Univision, U-verse Face Blackout Deadline

Univision, U-verse Face Blackout Deadline“Pasion y Poder” is one of the Univision telenovelas that could go dark to U-verse subscribers.

Spanish-language broadcaster Univision said it could go dark to nearly 6 million AT&T U-verse TV customers if it doesn’t reach a carriage agreement by Feb. 28.

In an internal memo to employees, Univision said it has made several attempts to negotiate with AT&T, but that the company has not moved forward to renew its agreement with the broadcaster.

In a statement, AT&T said it is in talks with the programmer.

“We continue in active and private discussions with Univision to continue carrying their programming on U-verse,” AT&T said in a statement.

AT&T has been in the process of moving its U-verse telco video subscribers over to its DirecTV platform, which could be a reason for its reluctance to negotiate a Univision-U-verse deal. DirecTV reached its last carriage deal with Univision in March 2013. According to people familiar with the DirecTV deal, the satellite giant’s agreement with Univision is not imminently up for renewal.

In addition to Univision stations, U-verse customers would lose access to Univision-owned UniMas, Galavision and Univision Deportes Network.

“Our partnership with AT&T, like all other pay TV providers, is very important for UCI and our viewers,” Univision said in the memo. “First, it provides Hispanic America with the vital access to UCI’s content and resources on a premier platform such as U-verse. Also, the economics of this partnership provide UCI the ability to reinvest in technology, content and new community initiatives and campaigns that have been, and continue to be, a lifeline for our consumers.”

Washington bureau chief John Eggerton contributed to this report.

VH1 to Pay Tribute to Angela ‘Big Ang’ Raiola

VH1 to Pay Tribute to Angela ‘Big Ang’ RaiolaAngela “Big Ang” Raiola of VH1’s “Mob Wives.”

VH1 will pay homage to late Mob Wives star Angela “Big Ang” Raiola with a marathon airing of series spinoff Big Ang, the network said Monday.

The network will air the first season of Big Ang on Feb. 24 following the debut of a new episode of Mob Wives, said network officials.

Raiola died last week following a battle with cancer.

In addition, a tribute special celebrating Ang’s biggest TV moments will premiere on VH1 later in March. Details will be announced at a later date.

Fan tributes from social media will be featured on-air throughout the Big Ang marathon on Wednesday night, said network officials.

TV Everywhere Continues Its Climb

WATCHING TVTV Everywhere authenticated video viewing growth. Source: Adobe Primetime

Showing more signs that authentication issues are getting ironed out as pay TV viewers migrate to new platforms, TV Everywhere viewing climbed 102% in the fourth quarter of 2015 versus the year-ago period, according to Adobe Digital Index’s latest Digital Video Benchmark Report.

Adobe’s study, based on 3.6 billion TV Everywhere authentications across more than 300 TVE Web sites and apps, also found that “active” TVE users rose 22% on a quarter-over-quarter basis.

On a genre basis, broadcast and cable content (regular episodic content) saw the greatest rate of TVE growth, at 11% year-over-year, versus movies (89%), sports (80%), and teens and toons (61%).

“This is the first time we’ve seen that, and we think it’s because of some of these fall TV premieres and people waiting to watch when it’s most convenient for them instead of when it broadcasts on the actual cable channel,” Becky Tasker, managing analyst at Adobe Digital Index, said in a statement.

Adobe’s study also looked at device-level trends and found that iOS-based platforms still get the bulk of TVE authentications, but are ceding ground to Roku players and other TV-connected platforms.

iOS enjoyed a 36% share of TVE authentications by access type in Q4 2015, but its share dropped 20% year-over-year. Browser-based TV authentications were flat, at 18%, compared to Android (18%, up 3%) and TV-connected devices (21%, up 16%).

Roku’s TVE share rose 14% QoQ, and Adobe credited that in part to the addition of major broadcast channels to the platform in mid-November 2015.

Dish Faces Blackout of 16 NPG Stations

Dish Faces Blackout of 16 NPG Stations

Dish Network subscribers in seven states could lose access to programming from 16 News-Press & Gazette stations if a retransmission consent deal is not reached by 6 p.m. tonight (Feb. 23).

News of the dispute was first reported by TVPredictions.com.

News-Press Gazette owns ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox affiliates in California, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, Missouri, Texas and Arizona. Cities involved in the dispute include El Paso, Texas (KVIA-CBS); Yuma, Ariz. (KECY-Fox), Bend, Ore. (KTVZ-NBC); Colorado Springs, Colo. (KRDO-ABC) and Santa Barbara, Calif. (KEYT-ABC). The company has set up a website for viewers to find additional information regarding the negotiations.

The dispute appears to be over the amount of money NPG wants to be paid for its content, as well as re-broadcasting some stations in HD rather than SD.

“Only News Press & Gazette Company can force a blackout of its channels,” Dish said in a statement. “Dish has successfully negotiated agreements representing hundreds of stations in recent months that benefit all parties, including our viewers. We are unsure why News Press & Gazette decided to involve customers in the contract negotiation process at a point when there is still time for the two parties to reach a mutually beneficial deal.

“Dish is actively working to finalize a deal before the contract expires,” the company continued.

FuboTV Boots Up Next-Gen App on Fire TV

fubo-tv-streaming-soccer

fuboTV, a “virtual” MVPD that offers a mix of sports and entertainment programming over-the-top, has picked the Amazon Fire TV to introduce a next-gen app that includes a cloud-based DVR as well as in-app purchasing capabilities.

The in-app purchasing component, also offered on the Fire TV Stick, will enable its subscribers to make buys using Amazon’s 1-Click settings, the programmer noted.

“Amazon customers now have even more ways to watch the best soccer and entertainment TV has to offer today,” said David Gandler, CEO fuboTV, in a statement. “With the introduction of fuboTV’s DVR feature on Amazon Fire TV and Fire HDX tablets, Amazon customers can now watch and re-watch their favorite matches and shows on DVR.”

The new app arrives soon after fuboTV inked distribution deals with Univision Communications, Pivot and Revolt Media & TV that added 15 networks to its lineup. Earlier this month, fuboTV said it had about 40,000 subscribers, putting it behind only Sling TV among providers in the virtual MVPD category. fuboTV launched service in January 2015.

fuboTV said it now broadcasts over 2,000 live sporting events from more than half of the major international soccer leagues and other sporting events from around the world, thanks to deals with networks such as beIN SPORTS, GolTV, Univision Deportes and Benfica TV. The service starts at $9.99 per month.

fuboTV also supports Web browsers, iOS and Android mobile devices, the Apple TV, Google Chromecast adapter, and Roku players and Roku TVs. It recently extended support to Binge On, T-Mobile’s optional bandwidth-optimization service that delivers video in 480p and exempts those streams from T-Mobile’s cellular data caps.

Warner Bros. Buys DramaFever

Warner Bros. Buys DramaFever

Warner Bros. has inked a deal to acquire DramaFever, the U.S.-based OTT subscription VOD service that offers a large library of Korean TV shows and films, as well as programming from other countries.

Warner Bros. is acquiring DramaFever from SoftBank, which bought the OTT service in October 2014. DramaFever, founded in 2009, will continue to be led by its co-founders, Seung Bak and Suk Park and be based in New York. Bak and Park will report to Craig Hunegs, president, business and strategy, Warner Bros. Television Group, said in a statement

The deal, expected to close in Q2 2016, enters play as units within Time Warner continue to expand their focus on OTT technologies and services, including HBO Now, the stand-alone OTT premium service launched last year, and iStreamPlanet, acquired last year by Turner Broadcasting System.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but Warner Bros. said its latest buy will bring in valuable expertise and content and help it to connect with millennials and niche audiences.

“This is a great fit for Warner Bros.,” Hunegs said, in a statement. “With Warner Bros.’ resources, we will rapidly enhance and grow the DramaFever channel. As importantly, we are bringing to Warner Bros. a great and talented team, led by Seung Bak and Suk Park, that will move quickly with our own distribution and creative teams to create and build more OTT services.”

DramaFever sells a set of premium-level subscriptions, including an ad-supported “Rookie” tier for 99 cents per month, an ad-free, streaming-only “Idol” package for $4.99 per month, and “Superstar,” a service with no ads and the ability to download and watch titles offline for $9.99 per month. DramaFever has not revealed subscriber figures.

DramaFever supports several platforms, including Google Chromecast, iOS and Android mobile devices, Web browsers, Apple TV, and the Xbox 360.

Discovery CFO Warren to Leave By Year-End

Discovery CFO Warren to Leave By Year-End

Discovery Communications said its chief financial officer Andrew Warren has decided to leave the company, but will remain in his current positon through the end of the year to ensure a seamless transition.

Warren joined Discovery in 2012 after stints at Liz Claiborne and General Electric. Discovery said an internal and external search for his replacement will begin immediately and the company will engage executive search firm Howard Fischer & Associates.

“Discovery is a better company because of Andy Warren and I cannot say enough about his commitment and collaboration over the past many years,” Discovery CEO David Zaslav said in a statement. “Andy has brought a focus on capital allocation and our balance sheet that has helped drive strong organic and free cash flow growth. Under his guidance we have invested in more original content and sports IP, diversified our global businesses and platforms and developed innovative currency and tax management strategies. He has been a valued partner to me and a dedicated leader for our company. On behalf of the entire management team and our Board of Directors, I thank him for his numerous contributions to Discovery’s success and I am pleased he will remain with the company through the end of 2016, ensuring a smooth transition.”

Warren led the financing and the financial integration for the $1.7 billion acquisition of SBS Nordic and the acquisition of Eurosport, and led over $3 billion of USD and Euro debt issuances as well as the company’s successful tax and capital allocation strategy. He also built Discovery’s global finance team; led the upgrade of the company’s technology infrastructure; and oversaw financing for several global agreements focused on IP and content investment, most recently Discovery and Liberty Global’s joint-venture acquisition of All3Media, and Discovery’s deal to acquire the multiplatform rights to the Olympic Games in Europe beginning in 2018.

“I am enormously grateful to David and the company for the opportunities I have had since joining in 2012 and am proud of what we accomplished,” Warren said in a statement. “Discovery has a remarkable management team, unparalleled assets and the unquestionable ability to win through its unique global content position and strategy. I plan to remain a long-term shareholder. My decision to leave at the end of 2016 was a difficult and personal one, yet I look forward to my next career opportunity.”