Behind the scenes of HBO Nordic and how OTT is changing media distribution

posted Sep 28, 2012, 6:17 AM by Henrik Cort Tranæs   [ updated Sep 28, 2012, 6:42 AM ]

In august 2012 HBO International announced that they will start a subscriber based streaming service for their TV series in the Nordics countries before end 2012. Having been an avid follower of the digital media development for the last years I set out to find out what and who was behind the decision to choose the Nordics as the first market for HBO premium content outside the USA on an entirely new broadcasting platform that have not been seen before in world.

The formation of the URHO-TV

In 2009 Peke Ekelunds investment company Parsifal sports started URHO-TV in Finland. URHO-TV provides costumers direct access to the top league Ice hockey games. As a paid content channel it have gained over 100.00 subscribers in 2009. URHO-TV Expanded its service online with URHO Play, built on the technology platform from QBrick.

Qbrick The source the runs the service

Qbrick has been a partner to Urho TV for the past three years and we are happy to extend this close co-operation as part of the UDS personal Pay TV solution for HBO Nordic. TDF Media Services is a strong and innovative partner for us in the Nordic region¨. says Peter Ekelund Chairman of UDS as well as chairman of HBO Nordic.

Qbrick is the leading provider of Web and Mobile TV in Europe. The company was established in 1999 and has since then confirmed its position as a provider of turnkey online video solutions for the company’s customers which operate mainly within segments such as TV channels, radio stations, media, advertising agencies and production companies. Qbrick delivers services to many TV channels in the Nordic and elsewhere.

Qbrick is an whole owned subsidiary of TDF group and part of the TDF Media Services Business Unit. TDF is developing a multi-format and multi-support terrestrial platform for managing

and distributing audio, video and data content to all types of receivers. As a dedicated broadcaster and designer of telecom networks, TDF is positioned at the nexus of the new digital, mobile and multimedia technologies by using all means of transmission: terrestrial, IP, satellite, etc. For years, TDF has been creating innovative solutions, to the point it is now developing tomorrow’s communications, channels such as digital cinema, 3D, connected DTT, video on-demand, catch-up television, digital radio, web broadcasting, real-time traffic display and ultra-high speed telecom networks.

HBO Nordic

A Joint Venture between Parsifal and HBO international

Urho Digital Services The company behind the screens

Again owned by Parsifal and and Peke Eklund. This company actually seems to be the brain behind HBO Nordic and will be running the services for HBO in the Nordics. They are also the company the signs on other technology and service providers such as Erisson, Qbrick and other service providers .

The sports channel  URHOtv paved the way for paid online TV in Finland and have since developed an popular platform with more than 150.000 paying subscribers. The TV platform is new being organized in a new separate company called URHO Digital Service (UDS). UDS is a B2B company which allows other entities ( Media, Program distributors , operators and Content owners) to distribute their content and recruit and administer costumers online.

UDS first costumer is HBO Nordic, which is buying access to the platform and handling of subscribers in the four Nordic countire. After UDs will continue to expand on the European market. UDs will offer other costumer like HBO a complete white label solution, which contains everything form content distribution, streaming platforms, applications, CRM and payment solutions for subscribers.

Thus this solution is different in it nature other OTT providers such as Hulu and Netflix, since it lets the content owners keep the costumer base and direct billing rights to the costumers.

URHO Digital services  offers the following services as white label prodcuts to content providers


Ericsson AB has inked a five-year deal with Urho Digital Services Oy (UDS) to manage the playout and media management components for HBO's big push into Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark.

Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) has inked a five-year deal with Urho Digital Services Oy (UDS) to manage the playout and media management components for HBO's big push into Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark. HBO Nordic, a joint venture of HBO and Persifal International, will pitch the carriage to pay-TV programmers while also teeing up the launch of a stand-alone streaming service in the region that's expected to cost less than €10 (US$12.58) per month and debut in mid-October. That launch is getting a high profile because HBO has so far resisted the temptation to offer a stand-alone subscription service in the U.S. HBO's experiment in the Nordic could serve as a blueprint for other OTT ambitions. (See HBO, Netflix Set for OTT Video Clash .)


Technology partners

Ericsson, Qbrick, UDS, TDF, Parsifal, HBO international, Urho Digital Services Oy