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Cable Technology Feature Article

April 26, 2013

Viewster Looks to Global Expansion for Online VOD

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

Online streaming provider Viewster has bolstered its management team this week, appointing Helen Biggart as CFO and Tzvetan Horozov as senior vice president of product management. It’s also opening new offices in New York, London, Singapore and Adelaide, Australia, looking to spark international business development via these regional representative offices.

Swiss-based Viewster, an advertising-based online video-on-demand (VOD) provider, already has a global presence in 120 countries, across which it served up more than one billion videos worldwide in 2012 and saw its user base grow by 700 percent, it said. It offers TV series and classic films in a no-subscription model. In the United States, it’s among the Top 50 online video sites, according to comScore. But it said that it’s looking to continue its expansion and tap fresh markets this year.

"With more viewers choosing to watch films and TV shows on-demand, we're seeing a big shift in advertising spend away from linear TV,” said Kai Henniges, Viewster CEO. “To capitalize on this trend and the rising demand for our service worldwide, we are turbo-charging our international expansion with new office openings and a raft of regional hires in our key markets. We are also thrilled to have both Helen and Tzvetan on board to drive and shape our business during this period of very rapid and exciting growth worldwide."

Biggart has more than 20 years of experience working with technology companies. She previously worked at Touch Clarity (News - Alert), a behavioral targeting business, which was acquired by Omniture, now part of Adobe, in 2007. Before that, she worked at GE Capital Europe in the corporate acquisitions team and then moved to the private equity group.

Horozov meanwhile brings a career spanning more than 10 years in the telecommunication and retail industries, where he has focused on cross-device media streaming, advertising, location-based services, social networking, retail and consumer loyalty. Previously he worked for Motorola (News - Alert), where he filed several patents and technical publications.

Viewster is working on its library as well: earlier in April, it announced more than 200 additions to its international online library, including the U.K.'s “The Inbetweeners” and “Peep Show”; SyFy's “Flash Gordon”; “At Home with Julia,” one of Australia's most popular scripted comedies; and American films featuring Ellen Page, Naomi Watts, Ryan Gosling and Zach Galifianakis.

Viewster's service is available on the web at Viewster.com, via apps for Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players, and across mobile apps for Apple and Android (News - Alert) tablets and smartphones.

By the end of 2012, North America and Western Europe had effectively made the transition to digital terrestrial television (DTT) broadcasts. The next milestone year (2015) was established by the ITU, and a number of countries in Eastern Europe and Middle-East Africa are hoping to satisfy this goal. With a later start to digital services a number of countries in these regions are starting with DVB-T2, avoiding the conundrum facing established DVB-T markets looking to migrate to the newer technology.

“If remaining analog shutoff timelines go largely as planned, we expect over 18 million DVB-T2 STBs will ship in 2015,” said senior analyst Michael Inouye. “Other potential factors, like spectrum reallocation for mobile broadband in Western Europe, might increase the demand for DVB-T2 boxes, but this likely won’t be a significant factor until the latter half, if not past the 2018 forecasting window.”

While most countries have settled on a DTT technology, the path to digital is less consistent in other regions where multiple DTT technologies are present and future analog shutoffs span a wide timeframe (2015 to 2020s). Aiding the digital transition, Pay Terrestrial DTT operators subsidize the price of free-to-air set-top boxes in order to gain subscribers. For instance, in Sub-Saharan Africa both StarTimes and GoTV (a service of Naspers (News - Alert), parent of MultiChoice) have launched Pay DTT platforms using a subsidized set-top box selling for about $35, while free-to-air boxes sell for approximately $60.

Practice director Sam Rosen added: “Integrated televisions will certainly play a role in digitization, but set-top boxes, by necessity, are still the driver used to fully satisfy most ASO goals. Proactive work from government agencies in the form of subsidies and consumer education remain vital components to a successful ASO, best suiting the lower cost STB as the digitization vehicle of choice. After 2015 we do expect demand for DTT set-top boxes to decline, but circumstances beyond ASOs could shift the outlook higher.”

These findings are part of ABI Research’s (News - Alert) Consumer Electronics Research Service.

ABI Research provides in-depth analysis and quantitative forecasting of trends in global connectivity and other emerging technologies. From offices in North America, Europe and Asia, ABI Research’s worldwide team of experts advises thousands of decision makers through more than 70 research and advisory services.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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