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The Full-Service Revolution
Over the past few years the broadcast industry has been so concerned with audience migration to VOD and DTO services that you’d be forgiven for thinking the death of linear TV was imminent. Viewing figures across these newer platforms are at least partly responsible, given that even a cursory glance at them is enough to make it clear the migration is big, and it’s not stopping any time soon. 

Netflix released some particularly incredible statistics last year, tracking over 93 million worldwide users on a monthly basis, and viewing figures of up to 14 million for its high-end, in-house productions like Stranger Things and Making a Murderer. The BBC recorded 9.9 million daily viewing requests for iPlayer this February, an all-time record for the UK catch-up service. All in all, content streaming rose 23% in the UK across 2016, generating combined revenue of £1.3bn.

These are just a handful of examples; huge numbers that are indicative of a marketplace in a state of dramatic fluctuation.

But predicting the viewing habits of next week, let alone next year, is tricky. The proliferation of new platforms and services has made accessing content easier than ever before, but it has also made it far more complicated for consumers to feel confident that they are making the right decisions for their needs. It’s become crucial that end users trust their chosen platforms to not only to deliver the entertainment they love, but to deliver it in a form that best suits their individual requirements. 

Content is king, as the saying goes. These days, however, accessibility and consistency are next in line to the throne.

In the face of such incredibly versatile competition, linear TV has not just survived, but in many cases thrived. In the UK, the four major terrestrial TV stations all boast monthly viewing figures well above the 100 million mark, with BBC One pulling in 178,000,000 views in February of this year alone.

Linear outlets also remain the go-to places for “watercooler TV”; live sporting events, weekend dramas and family entertainment, soap operas, and one-off documentaries consistently record substantial numbers. Recently, BBC One’s documentary Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad generated overnights of 5.2 million. ITV’s Coronation Street has been riding comfortably at about 6 million viewers per episode for most of 2017 to date.

So what, if anything, does this all mean? 

In the short to mid-term, it means that linear isn’t going anywhere. At EBS we provide metadata and EPG services to clients around the globe, and in the past few years we’ve seen the format go from strength to strength. So much so, in fact, that our total services portfolio has expanded to include 500 individual linear channels broken up under numerous top-tier clients like BBC Worldwide, Discovery, and MultiChoice. We’ve also started working with several exciting new channel providers like Kwesé in Africa, and Viceland across Europe.

What this experience has taught us is that “linear vs. VOD” is not – for the time being at least – a zero sum game. The idea that linear holds little to no relevance in the modern marketplace is at odds with the way the viewing public continue to make use of it. In fact for many people both domestically and internationally, it’s still the most reliable and consistent platform that’s widely available.

A more accurate reading of the situation would place all of the ways in which audiences now find content on a relatively equal plane of importance. Again, accessibility is what counts. The novelty of a platform holds little value next to its ease of use and the relevance of its content. A fan of soap operas is unlikely to go looking for their favourite shows on a TVOD service. Neither will a serious movie buff be likely to wait for the latest blockbuster to appear on a terrestrial network.

For industry services companies like ours, this is hugely important to the way business is done. It’s incredibly rare that a major new client will come to us with requirements that are based in either linear or VOD alone. What we are asked for and what we provide in these situations, time and again, are “full-service” solutions that offer consistent metadata and EPGs across multiple delivery formats. The increasing demand for these broad-base services means we’re looking into new distribution capabilities all the time. 

Ultimately, the lessons to be learned from this marketplace aren’t new ones, but they’re ones that bear repeating. Change is happening and change is healthy, but it must continue to be dictated by the needs of end users. The change we are experiencing now almost certainly won’t take us exactly where we expect to go. The company that’s ready to adapt to and provide for this reality will be the company that thrives.
EBS signs major new deal with Japan International Broadcasting Inc.
World-leading EPG services provider EBS is pleased to announce a major new supply deal with Japan International Broadcasting Inc. The deal has been struck in JIB’s capacity as the official distribution agent for NHK World TV, the global arm of Japan’s national public broadcaster NHK.

EBS now provides scheduling information and EPG metadata for NHK World TV operations across Europe. Data is being distributed to the PCCW, Sky UK, Freesat, Yes, OSN, and DSmart platforms via EBS’ flagship scheduling software Pawa.

In addition, EBS is sending an EPG feed directly to world-leading satellite operator SES. EBS has not sent an EPG data feed directly to a satellite operator until now, further defining the adaptable, durable and robust qualities that Pawa brings to businesses worldwide. Traditionally the feed would be sent to the channel or platform but in this case, SES uplinks the EPG data via an Event Information Table (EIT) stream to its satellite, which is then picked up across Europe via the viewers’ set-top box.

Pawa is a highly flexible scheduling and metadata solution that allows content suppliers to easily adapt their EPGs to the needs of any distribution platform, anywhere in the world. It ensures that media companies can effortlessly control brand consistency across all outlets, regardless of where and when content is accessed.

“The fight for viewers is getting tough,” explains EBS Managing Director Keith Bedford.

“There’s so many options, so much content choice. In this kind of market, presentation must be perfect. With Pawa’s robust functionality and bespoke capabilities, JIB can be confident that their European operations with NHK World TV are in safe hands.”

Mr. Yoshihiko Shimizu, CEO of Japan International Broadcasting Inc. says; “Elegant delivery of EPG information is a key element to improving our channel awareness around the world. We are delighted to work with EBS in providing this critical service.”

Pawa not only offers a practical one-stop database for organising and distributing schedules and metadata; it is also capable of providing separate libraries for every channel a client operates. This ensures that data always fits a channel identity, and allows broadcasters to manage tailored workflows for both linear and non-linear services internally. Pawa’s multi- functional capabilities allows for VOD attributes, image enhancements and alterations, and translation services to be generated within a centralised database.

“We’re extremely proud that another great customer is making use of Pawa’s exceptional capabilities,” Keith adds. “We believe it shows once again that this one solution can be used to meet absolutely any workflow requirements.”
EBS announces major EPG contract with Viasat World for 22 channels in 20 languages across 47 territories
EBS, the leading full-service provider of EPG data for platforms and channels worldwide, has announced a major contract with media giant Viasat World, which sees EBS providing EPG services deployed across 47 territories, for 22 channels in 20 languages. EBS’ flagship scheduling system Pawa, which will be used in-house, will provide Viasat World’s ever-expanding portfolio of operators and partners with localised press listings, Highlights and EPGs as well as high-res images and quality metadata.

It is essential that large media companies like Viasat World who deliver multi-platform localised content, ensure that all aspects of their data, from the video itself to translation and compliance, is correct for the market that it serves. EBS’ Pawa EPG scheduling system drives each channel’s schedule from a programme library, which stores all manner of metadata, from basics such as the title or the synopsis of the programme, to more enriched data such as cast or director. By storing compliance information alongside this metadata, Pawa provides Viasat World with a local, central, searchable store to ensure that programmes that shouldn’t air, don’t air.

Vice President of Viasat World’s Products and Channels, Karin Heijink, comments, “This new system represents an important milestone in our new company’s mission to become a modern, innovative global broadcaster.” She continues, “We have exciting plans to expand our business and what really impressed us about the Pawa technology was that as we grow, this system grows with us.”

“We’re very excited to be working with such a well-respected brand,” adds Keith Bedford, Managing Director, EBS. “The industry has changed significantly in recent years and the role of EPG data has changed with it. It’s imperative that content is clearly and concisely presented to reflect the channel’s brand worldwide for any platform with eye catching imagery that draws in viewers. It’s also essential that media companies ensure that their local facilities can deliver correct translations with colloquial conversation for all demographics as well as meeting strict compliance regulations. Pawa does all this and more.” 
EBS announces exclusive deal with Africa's newest premium multi-platform network, Kwese TV
EBS, the leading full-service provider of EPG data for platforms and channels worldwide, adds Econet Media’s Kwesé TV platform to their portfolio of household-name clients.

Kwesé TV launched 50+ channels in Ghana, Rwanda and Zambia on Monday 30th January 2017 with a wide array of entertainment, news and sports. At present viewers in Ghana, Rwanda and Zambia can access Kwesé TV via Kwesé’s own satellite and decoder; however this is just the beginning – Kwesé TV will be rolled out across Africa in the very near future.

Owned by Econet Media and part of the broader Econet Group, Kwesé TV’s multiplatform offering enables viewers to access content across linear, mobile and digital platforms via multiple devices as well as on both paid and free-to-air services across Africa.

Last year Econet Media was granted the exclusive free-to-air broadcasting rights to the English Premier League for the next three seasons. Kwesé Free Sports forms part of the twelve Kwesé-owned suite of channels, which are accompanied by a vast array of third-party services including AMC, TRACE, REVOLT, Viceland and Animal Planet, among others.

The partnership with EBS enables Kwesé TV to deliver engaging enriched metadata and images for every programme via EBS’ unique EPG and metadata management application, Pawa. Using Pawa in-house, the Kwesé team have the flexibility to enhance data and make any late schedule changes that may be required with the utmost convenience. Additional, enhanced metadata makes content easier to discover, meaning subscribers can easily navigate around the UI enjoying a comprehensive viewing experience.

“Our objective is to give our audiences access to premium and accurate programming,” said Joseph Hundah, CEO Econet Media, “We are therefore pleased to partner with a service provider like EBS who has a similar focus. Following the launch of Kwesé in Ghana, Rwanda and Zambia, as well as the staggered approach that will be rolled out in the rest of the continent, we are looking forward to providing our viewers with a world-class viewing experience,” he added.

Keith Bedford, EBS’ Managing Director adds, “EBS has been working very closely with Kwesé over the past few months to ensure the EPG was not only delivered on time for launch, but that it was accurate, comprehensive and appealing to the viewer. We are happy that Kwesé chose EBS to be their metadata service provider and look forward to a long and successful partnership. Kwesé TV recognises the fragmenting way in which viewers consume content. The necessity to be able to locate content quickly and easily across varied devices and media is paramount and in order to do this it is vitally important that channels deliver accurate metadata, on time.”

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