SCN presents 2019 Winter Games NZ

Summer always drags on for winter sports’ fans, so Sports Channel Network is delighted to head to the Southern Hemisphere and present highlights of the 2019 Winter Games NZ, starting on August 27.


Winter Games NZ is an elite international winter sports event held annually in the stunning natural setting of Central Otago, New Zealand.


The event runs from 23 August – 7 September and includes 26 events at 6 venues over 17 action-packed days and showcasing some of the world’s best winter sporting talent in Alpine and cross-country ski, curling, free ride, free ski, ice-hockey and snow board.


A number of the events, which attract the best amateur talents from around the world, include FIS (International Ski Federation) sanctioned competitions, such as the FIS ANC cross country events which will be held at the iconic Snow Farm NZ with a Classic Sprint, Interval Start and a Mass Start across three days.


There will also be a chance to see New Zealand v Australia sport rivalry in an unexpected format when the Queenstown Ice Arena hosts a three Test Trans-Tasman Challenge in ice hockey between the NZ Ice Blacks and the Australian Mighty Roos.


“As a free to air channel, we are keen to promote sports that have a niche, but passionate audience in the UK,” said Paul Coster. “The latest edition of the Winter Games, which is one of our most popular programmes on SCN, shows our commitment to promoting a wide range of sports, from the most popular to those who want to grow their audiences in the UK.”

Keep watching cricket for free on Sports Channel Network – with the new European Cricket League and Hong Kong Cricket Sixes

Monday 25 July – London:

UK cricket fans can watch their favourite sport, free of charge, on Sports Channel Network (SCN) as the OTT channel signs up the new European Cricket League and the Hong Kong Cricket Sixes.


SCN, which is available on 266 on Freeview and YouView and via an online APP, is an OTT Video on Demand channel which means fans can watch content when they want, where they want, but in HD quality. But as the channel is funded by advertising, there is no subscription to pay. SCN is a digital service but on a traditional broadcast platform if you watch on a Smart TV.


“As this summer’s England performances have shown, cricket is a sport that has the power to resonate and should be an integral part of our culture. It is entertaining, fun and its shock results create headlines,” says Paul Coster, CEO of SCN.


SCN is delighted to have reached an agreement with a new cricket initiative called the European Cricket League. The ECL features 8 champion clubs from domestic leagues in Europe with participation from Denmark, France, Romania, Spain, Russia, Italy, Germany, and The Netherlands. It’s a club-focused Champions League to attract young stars of the future and capitalise on growing interest in cricket on the continent. The European Cricket League (ECL) is about to debut its maiden season at the La Manga Club in Spain from 29 to 31 July. SCN is adopting a favoured partner approach to the ECL, supporting promotion of the event with short form daily edits on the channel and social media followed by a highlights programme later in August.


“We are delighted to be a partner of SCN as we launch the European Cricket League,” said ECL founder Daniel Weston. “Like us, SCN is doing something new by appealing to fans who want to watch sport when they want, where they want, and best of all, for free. England’s dramatic win in the World Cup was shown free to air, and we are excited that the best of ECL cricket will also be easily accessible in the UK thanks to SCN.”


SCN’s programme covering the Hong Kong Cricket Sixes tournament remains one of its top performing programmes in terms of unique viewers and coverage of the 2019 event will go live in the Autumn. The Hong Kong Cricket Sixes is a six-a-side international cricket tournament held at the Kowloon Cricket Club. Organised by Cricket Hong Kong, it is sanctioned by the International Cricket Council. The tournament is designed for television viewing, with rules and a venue that encourage aggressive batting and high scoring. Every player, except the wicket-keeper, is required to bowl one over.


“We are delighted to be able to show unusual cricket content to UK fans, who can access it free of charge. As SCN is connected to over 9 million households in the UK via FreeView and YouView, we can play a role in helping to make cricket as accessible as possible. And since we are VOD, we are not focusing on live rights but offer another platform for storytelling and features on events and athletes which can help raise awareness and interest in that sport in the UK market. Our programmes and promotion can help to promote any live coverage and be part of a balanced TV rights portfolio for sport.” said Coster.

Sports Channel Network to deliver digital ads to UK free to air Broadcast Audience

London – July 15, 2019 :

Sports Channel Network (SCN), the UK based Free to Air OTT channel, has become the first sport channel to deliver digital advertising to a free to air broadcast audience using the Google Ad Manager platform.

This follows an agreement signed between Google and VOD 365, the group of OTT channels of which SCN is a part.

Paul Coster, founder and CEO of the VOD 365 group, said:

“This agreement with Google marks a real milestone in the development of the VOD 365 group. In sport, we have tested a wide range of content on SCN and can now focus on what works for fans and for advertisers. As marketing spend moves towards programmatic solutions, SCN will target ads to specific pieces of content and measure regional differences. Data for us is the big priority. It’s helping us manage the frequency of ads and how we deliver them, and it’s also helping us in the decision-making process around acquisitions.”

SCN, available on Freeview and YouView, was created at the end of 2017 and has already streamed over 900 hours of premium content in HD from partners including Formula E Motor Racing, FIBA Basketball, FIH Pro League Hockey, UCI Cycling, FIA Motorsport, Clipper Sailing, LTA tennis, Hammer Series in cycling, Red Bull Media, World Sailing, Event Rider Masters Series in equestrian and the Super League Triathlon Series. SCN has also streamed football and fishing as well as drone racing and kite surfing content.

“With ongoing investment in programming, marketing and PR, SCN aims to be the number 1 OTT FTA sports channel on Freeview and YouView”, said Paul Coster.

“SCN will present VOD magazine-style programming (including original productions), and complementary short form formats for use on social media. We are also considering producing live streams of key events

“The beauty of SCN is that it can be part of a balanced portfolio for Sports Rights Holders. Yesterday’s incredible final of the 2019 Cricket World Cup is a great example of strategic thinking to combine Pay TV and free to air options for the benefit of fans. SCN has just signed an agreement for Pro Fight League, one of the big MMA promotions, so UK MMA fans can access content free of charge on SCN. We are also in advanced discussions with IMMAF, the international governing body for the amateur side of the sport, to make SCN a destination for MMA and with the British & Irish Boxing Authority to become a platform for boxing.

“SCN can sit within existing deals but we also offer an alternative to what we believe is an obsolete minimum guarantee rights model with one offering profit share from advertising revenue. TruOptik predicts that Connected TV advertising spend will hit $20 Billion by end of 2020 and sport will be a big part of that.

SCN is now engaging directly with well-established sports that have large communities that are not properly represented on other UK free to air channels and fast-growing challenger sports that appeal to a younger audience and can develop large communities with social marketing.

“We believe that many sports in the UK don’t get the coverage they deserve, and struggle to earn decent revenue from their TV content. By offering free to air audiences, SCN can help to promote and build awareness in the UK, but we can also help monetise that content in an AVOD market which is growing extremely fast.”

VOD365 strikes Endemol Shine deal

UK-based OTT firm VOD365 and production giant Endemol Shine Group have struck a content deal that will see the latter provide shows for two of VOD365’s channels.

Under the deal, Endemol will provide more than 300 hours of programming for VOD365’s kids’ channel Ketchup TV and documentary net Planet Knowledge.

The partnership will see premium series across genres such as nature, science, history, crime, factual and culture debut on Planet Knowledge. Shows including Inside Man, Declassified and Death Row Stories are set to appear later this year.

Meanwhile, children’s classic Bananas in Pyjamas and new animated series PC Bob will launch on Ketchup TV. PC Bob is produced in-house by Endemol and launched earlier this year on YouTube.

VOD365 founder and CEO Paul Coster said: “As well as being the largest content deal we have agreed to date for Planet Knowledge, with 300 hours of quality programming added to the channel, this partnership also represents the industry’s greater focus on AVoD platforms and new distribution models.”

VOD365’s channels are available in the UK on Freeview, YouView, Freesat and mobile and smart devices.


Karolina Kaminska 09-07-2019 ©C21Media

C21Media: SCHEDULE WATCH PROFILE: VOD 365’s AVoD factual channel Planet Knowledge is looking to expand further and add more content deals as its viewer base grows. Gün Akyuz reports.

UK AVoD channel Planet Knowledge has been on a significant growth trajectory since its relaunch in late 2017, thanks to its growing distribution and a change in content strategy.

“Last year was all about rebuilding the brand and audiences on [free-to-air platform] Freeview, expanding distribution and rebuilding our apps,” says Paul Coster, CEO of VOD 365, the UK OTT provider that owns and operates Planet Knowledge, along with kids’ service Ketchup and sports service Sports Channel Network.

VOD 365 is the first such UK company to exploit the OTT AVoD window in the country’s FTA digital space and remains the only one doing so on platforms such as Freeview, and now YouView, which it joined in the fourth quarter of last year.

Programmatic advertising is also integrated into its business model using Google’s DoubleClick for Publishers ad manager platform. “It means we can now micro-manage ad campaigns down to an episodic level. If there’s a brand campaign that only wants to be associated with certain content on Planet Knowledge, we can manage that.”

The company is now discussing another carriage agreement with an as-yet-undisclosed UK pay broadcast platform to carry its free channels and apps.

Earlier this spring, the company relaunched its channel apps on IOS and Android mobile phones. Additionally, Planet Knowledge is poised to go live on Android TV in a few weeks’ time and has just launched on Huawei phones, which have a UK user base of three million. “They’re talking about integrating all of our channels into their Huawei video service, which they are planning to launch in multiple territories in the autumn,” adds Coster.

Alongside its expanded distribution, VOD 365 has been courting a number of larger content deals with bigger suppliers, which have since given it more traction on Freeview and YouView.

A content deal with All3Media provided shows including Dinosaur Britain

The catalyst was Planet Knowledge’s licence deal with Fox last year for 80 hours of National Geographic wildlife content. More agreements have followed, including with All3Media and Cineflix.

The Fox deal, which includes shows like Ancient X Files, Egypt Underworld and Journey to Shark Eden, earned it a 43% jump in viewership between Q2 and Q3 2018 and around 400,000 viewers, 223,000 of which were unique, says Coster. “We started to see the benefits of that premium HD content,” he comments.

Further content deals and the channel’s launch on YouView at the end of November further accelerated its growth, with a 36% increase in viewing in December and more than half-a-million viewers, 300,000 of them unique.

A content licensing deal with All3Media at the end of 2018, covering titles such as Alexandria: The Greatest City, Dinosaur Britain, Henry & Anne, The Lovers Who Changed History and Pompeii: Life Before Death, further boosted its content offer, contributing to further growth in Q1 2019. Coster says VOD 365 will be looking to expand the initial two-year deal of 20 hours. New titles include Fifth Gear and Engineering Giants.

The channel grew a further 15% in Q1 2019 and is currently averaging more than 600,000 viewers, about 350,000 of them unique. “It’s still niche but that’s a sizeable audience, delivering viewing figures that are generating big volumes of ad impressions and money,” says Coster.

On YouView in particular, Coster says a majority of launches now come from the player section rather than the EPG.

Planet Knowledge’s top shows in March included Pompeii: Life Before Death

A new web player is also poised to launch this month. “As we do more social stuff, it’s an easier way to get people to engage and view content through the brand, as opposed to going off to the TV and find the channel,” says Coster. “The web player will be hosted on the website, but we also want white label-type opportunities, such as offering TV set brands a VoD package of channels and content to give their audiences added value.”

The channel relaunched recently on Samsung smart TV sets, which carry 4K. “That’s been quite a big thing and we’ll be monitoring that,” says Coster.

With distribution in the UK broadened quite significantly, Coster says conversations are beginning with potential platforms oversees in Europe and also Australia. “It’s finding where those quick wins are in terms of territories,” he observes

While conceding it won’t be easy, he argues: “We’re not out there licensing the brand new Blue Planet, so there’s probably a bit more flexibility to extend licensing rights for multiple territories. Those rights clearances haven’t happened yet but our content partners are primed.”

By next year, VOD 365 expects to have five channels up and running. Alongside Ketchup SCN and Planet Knowledge, still waiting in the wings is its petrolhead service Gas Station. But also due to join the line-up in the UK is a new music channel, following a deal with an as-yet-undisclosed partner. Featuring a vast video catalogue of major artists, it will be “like a video Spotify environment on FTA TV,” says Coster. “There’s nothing like it on free TV and I think it’s going to be massive.”

Lost Treasures of Afghanistan

Current programming, factual, acquisitions
Coster says Planet Knowledge offers around 250 to 300 hours of content at any given point, with this being refreshed every four-to-six weeks.

“That’s the bit we want to change,” Coster explains. “While we’ll be acquiring much more content, we don’t necessarily want more volume on the channel at any one time, we want to curate it more and work the content harder in those categories.”

With more extensive viewer data to inform its acquisitions strategy, Coster is particularly keen for Planet Knowledge to be a curated service, not a ‘warehouse’ of titles, and viewers should expect to see more monthly themes, for instance. “Going forward, it’s about curating the content more frequently; it’s about campaigns, targeted content and themes,” he says.

“By doing that we’re getting more efficient in terms of our acquisitions strategy and categories that work.”

Take travel-related content, which always did quite well in the early days of Planet Knowledge. These days, Coster says the genre is relatively niche and performs less well than other categories on the channel like history, people and culture, the perennially successful wildlife, and science and technology.

Its Cineflix agreement includes shows such as WW2 Gamechangers, Nazi Hunters and Mohammad Ali – A Life Of. Another is its new content deal with Blue Ant International, covering titles like Jewels of the World, Canada Over the Edge and The Weather Files.

Top shows on the channel in March included Ancient X Files II, Pompeii: Life Before Death, Into the Great Pyramid, Lost Treasures of Afghanistan, Alexandria: The Greatest City, Egypt’s Hidden Treasure, Versailles Stories, Chasing UFOs season one, Diving into Noah’s Flood and newcomer Dinosaur Britain. Other new arrivals to the line-up include Battle of the Somme, Engineering Giants, Jewels of the World, The Weather Files and Fifth Gear, which launches this month.

Alexandria: The Greatest City

With Planet Knowledge now delivering more meaningful numbers and working more closely with a few established content providers, its acquired content has become stronger overall. “The All3 Media deal and those few titles told us a lot and showed what you can do with premium broadcast content. We want to work a lot more closely with them and others,” Coster says.

But Coster says Planet Knowledge remains open to new themes. “If we see compelling content, we’ll happily take a risk. That’s what these sorts of services allow you to do. You don’t have to stick to a strict strategy.”

Planet Knowledge is also seeking to increase its shortform content, which has led it to conversations with players like Little Dot Studios, with a deal currently being negotiated.

“We both see a lot of opportunities around cross-aggregating content and promotion. They have some wildlife brands that do very well on YouTube. For us, that’s a brilliant test environment. We can take that content and bring it to a broadcast audience via the EPG, and they really like that strategy,” explains Coster. “In turn, we can take our content back out to their YouTube audiences and start building Planet Knowledge as a brand through those kinds of streams.”

Additionally, in its agreement with Fox, Planet Knowledge has negotiated rights to edit longform documentaries down to 20 minutes, to create more bitesize content as the company moves into the world of apps and mobile audiences.

New deals now being negotiated include a package of factual titles with Endemol Shine. Coster says that while the content giant runs its own YouTube channels, it doesn’t have a channel presence on Freeview, making the deal with an AVoD service like Planet Knowledge an interesting additional window for exploitation.

Diving into Noah’s Flood

Coster says VOD 365 and Planet Knowledge are keen to discuss the AVoD window with others larger suppliers such as BBC Studios. “A lot of content owners are sitting on valuable archive and not doing anything with it because there’s nowhere for it to go. We’re saying there are fewer opportunities for documentaries on broadcast platforms, and even fewer on FTA ones.”

However, he says that Planet Knowledge won’t be looking to fit into the traditional licensing model of “writing a big cheque and taking all the risk.”

Planet Knowledge expects to add a further 100 to 150 hours over the next couple of months. “The idea will be to take the everyday package available to viewers up to 400 hours and then just keep refreshing it,” says Coster.

“It’s where we’re at right now, but that may change again. If the shortform content starts doing as well as we think it will, then clearly we’ll be carrying more titles.”

Planet Knowledge seeks pure AVoD rights, ideally for a minimum of 12 months, but doesn’t require exclusivity.

“That works well in our favour,” says Coster. “I say that because we’re delivering content in such a unique way on Freeview and YouView that we almost don’t need it right now. But that will change. We’re trying to build a relationship with content owners to give them an incremental revenue stream and we try to work on a flexible basis.”

Ketchup TV Sways kids creators to go AVOD!

The UK-based service is carving out a space for itself in the digital realm by giving advertisers and agencies a COPPA-friendly way to reach audiences.

By giving advertisers and agencies the ability to reach customers on traditional broadcast platforms via a premium on-demand content environment, UK-based Ketchup TV has carved out a space for itself within the electronic programming guide.

London-based VOD365 launched its free preschool AVOD channel in 2016 after becoming the first UK company to collaborate with Google Ad Platform to create a digital advertising platform that can be integrated with hybrid broadcast platforms. When users click on Ketchup TV in the guide (where it looks indistinguishable from other linear channels), they’re taken to the VOD platform.

Ketchup TV sought to license content from leading global television and film studios for free, for unlimited streaming across smart TVs, IP-connected set-top boxes, game consoles, and iOS and Android mobile devices. To date, it has secured partnerships with DreamWorks, eOne, DHX Media, Studio 100 and Mattel—to name a few—for hit shows including Bob the Builder, Little Baby Bum, Postman Pat, Peppa Pig, Thomas and Friends and Maya the Bee. Now, according to VOD365 founder and CEO Paul Coster, the channel’s reputation as a viable content option is growing.

Alongside its expanding licensing business, Ketchup TV’s UK distribution is also widening. After partnering with Samsung Smart TV, the platform became available to viewers via a dedicated channel on Freeview/YouView-connected TVs and set-top boxes in 2016 and 2018, respectively, giving it access to a combined 22 million households across the country.

For Coster, it’s been a challenge to get content providers to buy into AVOD opportunities in the over-the-top space, but the tide is turning.

“It’s been difficult to get people to commit to deals with us when everyone’s holding out for subscription platform deals,” says Coster. “But the opinion now is that AVOD is a serious opportunity, and it’s emerging in the OTT space as something that can be very lucrative.”

Aside from its slate of premium content, a big part of the appeal, Coster adds, is that Ketchup TV is a kid-safe and COPPA-certified channel.

“Agencies tell us one of the biggest [benefits] is our brand safety. It’s key for their clients, many of whom are moving away from spending money on YouTube,” says Coster.

As for Ketchup TV’s top-performing shows, Peppa Pig accounts for a large percentage of overall viewing (the platform does not disclose performance figures).

But interestingly, the channel’s second most-streamed content last October was Cry Babies Magic Tears (pictured), a 10 x three-minute promotional YouTube series for UK-based toyco IMC’s bestselling Cry Babies doll brand.

“Everybody automatically assumes a known TV brand will be streamed the most, but given the world of YouTube, kids are watching very different types of content,” he says.

To make the platform easier to sell to advertisers, Coster says Ketchup TV is targeting ads to specific pieces of content and measuring regional differences.

“Data for us is the big priority,” he says. “It’s helping us manage the frequency of ads and how we deliver them, and it’s also helping us in the decision-making process around acquisitions.”

While new deals with DreamWorks and Hasbro are in the works, Coster expects to dig deeper into the YouTube content proposition this year and eventually create original animated content for the channel. Plans are also in the pipeline to launch internationally.

“In Europe, the Scandinavian and German markets are strong in terms of ad revenue, but Italy isn’t. We would need to make sure there are premium ad rates or budgets within those markets, and obviously opportunities in terms of distribution and competition,” says Coster. “I’m also hoping our relationships flourish with some bigger studios so they recognize Ketchup TV as a unique package that they may want to use to get their content in other markets. It would be a strategic partnership approach, which I think is quite realistic.”

The text is taken from the Kidscreen article on their website!

C21Media SCHEDULE WATCH CHANNEL PROFILE: UK AVoD preschool service Ketchup TV is gathering speed with a major distribution roll-out and a content growth spurt this autumn. Gün Akyuz reports.


SCHEDULE WATCH CHANNEL PROFILE: UK AVoD preschool service Ketchup TV is gathering speed with a major distribution roll-out and a content growth spurt this autumn. Gün Akyuz reports.

Paul Coster


Following the roll-out of UK AVoD service Ketchup on digital platform YouView earlier this month, the preschool service has another launch up its sleeve.

Two-year old Ketchup, which offers a mix of well-known preschool brands aimed at two- to six-year-olds, is already an established presence on the Freeview and Freesat platforms in the UK. It is now revamping its presence on Samsung smart TVs with a new app, while apps for Android and iOS handheld devices are also rolling out this month. The service should also be on Android TV by the end of the year, says Paul Coster, CEO of Ketchup parent VOD 365.

Launching on YouView is a major milestone for Ketchup, Coster says. Not only does it make the preschool service available to the platform’s three million connected customers – translating into a further 300,000 unique viewers – but YouView’s next-gen TV service means all subscriber devices are internet connected, “so take-up and usage of those devices is very, very high and a lot easier for us to measure.”

It doesn’t stop there. VOD 365 is looking to expand Ketchup’s presence on other distribution platforms, including LG sets and pay cabsat operators Virgin and Sky.

Alongside that comes the move to offer customers an-ad free option for a small fee. “Parents should be given choice, and we’re discussing the Spotify approach,” says Coster.

But the exec is clear that Ketchup remains “first and foremost” a free-to-air, ad-funded VoD proposition. When it launched on Freeview in July 2016, Coster told C21: “The free model still presents, in our opinion, a huge opportunity in the television market. There’s a big TV market that’s still navigating the television EPG environment.”

Miffy has been acquired via a deal with Studio 100

Despite seismic upheavals in the UK’s audiovisual sector, Coster stands by that position today. “AVoD still has a big future,” he says. “Remember, young people, millennials don’t like paying for things. Ketchup is two years old and now a trusted brand. People may want to convert to SVoD over time [hence the Spotify approach], but many SVoD players just launch expecting people to pay from the start.”

Ketchup is VOD 365’s leading channel. The group’s family also includes factual channel Planet Knowledge and Sports Channel Network (SCN), both of which will be joining YouView next month. Additionally, VOD 365 has lined up “petrol heads” channel Gas Station for the end of the year.

The latest news is that an older sibling for Ketchup is now being planned. Currently dubbed Project Yaas!, it is expected to launch in the first half of 2019. “We’re already getting a lot of questions around that next generation of kids (6-11s) from media partners for brand advertisers, and we’re building a strategy for the new kids’ channel,” explains Coster. A music channel and a fashion and lifestyle proposition featuring influencers and tutorials are also being explored, as is spinning the eSports segment on SCN into a separate channel.

This all means that, in terms of marketing and distribution, VOD 365 can sell a package of channels to media-buying agencies and advertisers, says Coster. “It has become quite serious in terms of a channel outlet that is generating revenue, so we’re being taken more seriously,” he notes. An interesting yardstick is that Ketchup’s Q4 2018 advertising space has completely sold out for the first time.

As part of its dynamic advertising approach, VOD 365 is also exploring e-commerce for Ketchup and other channels, where its sports and eSports content, for instance, could sell tickets linked to events being programmed, as well as products.

Something that VOD 365 has developed and is able to deliver on YouView that others don’t is dynamic advertising, says Coster. “Launching on YouView is exciting because, excluding ITV’s programmatic advertising, we’re the only AVoD service on there delivering dynamic advertising.”

One example has seen Ketchup run an ad campaign for Cry Babies Magic Tears dolls, setting the products within a proper story rather than going with the usual pre-rolled ad, something that also gives ads and brands a more permanent presence as a Ketchup ‘splat’ on the main page.

Vic the Viking, another Studio 100 title

Another, featuring the Sylvanian Families IP, is running on Ketchup exclusively in Q4. “We’ve taken a different approach with media partners to engage with audiences, and no one else is doing this,” says Coster.

VOD 365 is now working in partnership with Google’s DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP) platform to come up with joined-up reporting tools for ad-supported services in broadcast and on digital, with Ketchup lined up as possible case study. “It gets them onto broadcast platforms delivering advertising, which is quite a big thing for them,” observes Coster.

Current programming, acquisitions

Ketchup is currently expanding its preschool content line-up and will be on the lookout for a range of shows at Mipcom in Cannes next week.

Its YouView launch has coincided with a batch of fresh preschool content, including Miffy, Maya the Bee and Vic the Viking, in a new deal with Germany media company Studio 100 and its kids’ subsidiary M4E. Another agreement, with Entertainment One (eOne), means Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom is now part of the mix.

Ketchup also has deals with DHX, for properties like Bob the Builder and Fireman Sam, plus DreamWorks and Mattel. Coster says he wants more educational preschool shows along the lines of DHX’s Monster Maths and Super Why for the Ketchup line-up.

Alongside its established programme brands from the broadcast world, Ketchup’s popularity also stems from digital brands like hit YouTube nursery rhymes show Little Baby Bum and Om Nom, which Coster says perform very well.

Moreover, information on user behaviour from services like YouView means decision-making around what shows to choose can be more data-led from now on, which could result in more alternative programming sources, not just the traditional broadcast brands, says Coster.

Digital brands like Om Nom perform well for Ketchup

Ketchup is also revisiting the unintended added value of some of its previous shows. HeMan, for instance, was also being watched by adults on Ketchup. “We removed it when we were revamping the line-up and were emailed by a number of adults asking when it would be back. They’re watching with their kids. It’s the nostalgia factor,” says the exec.

This discovery has triggered Ketchup’s next programming move, which is the launch of a Ketchup Classics section featuring retro shows. Coster says he’ll be on the lookout for more such titles at Mipcom.

The exec wants quality over volume, stressing that shows must offer something with a point of difference. “We’re not a VoD warehouse but we need a range of shows to attract people. We’re working to get that balance right.” Ketchup looks for AVoD rights for a minimum of one year, but ideally three. A challenge in this area, notes the exec, is the unnecessary complexity around different rights – AVoD and SVoD and contracts – for same platform.

Alongside its acquired slate, Ketchup is now starting to work on shortform commissioning in the animation area, with the first results of this likely to appear in Q1 2019. It’s a move that move ties in with the group’s ambitions to eventually take Ketchup and its siblings international.

Gün Akyuz

Research editor, C21Media

HEADLINES FROM C21MEDIA.NET. YouView adds Ketchup, Miffy UK children’s AVoD service Ketchup TV is expanding its distribution across the country from today by launching its free player on the YouView digital platform.

YouView adds Ketchup, Miffy

Miffyʼs Adventures Big & Small is new to Ketchup TV

UK childrenʼs AVoD service Ketchup TV is expanding its distribution across the country from today by launching its free player on the YouView digital platform.

The deal with YouView makes Ketchup TV available to a further three million connected set-top boxes in TalkTalk TV and BT TV homes. A free Ketchup TV app is also launching iOS and android mobile devices this month.

Paul Coster, CEO of parent UK OTT firm VOD 365, said joining YouView represented “a major milestone in the development of our business.”

Ketchup TV, which launched on the digital Freeview platform in summer 2016, offers a mix of well-known preschool brands aimed at two- to six- year-olds.

New shows joining Ketchup TV include Miffy, Maya the Bee and Vic the Viking, following a deal between VOD 365 and Germany media company Studio 100 and its kidsʼ subsidiary M4E. A separate agreement with eOne also sees Ben and Hollyʼs Little Kingdom join the line-up.

VOD 365 has also renewed its deal with DHX for classics Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam and Teletubbies, and has existing deals with DreamWorks

and Mattel and more as-yet undisclosed agreements are being finalised.

Coster told C21 he will look for a few more shows at next weekʼs Mipcom market. He stressed quality over volume, adding that Ketchup TV was a curated service not a “VoD warehouse.”

David Faulkner, head of corporate and business development for YouView, called Ketchup TV “a great addition to an already strong line-up of players and Apps on YouView” like of BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, Netflix and NowTV.

He added that it offered “a great range of the most popular childrenʼs TV content on-demand, to kids and families across the country.”

Ketchup TV is one of a growing number of ad-funded VoD channels run by VOD 365, including the recently launched Sports Channel Network, which is set to join YouView in November along with factual channel Planet Knowledge. It is currently also planning ‘petrol-headʼ service Gas Station, and Coster revealed that more channels are being planned.

VOD 365 claims to be the first UK company to exploit the OTT AVoD window in the UKʼs free-to-air digital space and the first to deliver dynamic advertising.

C21: Sports Channel Network – UK SCHEDULE WATCH PROFILE: VOD 365 is taking its OTT service Sports Channel Network to the next level with new distribution agreements and content opportunities.


SCHEDULE WATCH PROFILE: VOD 365 is taking its OTT service Sports Channel Network to the next level with new distribution agreements and content opportunities. Gün Akyuz reports.

Paul Coster


UK OTT provider VOD 365 is gearing up to expand its fledgling AVoD OTT channel Sports Channel Network (SCN).

The channel, which launched on the UK’s Freeview DTT platform late last year, is due to join YouView in November following its arrival as an app for iOS and Android devices later this month.

SCN is the firm’s third channel. VoD kids’ service Ketchup leads the pack, says Coster, while HD documentary channel Planet Knowledge relaunched last November.

VOD 365 is currently finalising an agreement with electronics giant Samsung to preload SCN and Planet Knowledge apps on its smart TVs from this autumn. In the case of Planet Knowledge, the agreement with Samsung marks VOD 365’s first UHD app, offering up to 25 hours of free UHD content.

A fourth channel, The Gas Station – a proposition for petrolheads – is also being prepared, with a similar roll-out planned on Freeview, YouView and apps by the end of the year.

VOD 365 is all about free TV platforms, says Coster. “We’re not trying to compete with pay TV or trying to be subscriber-based. All our channels are ad-supported, they’re on FTA platforms like Freeview and YouView and there will be free apps to download. We’re also developing for Samsung and we’ll start developing for others too, including LG and Sony.”

The company’s channels are already available to Freeview’s estimated four million connected sets. “Part of our USP is that we’re launched from the EPG on TVs and not just in the app section, so when you enter the channel number, we move from a broadcast signal to IP,” explains Coster.

Launching on YouView will add a further three million connected homes. As a “next-gen TV service, all the devices are internet-connected, so take- up and usage of those devices is very high and a lot easier for us to measure,” Coster notes.

“The great thing is that [YouView] still uses the Freeview EPG, so our channels are still going to sit in the same positions – Ketchup on 211, Planet Knowledge on 265 and SCN on 266. But YouView is a cleaner, faster experience and uses HTML5, so we can do more with it. Viewers can access our channels via the EPG and launch HTLM5 or go into the apps area, where Netflix and Amazon sit, and we’re there as well.”

All VOD 365’s channels are in HD as well as SD. “This is very important,” says Coster. “Freeview has very few HD broadcast channels because it’s very expensive to deliver. We’re one of the few in HD on Freeview, and the only free HD sports channel.”

A key feature for the currently VoD-only SCN will be live streaming, which will be introduced towards the end of the year. “We have a whole host of events lined up to come on board with us,” says Coster. “We’re having active conversations about live sports events on SCN and looking at over 100 different events.”

However, SCN is not seeking to compete with major players like Sky Sports and BT Sports. “We can’t do that and we’re not going to,” states Coster. “What we’re doing is creating a channel portal that can host multiple categories of sporting content that’s unsold to the likes of Sky, BT or Eurosport and giving that content a platform. That’s first and foremost what we want to do.”

VOD 365’s ad-based proposition is also addressing a few media-buying challenges, notably advances in programmatic advertising, which Coster says is still very much work in progress within the industry as a whole.

“Due to the nature of the technology, you’ve wandered into the world of broadcast technology,” he explains, “but trying to make digital advertising work with broadcast doesn’t happen. They’re alien to one another, so we had to build something that sits in the middle and we’ve made it work with the help of Google.”

VOD 365 now has partnerships with addressable TV technology firm Finecast and Google’s DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP) platform, and is in the process of developing joined-up reporting tools for an ad-supported presence on broadcast and digital and to give the viewer a better experience.

“We’ve taken a more hands-on approach because we think it’s quite important not to repeat the same ad two or three times in a row, for instance, like some services do,” says Coster. “We manage all that within the way we deliver it, so there are no conflicts.” Its Google partnership, for example, allows VOD 365 to run verifications on ad impressions, “so between that and all these different devices, we’ve got a bit of magic glue to make things stick and work.”

When it comes to the YouView launch, Coster adds: “There are other VoD apps on YouView but no one is delivering ads the way we are. They’re all fudging it – burning ads into the assets themselves, for example. We’re the first to deliver dynamic advertising.”

VOD 365’s ambitions don’t end there. By expanding its portfolio of targeted branded channels, it can offer larger aggregated channel inventory for media-buying agencies, although Coster concedes it’s still early days in terms of “getting lots of brands engaged to start using these types of services.”

Moreover, the company has developed technology to deliver its own branded channels, something Coster says is also “a potential device distribution business that could be applied to other channels. In fact, we’ve had conversations with a couple of big organisations about what we could offer going forward. We could white-label it, and why not?”

Current programming

SCN is home to a wide range of different sports, from mainstream to niche, amounting to more than 1,500 hours of HD content. Each week, the channel refreshes its line-up with up to 40 hours of new content.

Viewers can access more than 100 different sports, including football, motorsports, golfing, fishing, sailing, MMA, equestrian events, hockey, badminton, kickboxing, basketball and winter sports. Titles include IMG Media’s Golfing World and InCycle, as well as a weekly tennis show Deuce, football series Life’s a Pitch and MMA programme Total Combat. “But we also have Formula E and a weekly Formula 1 magazine called The Inside Line, and we’ve just taken on drone racing. There are a lot of new sports emerging,” says Coster.

The exec sees SCN as a potential incubator for a wide range of sports. “There are different audiences for different sports on different platforms,” he says, noting that fishing attracts older viewers on Freeview. “With data to help us create our strategy, what’s interesting is that if you look at what you may class as ‘niche’ sports, if you aggregate all the numbers together, it’s massive and into the millions.”

The service also offers eSports. Coster says the company is watching this sector very closely, noting the possibility of a dedicated eSports network in the future.

Data underpins VOD 365’s developments in a big way, from selling targeted advertising to curating content for niche audiences.

“The idea is to give these sports a home on a broadcast platform because when we watch sport, we want to watch it on a big screen,” says Coster. “We can work with these guys and develop their content in a TV environment on demand. In reverse, we’re saying we’ll give you the platform and we want you to communicate to new audiences where they can come and watch your content. It’s a very simple concept if we can aggregate these sports.

“Once you have meaningful portfolio content, you can better understand what’s working. Going forward, I think we’re going to have a range of different audiences. Certain content is going to work better on Freeview than on YouView or on mobile apps, just due to the nature of the demographics and what viewers typically associate with in terms of sports.”

The next big push will be to enhance content curation. “The beauty of these services and the way we deliver them is all the data we collect,” Coster says, highlighting the ability to use granular information to assist content curation based on level of usage, time of day and so on. “We can start using that data to push specific content and it will also help us with content acquisition and bringing new content in.”

When it comes to rights to mainstreams sports, such as football and tennis, the discussions tend to revert back to more traditional commercial models and agreements. “But with these other sports, the response has been fantastic and the enthusiasm from a lot of these other providers has been overwhelming,” says Coster.

VOD 365 is also working with social media fanbase-driven technology company Seed Media to uncover new hosting talent. “You’re influencing networks of fanbases with incentives to share information on your product. Given where we are with SCN, we think it’s a really interesting approach. There are lots of different niche sports, so if we can tap into the different communities of those sports, suddenly you’ve got a network that could potentially be quite big.”

Mipcom and Sportel will be key markets for SCN this autumn. Key categories on SCN currently include golf, sailing, motorsport and fishing.

“For Mipcom in particular, we’re looking for sports-related docs or magazine shows we can pick up. It will be about bolstering those categories where we know we have viewers engaged,” says Coster. “It’ll also be interesting to get talking to people about what we do and what they’ve got available, and those who don’t know we exist, because there aren’t many sports channels on FTA platforms.” SCN is the only HD sports service on Freeview, for example.

At Sportel, Coster says the focus will be on “getting out there and pushing our name out to more providers and seeing what’s available, what isn’t being sold to Sky and BT and what our opportunities are.”

He continues: “With sports, we’re very much about aggregating some premium HD sports content, putting it on TV for viewers free to watch and building an audience. Once we understand more about the usage – what’s strong and what’s not – from our data, we can carve out a content acquisition strategy to determine where we go with some of these bigger events and how we spend our money.”

There will also be Mipcom content sales opportunities for forthcoming channel The Gas Station, which plans to mix broadcast fare with YouTube content from car enthusiasts, as well as content-sharing opportunities with SCN, something sibling Planet Knowledge already does with titles like sporting doc The Immortals. “We’d like to launch with around 400 hours of content and build on it quite quickly,” says Coster, flagging requirements for “anything motor-related – primarily cars and classic cars, but also motorbike-related.”

Coster says the company has only really needed AVoD rights so far but is starting to pick up live OTT streaming rights for SCN. It is also looking into ‘Spotifying’ its approach by adding pay tier options.

“What we may do going forward with more premium content on live streaming, is PPV events,” says the exec. “Technically we have the capability to do that and we’re flexible in how we can package content. PPV could add value to the service, and there’s definitely sport that we will not get under ad-funded VoD or live rights because of the nature of that content and the attitude of the content owner.”

Coster believes some companies need to change their attitude to selling content rights to firms like VOD 365. “Why are we using age-old licensing agreements for new distribution opportunities? That’s one of the biggest problems we’re going to face going forward. It needs to change, in the same way that media agencies and how they spend needs to change.”