Hollywood studios have always limited distribution to a local country inside the EU, believing they can get more money by licensing movies exclusively in each territory.This was the perfect trigger for 21st Century Fox, which owns programming assets in the US, India and Australia, as well as the UK. Since the European Commission made this order, Sky, 39 per cent controlled by 21st Century Fox, has moved to sell service to British viewers who live overseas within Europe, and has pushed its Now TV service in Spain, but only in English for the many UK viewers there who have watched Sky with impunity, from the satellite feed by buying access in the UK and taking their decryption card to Spain.Now that activity has been legitimized, and Sky is on a global quest to grow its OTT businesses as broadly as possible in a pre-emptive strike on local pay TV businesses.It had already helped fund iFlix in May 2015 with a $45m investment to chase Asia Pacific SVoD domination, in partnership with the Catcha Group and Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company and iFlix has tied up deals with Hollywood and most of the local telcos to push into markets ahead of Netflix.And in September it bought into French OTT service Molotov for $4.5m, which might help with the marketing of its News services to French speakers, contained in this announcement.Sky’s European prowess currently spans the UK, Ireland, Germany, Italy and Austria, but previously it had no presence in France or Spain; aside from its loyal legion of expats with huge satellite dishes and those getting Now TV via a VPN.
Back in October Cisco moved to take control of the 1Mainstream assets, just a few months after Sky had put its last tranche of cash into the fledgling OTT start up and it looks now like Sky saw the chance to take control of its underlying OTT technology by partnering with one of its all-time favorite technology firms.Remember Cisco bought NDS for $5.0bn in 2013, a company which had been hived off only a year earlier from 21st Century Networks, and which originally had its relationship with Sky in the UK, managing encryption for it.Cisco bought 1Mainstream in October last year, not only to please Sky, but also because it needed a more flexible, more recently written, end to end OTT system.1Mainstream has always written pure iOS, Android and TV apps, and has existing DRM relationships with Widevine and PlayReady, and already plugs into multiple CDNs. It comes with its own subscriber management and entitlements databases, and offers an online promotions system and its own CMS based analytics engine. In the past, it has worked with Envivio encoders although Sky is now pretty much exclusively Elemental, and it uses the Wowza streaming engine, and offers support for the Freewheel programmatic advertising system.
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1 Mainstream was acquired by Cisco alongside (in the same week) ParStream, a big data analytics firm, and Lancope, a cloud security firm, but we’re not sure if either of those are significant to OTT delivery.Prices of the OnPrime services vary from the lowest at around £8.99 ($11.50) in Hindi, to £17.99 ($22.75) and each come with a free month trial. We suspect now that Sky will partner with local MNOs and operators to do the marketing on these, in operator partnerships right the way across Europe and even beyond. It is even possible that Sky could engineer their sale in the US, although we imagine that such a move would come directly from Fox.In the meantime, the UK’s BBC has teamed up with the UK independent broadcaster, ITV to bring a British based service to US viewers, based on much the same logic. They are calling it Brit-Box, and it is advertising-free, paid SVoD, which will launch early next year. AMC Networks, which operates BBC America in the US, as a joint venture with BBC Worldwide, is likely to take the lead in bringing this to US viewers. BritBox will make British TV available as soon as 24 hours after being first broadcast in the UK.
On-call Welcome again to On-Call, our weekly column in which we recount readers' tales of jobs gone wrong, often at times or for reasons that are just plain wrong.This week, meet “Aaron”, who once worked for a construction company he says “didn't need in-house IT but had delusions of grandeur and so employed me.”The company had just one server and about 30 users. Aaron says “most were former builders and mostly clueless when it came to technology.”“One such user had climbed the ranks from bricklayer to contract manager and was constantly finding fault with IT where there was none. Then one day he came in to the office declaring that he could solve all of his problems. He had seen something on TV that he claimed would make him much more efficient.”“Said item was the IBM Transnote, which our very own Lucy Sherriff covered at the time of its launch in the year 2001.
It has a digital notepad attached, for making handwritten notes. IBM says that the digital pad can be used to fill in customised forms so will be marketed at industries where there is a lot of form filing - for example, insurance firms. "Anywhere where there is a lot of duplication," an IBM spokeswoman said. Lucy quoted the price of the machine at £2,059. Aaron remembers that price tag as rather excessive at the time, so when the chap asked for one “I laughed and said that there was no chance of us purchasing this for him.”But this user had leverage and “the call came from above that he absolutely needed this and we were to order it in immediately.” So Aaron swapped it for his perfectly functional laptop and got on with other things.Until a couple of months later when “the magical machine was placed before me with the claim that it was faulty and its fan must be broken as it was so noisy.” Aaron was pretty sure the user just couldn't figure out how to work IBM's magic digital notepad, but assured the user he would take a look at it immediately.Two weeks later Aaron told the user he'd sent the machine to IBM for repairs. But it was really still on the shelf.
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But the many disadvantages of the Tandy 200 included slow operation, a liquid crystal screen that was hard to see, and minimal storage capacity. Articles which had not yet been used by the paper - and could therefore still go astray - had to be deleted to make room for the next one.It was tempting, then, to contemplate the next generation of portables. They had virtually limitless memory compared with the Tandy, their backlit screens were easy on the eye and they ran much faster. But they were power-hungry: they had hard disks and built-in fans to keep the works cool, not to mention fancy software such as Windows. They needed heavy nickel-cadmium battery packs, but could not do without mains power for long.If you avoided using the hard disk too often, and switched off the machine while you thought, a battery pack could last four hours. That might seem plenty of time to finish one's work, but it was never that simple.Unless nickel-cadmium batteries are charged up fully, then drained fully, they lose their ability to retain any charge at all. Short of carrying a battery charger and spare packs, the peripatetic computer-user sooner or later has to use the mains to power the machine in the middle of a work session, with the kind of consequences described above.