Seeking to strengthen its hand against the pending onslaught of Netflix, HBO Europe has swung a deal with ActiveVideo Networks to make it much easier for European pay-TV providers to integrate the HBO GO streaming video service with their existing subscription video offerings.
HBO Europe, which operates in 14 countries in Eastern and Central Europe, announced that it will offer its HBO GO streaming video service to cable operators, telcos and other pay-TV providers though ActiveVideo 's cloud-based distribution platform. That platform, known as CloudTV StreamCast, uses the cloud to beam user interfaces, video programming, apps and other content to both new IP set-tops and older, non-IP boxes.
What that means is that HBO Europe can now offer its HBO GO service to pay-TV providers regardless of the types of set-tops they deploy, enabling it to reach the full footprint of video subscribers. The service providers can then integrate the service into their current subscription video offerings, rather than just offer it separately as a broadband video service.
As a result, this move should make it easier for HBO Europe to stave off Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX)'s fresh offensive on the European front. As previously reported, Netflix is now extending its reach to six more European nations, including Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg, as part of an ambitious expansion drive. (See Eurobites: Netflix to Take Euro Hit in Q3.)
HBO Europe and ActiveVideo, which unveiled the partnership at the IBC show in Amsterdam Friday, did not announce any pay-TV customers for the new cloud-delivered service yet. But sources close to the two companies indicated that carriage deals have already been signed and at least two major service providers, one cable and one IPTV, will be deploying HBO GO that way by the end of the year.
In the only publicly announced carriage deal for ActiveVideo's CloudTV Streamcast platform so far, Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) is now using it to stream such popular Internet video services as YouTube, Picasa and Flicker to both IP and non-IP cable set-tops in Hungary. While Liberty's UPC Hungary unit has not yet released any official usage figures for that streaming service, the early indications are that it is proving quite popular with video customers.
Besides UPC Hungary, Dutch MSO Ziggo B.V. , which is also now owned by Liberty Global, and German telco Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) have teamed up with ActiveVideo in Europe. So those three pay-TV providers are strong early candidates for the new cloud-based HBO GO service.
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading