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Straight Talk Telecoms

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The 2016 International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) came to an end on Monday and one of the highlights of the event was the array of announcements regarding over-the-top (OTT) developments.

Announcements made by video-on-demand (VoD) service providers pointed to the increasing popularity of online content platforms. On the first day of the event, Netflix's vice president of business development for EMEA, Christopher Whiteley, revealed that the global streaming service is now used by 83 million subscribers following its launch in 190 territories. Furthermore, on average, 125 million hours of content are viewed on Netflix every day, with 43 billion hours of content viewed in 2015 alone. YouTube also announced that its average viewing time now exceeded 40 minutes. NBCUniversal’s Hendrik McDermott then announced that Hayu, a streaming service for reality TV, had surpassed expectations, gaining far more male subscribers than anticipated.

Other market developments suggest a growing shift towards the online consumption of television content. On the final day of IBC 2016, fixed telephony and broadband provider PLDT announced that it had joined Sky’s UK division on the Roku Powered program, Roku’s comprehensive end-to-end solution for OTT services. This will enable PLDT to launch a TV service offering access to iflix and Cignal content. The company joins a growing number of telcos that are moving into the OTT market rather than offering subscribers traditional linear TV services.

Meanwhile, Ericsson, another provider of end-to-end multiscreen solutions, revealed that its cloud-based TV platform MediaFirst is to be integrated into Google’s smart TV and set-top-box (STB) operating system, Android TV. The move will give consumers access to a variety of MediaFirst features including user profiles, tailored recommendations, unified search across pay-TV and OTT content, voice commands, and cloud DVR. But the biggest winner will be Ericsson’s clients, who will gain access to Google’s growing range of hardware partners.

Elsewhere at IBC 2016, there were signs that uptake of UHD and HDR content continues to gain momentum, with satellite operator Eutelsat’s launch of HDR channel Hotbird 4k2 HDR and Netflix’s announcement that it plans to offer more than 600 hours of UHD content by the end of 2016. A range of 4K UHD STBs and reference designs were also unveiled at the conference, including the world’s first self-installed wall-mounted STB from Sigma and MaxLinear and MStar’s DTH STB, which allows up to eight simultaneous recordings. Ovum expects more 4K UHD set-top boxes to follow as a greater variety of UHD content becomes available, with the 4K UHD STB installed base exceeding 145 million devices by 2020.

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