October 1, 2018 910 Views in Daily Dose, Data, News The Strength of the Housing Market According to the latest American Enterprise Institute National Housing Market Indicators Report for Q2 2018, strong home price increases have not had much of an effect on the home sales market. The national home sales market remained solid, according to AEI, reporting that for the four quarters ending in Q2 2018, 6.37 million sales transactions were reported, up 160,000 transactions, or 2.6 percent, from the four quarters ending in Q2 2017.Additionally, the report notes that sales transactions increased 0.2 percent in Q2 compared to a year ago, marking the fifteenth consecutive quarter of such increases. This comes as the FHFA’s national house price index jumps 6.6 percent year over year in Q2 2018.The report also notes the credit easing from several federal agencies, meaning more “credit-challenged” borrowers have remained in the market.“By counter-cyclically buoying demand, these agencies are worsening the housing supply-demand imbalance, which is already at historical levels,” said AEI’s report.AEI states that while several agencies, such as the FHA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Veteran’s Association have been supporting the the recent boom through their credit easing, Fannie Mae’s credit easing has been “breathtaking.”Looking forward, AEI has four predictions for 2018. First, AEI predicts the limited single-family home inventory to become more limited through the year. The report also predicts the price boom which began in 2012 to continue, accelerated by the limited inventory.Third, first time buyers may face additionally affordability issues as home prices increase, especially on starter homes. First time buyers are also likely to face take on more risk of debt and default given these conditions.AEI found that Fannie Mae and the FHA have been competing for these first time buyers by easing credit access. The report notes that the high levels of the pace of credit easing has been “worrying”, and Freddie Mac has largely resisted the trend. AEI also states that with the tight supply-boosted seller’s market, credit easing will be reflected in the price increases.Find the complete data from AEI here. Health Houisng Market Inventory Prices 2018-10-01 Seth Welborn Share
TEMPE, Ariz. — Do the Arizona Cardinals have a running game?Over their last two games — both wins — the Cards have rushed for 298 yards on 59 attempts. The yardage total accounts for 35 percent of the team’s entire rushing output this season, and has added a level of balance to an offense that desperately needed it.“We’re just executing,” running back Andre Ellington said Monday. “We’re just taking what we do in practice every day and getting better. Everyone’s on the same page. The offensive linemen are doing a great job and the backs are, too. And the receivers are as well, getting great blocks on the outside.” Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Comments Share Top Stories Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Ellington, along with Rashard Mendenhall and Stepfan Taylor, have received the bulk of the carries.Without the threat of the run, defenses could tee off on quarterback Carson Palmer. Now, they can’t.“It helps out a lot,” Ellington said. “It frees up those defensive linemen from taking shots at him and gives him an opportunity to throw the ball down field.”Ellington said the goal has always been to establish that balance, and head coach Bruce Arians noted that it has helped Palmer produce.“That’s probably the biggest thing that helped him be comfortable,” he said. It’s probably no coincidence that the running game has improved since Ellington’s role increased, as the sixth-round pick out of Clemson has gained 209 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries over the last two games. “It just comes in practice,” Ellington said of the increased role. “I bust my butt every day trying to get better. I feel like when I get to the game, it’s just me out there in the zone and I’m having fun. I feel like all the hard work comes during the week, so once the game comes it’s all easy.” Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo
RelatedArticle 50 and Brexit: What does this means for EU travel?Article 50 has now been triggered, and so begins the formal process of the UK leaving the European Union. But what does this mean for your travel plans? Can you still travel within Europe? Do you need a visa for that city break now? We’ve put together this no-nonsense guide…Bargains of the week: Poznan | Bucharest | PragueBargains of the week: Poznan | Bucharest | PragueMore Brits could book flights to Iceland last-minuteIceland, Jamaica and Hungary offer the best value for money for British travellers. The Czech Republic is set to break ranks with European Union partners and sign a deal that will pave the way for visa-free travel to the United States for its citizens.Reports have claimed that Czech prime minister Mirek Topolanek – currently on a visit to the White House – had agreed to sign a ‘memorandum of understanding’ that binds the country into providing extensive security details.European Union officials have issued scepticism at the conditions of US visa relaxation, with many reluctant to see personal traveller details committed to the US in online approval questionnaires – and many concerns aired over the introduction of air marshals on flights between the signatories.Czech deputy prime minister Alexandr Vondra was recently quoted as saying: “The EU has done nothing for us on visas. There was no help, no solidarity in the past. It’s in our interest to move ahead.”While Topolanek is expected to negotiate the amount of details Czech travellers will have to provide for visa-free travel, another contentious issue will be raised if – as rumoured – further agreements are etched out tomorrow to place US radar bases for missile defence systems on Czech soil.American officials have identified the Czech memorandum as a potential blueprint for similar agreements with the other 26 EU member states, while the European Commission has criticised Czech authorities for settling on a bilateral solution and weakening the collective bargaining position.ReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepart14/08/2019Return21/08/2019Cabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Map
Luxury brand Hublot is enjoying a successful start to 2010: The brand has announced the opening of its second Parisian boutique this spring.Furthering the development of its network of single-brand boutiques, Hublot is adding yet another prestigious address to its portfolio. The new Hublot Boutique will open its doors in the center of Place Vendôme, a choice location right at the heart of the luxury goods world, thus reinforcing the brand’s position as one of the power players in this sector.The Place Vendôme boutique will soon start its transformation. This will be Hublot’s second Parisian boutique and the 20th Hublot Boutique overall following Geneva, Prague, Moscow, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, St. Thomas, St. Martin, Ile Maurice and Istanbul, to name a few.The expansion policy for the single-brand network during 2010 will include openings at other strategic locations, such as New York’s Madison Avenue or Bal Harbour—a logical step in the worldwide expansion of the Hublot brand.Visit www.hublot.com.
05Nov Michigan House panel takes testimony on local resident’s idea for new Michigan law Mark Shrapnell, at right, today testifies before the House Elections and Ethics Committee on his idea to reform the millage election process. Rep. Dan Lauwers, at left, formally introduced the legislation.A Michigan House committee today took testimony on legislation proposed by a constituent of Rep. Dan Lauwers to increase voter turnout and save taxpayer dollars by limiting millage increase elections to November or August.Mark Shrapnell of St. Clair came up with the idea for the legislation as part of a contest sponsored by Lauwers to give constituents the chance to help direct public policy. Residents were asked to send in ideas for legislation, and the top five proposals were introduced by Lauwers. Shrapnell traveled to Lansing to testify before the committee.“Mark’s idea is a common-sense measure to help ensure a better representation of the people at the ballot box while saving hard-earned taxpayer dollars,” said Lauwers, R-Brockway Township. “Local voters deserve the right to be heard when it comes to any new millage proposal, and our primary or general elections are when the majority of people vote.”House Bill 4887 specifies that after Dec. 31, 2014, a local taxing unit would be required to hold a new or increased millage proposal during the November general election or August primary election. Under current law, a taxing unit can hold up to two millage elections during the year. Millage renewal elections would still be allowed at other times under the legislation.Lauwers received more than 50 bill ideas from residents as part of his legislation contest.“The contest gave local residents a unique opportunity to take part in our democratic form of government,” Lauwers said. “I want to thank Mark for taking the time to drive to Lansing to testify before the committee. It’s just another reason why it’s so important for state lawmakers to be in the district, listening to constituents. I’m happy Mark was able to get a firsthand look at government in action.”HB 4887 is still under consideration by the House Elections and Ethics Committee. Categories: Lauwers News,Lauwers Photos
State Representative Sarah Lightner this week joined Republican members of the Michigan House to unveil their Action Plan for the 2019-20 legislative term.The plan titled “Leading the Way for an Even Better Michigan” highlights key areas to focus on for the current legislative term.“We must continue to remain transparent and accountable for the policies we support,” said Lightner, of Springport. “Government exists to serve the people in our communities. Accomplishing the goals set out in the Action Plan will help make a positive difference in the lives and pocketbooks of Michiganders.”Lightner has previously worked as a paralegal, specializing in criminal defense and family law, and she plans to focus on continuing important criminal justice reforms that will help reduce recidivism and uphold the rule of law.“We must continue to work on policy that will both help our loved ones and ensure safe communities,” Lightner said.Rep. Lightner serves the residents of the 65th House District, which encompasses parts of Jackson, Lenawee and Eaton counties.The 2019-2020 House Republican Action Plan may be viewed at http://gophouse.org/leading-the-way/### Categories: Lightner News,News 21Feb Rep. Lightner helps unveil Michigan House Republican Action Plan
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares April 6, 2014; San Diego Union-TribuneJames Chute writes that when General and Artistic Director Ian Campbell emerged onto the stage before what may have been the final performance of the San Diego Opera on Saturday, he was met with jeers and hisses from the audience, some of whom were unhappy with what they see as the too-early pronouncement of the death of the SDO.An announcement was made in March that the Opera would close in mid-April— ironically, as it turns out, right after the company’s last performance of Don Quixote. Since then, an online petition seeking a reversal of the board’s vote has accumulated more than 20,000 names and a good deal of criticism has been leveled at the company. Indeed, not even the board appears to be of one mind on the closure, even though the decision to close was reputed to have been 33 – 1. Still, the board is 60 strong, and some members claim they were not given notice that the decision would come up.Anyway, long story short, last Monday, a dissident group of the board voted to extend the company’s life by two weeks to April 29th, and board member Carol Lazier has offered a $1 million gift if the company rescinds the vote to dissolve as soon as possible in favor of developing a new business plan.In the face of all of this, Campbell was, on Saturday night, according to this report in the San Diego News, giving “what seemed to be a eulogy, thanking people for their support and speaking about the opera in the past tense, until members of the crowd, some wearing stickers proclaiming ‘Save the San Diego Opera,’ disrupted him again.”Chute concludes, “A quote from Cervantes was projected onto a scrim at the front of the stage: The greatest madness a man can commit is to let himself die, just like that, without anybody killing him…. Let’s hope the opera’s board of directors was paying attention.”Still, another musical line occurs to us as we consider all of this.Don’t it always seem to go, That you don’t know what you’ve got ’Til it’s gone?Does it really take near-death experiences to wake us all up to what we will need to do to save treasured community institutions?—Ruth McCambridgeShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Share432TweetShare2Email434 SharesFarm/Art DTour at Reedsburg Fermentation Fes / wilko.hardenbergOctober 12, 2015; Minneapolis Star Tribune and Baraboo News Republic“We’re in an interesting historical moment right now,” said Anne Katz, Executive Director of Arts Wisconsin. “The economy is changing and we’re living it.”Katz, who has led the organization since 1995, said the economic crash that began in 2007 and the Great Recession that followed in 2008 and 2009 marked a turning point in the way municipal planners looked at economic development.Marty Krueger, chairman of the Sauk County Board of Supervisors, acknowledged that grants in support of the arts result in occasional pushback from residents of Sauk County, whose population in 2010 as 61,976. The county seat and largest city is Baraboo (pop. 12,048).“My answer to them is we cannot not afford it,” Krueger said. “This is not just a grant. It’s an investment.”Krueger has championed “creative placemaking,” a relatively new and still evolving approach to development that links local culture and the arts with the unique attributes of a community to both grow the economy and create a better place for residents to live. The National Endowment for the Arts defines “creative placemaking” as when “public, private, not-for-profit, and community sectors partner to strategically shape the physical and social character of a neighborhood, town, tribe, city, or region around arts and cultural activities.”To be effective, placemaking initiatives need to grow from the ground up, according to Sherry Wagner-Henry, director of the Bolz Center for Arts Administration, Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Both Katz and Wagner-Henry said there’s no better local example of creative placemaking than one born in Reedsburg (pop 10,014) sitting on the Baraboo River.Fermentation Fest and Farm/Art DTour (Fest and DTour) grew from a seed planted in 2010 when a rural Reedsburg nonprofit, the Wormfarm Institute, secured a grant to bring a Smithsonian exhibit to town. Wormfarm seeks to “build a sustainable future for agriculture and the arts by fostering vital links between people and the land.”“Planting a seed, cultivating, reaping what you sow…both farmer and artist have these activities in common,” says the organization’s website.Now in its fifth year, Fest and DTour, a Sunday event, has begun to spread across Sauk County to places like Rock Springs (pop. 362), North Freedom (pop. 701), and farther. It’s a colorful and potent mixture of ideas, food, education, entertainment and public art that can’t be neatly boxed.Evidence, though, suggests visitors get it and like it. Estimates for the first four years of the event show it’s growing at the rate of about 4,000 visitors per year.“I really expect we could hit 20,000 this year,” Kristine Koenecke, executive director of the Reedsburg Area Chamber of Commerce says. “It will not surprise me. I’m preparing for that.Koenecke said Fest and DTour has lent a unique identity to the Reedsburg area that complements those in other Sauk County municipalities. Spring Green (pop. 1,628) has the outdoor American Players Theatre, the eccentric House on the Rock, and once was home to architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Prairie du Sac (pop. 3,972) has Bald Eagle Watching Days and the Cow Chip Throw. Baraboo has a historic connection with the Ringling Bros. Circus, an annual Big Top Parade & Circus Celebration, and the historic Al Ringling Theatre.The potent mix of arts and marketing hasn’t escaped notice in Wisconsin Dells (pop 2,678), in south-central Wisconsin. Last month, Dells officials unveiled a multi-year, $40-million plan to create a River Arts District.The future vitality of small-town Wisconsin, says Terry Whipple, executive director of the Juneau County (pop 26,547) Economic Development Corp, rests with those who understand that creating experiences is the key to economic development. Automation means fewer people will work in traditional industry, and digital communications allow knowledge industry workers to choose where they live.“Artists are key players in how regions grow and attract people who have choices,” argues Wormfarm Institute co-founder Donna Neuwirth. Whipple agrees: “Our main streets are changing and they’ll never return to what they once were as retail centers. They’re beginning to become our entertainment districts. Any community that is not exciting in some way—they’re dead, because they will never be able to attract or keep talent.”—John GodfreyShare432TweetShare2Email434 Shares
Share14TweetShareEmail14 SharesApril 20, 2016; NPR, “The Two-Way”Sometimes it is important to provide a little human context for the politics of immigration in Europe and the United States.A UN Refugee Agency team reports that a boat with as many as 500 refugees sank last week as it was trying to make the journey between Libya and Italy. Only 41 survived—37 men, 3 women and one three-year-old child—who were all adrift on the Mediterranean for three days before they were rescued.The tragedy, according to the survivors, happened when smugglers moved 200 people to another already overcrowded vessel. The survivors appear to be those who had not yet transferred to the larger vessel. About half of those on board were from Somalia, with the rest being from Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan.But the tragedy also has other policy-based roots. Sudarsan Rughavan writes in the Washington Post:A controversial agreement between the European Union and Turkey has dramatically reduced the number of refugees reaching the Greek islands. Balkan nations are closing their borders as well, preventing travel from Greece to Germany and beyond. That has triggered fears that more refugees and migrants could attempt to enter Europe from Egypt or Libya.Last year, more than 1 million migrants and refugees crossed the Mediterranean. They were mostly fleeing the wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, using Turkey as a launching pad to Greece and then deeper into Europe. But the crossing from North Africa to Italy has historically been more perilous than the one from Turkey to Greece.According to Rughavan, one Ethiopian man told the International Organization for Migration, “I saw my wife and my 2-month-old child die at sea, together with my brother-in-law. […] The boat was going down. All the people died in a matter of minutes.”—Ruth McCambridgeShare14TweetShareEmail14 Shares
Share14TweetShareEmail14 Shares“Housing is a Right,” Tony WebsterSeptember 26, 2018; Boston Globe and the AtlanticEarlier this month, at NPQ, we covered the fiftieth anniversary of a 1968 housing bill that led to the construction of over a million new units of affordable housing in three years before it was scuttled by the Nixon administration. These days, housing production, hobbled by an underfunded system of tax credits, falls far short of those levels. Earlier this year, Benjamin Schneider in City Lab cited a report by an advocacy group called Up for Growth, which calculates that US housing production fell 7.3 million units short of demand from 2000 to 2015, which has led to increasing shortfalls in housing affordability in many US communities.Now, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) seeks to close that gap. While not as ambitious as the US 1968 housing law, Warren’s bill, with a price of $500 billion over 10 years, would, if passed, easily be the largest federal housing initiative in decades.“Housing is the biggest expense for most working families—and costs for everyone, everywhere are skyrocketing,” notes Warren.Warren’s bill is called the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act. The bill, explains Nik DeCosta-Klipa of the Boston Globe, involves two main components: 1) federal funds for housing construction and assistance, 2) incentives for localities to loosen zoning rules. Warren’s bill would fund its goals by raising estate taxes by a like amount.Specific elements include the following:$470 billion over 10 years to support existing federal affordable housing programs, such as the Housing Trust Fund and Capital Magnet Fund. Because the current annual budget of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is $48 billion, effectively this provision alone would double HUD’s budget.The bill would provide down-payment grants to first-time homebuyers living in formerly redlined or segregated areas in an effort to provide some redress for historical federal practices of redlining, which denied people of color access to federally subsidized loans to buy homes.The bill would designate $2 billion to support borrowers—mostly in rural and suburban areas—who still have negative equity on their mortgages as a result of the Great Recession.The bill includes a $10 billion grant program that communities can use to build “infrastructure, parks, roads, or schools,” under the condition that local governments reform land-use rules.Writing in the Atlantic, Madeleine Carlisle notes that the bill also “restructures the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), a 1977 law proposed to monitor banks with discriminatory loan policies against communities of color. Warren’s bill gives the CRA more enforcement mechanisms and expands its policing power to include credit unions and nonbank mortgage companies, which were not as ubiquitous when the bill was passed.” CRA, NPQ’s Rick Cohen once noted, is “one of the nonprofit sector’s biggest advocacy triumphs.”According to a report written by Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics, the law could generate three million housing units by 2028. “By the end of the 10-year horizon, affordable housing supply should be approximately equal to demand,” Zandi adds.Alexander Casey, a policy adviser at Zillow, notes that, by comparison, “the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program…helped build around three million low-income units from 1987 to 2016.” In other words, the increase in housing production stemming from Warren’s bill alone would produce as many housing units in 10 years as has been produced in the previous two decades.Zandi also estimates that Warren’s bill would reduce rent inflation from four percent to three percent a year, resulting in rents that are 10 percent lower by 2028. The housing construction financed by the bill could lead to 1.5 million jobs during peak construction years.To fund this, Warren proposes raising the estate tax. The current tax, as passed in the 2017 tax bill, exempts all estates with assets of up to $11.2 million from taxation ($22.4 million for couples). Warren’s bill would lower the exempt level to $3.5 million for individuals or $7 million for couples, as was the case during the Bush administration. Estates larger than that level would face a tax rate of 55 percent for the portion of the estate above the exemption level, with rates rising as high as 75 percent for estates valued at $1 billion or more. In total, Warren’s office estimates that about 10,000 people a year would face these taxes.While Warren’s bill is unlikely to pass soon, it has generated considerable nonprofit and housing advocate support. Diane Yentel, head of the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, says the bill “would help millions of the lowest-income seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, and individuals who struggle to pay rent and the half a million people without a home at all.” Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, says it would “reduce rents for millions of Americans and open new doors to home ownership.”—Steve DubbShare14TweetShareEmail14 Shares
French cable operator Numericable has hired Rothschild to advise it on a public flotation, according to French press reports. Financial daily Les Echos reported that the cable operator plans to launch its IPO this year, citing four sources close to the matter.According to the paper, the decision to float the company follows the failure of talks that could have resulted in a merger with Vivendi-backed telco SFR.The move, through which Numericable’s backers reportedly hope to raise up to €5 billion, comes amidst renewed interest from the financial sector in the cable industry in Europe following Liberty Global’s acquisition of Virgin Media and Vodafone’s €7.2 billion offer for Kabel Deutschland.There was speculation four months ago that Numericable’s owners, Carlyle, Cinven and Patrick Drahi were preparing to make an offer to acquire SFR outright, with a plan to merge the two operators at a later date.
Finnish sports channel URHOtv will cease broadcasting from tomorrow after failing to put its finances on a viable footing.The channel first revealed that it was in financial difficulty last autumn. With no solution in site, URHOtv cancelled all planned forward production and said it would suspend its signal as of the beginning of April.The channel’s backers said they would continue to look for ways to continue to operate.URHO Play, the company’s online offering, will also be suspended.
Netflix will not test or introduce third-party advertising to its service it said this morning.There were widespread US reports overnight that Netflix was trialling advertising on its service, leading to a social media outcry that the previously ad-free streaming service was about to change its business model and, in some form, become ad-supported.However the US-listed company said this morning that it categorically has no intention of running advertising in the US or international markets in which it operates.It added that it is teasing some of its original shows in trailers that appear before episodes of its dramas, but even that initiative may not become widespread.“We are not planning to test or implement third-party advertising on the Netflix service,” the company said in an official statement. “For some time, we’ve teased Netflix originals with short trailers after a member finishes watching a show. Some members in a limited test now are seeing teases before a show begins.”It added: “We test hundreds of potential improvements to the service every year. Many never extend beyond that.”
Moldovan service provider Moldtelecom is to add Ukrainian OTT service Megogo to its TV offering on Nomveber 1.Megogo offers access to over 3,500 films, 700 TV series and 800 kids cartoons, all advertising-free. The service will be offered free of charge by Moldtelecom in November, and will be charged at MDL15 (€0.67) a month thereafter.Megogo’s service allows viewers to select content on-demand, view, fast-forward, pause, rewind and jump forwards 30 seconds.
Sky and BT have set out their stalls highlighting plans for Premier League football coverage over the coming months, with Sky adding 10 live Premier League matches in 2016, and BT highlighting its coverage of five Premier League matches in February along with the FA Cup and Champions League and Europa League ties.As part of its newly announced schedule of matches, Sky Sports will show more games featuring 14 different teams including Manchester United’s visit to Stamford Bridge, and Manchester City at home to Tottenham Hotspur.“Sky Sports is the only place to see all the stories of an increasingly unpredictable Premier League season, with drama every weekend. By March there will still be 38 Premier League games to come on Sky Sports, and we will be the place to see the thrilling climax to a fantastic season,” said Sky Sports head of football Gary Hughes.BT’s February coverage will kick off with West Ham United versus Aston Villa.Coverage will also include all of the Champions League and Europa League round of 16 and round of 32 games respectively.Simon Green, head of BT Sport, said: “February is set to be one of our best months ever with an action packed football schedule on BT Sport. There are teams hoping to fight it out for the Premier League title, European qualification or involved in the battle against relegation. BT Sport will also be showing live FA Cup games as well as UEFA Champions League and Europa League games in a February football feast.”
Klaus Illgner-FehnsThe HbbTV Association has named its newly elected Steering Group, which will focus on “extending the consumer benefits of hybrid broadcast TV” with the deployment of HbbTV 2.0.The new Steering Group, which will serve for a two-year term, features representatives from Deutsche Telekom, RTL Group, the EBU, Freesat, Samsung and Sony.Klaus Illgner-Fehns, managing director of the research centre of German broadcasters, the IRT, was re-elected as chairman of the group. TP Vision’s Jon Piesing was re-elected as vice-chair and TNO’s Rob Koenen continues to serve as treasurer.“With over 35 million HbbTV devices deployed and hundreds of services on air, HbbTV is the largest interactive TV platform available for broadcasters to build new and attractive TV and OTT services,” said Illgner.“Our new Steering Group is strengthened with the addition of these new industry leaders who have the experience, vision and determination to take HbbTV services to the next level.”The newly elected Steering Group includes the following members: Xavi Redon, Cellnext; Nicolai Leymann, Deutsche Telekom; Ian Medland, Digital TV Group; Peter MacAvock, EBU; Bob Campbell, Eurofins Digital Testing; Matthew Huntington, Freesat.Also in the group is: Stuart Savage, LG Electronics; Frode Hernes, Opera TV; Angelo Pettazzi, Reti Televisive Italiane; Henry Rivero, RTL Group; John Adam, Samsung Electronics; Nigel Moore, Sony Europe; Pedro Valiente Echezarreta, Tivù.
Trace has acquired African subscription video-on-demand service Buni.tv as it gears up to launch its own Trace Play SVOD service in Africa later this year.Buni.tv CEO Marie Lora-Mungai confirmed the deal in a Facebook post, describing Trace as an “ideal” and “forward-thinking” partner.“Trace and Buni.tv share the same strategic vision in that we believe that VOD is the future of television,” said Lora-Mungai.“We also share the same analysis that the success of any VOD service in Africa will depend on whether it can source and offer high quality original African content.”Following the launch of Trace Play, Buni.tv will “be moved under and hosted by that service,” though customers will not notice any changes in the next couple of months, according to Lora-Mungai.Eventually the Trace Play and Buni.tv will fully merge and current subscribers to Buni.tv will get access to the full Trace Play catalogue, which is due to include thousands of hours of African and international content at launch.Speaking to DTVE at MIPTV in April, Trace CEO Olivier Laouchez said that the millennial-focused Trace Play service will start to roll out globally from June.The SVOD offering will launch first in France, Switzerland, Belgium, and other French speaking territories in the Carribean, and then go live in the UK and US between two weeks to a month later.Eventually it will be available in more than 60 countries in Europe, the US, the Caribbean and Africa in both English and French, with a Portuguese language version also in the works.Laouchez said Trace Play will include 4,000 hours of programming – some of it original and exclusive. Trace will offer content produced for its Trace Sports Star and Trace Music Star channels on the SVOD service and its linear music channels will also be available to watch on Trace Play. He also described it as “the most important project that we are launching this year”.Buni.tv launched in 2012 was among the first VOD platforms to focus on the African market. It now claims to be among the continent’s top three SVOD services alongside Iroko TV and Nasper’s Showmax.Currently users can sign up for free and get access to more than 500 videos. For US$4.99 per-month viewers can get access to all free and premium movie and TV content. A US$12.99 three-month plan and a US$49.99 annual plan is also available.The takeover was agreed for undisclosed terms.
Vodafone saw its TV base hit by losses in Spain in the quarter to June, but the group claimed success from its marketing of fixed-mobile convergent offerings.Vodafone overall had 9.6 million TV homes in Europe at the end of June, or 13.5 million including the VodafoneZiggo joint venture in the Netherlands.The company said that it now had 3.8 million converged homes – meaning homes that took both fixed and mobile services, up 700,000 year-on-year. Including VodafoneZiggo, the number was 4.4 million.By comparison, Vodafone had 16.8 million broadband customers in Europe at the end of June, and 50.1 million 4G mobile customers.In Spain, Vodafone’s TV base fell by 24,000 over the quarter, which the company attributed in part to a temporary delay in being able to offer the service to its wholesale footprint in agreement with Telefónica. Other factors included disconnections following the end of the football season and a new emphasis on selling premium packages.Vodafone One, the company’s converged fixed, mobile and TV offering in Spain, reached 2.4 million homes at the end of June, up 63,000 during the quarter. The company also launched a basic convergent offering via its low-cost brand Lowi in May.Vodafone added 15,000 fixed broadband customers and 55,000 contract mobile customers in Spain during the quarter.Vodafone said that average revenue increased and churn fell for households that took its converged products.Vodafone’s TV base in Germany was stable at 7.7 million. The company’s GigaKombi convergent offering sighed up 90,000 households during the quarter, taking the total converged homes to 500,000.Vodafone said that added 100,000 broadband customers in the quarter in Germany, including 65,000 on cable.Vodafone Portugal meanwhile reported that its OTT TV service was now seen by 500,000 customers, boosted by a stronger programming offer including Sporting TV and new channels from AMC.In Europe as a whole, 30% of Vodafone’s fixed broadband subscriber base is now ‘converged’. In Spain, the proportion is 88%, far ahead of other territories in which the company is present. The other market where Vodafone has successfully marketed convergence to its fixed base is the UK, with 77% of fixed customers being converged. However, the UK fixed base is extremely small compared with the overall mobile base.In Germany, only 8% of fixed broadband customers are converged, while in the Netherlands, where the merger with Ziggo was intended to capitalize on convergence above all else, the figure is 21%. In Italy, 26% of fixed customers take a mobile service, while in the rest of Europe, the figure is 28%.Overall, Vodafone posted revenues of €11.474 billion for the quarter to June, down 3.3%, including €8.299 billion in Europe, down 4.8%.“We have made a good start to the year in Europe, where our commercial momentum remains robust, and growth accelerated across AMAP. Although competition in India remains intense, service revenues stabilised compared with the prior quarter. Our substantial investments in network leadership, an excellent customer experience and even greater ‘more-for-more’ propositions for customers are enabling us to monetise strong demand for mobile data,” said CEO Vittorio Colao.“We are gaining profitable market share in broadband, and a growing proportion of our customers now take our fully converged offers. Our world-leading Internet of Things platform contributed to another quarter of solid growth in Enterprise. In addition, we are executing our ‘Fit for Growth’ cost efficiency programme in line with our plans. Overall, this performance gives us confidence in reiterating our outlook for the year.”
Netflix has announced plans to raise US$1.6 billion from investors, a week after the SVOD giant said it plans to spend US$7-US$8 billion on content in 2018.Netflix will raise the cash through a bond offering, with the senior notes due to mature on April 15, 2028, unless earlier repurchased or redeemed.In a statement, the company said it will use the cash for “general corporate purposes” – which may include “content acquisitions, production and development.”It also said that the cash might be used for capital expenditures, investments, working capital and potential acquisitions and strategic transactions.Netflix said that the sale of the notes is expected to close on October 26, 2017, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, and that interest on the notes will be payable in cash semi-annually in arrears, beginning on April 15, 2018.The news comes after Netflix upped its commitment to original content during its third quarter earnings call last week.As well as spending up to US$8 billion on a profit-and-loss basis in 2018, Netflix also announced plans to release about 80 films next year.The company said it has US$17 billion in content commitments over the next several years.Speaking on Netflix’s Q3 earnings call, chief content officer Ted Sarandos said the company is “producing at larger and larger scale outside the United States”.Netflix added 5.3 million members globally in the third quarter of 2017, up 49% year-on-year and better than its guidance of 4.4 million net additions.Year-to-date Netflix added 15.5 million members, up 29% compared to a year earlier, as it reported strong appetite for its original series and films alongside the wider global adoption of online video.
More than 50% of US over-the-top subscription households subscribe to multiple video streaming services, compared to just 20% in 2014, according to Parks Associates.The research firm said that of these multi-OTT homes, 81% use Netflix plus another service or combination of services – typically Amazon or Hulu.Brett Sappington“A common assumption is that consumers who pay for multiple subscription OTT video services would not need to, or have time to, use free OTT video service options. Yet, we find the opposite to be the case,” said Parks Associates’ senior director of research, Brett Sappington.“Only 30% of households subscribing to one subscription service use at least one free, ad-supported online video service. That number jumps to 47% of households subscribing to three subscription services and 63% if a household subscribes to five or more services.”Overall Parks claims that 69% of US broadband households subscribe to at least one OTT video service. However, with the exception of Netflix and Amazon Prime, OTT services are experiencing churn rates exceeding 50% of their subscriber base.Separately, new smart home research by Parks predicts that by 2021 more than 10 million smart home controllers – like Amazon Echo or Google Home speakers – will be sold in the US, and more than eight million will be sold through retail or other related channels.The ‘US Smart Home Tracker: Market Sizing and Trends’ report claims that 26% of smart home owners bought their devices from brick-and-mortar retail stores like Best Buy, Home Depot, or Walmart.