The Dutch regional cable operator Delta is making some interesting moves after having been acquired by Swedish investment vehicle EQT. From being a laggard, the operator could now very well spell the future of cable.
This summer, Delta announced it would switch off all analogue signals from its networks during 2018. Nothing spectacular, as most cablers are in the process of digital switchover. At the same time, it also introduced a TV Everywhere app. Also, small beer, because its larger cousins Ziggo and KPN already have such apps available to their customers.
However, this January Delta surprised us by introducing an IPTV service alongside its regular coax digital television service. Using a set-top box from Amino and software developed by Stoneroos, the new platform not only serves as a TV Everywhere service, but at the same time making interactive digital TV available to customers on their regular TV set. In the near future, the available content will be augmented with new apps in order to offer both regular and OTT content alongside each other.
The new service brings Delta on par with Ziggo and KPN, with all the advanced functionalities including pause live TV, restart a programme, go back in the EPG for catch-up viewing, set PVR recordings including series linking, and more. Also included is a feature I did not come across before, which is that you can even choose to record a programme in the past – going back up to seven days in the EPG and record and keep it for future viewing.
The look and feel of the service is the same across all devices, and the EPG offers a vertical list of all channels, automatically arranged by time-slot, which is also different from the classic EPG found on most services.
The addition of the set-top box could turn Delta into a disruptor, because – in theory – the IPTV service could be accessed from anywhere in the country. Until now, only OTT services such as KPN Play and T-Mobile’s Knippr are available in the whole of the Netherlands, but only as a TV Everywhere service on tablets and smartphones.
With the use of the Amino set-tops, customers can view the entire interactive digital TV offer from Delta on any TV set – making it a potential direct competitor to KPN and Ziggo – if they would start marketing it nationwide. And, of course by combining the TV Everywhere app with Apple TV, Chromecast and the like, it can be seen on any modern TV set without the need of an STB.
The planned addition of apps combing traditional TV with OTT content could put the new Delta platform in the same league as Layer 3 TV in the US, a disruptor that was recently acquired by T-Mobile in the US. We can only speculate if this is the game plan of EQT, but their first priority will probably be to integrate the Caiway network they recently acquired. Meanwhile, ISP 1&1 in Germany is rolling out a similar IPTV platform plus TV Everywhere service using Zattoo and ABox42 set-tops.