About Latest Posts Kathryn FolliottEditor at TravelweekKathryn is Editor at Travelweek and has worked for the company since 1995. She has travelled to more than 50 countries and counts Hong Kong, Jerusalem, the Swiss Alps and the Galapagos Islands among her favourite destinations. Latest posts by Kathryn Folliott (see all) “They need to go where the bucks are”: Agents on ACTA partnership – April 18, 2019 As the cost of doing business climbs, host agencies, retail groups say they have options – April 4, 2019 As of 2021 Europe-bound clients will need to apply online for a visa waiver and pay a fee – April 3, 2019 The unlikely alliance between agents, OTAs as Expedia TAAP reaches 15,000 mark in Canada << Previous PostNext Post >> Wednesday, May 31, 2017 Kathryn Folliott Posted by This article originally ran in the May 25th, 2017 issue of Travelweek magazine. Canadian travel agents can subscribe for free to receive the magazine weekly here. TORONTO — Flashback to 1996: Travel agencies are still reeling from the first wave of airline commission caps a year earlier. Then Expedia and Booking.com arrive on the scene. More online travel agencies (OTAs) start coming out of the woodwork, and suddenly the bricks-and-mortar retail travel industry is staring down huge revenue losses from the commission caps (and then cuts) just as OTAs begin siphoning off ever-increasing numbers of clientele. Few thought travel agents could survive the one-two punch, and the vultures were out.And now? Just over 20 years later, the travel agents who survived (and later thrived) are earning commissions on everything from hotels to packages, car rentals and attractions from a most unlikely ally: the OTAs. Competition makes strange bedfellows and that’s as true in the travel industry as anywhere else.Aren’t OTAs the bad guys? Booking.com’s Managing Director, Americas, Todd Dunlap says he thinks “some of that stuff is a little overstated”. Booking.com is currently testing out its Booking.com for Travel Agents trade platform, with tools the company says will help agents make and manage bookings for clients. It says travel agents who join the platform will be eligible for similar partner benefits as all Booking.com affiliate partners. The company currently has some 12,500 affiliates.Aren’t OTAs the bad guys?Dunlap, who was at the opening of the Booking.com Toronto office last month, says Booking.com handles millions of contacts every year. Some of those are from business travellers and corporate travel agencies. “We discovered one in five of our bookers were booking for business. So we’re looking at optimizing and growing that side of the business.”And it’s not just travel agents booking corporate through OTAs, but leisure too. What about commissions? Dunlap wouldn’t reveal percentages at this stage but said Booking.com’s agent platform “will have tailored solutions for travel agents.” The OTA looks at the travel agent category as a strategic partnership, he added. “There’s power in selection. [Travel agents] have great access to conventional inventory. Now they may be looking for unconventional inventory because there’s a demand for that. If I’m a travel agent, I’m looking for inventory, and I’m looking for the best solutions for my clients.”Booking.com got its start in Amsterdam in 1996 and was sold to OTA behemoth The Priceline Group (parent company of Kayak.com and Priceline.com) for US$133 million in 2005. The site now claims 1.2 million active properties in 220 countries, and 1.2 million room nights booked every 24 hours.Luxury hotel Ciragan Palace in Istanbul won’t be found on Booking.comThe road to working with travel agencies is paved with good intentions but isn’t always smooth: in Turkey, the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies this past spring succeeded in blocking Booking.com from offering Turkish hotels to Turkish consumers in a court case that cites “unjust competition against travel agencies.” Talks are now underway to find a solution that works for both sides.More news: Consolidation in the cruise industry as PONANT set to acquire Paul Gauguin CruisesWhen Booking.com’s travel agent platform does launch, it will have strong competition from Expedia TAAP. Since arriving in Canada in 2010 Expedia TAAP (Travel Agent Affiliate Program) has seen year-over-year consistent growth, says Katrina Moseley, Travel Agent Distribution Manager, Expedia TAAP. Worldwide it has more than 70,000.Moseley says she gets good feedback from agents about Expedia TAAP’s on-time payments and the fact that commissions are based on gross booking volume versus net. Base commission rates range from 3 – 11% on hotels, to 3 – 5% for vacation packages including flight and hotel, to 6% on car rentals and 10% on activities and attractions. Commission rates go up for TAAP Preferred Partners.Agents who enroll in Expedia TAAP also get customer support via a dedicated TAAP team, she said. “Agents can visit the program as need. Agents do not need to book with Expedia TAAP exclusively… we’re a one-stop shop [and] offer competitive commissions on multiple lines of business.”TAAP hotel rates are the same rates as those seen on Expedia.comMoseley adds that since displayed TAAP hotel rates are the same rates as those seen on Expedia.com, “agents are not only potentially less at risk of losing customers who book their hotels through other sources, but are also are provided with the opportunity to further solidify their client relationships”.Expedia TAAP now counts about 15,000 active travel agents in the Canadian market. Niche Travel Group’s Faith Sproule, in Dartmouth, NS says she dips into the program as needed. “The hotel rates are often less than every wholesaler that I look at. Great hotels at great prices, transfers and day tours [although] it’s a sin that they messed with the 10% commission on hotels and started to tier the commission.”Asked if he’s seeing an increase in the number of agents making bookings on OTA agent platforms, Flemming Friisdahl, Founder, The Travel Agent Next Door said that companies like Booking.com or Expedia TAAP/ Expedia Affiliate Network programs are getting more traction than 10 years ago for 3 simple reasons: price, availability and convenience. “They are huge hotel aggregators and they are starting to do things that traditional vendors of selling hotels cannot do. They have a lot of selection and they are paying commission. Some of the OTAs in Canada have hotel-only programs on their site and they are being back-ended by companies like Booking.com. It may surprise people in the industry to know what companies use these companies.”More news: Air Canada’s global sales update includes Managing Director, Canada & USA SalesFlemming adds that many times a hotel is only being booked for an overnight, or pre / post a cruise or a quick getaway, “so the agent is not looking at the hotel as being the portion they will make money from. The majority of money will be made on the package/tour/cruise. Also sometimes the agent will do a hotel-only booking to simply help a good customer from a customer service perspective.”Should traditional wholesalers be taking notice and be concerned? It’s surprising to learn how many traditional wholesalers include pricing from Expedia or Booking.com in their pricing structure, he says. “The average agent may simply not know this. But the traditional wholesalers are paying attention and it is a concern.”Down the line, with more of these OTA agent platform bookings preferred supplier agreements could take a hit, although Friisdahl says he believes there is room for everyone. “Every single supplier (almost) sells directly to the end user, either through their wholesale brand directly to the consumer or through an agency name to the consumer. Some ITC suppliers do both. So the world is changing … we must go where we find the best commission and pricing to make sure we retain a customer.” Share Tags: OTAs, Trend Watch
Direct Air India services between Delhi and Melbourne have been scheduled to finally commence in October this year with the carrier planning to fly its new Boeing 787 Dreamliner on the route.The long awaited service, originally earmarked for a November 2010 start, will see the airline become just the second carrier behind ANA to receive the new jets, Indian newspaper The Telegraph reported. Boeing flew a demonstration Dreamliner to New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport late last week. An Air India official told the newspaper direct flights to Australia were a “priority” for the airline.“The route will be profitable for Air India and is a key ingredient of the turnaround plan,” the official said.According to the newspaper, Air India also intends to operate services to Melbourne from Chennai and Mumbai.The carrier has ordered around 27 of the 259-seater wide-body jets for its medium to long-haul flights, with trials on the aircraft to begin in August.“Training for the Air India pilots will begin next month,” Boeing India president Dinesh A. Keskar remarked.As well as Australia, Air India plans to fly its Dreamliner to North America from the end of October, the airline official said. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.H Air India plans to fly directly to Melbourne from October
New York, New York – Reported by Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyleThe legendary 1966 collection pays homage to a prolific era in terms of creativity, technical expertise and performance. It was a period that hailed Girard-Perregaux watches, honoring them with numerous awards. Since 2006 the 1966 line has proposed manufacture movements with automatic winding in ultra-thin cases produced entirely in the Girard-Perregaux workshops.Today the watch case of the Girard-Perregaux 1966 Jewelry watch bears witness to this. Cut from white or pink gold, this 38 mm diameter remains faithful to the great classics of watchmaking. Its elegance is revealed both in the sparkle of the 807 diamonds that carpet the watch and in the harmony emitted by its silhouette. Haloed with a gem-set bezel, the slightly curved dial, entirely paved with “brilliant”-cut precious stones, required hours of meticulous gem-setting work. The twinkling diamonds are arranged in concentric fashion striking hypnotic effect. Keeping watch over time, the “leaf”-type hour and minute hands and four applied hour markers lend their elegance to the sophistication of the piece.The alligator-skin strap supplely encircles the wrist, closing with a delicately gem-set ardillon buckle. The purity of the piece is completed by the beauty of its mechanism. The mechanical movement with automatic winding manufactured at Girard-Perregaux is equipped with a power reserve of over 46 hours. Visible through the sapphire-crystal case back, its gold oscillating weight is engraved with circular Côtes de Genève decoration. Renowned for its delicacy and reliability, the calibre 3300 is the worthy heir to 221 years of watchmaking expertise.www.girard-perregaux.ch
11Sep County sheriff joins Leonard during House ceremony honoring 9/11 anniversary Categories: Leonard News,Leonard Photos,News As a part of the Michigan House of Representatives third annual 9/11 memorial ceremony conducted today, Gratiot County Sheriff Doug Wright joined Rep. Tom Leonard in the House chambers.State Rep. Tom Leonard (left) attends the third annual 9/11 ceremony held by the Michigan House of Representatives along with Gratiot County Sheriff Doug Wright.The House ceremony honored the eight military members and first responders from Michigan who lost their lives in the line of duty in the past year and also commemorated the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.“It is important to pay tribute to those whose daily sacrifices protect our communities and our nation, especially as we recognize the men and women who lost their lives in the line of duty,” said Leonard, R-DeWitt Township. “It was an honor to have Sheriff Wright here with me today to commemorate this important day.”The event included an invocation by Rep. Bruce Rendon, the presentation of the colors and acknowledgment of all first responders and their families in attendance.###
Categories: Sheppard News PHOTO CUTLINE: Pastor Brett Bartlett of Wyldewood Baptist Church in Lambertville, left, gives the invocation at the start of Tuesday’s House session in Lansing. Joining Pastor Bartlett at the rostrum is Rep. Jason Sheppard, R-Temperance. State Rep. Jason Sheppard welcomed Pastor Brett Bartlett from Wyldewood Baptist Church in Lambertville to provide the invocation before the start of the Michigan House of Representatives session Tuesday.“It was an honor for me to stand alongside Pastor Brett as he gave such an inspiring invocation,” said Rep. Sheppard, R-Temperance. “His words serve as a reminder that we should approach each day with the courage to do what is right by the Lord.”During his prayer from the rostrum, Pastor Bartlett stated: “Lord, we thank Thee for this day which Thou hast created for Thy glory. May Michigan strive to be pure … as Thou are pure.”### 11May Lambertville pastor gives House invocation at state Capitol
Categories: Theis News The House Insurance Committee today approved legislation sponsored by state Rep. Lana Theis, chair of the committee, that reforms Michigan’s broken auto no-fault insurance system and guarantees lower rates for drivers.Current state law requires Michigan drivers to buy unlimited lifetime health benefits through their auto insurance – even if they do not want it and are unlikely to ever need it. Michigan’s current no-fault system creates a financial burden resulting in highest-in-the-nation auto insurance premiums that are nearly twice as high as the national average.House Bill 5013 gives rate reductions for motorists who choose any personal injury protection (PIP) coverage level, including those who choose to keep the unlimited plan.“I am very excited. We are one step closer to giving auto insurance rate relief for everyone,” said Theis, of Brighton. “This is another win for the people of Michigan. Motorists will see guaranteed rate reductions under this legislation and be able to choose a coverage plan that works best for them and their families. No longer will Michiganders have to choose between putting food on the table or breaking the law by driving without car insurance.”Savings on the PIP portion of policies for each level include:40 percent for drivers who purchase the $250,000 coverage level;20 percent for drivers who purchase the $500,000 coverage level; and10 percent for drivers who purchase the unlimited coverage level.The plan continues benefits for Michiganders already receiving lifetime health care after a catastrophic accident and allows drivers the option to continue buying unlimited PIP coverage. The legislation also cracks down on fraud and abuse, and reins in medical costs by establishing a fee schedule.“You can continue to purchase unlimited PIP coverage and now still see savings,” Theis said. “This legislation will not take away benefits from those already receiving them. We are simply giving people a choice – and frankly, a choice that they haven’t been able to make in 40 years.”The measure now moves to the full House for consideration. 26Oct Rep. Theis: One step closer to auto insurance rate relief
28Feb Hornberger: Macomb, St. Clair families will benefit as income tax cuts signed into law Rep. Pamela Hornberger of Chesterfield Township today welcomed the final approval of income tax relief for Michigan families.Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation to preserve and increase personal exemptions for Michigan taxpayers and their dependents on state income taxes, potentially saving families hundreds of dollars overall.“Lowering income taxes is a great way to help Macomb and St. Clair County families thrive,” Hornberger said. “They’ve worked hard for every dollar they have. My goal is for them to send as few of those dollars to Lansing as possible.”The new law ensures Michigan taxpayers will be able to continue claiming personal exemptions on their income taxes, a necessary step after federal tax reforms signed into law in December. In addition, the bills gradually increase the state personal exemption from $4,000 for the 2017 tax year to $4,900 by the 2021 tax year.That translates into significant savings. The technical fix related to the federal reforms saves $170 per person per year — or $680 for a family of four – on state income taxes. The plan to raise the personal exemption to $4,900 provides $102 in additional annual relief for a family of four compared to the schedule in previous law.The legislation also allows taxpayers in Michigan cities with an income tax to continue to claim exemptions.### Categories: Hornberger News,News
Share7Tweet1ShareEmail8 Shares January 23, 2015;Common DreamsYou weren’t in Davos this past week? Aren’t you one of the world’s movers and shakers, invited to the Swiss ski resort to ponder the world’s biggest problems? You didn’t get an invitation-only offer for a ticket to the event that would set you back $20,000 (though apparently some guests pay as much as $71,000 to attend)? Why not?The World Economic Forum is a Geneva-based nonprofit “committed to improving the state of the world through public-private cooperation.” Among the notable speakers at this year’s gathering were Al Gore on climate change, Alibaba’s Jack Ma, Thomas Friedman and Israel’s Shimon Peres discussing current Middle East politics, will.i.am talking about youth entrepreneurship (and his i.am.angel foundation), German Chancellor Angela Merkel on “global responsibilities in a digital age,” Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on transformations in Eurasia, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on “Egypt in the World,” Mary Barra of General Motors sharing her insights, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair billed as the “Middle East Quartet Representative” talking about religion and conflict, both Bill and Melinda Gates, Secretary of State John Kerry, Christine Lagarde of the International Monetary Fund, Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, Eric Schmidt of Google, George Soros, Jim Yong Kim of the World Bank—you get the idea: the world’s heavy hitters from government, corporations, and occasionally nonprofits and foundations.These heavy hitters, including 40 heads of state, are getting top-flight security treatment. Approximately 5,000 Swiss soldiers, roughly two for every Davos participant, will be guarding the retreat behind 26 miles of fencing and under a no-fly zone.You can tell the importance of the gathering: There were, amazingly, 1,700 private jets expected to head to Davos for the World Economic Forum, which commentators suggested was in contradiction with the gathering’s fervent discussions of climate change. The contrasts go beyond climate change, as the elite of the elite of the world gather at a luxury ski resort to discuss solutions to global poverty. Also sadly funny was the revelation of former hedge fund director Robert Johnson at Davos that hedge fund managers were planning escapes to remote islands in case the civil unrest reflected by the Ferguson and Occupy protests escalated. “I know hedge fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway,” Johnson said. To his credit, Johnson is no apologist for hedge fund managers, but the head of the Institute of New Economic Thinking, a research institute co-founded by George Soros, who gave it a start-up grant of $50 million.Nevertheless, why would big corporate executives from the likes of Goldman Sachs, Banco Santander, Mitsubishi, and Deutsche Bank show up at Davos to discuss issues of poverty—and likely get hammered by the more progressive nonprofit advocates invited to attend, such as Jim Wallis of Sojourners, Winnie Byanyima of Oxfam (one of the six co-chairs of the Forum who released a report documenting that the world’s richest one percent will own more than half of the world’s wealth by 2016), and Ken Roth of Human Rights Watch (who went off on a couple of the assembled heads of state, for example, tweeting, “Sisi presides over most ruthless crackdown in Egyptians’ memory but is given podium at Davos” and telling Foreign Policy about the “fawning” at Davos over China but the avoidance of discussion of China’s abysmal human rights record)? FREE DOWNLOAD: Social Media Strategies for Amplifying Social Justice Issues Bloomberg News offered this description of the Davos dynamic with corporate bosses: “Get a bunch of them from different industries and parts of the world together to talk about their common concerns, though, and the result is almost inevitably fatuous.” Fatuous or not, the World Economic Forum is a show for business CEOs, an opportunity for uttering what they think are profound words with the likes of Ban-Ki Moon and appearing thoughtful and concerned about the vast masses of the world who won’t earn in triple lifetimes what they take home in a week. It is corporate leadership as statesmanship—again, as put by Bloomberg News, “conversation…[that] tends to be a mix of the occasional profound insight, a lot of home truths, a lot of buzz words and a generous helping of nonsense.” In addition, however, it is an opportunity for corporate executives to meet privately and cut deals, whether simply understandings of “you do this and I’ll do that” or more explicit business transactions.There is something more fundamental in the mix for corporate executives than to hobnob with national leaders and big thinkers. The fact that they are there, welcomed, and lauded is essentially a recognition, from the U.S. to China to the representatives of the Russian Federation, that the assembled in Davos believe in the role of business in addressing world problems—and will ask business for a helping hand. Rather than lambasting corporate excesses and calling for increased corporate accountability, many of the assembled gave gold stars to their corporate partners and called for international business to do more.For example, Neal Keny-Guyer, the CEO of Mercy Corps, extolled the NGO’s close working relationship with MasterCard and suggested that companies that were tentative to invest in fragile economies could look to “international non-governmental organizations…[as] valuable partners.” Ertharin Cousin, the executive director of the UN World Food Programme, called for “greater corporate investment in life-saving programmes and innovative solutions to meeting the goal of eradicating hunger and poverty around the world,” which she said are “fundamental to boost business success,” while business leaders such as UBS Switzerland chairman Axel A. Weber, GE vice-chairman John Rice, and Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein said that the necessary counterpart was investment in infrastructure plus policy changes in areas such as pension reform and labor markets. Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, wrote in a Davos blog about the necessity of business involvement in helping fix the broken humanitarian aid system for refugees, where “the private sector steps up and becomes not just a bit player, but a driving force in fixing the global emergency that is upon us.” UPS CEO David Abney weighed in that the solution to ending poverty will come partly through trade reform and called for the enactment of the Trade in Services Agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPA), and the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), an agenda that some liberal and labor advocates find troubling.In Davos, however, the world’s top corporations don’t face the eviscerating criticism that so many deserve. Perhaps it is only in Davos that JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon would continue to get plaudits as “America’s favorite banker” and hagiographic biographical sketches that include lines such as, “America’s most charismatic CEO…[with] the mercurial ability to comment on and heavily influence banking policy by rubbing shoulders with a plethora of stakeholders from US presidents, central bankers to lawmakers as well as his peers in the US banking system,” even as he is acknowledged as being a primary spokesperson in the gathering for the “too big to fail” dynamic. These corporate moguls don’t show up in Davos to get publicly reviled or to face Occupy protests. At Davos, they are feted. Outside of the World Economic Forum, the corporate adulation is less. For example, at one event, the Berne Declaration and Greenpeace Switzerland awarded Chevron its “‘Lifetime Award’ for being the most irresponsible corporation.” Then, at a counter-event at the closing, the satirical group The Yes Men, dressed as undertakers, performed “Requiem for the WEF,” with the wonderful line, “Corporate Social Responsibility is like putting a bandage on a severed head—it doesn’t help.” It’s doubtful that the Yes Men will be invited to join next year’s Davos program.A good time was probably had by all, but for the corporate CEOs in Davos, it was probably better, as they found themselves honored and feted rather than reviled and blamed.—Rick CohenShare7Tweet1ShareEmail8 Shares
Swisscom has chosen Harmonic’s ProMedia Live multiscreen transcoding platform and NMX Digital Service Manager to provide high-definition video streams for its web TV and mobile TV services. The deal will enable Swisscom to increase the number of live channels it delivers.The ProMedia Live application features Harmonic’s H.264 codec technology, allowing Swisscom to transcode and deliver SD and HD video in various mobile and internet formats. It transcodes baseband SD and HD or MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 content to multiple H.264 streams optimised for adaptive bit-rate streaming formats, including Apple HTTP Live Streaming, Microsoft Smooth Streaming and 3GPP.The ProMedia Live transcoders are managed by Harmonic’s NMX Digital Service Manager, a software-based network management system that provides control over the complete network. This enables Swisscom to create, modify and manage service lineups.“Over the last two years, our web and mobile subscribers more than tripled to beyond 300,000, and our IPTV subscribers skyrocketed to 600,000 users – compelling us to adopt a high-performance solution to handle the increased volume of streaming video,” said Volker Dietzel, head of TV and portal development at Swisscom. “Harmonic’s scalable solution allows us to keep pace cost-effectively with the explosive growth in subscriber numbers and streaming sessions by delivering more high-quality live channels to mobile viewing devices than any competitor in our market.”
Use the same backend for all screens. That way you create a central hub for all the screens to communicate with, and ‘speak the same language’. For instance when using a backend content discovery platform, you’re able to present the relevant content for each user on all his screens, not only on TV.These examples are ways to create a persistent, appealing experience for your users.Keep in mind that an enhanced customer experience is addictive. Once customers are hooked on you, luring them away is a challenge.What role should social media play in the evolution of OTT services?When we talk about OTT services we refer to content consumption services. When you look at it by itself, it’s always been a social experience. The purpose of social media with respect to content consumption should be focused around the content; the users crave tools that allow them to share, recommend, comment, gossip, view their friends’ comments/suggestions etc. If the journey revolves around their consumed/favorite content they will feel their operator is providing them with what they need to continue this “social game” we’re all part of.One example of what we do regarding social media that contributes to monetisation is the use of VOD gifts. We allow users to purchase a VOD title for friends in their TV service, based on their friend’s ‘wish-list’, which can be made public (on Facebook for example) – similar to a wedding gift list, to assist the guests in finding the right gift.Are second screen services more relevant to live or on-demand programming?Second screen apps are very relevant for both live and on-demand. The main difference lies in the nature of the apps created for each type of content; the solutions for movies for example, whether they are live or on demand can be more generic, regarding enhancement and enrichment of this long-form content, with fewer interruptions. It’s a different type of experience from content that’s mostly being watched live, such as sports, news, reality shows, etc. And in this case, we look at more niche, dedicated apps to support this type of content. The content we create about the content has to be adapted to this type of short-form content that is punctuated by a split attention span. Make one device the source of data for another. For instance recommendations for TV are sent to the mobile and the mobile then becomes a portable set-top box, allowing viewing or controlling the TV service. On the opening day of the OTT World Summit, Viaccess-Orca’s deputy CEO Haggai Barel spoke to DTVE about the challenges operators face when launching OTT services.How can pay TV operators use OTT to increase engagement with their customers?OTT services enable easy access to second screen apps and the ability to creatively develop new concepts for content consumption that were once limited to the TV set. Once an operator has a very good, compelling second screen app, engagement is increased by definition. At Viaccess-Orca (VO) we identify five main pillars for creating the best multi-screen user engagement, something I will highlight in my speech at the OTT World Summit.OTT services can be delivered today over a variety of CE devices, with each device having its own unique traits and therefore a different user experience. To reach the ultimate engagement factor on each device, one has to carefully consider these unique traits of each CE device.The introduction of OTT services to the market calls for the integration of the operator’s legacy services with more advanced OTT services – for example a web photo album service (e.g. Picasa) on the second screen, integrated into the operator’s app, allowing instant sharing of favorite images with friends (related to the consumed content). The point is to leverage the operator’s existing legacy services with web services that users are more used to seeing as a separate app/service.What are the most effective ways for operators to monetise OTT services?The OTT revolution has opened the door for new types of monetisation opportunities and business models. We introduced some of these models in our latest developments, such as context aware monetisation, branding opportunities for via T-commerce (TV commerce) and advertising. The goal of these monetisation methods is always to increase content consumption by the users and to personalise the purchasing offerings.What impact are OTT services having on the ability for operators to offer advanced personalisation?Our strength is making the personal devices completely personalised. The TV is not a completely personal device. Smartphones, tablets, PC’s, etc., are personalised devices, and our ability to learn a user’s behavior and preferences is key to providing a video consumption experience that is similar to the experience we have today on many personalised apps on CE devices.How important is it to ensure a consistent TV experience across different devices?Consumers use a variety of devices today without really paying any attention to which gadget is used for which purpose. Service providers need to leverage the connected nature of these devices in order to relieve this complexity. If you want an exclusive, committed relationship with your subscribers, you need to show them you care by paying attention and providing a persistent, consistent user experience.Consistent experience across screens can be achieved by implementing these examples:Allow for remote actions on a personal environment. Offer remote DVR, remote reminders, remote add-to-wish-list or remote order. That way the user feels the use of one service, across different screens.
Record-breaking skydiver Felix Baumgartner will give a keynote address at MIPTV in April.The Austrian daredevil will be in Cannes with Alexander Koppel, CCO of Red Bull Media House, and the pair will give a joint address on April 9 as part of a branded content conference strand.On October 14 2012, Baumgartner flew 39 km into the stratosphere in a helium balloon, before free falling back to Earth, reaching the speed of 1,342 km/h and becoming the first human to break the sound barrier without any form of engine power.Red Bull Media House was responsible for the documentation and multi-platform distribution of the Red Bull Stratos mission. The team will share their experiences and some key results at MIPTV and speak about creating a global media event.
Eutelsat has said it will continue to defend its right to use disputed frequencies at the disputed 28.5° East orbital position that serves the UK market, despite SES claiming a legal victory that will allow it to operate additional spectrum at the 28.2/28.5° East position from October 4.SES says it has been granted rights to use German Ku-band orbital frequencies at the 28.5° East orbital position effective from October 4, 2013 onwards pursuant to a 2005 agreement with German media service provider, Media Broadcast, as successor to T-Systems Business Services. The latter holds a licence for these frequencies issued by the Bundesnetzagentur, the German regulator, on the basis of German filings that SES says have priority under the rules of the International Telecommunication Union.SES plans to launch and operate new satellites Astra 2E and Astra 2G in the disputed orbital arc, along with the Astra 2F satellite which was launched last year, to replace SES’s existing fleet at 28.2 degrees East and to provide new capacity.Eutelsat currently operates these frequencies on Eutelsat 28A under a 1999 agreement with Deutsche Telekom. An arbitration tribunal ruled on September 4 that the 1999 agreement did not bar SES from using the relevant frequency bands if and when Eutelsat no longer holds the regulatory right to operate in those bands under the German filing.The tribunal declined to specify the date on which those rights end, on the basis that it only had jurisdiction to interpret the intersystem coordination agreement between SES and Eutelsat and not Eutelsat’s contractual agreement with Deutsche Telekom. However the Bonn regional court ruled that Eutelsat is prohibited, as of October 4, 2013, from using any of the frequencies in question, to the extent that this interferes with the use of these frequencies by the holder of the German rights or by the rightful user.Eutelsat will appeal this preliminary decision and confirms it does not intend to create harmful interference.A second phase of the arbitration with the ICC has yet to decide, amongst other issues, whether SES was entitled to sign an agreement in 2005 with Media Broadcast without breaching its obligations. Eutelsat said it will continue to vigorously defend its right to use the disputed frequencies from 4 October 2013 and to act in the best interests of clients. The satellite operator said it “firmly believes and can demonstrate it has the ‘regulatory’ right to operate in the disputed frequency bands.”SES said it “strongly disagrees with Eutelsat’s position on the remaining claims to be decided by the Arbitral Tribunal in the second phase of the arbitration proceedings and will continue to vigorously defend its right to use these frequencies from October 4, 2013.”
Video technology firm Piksel, formerly known as KIT Digital, has commenced legal action against Australian investment firm Invigor Group over an investment it made in the firm almost two years ago.The suit stems from KIT Digtial’s US$2 million (€1.5 million) cash acquisition of all Invigor’s assets in June 2012.Piksel is accusing Invigor (formerly known as Hyro Limited) of making “fraudulent, negligent, and misleading representations regarding its customer relationships, its business outlook, and its cash tax liabilities,” with the suit part of a review of partnerships and agreements by Piksel’s new leadership team.“Invigor claimed it was selling a US$25 million revenue business with happy customers. Invigor also claimed it had no outstanding tax obligations. In truth, Invigor was a business less than half that size and it was losing customers at a very rapid rate. Invigor also had significant undisclosed tax obligations in Australia and New Zealand,” said Piksel COO Allan Dunn.Piksel is seeking damages and costs from Invigor, and is an amendment to litigation KIT Digital previously commenced in its reorganisation case in the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.KIT Digital filed for voluntary bankruptcy protection last year in a bid to “cleanse itself of legacy issues, including financial, legal and regulatory matters.” The firm rebranded itself as Piksel and relaunched the business at IBC in September.
BSkyB is reportedly planning a “major overhaul” of its Sky set-top box that will make it easier for customers to access content from the cloud, on any device.According to a Sunday Telegraph report, Sky has set up an internal unit to work on the initiative, dubbed ‘Project Ethan’, which includes plans to move recorded programmes from customers’ DVR hard-drives to ‘the cloud’, or a central data centre.The new-look service will allow viewers to pause their main TV and then pick up where they left off on another device, such as a tablet or smartphone, said the report.The Telegraph added that the project is being led by BSkyB’s director of product development, Andrew Olson, who joined from Comcast in 2012, and the service slated to roll out by as early as 2016.Sky is also said to be working on Ultra-HD, 4K-compatible, software and hardware.Sky has not officially announced its plans, though is understood to be looking at future developments for its TV service.A spokesperson for the firm told DTVE: “Innovation is at the heart of our business. We are always looking at ways to enhance our service to customers, as with the launch of our new EPG home page this month.”Sky, which already offers web-connected set-top boxes to customers, recently launched new features including a Sky Store ‘Buy & Keep’ service, allowing users to buy digital copies of HD movies, with the original DVD also sent to them by post.In March it also started rolling out a new look homepage for its Sky+HD boxes. With this move, Sky said that for the first time, On Demand and Catch Up TV, the Sky Store and the Sky+ planner will all sit alongside the regular channel listings “as equal options” on the homepage.
Some 55% of US broadband households now subscribe to an OTT video service, such as Netflix, according to Parks Associates.The research firm noted that consumer interest in cloud DVR technology is also growing, with 45% of US broadband households finding this “very appealing.”The main TV screen was found to be the preferred destination for video watching, with Parks noting that on average, consumers spend more than 20 hours each week watching video on TV screens, compared to 1.3 hours on tablets and 1.6 hours on smartphones.“Over 50% of US broadband households have at least one TV series that they ‘never miss’. Offering multiple content options is increasingly important as more consumers turn to connected CE and mobile devices for their video, audio, and other media needs,” said Glenn Hower, research analyst, Parks Associates.
Equestrian sports and lifestyle channel Horse & Country TV is to become available to UPC Netherlands cable subscribers as part of a new distribution deal.The channel will be part of the Interactieve Digitale TV Royaal package from April 1 2015. This deal means that H&C TV will now reach more than five million Dutch cable households across 16 different networks.H&C TV CEO, Heather Killen, said: “Extending our distribution with UPC demonstrates how Horse & Country TV has firmly established itself in the media landscape of The Netherlands and we are delighted to become available to even more people with a passion for equestrian sports and country lifestyle.”
Liberty Global is “not bothered” about whether 21st Century Fox or Comcast gains control of Sky in the UK, according to the international cable operator’s CEO Mike Fries.Speaking to CNBC, Fries said that Liberty both competed and partnered with Sky in the UK and said that the market was “healthy and vibrant” and competitive.Liberty Global CEO, Mike FriesFries said that there would be only one winner between Disney and Comcast for Fox. He told CNBC that Comcast seemed “pretty determined” to acquire Sky, given the multiple implied by its latest bid.Asked whether Liberty could be a seller in the UK, he said that Liberty had “a great organic business” in Virgin Media and was not itself thinking about exiting its business.“We are strategically complete in the UK, so we are not really thinking about exits. We are thinking about growth and value creation,” he said.He said that Liberty remained “focused on doing what we do well” which was to grow in its core businesses, and sometimes exit markets where that made sense, as had been the case in Germany. He said that the company had invested US$2 billion in Germany, had taken US$4 billion in dividends out and was selling to Vodafone for US$9-10 billion.“There are opportunities in Europe we should be focused on and of course there is always the opportunity of just buying our stock back,” he said.Fries said he the US Department of Justice’s decision to appeal against the court ruling in favour of AT&T’s merger with Time Warner “was a big surprise”. He said he did not think the move would have an impact on Disney’s bid for 21st Century Fox’s assets but could have an impact on Comcast’s rival bid.Fries said the appeal could have an impact on Fox’s board’s thinking but added that he was “not an expert” on that.
Multiroom TV – the distribution of pay TV services to multiple TV screens within each home served – has become an established feature of most service providers’ offerings. Multiroom TV is now being supplemented by multiscreen or multi-device offerings – meaning that TV services are available to users via consumer electronics devices such as tablets and smartphones as well as via traditional set-top boxes, initially within the home. Increasingly, service providers are also supporting distribution to devices including tablets and smartphones outside the home as well via 3G, LTE and public WiFi networks.TV operators face a range of challenges in delivering these services and, in particular, in ensuring a consistent user experience across networks over which they have limited or no control. While consumers are likely to be more forgiving of service dropouts outside the home they are increasingly coming to expect that the service delivered to others TVs, tablets, smartphones, game consoles and other devices within the home should be at least as good as that delivered to the main TV screen.DTVE surveyed 235 senior industry participants from 61 countries to find out how they viewed multiroom and multi-device delivery of video services and what challenges they face in supporting such services. Our sample included satellite operators, cable operators, telecom service providers, mobile operators, over-thetop consumer IP video service providers and free-to-air broadcasters.
Last week BamTech Media, the Disney-owned streaming media company that powers online services for the likes of Eurosport, ESPN, the NHL and Fox Sports, opened up a major new European headquarters in Amsterdam. Two of its top execs took the time to speak to DTVE, in a busy week of news and developments in the online sports space.BamTech’s Amsterdam transmission operations centreBamTech recently completed work on its first Europe-based transmissions operations center, housed in a purpose-built space in its new Amsterdam North headquarters that will provide media operations support for the region.While BamTech’s client roster includes the likes of HBO and Hulu, the company’s roots lie in sports. Initially founded in 2000, BamTech grew out of Major League Baseball’s interactive media and Internet company, MLB Advanced Media, and specialises in broadcasting live events at scale over the web.Asked about the company’s European today plans, Bill Martens, BamTech’s general manager of Europe, said “first and foremost we’re very focused on the Olympics”. BamTech first partnered with Discovery Communications in 2016 to launch BamTech Europe, and the company’s technology underpins Eurosport Player, which is now available in some 52 countries and in 20 languages. Next month’s Pyeongchang winter games will broadcast on the service, which BamTech continues to develop from a product perspective.Martens said that BamTech was first attracted to the European market because it saw a “tremendous business opportunity” to both grow its portfolio here and also to up the service it offers to existing clients. “Many of the sports and media companies in Europe are reacting to similar trends that we’re seeing in the US market in terms of the decline in TV audiences and changing consumer behaviours,” said Martens. “Additionally we wanted to support some of our clients on a more global basis. We support services today that are available in more than 200 countries globally.”For its new headquarters, BamTech choose Amsterdam over other short-listed locations like Dublin, Frankfurt and Luxembourg, in part because it serves as an easy hub for the rest of Europe. “The check-list for the requirements included great infrastructure and good connectivity,” said Martens. “It was also important that we have access to a strong talent pool from an engineering perspective and that it was a multi-lingual workforce, given that we planned to support clients in many countries, in content in many different languages.”Roger Williams, BamTech’s senior vice president of media operations, who was in Europe for the opening of the new headquarters, said that the company now has client app development, media operations, technical infrastructure and client services, all currently operating within the Amsterdam location. “Currently we’re at about 50 employees and we have expansion plans in 2018. We don’t have a specific number to share but we’re definitely expanding on that number.”From a US perspective BamTech is working to develop ESPN+, the new multi-sport video streaming service that is due to go live this year, though BamTech would not confirm a precise launch date. The service was announced by ESPN parent company Disney last year as part of a strategic move that saw it pay US$1.58 billion (€1.34 billion) to up its stake in BamTech to 75%.The week in sportElsewhere this week it emerged that Facebook has appointed Eurosport CEO Peter Hutton as it looks to secure live sports rights, in a move that serves as a further reminder of how live sports and online streaming are increasingly going hand-in-hand. The hire underlines Facebook’s ongoing aspirations in this space, following previous activity like its ultimately unsuccessful bid last year for global Indian cricket rights.It also follows major changes to how Facebook is choosing to surface and prioritise content on its site. Earlier this month Facebook said it is altering its news feed to focus more on “personal connections” in a move that will de-prioritise posts from businesses, brands and media. While Facebook’s decision has naturally struck alarm bells among publishers, it does not appear to be at odds with its current content strategy.Facebook launched its Watch video platform in the US last year with the aim for it to be home to a range of shows – including reality, comedy and live sports. Speaking last year, Zuckerberg explicitly said that Facebook’s video ambitions are focused on sparking meaningful social interactions around content. The Facebook boss said that when “done well” video brings people closer together, claiming that TV shows and sports can create a “greater sense of belonging than many other kinds of communities”. Live sports could well be a sweet-spot for Facebook, which this month said that live videos average six times as many interactions as regular videos on the social network.All this makes for an interesting few months with Premier League football rights coming up for auction for the three seasons 2019/20–2021/22. Significantly, live packages this time around will be offered on a “technology-neutral basis”, meaning the Premier League is opening itself up to the possibility of matches being broadcast only online.Speculation is rife about who will table offers for the live rights to a total of 200 matches per season, that will be split into seven packages. According to an Ampere Analysis research note released this week, the value of Premier League football rights is set to break the £10 billion barrier for the first time, with Amazon emerging as a “significant potential bidder”.Ampere said its “most likely scenario” is that Sky takes four or five of the seven rights packages that are up for grabs, BT takes an additional two or three, while a third bidder – potentially Amazon or Liberty Global – takes one or two packages. While Amazon’s involvement as a bidder could be a key factor in inflating international rights this time around, Ampere predicted that if it were to bid for UK rights would be limited to one of the smaller packages to “test the water this time around”. Liberty, which owns Virgin Media in the UK, was cited as a possible new bidder having shown an increasing appetite for direct control of content in recent years, including Formula One rights.
Police at the scene of the attempt to murder a serving PSNI couple with an undercar booby trap bomb in Eglinton in June 2015TWO men have been arrested in Dublin connection with the attempted murder of two police officers in Derry almost two years ago.A bomb was left under a car belonging to a married couple who were both serving PSNI officers.The device was made safe outside their home in Eglinton. Both men are due to appear before the High Court in Dublin later.One man is currently on remand in Maghaberry prison awaiting trial over the attackTWO MEN ARRESTED OVER MURDER BID ON HUSBAND AND WIFE PSNI OFFICERS IN DERRY was last modified: March 23rd, 2017 by John2John2 Tags: The terrorist planting the device was disturbed the female PSNI officer when she looked out her window.During follow up enquiries at the time, several men were arrested by Gardai in Donegal who are believed to have fled the murder bid scene and made good their escape across the border.The men, aged 29 and 32, were detained in Dublin by Gardaí under a European Arrest Warrant.They were also questioned about possession of explosives with intent to endanger life in connection with the attempted bombing on 18 June 2015. ShareTweet DUBLIN HIGH COURTeglintongardaiTWO MEN ARRESTED OVER MURDER BID ON HUSBAND AND WIFE PSNI OFFICERS IN DERRY