Established IPTV and OTT vendors Viaccess and Orca Interactive have now merged their operations and will now be known as VO. This is presented as a structural change with no impact on employment in either firm. In the near term the branding will remind customers of the companies’ combined origins. Judging from discussions with management in Paris earlier this week, VO’s pronunciation itself remains to be determined: “Vee-Oh” appears to be the preferred option although we will see whether market forces push things in the direction of a more obvious if less melodious “Voh”.
Both Viaccess and Orca have been part of the France Telecom (Orange) group for some years, since Orca was acquired back in 2008. And therein lies one of the main problems the new company is trying to solve: it believes it is widely and less than accurately perceived as focusing on the interests of its parent company. In fact VO counts YouSee, Eutelsat, Canal+, Reliance and Boxer amongst its customers. The key objective of the merger is to help kickstart a further expansion of VO’s customer base, notably in the Americas, although it is also presented as offering existing clients the benefits of closer synergies between the two firms and a more complete solution to the content discovery and management needs of companies deploying IP (OTT or managed) TV services.
There is a perennial debate in the TV technology space about the relative merits of smaller (nimble, agile) versus larger (one-stop shop) vendors. VO readily admits that it now falls into the medium sized bracket, but seems particularly keen to stress the advantages it has against bigger competitors which, if anything, have become larger in recent times with the acquisitions of NDS by Cisco and Widevine by Google.
If a company’s success was determined simply by its relative size forecasting would be a simple business, but presumably also no new companies would ever succeed. VO’s creation will only be justified as successful, by France Telecom as well as the outside world, if the company grows. Demonstrations of VO’s multiscreen and hbbTV solutions suggest it has a package of products and services worth considering. As VO’s deputy CEO, Haggai Barel noted, Orca was demonstrating multiscreen on a Nokia smartphone ten years ago, and this pedigree has evolved into a set of multiscreen options which appear to tap into most of the possible needs of managed or OTT service providers.
What I would most like to see is further evolution in VO’s content discovery and intelligence technologies. As I have pointed out previously this remains one of the unresolved challenges and opportunities in the new TV era and the company that comes up with solutions which truly revolutionise the way viewers discover and enjoy television content will be creating new value.