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It Was A Good Week For OTT

If you’re into over-the-top video entertainment, last week was a bonanza for exciting announcements.

From the revelation that Sony has begun beta testing its PlayStation Vue video-on-demand (VOD) service that will take on rival multichannel video services, to news that Amazon is making 4K content available at no extra charge to Prime customer who own a qualifying Samsung 4K TV, there was no shortage of compelling announcements. All of this makes the upcoming FCC decision on changing Title II conditions to better enforce net neutrality all the more eventful.

The following are few of the week’s more compelling OTT items:

Disney Movies Anywhere coming to Vudu: In one of the week’s later news items, Disney chief technology officer Jamie Voris revealed at a company event in Los Angeles that Disney’s locker service will launch on Walmart’s Vudu service Nov. 18, marking an expansion of the platform beyond the iOS sphere.

Earlier in the month, Disney said its Cloud service would be available on the Android platform and that early users would be able to add “Wreck-It Ralph” to their libraries for free as a sign-up incentive.

Disney Movies Anywhere was introduced in February and includes over 400 streaming digital titles from Disney, Marvel and Pixar. It is a rival to UltraViolet, which most other studios have aligned with and which has long been part of Vudu’s digital movie purchase arsenal.

Sony announced the beta testing of its  long-rumored new Cloud-based TV-viewing service aimed at bringing a pay-as-you-play multichannel TV service to the multichannel TV provider industry.

The electronics and movie giant said the new PlayStation Vue service will let viewers watch live TV and on-demand content without a cable or satellite service.

Sony Network Entertainment International and Sony Computer Entertainment are championing the service, which will start out on PlayStation 3 and 4 consoles before eventually rolling out to smartphones, tablets and other devices. A commercial launch is planned for early 2015.

The service offers a catch-up TV system for live programs, and a PlayStation user interface controlled by the DualShock controller.

Sony’s service also offers a powerful programming recommendation system that suggests movies and shows based on viewing habits of the user as well as what’s trending with other viewers.

During the beta trial, Sony said it will give invited users access to 75 channels per market, including local broadcast stations.

Current network partners include:

*CBS-owned and -operated TV stations in select leading markets, in addition to on-demand prime-time programming;

*Discovery Communications channels, including Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery, Science, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Discovery Family Channel and 11 more brands;

*Fox Networks Group’s national entertainment programming services, including Fox O&O stations, FX, FXX, FXM, National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo Wild; Fox Sports’ national and regional programming services, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, BTN, Fox’s regional sports networks, including YES Network and Prime Ticket;

*NBCUniversal channels, including all local offerings from NBC, Telemundo and regional sports networks, as well as Bravo, CNBC, E, NBCSN, Oxygen, Sprout, Syfy, USA Network and more;

 Scripps Networks Interactive channels, including HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel, DIY Network and Cooking Channel.; and

*Viacom channels, including BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Palladia, Spike, VH1 and more.

M-Go, the premium video-on-demand streaming service, revealed a partnership with Samsung to launch 4K VoD movies and TV shows, initially to Samsung’s 4K UHD TVs.

M-Go is a premium VOD service and joint venture between Technicolor and DreamWorks Animation, which has been supplying up to FullHD videos to customers to date. The service expansion joins Netflix, Amazon and others in bringing 3,840 by 2160 video content to consumers’ living rooms in time for the holiday selling season, and extends the service’s capabilities into the 4K UHD sphere for owners of Samsung UHD TVs.

M-Go said the UHD service will start up with a select number of titles, which are expected to quickly grow to 100 movie and TV shows by the end of 2014.

UHD content will be priced on average at $1 to $2 more than HD titles to rent and $3 to $5 more to buy, the company said.

M-Go said the offering will start as an exclusive to Samsung, and will be featured on a UHD TV lineup that includes both flat and curved-screen LED LCD TVs with screen sizes up to 110 inches.

M-Go said its UHD streaming library will include content “that is either authored and post-produced in UHD, or pre-processed from licensed content partner source files and optimized for image clarity, detail and texture on televisions like Samsung UHD TVs.”

DirecTV also announced the launch of new 4K VoD programming exclusively to start on Samsung RVU-ready 4K Ultra HDTVs. Content will be downloaded over the internet to Genie networked satellite boxes, form where they will be accessible by Samsung RVU-ready 4K UHD TVs in other rooms, without the need of an extra thin-client box or connecting cables.

At launch, DirecTV said it will begin offering nearly 20 movies from both Paramount Pictures and K2 Communications with more titles to be announced soon.

Among the first available titles will be: “Forrest Gump,” “Transformers: Age of Extinction”, “The Terminal,” and “Amistad” and the 2009 film “Star Trek.” Nature documentary fare will include: “Dolphins, Coral Reef Adventure,” “Legends of Flight and Mysteries of the Great Lakes” and others. Customers will need an Internet-connected Genie HD DVR (HR34 and above), and a Samsung UHD TV that is DirecTV 4K ready, the company said.