The announcement surprised the industry right at the opening of cable, satellite and broadband trade fair ANGA COM (May 20-22, 2014) in Cologne: Eutelsat will sell its German direct-to-cable platform KabelKiosk to media company M7 Group.
The successful B2B platform had been the only major foothold left for Eutelsat in Germany. In the 1990’s the operator of the Hot Bird satellite system at 13° East lost the battle for the German DTH market to arch rival SES and its Astra fleet at 19.2° East.
KabelKiosk which emerged 10 years ago out of Fremdsprachenplattform, a delivery platform providing cable operators with foreign-language TV channels for ethnic minorities, now serves around 3.8 million cable and IPTV households in German-speaking Europe with free-to-air and pay-TV channels both in SD and HD quality and an HbbTV-based connected TV and video-on-demand (VOD) portal. More than 300 partners distribute the white label service on their networks.
Eutelsat constantly increased both the channels and services offered by KabelKiosk. The most recent new product is the new IPTV platform to be launched at ANGA COM on May 20, 2014. The platform which targets city carriers and IPTV providers will contain around 150 TV channels, a time-shifting feature and a VOD service. Designed as an over-the-top (OTT) multiscreen solution, the platform not only reaches the TV set, but also mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
In contrast to the classic KabelKiosk model, the new IPTV service will not rely on satellite distribution, but it will be delivered to its partners through IP-based broadband lines for direct inclusion in their networks. No satellite reception system has to be installed at the head-end.
Broadband distribution instead of satellite has also been chosen by KabelKiosk’s new competitor BIQ Services operated by Media Broadcast which recently announced its first customer. Fixed-line broadband delivery offers several benefits compared to satellite, for example it’s easy scalable and fully bidirectional – an important feature as VOD portals and other interactive services become more popular.
With its transition from solely providing linear TV channels via satellite to a full multimedia platform with IPTV, VOD, OTT and multiscreen services, KabelKiosk has gradually shifted away from Eutelsat’s core business. For M7 Group, however, KabelKiosk offers not only synergies with its TV platform operations in other countries, but also new business opportunities in the growing German IPTV and OTT market.
Dr Jörn Krieger, based in Bavaria, is the correspondent of Broadband TV News for Germany, Austria and Switzerland.