Dutch incumbent KPN will be launching its live and on-demand OTT service Play van KPN sometime later this year, probably in September. HBO will be part of the offer.

The operator has now launched a beta version and invited 500 beta users to test the service. Content comprises live streaming and on demand content from all Dutch major broadcasters including the public NPO channels, RTL Nederland and SBS Broadcasting as well as channels from Viacom, Discovery, National Geographic, Disney and Dutch interactive music channel Xite. A major coup is premium content from HBO, both streaming the three linear channels as well as the HBO On Demand service.

Play van KPN is available on iOS and Android and has Google Chromecast functionality, so it can be viewed on both mobile devices (smartphones, tablets) as well as on the big screen, anyplace, anytime. The service is available in all of the Netherlands and only a broadband internet connection is required from any provider, making it a true OTT TV Everywhere service.

Play also allows the viewers to record up to 200 hours of programmes (except for HBO and Disney) in the cloud, for access anywhere.

“Play is all about ease of use,” according to Diederik Rosenbaum, manager TV and propositions at KPN. As a challenger on the TV market, KPN needs to improve its television offer compared to its main rivals, the cable operators. The operator claims firsts in the market with pause live TV and restart TV, leveraging the technical possibilities of IPTV.

KPN said Play van KPN is aimed at younger viewers, who show a different kind of behaviour watching television. They still watch linear TV, but only 120 minutes per day as compared to the 200 minutes national average.

The service also includes a large On Demand catalogue of which the HBO content is a major addition because it is a de facto version of the HBO Go service. The beta version offers a total of 22 channels plus the three NPO channels with spoken subtitles.

During the beta period, KPN said it will fine tune the service and collect feedback from its users. No pricing has been set.

KPNPlay home screen

Broadband TV Views. Play van KPN really is KPN meets Magine (or Zattoo). As far as I know, this is the first time that an operator is offering a stand-alone OTT TV service, as no KPN broadband subscription is required. It shows the power of fierce competition, especially when a cash-rich incumbent becomes a challenger on the TV market. Another example being Swisscom, who has developed a new definition of IPTV with its ground-breaking TV 2.0 platform.

In order to develop the Play service, KPN formed a group of young people within the company to work – relatively independently – on the creation of the service.

At first look, Play seems to have brought together the live TV and On Demand content in a novel way – the home screen offers a range of recommendations from both live TV and On Demand content. Using a recommendation agent, the home screen will adjust to the viewer’s viewing habit (much like Swisscom TV 2.0).

Adding the Chromecast capability to the app makes it possible to stream to service to any TV set, so in theory people can cut the cord. In the real world, there are not many operators who offer broadband access only – all cable operators require a basic TV subscription. Only the FTTH providers are offering stand-alone broadband access, but at a price.