Once the Saigon of French diplomats, English writers as well as American soldiers is now perhaps the prime tourist attraction of Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh in itself is one of the most popular tourist destination in Asia.Source: BBC
For baseball fans, it doesn’t get any greater than Babe Ruth, and now that a Massachusetts estate once belonging to Ruth is on the market, homebuyers have the chance to live like the Sultan of Swat. The property, which is known as Home Plate Farm, is listed for $1.65 million, and the home is said to include a Ruth memorabilia room on the third floor. Built in the 1800s, the Colonial house has been fully restored.According to “”MSNBC””:http://www.bottomline.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/05/11/11643683-celebrity-real-estate-billy-joel-babe-ruth-and-bristol-palin?lite, the 5,124-square-foot manse is “”refinished with modern systems and materials to make it turnkey ready.”” Ruth’s ownership of the Sudbury farm lasted from 1922 to 1926, following his trade to the Bronx.[COLUMN_BREAK][IMAGE] Live Like the Sultan of Swat on Home Plate Farm June 29, 2012 494 Views in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing, Technology Share Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Celebrity Homes Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2012-06-29 Abby Gregory
22Jan Dr. Bizon appointed to House Health Policy, Appropriations committees Categories: Bizon News First-term state Rep. Dr. John Bizon will get a chance to put his medical experience to use for local residents while serving on the House Committee for Health Policy in the 98th Legislature.Dr. Bizon will also serve on the House Appropriations Committee for the new legislative session, which officially started Jan. 14.“Serving on the Health Policy Committee will give me a chance to put my experience in the private health care sector to good use,” said Bizon, R-Battle Creek. “As a doctor, I have insight into how health policy decisions made here impact doctors and health care workers, and I look forward to bringing new ideas to health policy discussions in our state.”In addition, Bizon was also appointed the vice chair of the Appropriations subcommittees for Community Colleges and the Department of Community Health. He will also serve on the Appropriations Subcommittee for the Department of Transportation.“Fixing Michigan’s roads is still a hot topic, and I’m excited to be on the subcommittee that works with our state’s transportation department,” Bizon said.###
16May Rep. Allor joins colleagues in cleaning Michigan government The Michigan House this week overwhelmingly approved state Rep. Sue Allor’s plan to remove an outdated section of law relating to youth conservation and rehabilitation camps in Michigan.During the 1950s and ‘60s, youth conservation and rehabilitation camps were designed to help youth offenders get a fresh start by requiring them to participate in a boot camp experience or conservation projects as means of corrections. Allor’s plan removes any references to these camps because the state no longer has any of the facilities operation.“When the times change and laws become outdated, we need to clean house,” said Allor of Wolverine. “There’s no such thing as a clean government if we still have obsolete laws that are in need of being wiped from the books. It’s unnecessary bloat that’s keeping our government from being as efficient as possible.”House Bill 5892 now moves to the Senate for further consideration. Categories: Allor News
Categories: Hoitenga News,News Record won’t be automatic denial of licensing State Rep. Michele Hoitenga has introduced a plan that gives convicted felons who have served their sentences a chance to obtain a professional license from the state.Hoitenga’s bill is part of a five-bill package that deals with the “good moral character” of past felons applying to the state for a license to work.“People change, and I believe a licensing board or agency should not automatically deny someone a license for a past felony conviction,” said Hoitenga, of Manton. “If a person has been living a life free of crime after paying their debt to society, they deserve a second chance.”Hoitenga’s plan amends current law to specify when a board or agency can consider a criminal conviction as evidence of a lack of good moral character.Hoitenga’s bill, along with those of her House colleagues, is now before the House Regulatory Reform Committee for consideration.#####The package is House Bills 6110-6114. 13Jun Rep. Hoitenga’s bill part of legislative plan to give second chance to convicted felons
Share2TweetShareEmail2 Shares May 25, 2014; Ha’aretzThe importance to North American readers of this story about the Jewish National Fund is not in the JNF itself, although that is very important, but in the transparency needed by nonprofits that carry out significant public sector functions.Since the establishment of Israel, many Jewish kids in the U.S. have had a tree planted in Israel in the name of their parents or grandparents. They wouldn’t have known or cared that the mechanism for planting those trees was the Jewish National Fund, which says on the JNF website it has planted some 250 million trees, “bringing life to the Negev Desert.”However, the JNF is about more than making the desert bloom. It buys land, too; its website says that it has “developed” more than 250,000 acres. In Israel, the notion of “purchasing land,” sometimes described by critics as “expropriating land,” is fraught with political tension.For example, in the Negev, the JNF recently began plowing some 700 acres south of the town of Laqiya. The controversial aspect was that Palestinian Bedouins view that land as the village of Awajan, under cultivation by a Palestinian family, but Israel and the JNF classify the town as an “unrecognized” Palestinian-Bedouin village, one of many in the region. “The village of Awajan existed prior to 1948 and is home to some 3,600 residents, most of them members of the al Assad family,” according to the Alternative News. “The village has no schools, electricity, health services or infrastructure, and local residents are forced to buy water privately.” Also controversial have been the revelations, based on leaked JNF documents, outlining a number of JNF “investments” in West Bank settlements. And more controversial still are the fundraising and operations of the JNF itself.An investigation by an Israeli television station revealed that the JNF is an exceptionally powerful agency, owning 13 percent of the land of Israel (630,000 acres) with little oversight from the government. The investigation may have been sparked by the JNF’s 2013 payment (“transferred,” according to the press, through a third party, the Peres Academic Center) of $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation to pay for a speech by former President Bill Clinton. In the wake of the Clinton speech controversy, the JNF said it was going to somehow get the payment returned, but a year later, Ha’aretz says that some $250,000 hasn’t appeared. To handle the bad press that emerged, JNF hired a former Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson for 300,000 shekels (roughly $86,000).The investigation revealed what Ha’aretz described as a litany of “problematic spending” by the JNF. Apparently, the government pays JNF almost 6 million shekels annually for the administration of the lands it has acquired, representing 90 percent of the JNF’s income. According to the Jewish Daily Forward, “with the realization of the dream of generations in the foundation of an independent and sovereign Jewish state, all the roles of the JNF should have been transferred to the new government. After all, the JNF’s objective, building the national home, had been fulfilled. But for the past 66 years, the JNF’s sole objective has been perpetuating itself.”The Forward’s scathing review noted that the JNF (as well as some other old Zionist organizations) are appealing to politicians due to these characteristics: “[their] unsupervised budgets, jobs for cronies and a direct link to the golden goose that is the Jewish Diaspora.” They are organizations, according to the Forward, with “people who can quickly and quietly transfer funding, solve a problem for a mayor or deputy minister, connect a Jewish donor with a good cause and find a job for a loyal Knesset member who lost his seat.”Due to the influence and power of the JNF, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni proposed placing the JNF under the review and scrutiny of the State Comptroller’s Office. Livni’s proposal was greeted with opposition by her peers in the Netanyahu cabinet and in the Knesset—and, of course, from the JNF itself.Livni’s legislation called simply for allowing the State Comptroller to audit the JNF and for the public to have access to records of the JNF’s records, operations, and financial transactions. “The JNF holds authority over operations that are, in essence, significant governmental functions, yet it is devoid of any form of criticism,” Livni said. “This is an absurd situation in a democratic country, and it encourages problematic conduct, to say the least.” The State Comptroller was already on board. “From a public standpoint, it is appropriate to apply criticism to the JNF,” State Comptroller Joseph Shapiro said. “This will give proper expression to the prime minister’s emphasis on the importance of state control.”Not surprisingly, the largest and most powerful charity in Israel, collecting on the support it has secured over the years from Israeli politicians, won in a five-to-four vote of PM Netanyahu’s cabinet members.The JNF predates the establishment of Israel by a half-century and was dedicated to helping create the land that became the Jewish nation. In the U.S., the issue of nonprofits with government funding may be a little different. In many cities and states, the privatization bug has prompted lawmakers to create or shift operations to nonprofits. Nonetheless, there are some nonprofits that virtually live on government funding, sometimes taking discussion and review of those funds outside of the realm of public bodies.Should there be a different regime of transparency and disclosure for U.S. nonprofits that sometimes function as non-governmental outposts of governmental programs? Does democracy require it?—Rick CohenShare2TweetShareEmail2 Shares
Share29TweetShare1Email30 SharesBy United Press International telephoto [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsDecember 14, 2016; Washington PostYippie Jerry Rubin originally coined the phrase “subpoenas envy” to describe the longing he and some other activists on the Left had for being identified as “enemies of the state” during the ’60s. This is not that exactly…more like a shielding maneuver meant to resist the making of such venal lists.Around 1,500 faculty members at colleges and universities have requested that their names be added to the 200-strong, allegedly lefty “Professor Watchlist,” a listing of those accused by their fellow citizens of advancing “leftist propaganda” in classrooms.The website sponsor is Turning Point USA, a national movement that claims to “educate students about the importance of fiscal responsibility, limited government, and free markets.” Turning Point USA claims those on the Professor Watchlist “discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.”Since it was made public that two of the names on the original list came from the University of Notre Dame, more than 200 additional Notre Dame faculty members signed a letter asking to be let in because those on the list were “the sort of company we wish to keep.”We make this request because we note that you currently list on your site several of our colleagues, such as Professor Gary Gutting, whose work is distinguished by its commitment to reasoned, fact-based civil discourse examining questions of tolerance, equality, and justice. We further note that nearly all faculty colleagues at other institutions listed on your site, the philosophers, historians, theologians, ethicists, feminists, rhetoricians, and others, have similarly devoted their professional lives to the unyielding pursuit of truth, to the critical examination of assumptions that underlie social and political policy, and to honoring this country’s commitments to the premise that all people are created equal and deserving of respect.From other institutions of higher learning comes another “Dear Professor Watchlist” letter signed by 1500 people asking for their own invites.We, the undersigned faculty at the Universities and other institutions of higher learning listed below, write to request that you place all of our names on Professor Watchlist.We support the faculty at University of Notre Dame and many of our colleagues listed on your site. These philosophers, scientists, historians, theologians, ethicists, feminists and many others have spent their careers in the pursuit of truth and critical thought. These individuals represent an educational system that relies on academic freedom, which is necessary to support the personal freedoms that lie at the core of our national ideals.We will not tolerate our colleagues being subject to policing of their work, their thoughts and their teaching. We will not repeat the passivity of the past, when intellectuals were blacklisted for disagreeing with a particular agenda. When you challenge them, you challenge us. Even when we may disagree with each other, we support and demand our right to continue to publish and discuss our work, to call attention to injustice and false information, to challenge our students to think critically, to commit ourselves to the pursuit of truth and independent thought that defines an educated and free society.Along with our colleagues at University of Notre Dame, please add our names, the undersigned faculty, to the Professor Watchlist. We wish to be counted among those you are watching.Share29TweetShare1Email30 Shares
Share103Tweet45Share14Email162 SharesAugust 30, 2017; DCist and USA TodayAfter tens of millions of years spent in hiding in the Earth’s crust, dinosaurs are finally taking a stand for something worthwhile: the preservation of AmeriCorps, the dynamic domestic sister of the world-renowned Peace Corps program, funded through the Corporation of National and Community Service (CNCS).Well, not really. Actually, upwards of one hundred people dressed as dinosaurs stood at landmarks around Washington, D.C., on Wednesday morning, holding signs and chanting slogans to create public awareness of the existential threat to AmeriCorps under the sharp axe of the Trump administration. AmeriCorps has channeled a full million civic-minded heroes in the last 20 years into community service ventures throughout the United States. Now Trump, through his fiscal minions, is signaling his intention to end the program, as his first budget wish list states that the federal government is not a civic organization: “Funding community service and subsidizing the operation of nonprofit organizations is outside the role of the Federal Government.”That characterization of the federal mission would come as news to every previous president—even former Republican presidents, who knew the powerful impact the governmental imprimatur has to leverage and foment the spirit of private organizational and individual giving.After millions of years hiding in the Earth’s crust, dinosaurs are taking a stand for something worthwhile.Click To TweetAmeriCorps is one of many laudable non-defense federal programs with tremendously cost-effective mission execution. The nonprofit Service Year Alliance is the mastermind behind this Jurassic-come-lately movement called “Stop National Service Extinction,” launched when President Donald Trump initially called for eliminating the funding for the CNCS itself, which currently underwrites 80,000 volunteers through various AmeriCorps programs. SYA’s Director of Communications Aly Ferguson explains that as a protest motif, “extinction makes the most sense given that there are 1 million people who have done AmeriCorps over the past 20 years.”Ferguson classifies AmeriCorps preservation as a bipartisan goal, and she is not content just to save its current level of funding, but aims to grow its footprint. “We want not just to fund, but also to expand it. Our goal is to have a million young people serving every year within a generation,” she said.This T-Rexification trend, which has cropped up in many other contexts and has trampled the pages of Facebook and other social media platforms, is in fact a welcome phenomenon. It seems that with President Trump’s rise to power and the precipitous brand of callous politics that has plagued federal, state, and local governments in recent years, we have seen many dinosaurs masquerading as people in the halls of Congress and lesser state houses. But with the AmeriCorps drive, it’s good to see more of them coming over from the dark side.—Louis AltmanShare103Tweet45Share14Email162 Shares
Share28Tweet10ShareEmail38 Shares“We need rent control,” by JK B.May 20, 2018; New York TimesFinding affordable housing is not easy. While advocates search for ways to expand the number of low-income units on the market, attention must also be paid to ensuring that current renters are protected and existing affordable units are not lost. For those who have been lucky enough to find apartments they can afford, “gentrification” is a dirty word. Demand for housing in many cities has risen, leading to increased market pressure on current rental units. In most cities, tenants are totally at the mercy of their landlords, who can raise rents just as leases come up for renewal, replacing current low-income tenants with a new, more affluent population. But even in the few cities with rent control or rent stabilization laws on the books, like New York, keeping an affordable home is not easy, as landlords seek ways to push tenants out and rents up.The New York Times recently shone a light on strategies some landlords use to increase their profitability at the expense of longstanding lower-income tenants: “Owners may offer tenants buyouts to leave. They may harass them with poor services and constant construction. And, sometimes on the flimsiest of evidence, they may sue them in housing court.” With few options, tenants may have no choice but to tolerate substandard living conditions as an acceptable trade for a roof over their heads.The Times’ investigation found that the housing court system put in place in 1973 to protect tenant rights has in many cases become a powerful tool for landlords who “exploit a broken and overburdened system. In one of the busiest courts in the nation, errors often go uncaught and dubious allegations go unquestioned. Lawsuits are easy to file but onerous to fight. Landlords have lawyers. Tenants usually don’t, despite a new law that aims to provide free counsel to low-income New Yorkers.” Tenants find themselves as David facing Goliath; for a $45 filing fee (and with almost no actual evidence), landlords can allege that a tenant is behind in their rent, is not living in the apartment, or has violated some lease requirement.In too many cases—the Times examined more than one million, a growing portion of which were directed at those in rent-controlled units—tenants were not properly notified of the suits, causing them to miss the chance to respond. But even when notice is properly served, tenants need to appear in court and either find a lawyer or figure out to defend themselves. This turns a system meant to benefit tenants into a method of harassment.For example, while the accusation in a large portion of these cases is nonpayment of rent, the Times found “in many cases, tenants were sued for rent they did not owe…checks mistakenly remained uncashed or had been lost in the mail; sometimes they were sued for money owed by a government program. Sometimes, tenants withheld rent only because much-needed repairs had never been done.”The impact on tenants goes beyond having to defend their homes. Just being sued is a black mark on their record that makes it more difficult to rent the next apartment. Background checks done as part of the rental process will contain a record of a previous suit, which may convince a new landlord not to offer a lease.For landlords with hundreds of apartments, there’s a lot of money to be made if rent-controlled tenants can be removed. The Times noted one tenant’s monthly rent was $1,400 when he chose to stop fighting his landlord and relocate. When the apartment went back on the market, the new rent was more than $4,000. It’s hard to ensure an adequate supply of affordable housing if existing units are priced out.New York City has an aggressive plan to encourage the construction of many new units that still struggles to keep up with demand. According to the New York Times, “The total price tag now stands at nearly $83 billion, up from $41 billion in 2014, when the city spent an average of about $29,000 a unit, according to statistics provided by city officials. By 2017, the average per-unit cost in city subsidy had increased to nearly $46,000, because of increased costs of construction, land and inflation.” Even if completed, the supply will not meet the demand, and losing existing units only worsens the situation.Protecting affordable housing for current tenants will require legislative action. No state provides overall protection for low-income renters; only cities in five states provide some degree of protection. Market incentives make affordable housing a bad business decision for a profit-minded organization. If policymakers are committed to ensuring their communities have housing for all and not only the wealthiest, then attention must be paid to making sure those already in affordable units are not driven out, along with efforts to expand overall affordable housing stock. Neither is easy or inexpensive, but in their absence, those who struggle to meet market rates will be forced to relocate from their home neighborhoods when the market decides they’re desirable locations.—Martin LevineShare28Tweet10ShareEmail38 Shares
Average TV viewing times increased across all of the big five European territories last year, with the exception of the UK where the number remained the same. Using its own data and that from Ofcom and EAO, Informa Telecoms & Media collated the average number of minutes individuals spent watching TV per day. The average viewing time was highest in Italy at 253 minutes, which compared with 246 minutes in 2010 and 238 in 2009. Viewers in the UK watched the second highest number of minutes per day of TV at 242 minutes, the same level as in 2010 but significantly ahead of the 2009 total of 225 minutes.Spanish viewers watched an average of 239 minutes of TV a day last year, compared with 234 minutes a year earlier and 226 minutes a year before that. In France the daily average viewing times were 227, 212 and 205 minutes for 2011, 2010 and 2009 respectively. In Germany the daily totals across the same timescale were 225 minutes, 223 minutes and 212 minutes.
FilmTrack, a software-as-a-service (SaaS), rights and content management firm for the film, video and television industry, has closed a US$20 million (€15 million) equity investment round from Insight Venture Partners.FilmTrack said it will use the funds to “support rapid growth” as it looks to expand its global roster of clients. As part of the deal, Insight managing directors Peter Sobiloff and Nikitas Koutoupes will join FilmTrack’s board of directors. The company also announced that Michael Lang, who has been a strategic advisor to the company since 2012, has joined FilmTrack’s board.FilmTrack provides business and technology solutions to more than 100 companies including he Weinstein Company, Focus Features, Miramax, Lionsgate, Screen Australia and Starz.
Orange Poland has struck a deal to sell its Wirtualna Polska (Virtual Poland) web portal to O2 for PLN375 million (€90 million). O2 is acquiring the portal with finance provided by private equity group Innova Capital’s European Media Holding.Orange said the sale was in line with its strategy of focusing on its core business. There was speculation earlier this year that the site might be acquired by pay TV provider Cyfrowy Polsat, which was denied by the operator.Innova Capital’s Krzysztof Krawczyk said the combination of O2 and Wirtualna Polska would create the leading Polish web portal and that Innova Capital would look for further acquisition opportunities in this area.After the merger O2 Poland and Wirtualna Polska will operate under the combined name Grupa Wirtualna Polska.Wirtualna Polska CEO Grzegorz Tomasiak said the combination of the pair’s expertise would lead to the creation of new products and advertising opportunities and guarantee the dynamic development of the group.The deal is expected to close in the first quarter, subject to regulatory approval.Wirtualna Polska has about 13 million users and is ranked as the country’s number two site after Onet.pl, which German media group Axel Springer last year acquired for PLN960 million.
Reed HastingsNetflix CEO and chairman Reed Hastings has kept hold of both roles, after shareholders at its annual general meeting reportedly rejected a motion that would have separated the two positions.According to a Wall Street Journal report, 53% of shareholders voted against the resolution to create an independent chairman, with a spokesman telling the paper “Netflix has demonstrated extraordinary long term success under the leadership of Reed and the board.”Last year, a similar proposal to divide the CEO and chairman roles – which Hastings has held since Netflix went public in 2002 – reportedly passed with 73% of the vote, but no action was taken.The WSJ reports that shareholder resolutions seeking an independent chairman “tend to win strong support, but rarely pass.”According to a New York Times report, two big proxy advisory firms, Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass, Lewis & Company, as well as two prominent pension funds, backed the request for an independent board chairman.Separately, Forbes reported yesterday that Hastings is now the first “on-demand billionaire” with his personal wealth now valued at more than a billion dollars thanks to a surge in Netflix’s share price this year.Hasting’s stock and options in the company are now estimated to be worth more than US$900 million, while his other assets are said to include around US$120 million in post-tax profits from stock sales over the past five years.
The Spanish government is on the point of awarding licences for six new channels on the country’s digital terrestrial platform, with Atresmedia, Mediaset and Real Madrid set to capture licences for HD services, according to local reports.The three will be awarded one HD licence each, according to the reports, while licences for three standard-definition channels will go to Grupo Secuoya, 13TV and Radio Blanca (Kiss FM).When the government makes the awards official, the winners will have six months to begin transmitting the new channels.The latest awards come in the wake of a long period of crises for Spain’s digital-terrestrial platform, with previous awards of licences by the previous government being annulled and the forced closure of existing services.
Daniel BattsekUK broadcaster Channel 4 has named Daniel Battsek as the new director of its Film4 channel.Battsek is returning to the UK from the US after completing a contract as president of Cohen Media Group, where he oversaw the acquisition and release of movies including Timbuktu and Mustang as well as the development of films including Channel 4 co-production Stoner.He replaces David Kosse, who is stepping down to join STX Entertainment.“Daniel Battsek’s passion for independent, filmmaker driven cinema, and experience in film production, development and distribution at the highest level in both the US and UK markets, are second to none. He’s a perfect fit for the Film4 brand. We’re thrilled to bring this talented British executive back to the UK,” said Channel 4 CEO David Abraham.“As demonstrated by our record breaking year at both the Oscars and the BAFTAs, Daniel will inherit a Film4 business in fine creative and commercial health from David Kosse. We’re sad he couldn’t have been with us longer but he’s had an incredible impact in the time he has led the division. Both the exciting upcoming slate and the increased funding for original film we announced earlier this year are testament to the successful strategy implemented by David. I’m delighted that he will be working alongside Daniel on a smooth transition over the summer and ensuring that it is business as usual for Film4 over this period.”
Japan’s SoftBank Group has agreed to buy UK-based microchip company ARM Holdings for £24.3 billion (€29.1 billion).Under the deal, ARM will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of SoftBank – a telecoms and internet company that has operations spanning telecoms, e-commerce, internet and technology services.ARM’s technology and processors are found in a large number of devices – including smartphones made by Samsung, Huawei and Apple – and the combined firm plans to focus in on the burgeoning IoT market.“We have long admired ARM as a world renowned and highly respected technology company that is by some distance the market-leader in its field,” said SoftBank chairman and CEO, Masayoshi Son.“ARM will be an excellent strategic fit within the SoftBank group as we invest to capture the very significant opportunities provided by the Internet of Things.”The agreed price marks a 43% premium on ARM’s closing share price on Friday and a 41.1% premium on the all-time high share price.The companies said they have a “shared vision of pushing the limits of technology” and together will create more than 1,500 additional ARM jobs in the UK over the next five years, as well as adding to its headcount outside the UK.The deal has been approved by SoftBank at a meeting of the firm’s board of directors and is subject to the approval of ARM’s shareholders and of the English court.The companies expect the closing of the deal to occur “as soon as practicable” in the third quarter of this year.
Almost half of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video subscribers in the UK rarely watch ‘normal’ TV anymore, according to a new study.Some 43% of SVOD users have rejected linear TV services (referred to as ‘normal’ TV in the study), the research from subscription commerce specialist Zuora and UK-based research house YouGov.In total, 27% of the adult British population (13.9 million) now subscribes to an SVOD service, with six million (12% of the adult population) no longer interested in linear offering as a result.Taken in isolation, 58% of the 25-34 SVOD subscriber demographic has given up on ‘normal TV’, while around 44% of 16-24s said they were SVOD subscribers, compared with 26% for cable and satellite services. The older 45-54 demo showed contrasting behaviour, with 23% taking SVOD services and 49% cable and satellite platforms.Zuora’s data showed Netflix is by far the biggest SVOD platform in the UK, with a staggering 12.4 million subs (24% of the adult population). Sky Go was second with 7.2 million, Amazon third with 6.7 million and Now TV with 3.1 million.A Zuora spokesman said Netflix figure did not specify whether this included non-active accounts and Virgin Media pay TV users who receive the service as part of their package.The average UK subscriber spends £17.53 (US$21.71) monthly on video streaming services, which Zuora said suggests “many sign up to multiple services simultaneously due to a lack of price and content options which would suit subscribers’ more individual viewing needs”.The average monthly spend on cable and satellite platforms was £60.83, which highlights the fact Sky and Virgin Media still focus on flat fees for large channel bundles.Another finding of the report, A Nation Subscribed: 2016 State of the UK Subscription Economy, showed that four million Brits with SVOD services did not plan to ever buy a DVD or Blu-Ray again.“The popularity of video streaming services in the UK seems to be unabated as the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime have changed the way we consume content forever,” said Zuora CEO Tien Tzuo.“The heat is on for streaming providers to sign up as many hungry UK viewers as they can, and the winner in this race will be the company that not only delivers the most compelling content, but also the right price packages that meet each subscriber’s individual expectations.”More findings from the report:• 59% say Netflix, Amazon and other SVOD services are ‘integral’ to their lives• 81% cite the ability to enjoy content ‘in a way that suits them’ was a main benefit of SVOD services• 75% cite new content suited to their tastes• 56% cite the ability to stream on multiple devices• Two million Brits subscribe to at least on subscription product or service (including financial services, online and software storage, food and drink services, music streaming services and media publications)
Nordic free and pay TV broadcaster Modern Times Group has completed its previously announce acquisition of 21% of InnoGames, the Germany-based online games developer and publisher. MTG will acquire a further 14% of InnoGames during 2017.The acquisition of a total stake of 35% in InnoGames is based on a total enterprise value of €260 million for the company.MTG has the right to acquire a further 16% of InnoGames at the same valuation up until the end of September 2017, as well as options to increase the shareholding further over time.MTG will report its share of InnoGames’ net income as associated company income (EBIT) within its MTGx operating segment with effect from today.MTG announced its move to acquire a stake in InnoGames in October.MTG’s investment adds gaming as a third vertical to MTG’s digital division MTGx – alongside eSports businesses ESL and DreamHack, and MTG’s multichannel network (MCN) investments in Zoomin.TV and Splay.Jørgen Madsen Lindemann, MTG President and CEO said: “Our MTGx division is now present in three complementary digital storytelling verticals, each of which offers truly global potential. InnoGames is a perfect fit for our strategy of investing in relevant, complementary and scalable digital brands, content and communities. We are looking forward to working with the talented InnoGames team to build on their successful track record.”
Sony Pictures Television has tapped Simplestream to power its new Sony Kids catch-up service on UK smart TV platform YouView.The free Sony Kids service offers programming from Sony’s kids channels Tiny Pop, POP and KIX and went live across all YouView connected set-top boxes – including BT TV and TalkTalk TV boxes – earlier this month.The partnership marks the first deployment of Simplestream’s Hybrid TV solution, which can deliver OTT linear channels, catch-up TV and other VOD content to platforms including Youview, Freeview Play, Freesat and EE TV.“Kids are spending more time every week watching their favourite programming, so it is paramount that catch-up services such as this are in place to cater to their hunger for favourite programming anytime, anywhere and on any device,” said Dan Finch, commercial director of Simplestream.“This service is a natural extension of the products and solutions we currently offer. It’s been a pleasure working with Sony Pictures Television and YouView to deliver this entertainment destination.”
German football team Borussia Dortmund has relaunched its over-the-top platform BVB-TV in partnership with end-to-end service provide Sportradar.BVB-TV offers both a free tier and a subscription offering priced at €1.99 per-month.The free option includes access to live friendly matches, while the premium content will include full regular match replays and game highlights immediately after the final whistle.The subscription offering will also include behind the scenes programming, with Borussia Dortmund pledging a minimum of one new video upload each day on average.Sportradar will provide the OTT solution, including a front-end user experience, video management system and content delivery to different BVB output channels – such as web, mobile, social media and content syndication to BVB’s main club TV sponsor, Deutsche Telekom.Viewers will also be able to access match stats and insights when they watch games back, including dynamic overlays, which are synchronised minute by minute, and cue-points for the most important parts of a game.“We revisited our OTT platform and decided we wanted more from it,” said Borussia Dortmund’s chief marketing officer, Carsten Cramer. “Sportradar really captured our imagination and we are excited to be rolling out this new and improved BVB-TV offering for the new season.”Sportradar’s managing director of OTT, Rainer Geier, said: “Borussia fans, no matter where and how they access BVB-TV, will have access to content and insights that no other team’s fans can get. We love taking fans of innovative clubs deeper into the fabric of these teams and players, based on Sportradar’s unique OTT capabilities to combine audiovisual content and sports data seamlessly.”