Viewing of long-form content now dominates video viewing on connected TVs and games consoles and is increasingly prevalent on tablets and mobile phones, according to online video specialist Ooyala’s latest Video Index.Long-form content made up over half of total online video viewing time in the first quarter. The share taken by long-form content on connected TVs and games consoles grew from 57% in the fourth quarter to 88% by the end of March. About 40% of time spent watching video on tablets and smartphones was of long-form content in the first quarter, compared with 29% for mobiles and 36% for tablets in the fourth quarter of last year.Viewing time is also increasing. Time per play on tablets grew by 58% during the quarter, while time per play on smartphones and PCs grew by 36% and 24% respectively.The amount of video viewing on tablets jumped by 26% following Apple’s launch of the latest version of its iPad in March. iPads currently account for 95% of tablet video viewing, according to Ooyala.While the new iPad boosted tablet viewing, Ooyala found that the overall share of time spent watching videos on smartphones grew by 41% in the last quarter, compared to growth of 32% for tablets.Time watched per play on connected TVs and games consoles jumped by 87% in the quarter, boosting viewing on these devices even though the overall number of video plays remained flat.Ooyala found strong variations in when and where different devices were used to view video. Tablet viewing rises on weekday mornings and then declines during working hours as PC viewing takes off. Tablet viewing recovers at the end of the day, with a third of tablet video plays taking place between 19:00-23:00, compared with only 17% of PC plays during that period.Of viewers that watch video when they visit a specific site or domain, some 55% watch one video over the course of the day, while 17% watch two and 18% watch three to five. About 10% watch more than five videos in the course of the day. read more
UK commercial broadcaster ITV has launched version 2.0 of its ITV Player app. The app is now available to download from the iTunes store to use on iOS devices.According to ITV, the new version of the app includes a number of advanced integrated features including live streaming, AirPlay mirroring support and the ability for users to switch seamlessly between catch-up and live content within the app and the video player component. For the first time viewers will be able to access live streams of ITV1 and ITV2 via WiFi and 3G.
Jane Johnson, the ex tabloid newspaper editor brought in to run Sky Living last year, is leaving her position as director of the female-skewing pay TV channel. Antonia Hurford-Jones has been upped from commissioning editor at the channel to acting director.
Stuart Murphy, director of UK pay TV operator BSkyB’s entertainment channels, told staff about the changes in a memo last Friday.
Johnson will leave at end-August and will set up a media consultancy that will work across TV, print and digital media.Murphy’s role at Sky was expanded earlier this year to cover a wider range of channels, including Sky Living with Jones and other channel bosses reporting directly to him.Speaking about the changes at the Sky Living Murphy told staff: “In only nine months at Sky, Antonia has become a vital part of our success, exec producing Got To Dance, A League of Their Own, and Love Machine, and working closely with the entertainment and channel teams on our entertainment slate. She’s commissioned Sing Date, Adam Buxton’s BUG and Don’t Sit in the Front Row with Jack Dee, among many other shows – all programmes which feel exactly where we need to be going – high quality, big talent, smart and effortlessly contemporary.” He added: “This is a bit of a break for her but we are all about backing people we believe in, and I have absolutely no doubt she will fantastic in the role.”Phil Edgar-Jones, head of entertainment, Sky, will look for an acting commissioning editor, entertainment to cover Hurford-Jones’ position for the period she is running Sky Living. read more
A+E Networks UK is looking to differentiate its European offering with more distinct channel feeds in central Europe, and is also planning to open offices in Poland and Romania.Speaking to DTVE, Tom Davidson, managing director of A+E Networks UK said that the firm was “very bullish in central Europe” and named Poland and Romania as its two “hotspots” with Hungary close behind.“We’ve already opened up separate [channel] feeds for Poland and Romania just in the last 12 months; we started in Poland with Crime and Investigation as a separate feed, and then Romania was the first central European separate History feed. We’ll be doing a Polish History feed this fall,” said Davidson.He said that A+E Networks was also “heavily investigating Hungary” as another potential market for a separate History feed to replace the pan-European version of the channel that already airs in the country.Davidson added that while A+E Networks UK – the joint venture between A+E Networks and BSkyB – does not yet have channels live in Russia, it has “been on our radar for a while.” He said “we’re in heavy, discussions there,” without giving further details.Referring to A+E Networks UK’s plans to open offices in Poland and Romania, Davidson said: “If you think about how we’re structured now, everything is centralised out of London. Of course we have local representatives on the ground, but we want to get closer to our customers and in the markets that have the consumer potential and a large operator base, we want to be sensitive to the culture, we want to be sensitive to the viewing habits, we want to be sensitive to the negotiation styles. We feel that the way to do that is really to have local talent on the ground.” read more
Transmission services provider TDF is looking at two offers for the sale of its French business, according to press reports.According to Reuters, TDF is examining offers from Canadian pension fund PSP Investments and investment fund Dering Capital, with the former offering around €3.5 billion and Dering offering €3.6 billion.TDF, which began looking for a sale earlier this year, has been hoping to secure around €4 billion for the sale, enabling it to pay off debts amounting to €3.8 billion. The company’s owners are expected to try to convince the two leading bidders to raise their offers, with a possibility that the sale may be pulled if this doesn’t happen, according to the report.
Liberty Global has agreed to buy Ziggo, in a deal that values the Dutch cable operator at roughly €10 billion. The stock and cash deal will see Liberty offer roughly €34.53 per Ziggo share, based on its own current share price. This marks a premium of 22% on Ziggo’s closing share price of €29.24 on October 15, 2013 – the day before Ziggo first announced it had received a preliminary takeover proposal from Liberty.The deal combines two regional networks – Ziggo and Liberty Global’s UPC Netherlands – with Ziggo to become the brand for Liberty’s Dutch business.Liberty, which bought a preliminary 28.5% stake in Ziggo last year, said that the combined business would reach 7 million Dutch homes and will provide some 10 million video, broadband internet and telephony services to more than 4 million customers through a “fiber-rich cable network.”“This transaction creates a nationwide cable champion that will drive investment and innovation for the benefit of Dutch consumers and businesses alike,” said Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries.“Our combined operations will reach over 90% of all Dutch households allowing us to compete more effectively with the other national telecommunications and satellite platforms in the Netherlands, and at the same time generate significant revenue and operating efficiencies.”Strategically, the firms said that the combination of their businesses would enhance their ability to invest in “cutting edge products and services” and create a leading challenger in the mobile and enterprise businesses.The combined company will be based in Ziggo’s Utrecht headquarters.The deal was unanimously recommended by Ziggo’s supervisory and management boards and is expected to close in the second half of 2014.At the same time, Liberty announced today that its board of directors has approved a US$1.0 billion increase to its two-year US$3.5 billion stock repurchase program, bringing its total program to $4.5 billion.Ziggo has made an exchange offer of up to €934 million of its outstanding €1,208,850,000 senior notes due in 2018 for an equal aount of new 8% senior notes. Ziggo has also launched a cash offer for its outstanding €750 million 3.625% notes due in 2020, and has said it will redeem or retire any and all of its oustanding €150 million 2017 notes. read more
Sky CEO Jeremy DarrochSky reported strong customer growth in the UK, Ireland, Germany and Austria in its first set of results since the newly expanded company bought out Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia.For its fiscal second quarter, ending December 31, Sky reported “significant outperformance” in the UK and Ireland, adding 204,000 new customers – its highest growth in nine years.In Germany and Austria, Sky added a record 214,000 subscribers in the quarter, up 55% year-on-year, taking its total retail customer base past the 4 million mark to 4.12 million.In Italy, Sky also reported a strong performance with 30,000 new customers, its highest growth in 12 quarters.“Six months into the year, we’ve seen a good performance right across the new Sky. We have world-class capability within the expanded business and a strong set of plans that mean we are well placed to deliver growth and returns for shareholders,” said Sky group CEO Jeremy Darroch.He added that integration is “progressing well” across Sky’s UK, Irish, German, Austrian and Italian businesses and that the simultaneous launch of new original drama, Fortitude, to 20 million customers across all five markets “shows the potential we now have to operate at greater scale.”“This is just the first of many opportunities we have to launch new products and services for customers in the months ahead,” said Darroch.Across its combined business Sky said it added 1.5 million paid-for subscription products in Q2, a 25% year-on-year increase, taking this total to 52.03 million.In the UK and Ireland, TV growth more than doubled with 202,000 new customers. Sky reported 6.5 million connected customers at the end of December, driving on-demand downloads to a record 520 million in Q2, 40% up year on year.In Italy, Sky said that 30% of its customers have now connected their boxes to the internet, helped by the popularity of ‘Restart’, which lets connected customers go back to the beginning of a film.Sky said that in Germany, its online service Sky Go also took a big step forward in Q2 with its launch on Android devices.For the six months to December 31, Sky reported 5% year-on-year revenue growth to £5.6 billion, driven by strong performances in the UK and Ireland and in Germany, which grew 6% and 9% respectively, and a resilient performance in Italy in “what remains a challenging environment.”Group EBITDA increased 7% to £993 million and group operating profit increased by 16% to £675 million.Sky completed its acquisition of Sky Italia and an 89.7% stake in Sky Deutschland in November. It later bought additional Sky Deutschland shares and now holds 95.8% of Sky Deutschland. read more