Subscription video on demand services may have hit their zenith already, as the industry segment appears to be shaking out troubled and non-performing players – at least in the international arena. That includes HBO Netherlands, the network’s original international service, and Australian SVOD service Presto.
HBO didn’t offer details as to why it was shutting down all three of its linear channels in the Netherlands, along with its OTT and TV Everywhere variants. HBO content will instead be available only for subscribers to Ziggo, the Liberty Global-owned cable operator that is part of the joint venture that originally brought HBO to the country. According to Broadband TV News, Ziggo said the move was simply “a business decision.”
The news came as a shock to other IPTV and cable operators in the Netherlands, including KPN and Sparql, which now can no longer offer HBO as an add-on linear or on-demand service.
In Australia, meantime, SVOD service Presto has also hit the end of the road. Cable operator Foxtel said it will shut down Presto at the end of January after buying its joint venture partner’s stake in the service. The move will make way for Foxtel to launch its own streaming service, Foxtel Play, in December of this year.
The news comes in the wake of last week’s announcement that shomi, the Canadian SVOD service launched as a joint venture of Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications, will shut down in November.
The reasons for these SVOD services’ shutdowns are likely as varied as the content they offered. Again, it’s not known exactly why HBO Netherlands – which draws a huge audience for Game of Thrones as its parent network in the U.S. does, for example – ceased operations. But for shomi, a limited audience and limited content – the service was only available to Rogers and Shaw subscribers, and had about 1,200 moves in its library – put it on the same path as Redbox Instant took a couple of years ago with Verizon. Presto was simply in the way of one of its major stakeholders’ plans for a new SVOD service.
At least one other OTT effort hit a different kind of roadblock this year: DisneyLife, an OTT streaming service available mainly in Europe, was shut down by regulators in China after just five months in operation there. However, Disney’s flagship OTT effort continues to operate and is reportedly in talks with Telstra, which incidentally is part owner of Foxtel along with News Corp., to launch the service in Australia.