• Once-close partner appears to have been damaged by DT supply refresh.

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Zenterio buyout raises questions for Deutsche Telekom

Source: Erinn Simon / Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0

Deutsche Telekom’s (DT) long‑running association with Zenterio came under the spotlight after the Swedish vendor was acquired by television middleware and user experience software provider Oregan Networks.

Zenterio has been a close TV enabler partner of DT, recently flagging that the EntertainTVSat service launched by Telekom Deutschland (TDE) in May 2018 uses equipment based on its operating system (OS).

DT has for some time been using Zenterio’s software to provide a standardised OS for legacy boxes across its footprint (Deutsche Telekomwatch, #76 and passim), and is widely regarded as the supplier’s most prominent client. However, it seems that Zenterio’s four‑year product programme for DT has come to an end.

The consensus is that the supplier was late to the party in supporting Google’s AndroidTV operator tier — a level of certification for an AndroidTV device that allows pay‑TV operators, for example, to customise the platform to suit their individual needs. As a consequence, Zenterio struggled to maintain its financial performance, began a restructuring process and executive reshuffle in the second half of 2018, and has now clearly thrown in its lot with Oregan.

UK‑based software specialist Oregan said it had acquired Zenterio’s assets and taken over its engineering teams in Linköping, Sweden, and Guadalajara, Mexico.

Close TV partner hit by turbulence

It is not clear what impact the acquisition will have on DT’s future TV platform strategy. Milya Timergaleyeva, Vice‑President of Market Strategy at Oregan, told DigitalTVEurope that Zenterio’s customer base and engineering skills set were a good “strategic fit”, although she declined to comment specifically on the DT contract. A core focus will be on combining Oregan’s expertise in the AndroidTV operator tier with Zenterio’s legacy base in the Linux OS market.

Worth noting is that Zenterio indicated to Faultline Online Reporter in June 2019 that DT “wanted us to integrate Netflix, AmazonPrime Video, YouTube, and more into its pay‑TV offering”. According to DigitalTV Europe, Oregan’s focus will be on augmenting Zenterio’s middleware by enabling the integration of over‑the‑top (OTT) services such as these. In April 2019, Oregan also partnered with Accedo TV on the delivery of pay‑TV services, with Accedo recently highlighting that it helped integrate TDE’s MagentaTV service with the AmazonFire TV device (Deutsche Telekomwatch, #84).

Faultline Online Reporter further pointed out that Zenterio did not win the contract to support the full OTT version of EntertainTV, now named MagentaTV, even though it did support the more affordable StartTV service launched by TDE in May 2017 and closed down just over a year later (Deutsche Telekomwatch, #62). The OTT iteration of MagentaTV was launched under the EntertainTV brand in August 2018 (Deutsche Telekomwatch, #76).

Oregan markets its middleware and user experience platform under the SparQ brand and supports devices based on both AndroidTV and Linux OS. It lists BT Group, NTT Communications, Sony Entertainment, and Telefónica Group among its customers.

CSIMagazine wrote in September 2018 that tier‑one operators in Europe, including DT, Liberty Global, and Orange, are “aloof from Google in Europe —for now”. AndroidTVGuide does include some NatCos on its list of pay‑TV providers that support AndroidTV devices. For instance, TDE is said to provide a device made by China‑based SDMC for MagentaTV, with 2019 listed as the year of service. Others include Hrvatski Telekom and T‑Mobile Poland with AndroidTV boxes from Korea‑based Kaonmedia.