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Viasat offers Viaplay for OTT sport, movies and more for cash

We’re not sure that MTG’s Viasat has quite got the idea of TV Everywhere services – they are supposed to be free if you subscribe to the pay TV servic

By PETER WHITE

Published: 24 February, 2011

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We’re not sure that MTG’s Viasat has quite got the idea of TV Everywhere services – they are supposed to be free if you subscribe to the pay TV service. It has come out with what it calls a multi-screen on-demand Pay TV service in Scandinavia which will launch in March called Viaplay.

Viaplay will let an existing Viasat subscriber use a single ID and password to access Viasat pay TV content on any internet-connected device Over The Top, which it says is the first of its kind in Scandinavia and gives internet access to thousands of hours of streamed movies, sports coverage, TV series, and catch-up services of free-TV channels. Increasingly in Europe this is likely to be the way OTT services are implemented in Europe, not as TV Everywhere for free, but as paid services in their own right with some free content to attract people.

The service will replace the year old ‘ViasatOnDemand’ web pay-TV service which was directly available on all LG broadband-connected and NetCast-enabled TV sets. Since then an application has been developed for Android enabled smartphones and tablets.

The new Viaplay service also offers Viasat premium streamed content available universally, on any internet-connected device with a single subscription for 199 krona (around $31) a month, which means that anyone can buy into the service and they don’t have to be existing Viasat subscribers. However existing Viasat Gold subscribers from its satellite TV packages will only initially be offered the multi-screen service for free. Most US and Canadian pay TV operators are going for the free forever approach, if they subscribe to a pay TV package, as is BSkyB and Virgin in the UK. Those services offer the content off any broadband line, but the US cable services, so far, are still tying TV Everywhere services to the broadband line which they supply.

But this streamed content package includes live coverage of the UEFA Champions League and Barclays Premier League football, Formula One motor-racing, and NHL ice hockey, as well as movie releases including the Book of Eli, Green Zone and Robin Hood; as well as hit TV series such as Two and a Half Men and The Mentalist. Subscribers will also be able to opt for dedicated Film and TV packages.

Hans-Holger Albrecht, President and CEO of MTG, commented: “The launch of a multi-screen, OTT and portable service is a major step not just for Viasat but for the evolution of video content provision in Europe. We are offering “Entertainment at Your Command!” on an ‘anytime, anywhere’ basis, and combining the very best in pay-TV and free-TV programming. OTT solutions are changing both the way people watch and think about TV, and we are committed to remaining at the forefront of this exciting and accelerating evolution”.

We like the idea of both servicing existing pay TV customers, with a view to addicting them and then charging more, and also using the service outside the customer footprint to attract more customers. If Viasat gives details of its numbers in future quarters, we’ll try to keep to informed.

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