscreen Index.”

The top 10 services have 85.23 million television customers between them, accounting for over 70% of television homes in the United States.
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