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news and views on broadcast and professional video/audio sectors, worldwide

w/e December 22, 2009 SCRI International, Inc © 1984 - 2009

INDEX

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TECHNOLOGY NEWS

MPEGIF Launches “3D over MPEG” Campaign

The MPEG Industry Forum (MPEGIF), the advocacy group for standard’s based digital television technologies, announced the formation of the 3DTV Working Group and launch of the “3D over MPEG” campaign. The new working group and campaign continue MPEGIF’s successful work in furthering the widespread adoption and deployment of MPEG-related standards including MPEG-4 AVC/H.264.

“3DTV is of keen interest to everyone in the video creation and delivery industries. The challenge we all face is that of sorting through the myriad technical options. Our common goal is to create a 3DTV ecosystem that delivers great new experiences to consumers,” says Dr. Sean McCarthy, chair of the newly formed 3DTV Working Group and Fellow of the Technical Staff at Motorola. “The 3DTV Working Group and the ‘3D over MPEG’ campaign are designed to provide focus and clear information to decision makers. 3DTV can be distributed today using MPEG-related standards. Existing broadband and broadcast services and infrastructures are 3D-ready, and ongoing works by standards bodies provide a compelling path for the future evolution of 3DTV.”

The 3DTV Working Group will provide a forum for free exchange of information related to this emerging technology, an industry voice advocating the adoption of standards and for consolidating the overall direction of the 3DTV industry. Its focus and constituency will be derived from video service providers, consumer electronics manufacturers, content owners, equipment manufacturers, system integrators, software providers, as well as industry advocacy groups, industry analysts, financial institutions and academic institutes.

“3D video is showing distinct commercial promise in theatrical releases and could thus transition to the advanced living room to follow High Definition and Surround Sound. As a result there is a growing array of competing technologies and work from various standards bodies,” said David Price, Vice President, MPEGIF and Vice President at Harmonic Inc. “It has therefore become a major theme of the next MPEG Industry Forum Master Class being held at CES 2010 in Las Vegas in January featuring leading executives from HBO, AT&T, Microsoft and other industry luminaries.”

ATSC Launches Certification for Mobile DTV Equipment

The Advanced Television Systems Committee launched a certification program for broadcast equipment and consumer receivers that comply with its mobile DTV standard, ATSC M/H.

The ATSC M/H, adopted in October, defines the technical specifications necessary for broadcasters to provide new services to mobile and handheld devices using their DTV transmissions. In cooperation with the Consumer Electronics Association, the ATSC has developed a certification mark for products that comply with the standard. Manufacturers may use the mark in accordance with the ATSC’s Certification Mark Policy, available online at www.atsc.org/policy_documents/.

ATSC Mobile DTV Certification Program relies primarily on self-certification by industry members, said ATSC President Mark Richer. It also includes provisions for expert reviewers, independent laboratory testing and verifications to help assure compliance. The ATSC said “the policy will be administered in an open, transparent, non-discriminatory manner, available to all interested parties, whether or not they are ATSC members.”

The Mobile DTV Certification Mark is expected to be used in association with a wide array of wireless receiving products including mobile phones, small handheld DTVs, laptop computers, “dongles” and in-vehicle entertainment systems, as well as professional broadcast equipment. Other items that may utilize the mark include mobile DTV-related software, applications and accessories that comply with the standard.

$7.2 Billion Recovery Act Broadband Program

Vice President Biden kicked off $7.2 billion in Recovery Act broadband grant and loan programs, of which $2 billion will be made available on a rolling basis over the next 75 days to bring high-speed Internet to communities that currently have little or no access to the technology. At an event at Impulse Manufacturing in Dawsonville, Georgia, with Governor Sonny Perdue (R-GA), he announced an initial $183 million investment in eighteen broadband projects benefiting seventeen states which has already been matched by over $46 million in public and private sector capital. The awards are not only expected to provide initial job opportunities in infrastructure and manufacturing, but help bridge the digital divide and boost economic development for communities held back by limited or no access to the technology.

"New broadband access means more capacity and better reliability in rural areas and underserved urban communities around the country. Businesses will be able to improve their customer service and better compete around the world," said Vice President Biden. "This is what the Recovery Act is all about - sparking new growth, tapping into the ingenuity of the American people and giving folks the tools they need to help build a new economy in the 21st-century." The projects receiving funds today are the first in the $7.2 billion program - $4.7 billion through the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and $2.5 through the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) - being implemented under the Recovery Act to expand broadband access and adoption across the country. The awards are designed to help underserved - and often hard-hit - communities overcome the distance and technology barrier by expanding connectivity between educational institutions, enabling remote medical consultations and attracting new businesses - as well as the jobs that come with them. They are part of an over $100 billion investment in science, technology and innovation the Administration is making through the Recovery Act to lay a new foundation for economic growth.

"Broadband is the new dial tone of the 21st-century," said Governor Perdue. "Internet access is as important to our communications infrastructure today as reliable telephone service was a century ago. Creating an advanced network will promote economic development, expand educational opportunities and improve the availability and efficiency of government services." The National Economic Council today released a report, "Recovery Act Investment in Broadband: Leveraging Federal Dollars to Create Jobs and Connect America," which found that Recovery Act investments in broadband will create tens of thousands of jobs in the near term and expand opportunities and economic development in communities that would otherwise be left behind in the new knowledge-based economy nbch

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INDUSTRY NEWS

Survey: VC Firms See Improving Conditions, Industry Contraction

Venture capitalists are cautiously optimistic about the improving economy, yet also realistic about the inevitable contraction of the industry, according to an annual survey released on Wednesday by the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA).

According to respondents, the venture industry will begin to see gradual increases in investment levels and exits in 2010, but the asset class will continue to shrink in size over the next five years.

The largest amount of optimism lies in areas such as clean technology investing, growth equity and later stage companies, as well as ongoing opportunities overseas.

"It is readily understood by the venture capital community that our industry is going to contract in size going forward," said Mark Heesen, president of the NVCA.

"That will mean fewer firms, for sure, but not necessarily fewer companies funded. There is a great deal of innovation taking place and venture capitalists who have the track record to raise funds will be well positioned to build companies."

Broadcast TV Ad Rev. Falls 22.6% In 3Q

Total broadcast television ad revenues were down 22.6% in the third quarter of 2009 compared to the same period last year, according to a Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB) analysis of estimates supplied by TNS Media Intelligence.

Breaking the total into its component parts, network TV was down 21.5% in the quarter, syndicated TV was down 7.2%, and local broadcast television (based on the top 100 markets) was down 28.1%. Local broadcast TV, in particular, suffered from a drop in political dollars in comparison with the spending last year leading up to the 2008 presidential election. Story continues after the ad

For the first nine months of 2009, network TV was down 10.7%, syndicated TV was down 2.8%, and local broadcast TV was down 27.4%, producing a total broadcast TV loss of 15.7%.

Twenty-two of the Top 25 advertising categories in local broadcast TV were down in the third quarter, including the leading, all-important automotive category.

Telco TV subs expected to double by 2011

According to a pay-TV market data from ABI Research, global pay-TV subscribers will number more than 730 million by the end of 2011. North America has the highest subscriber penetration and should reach 115.4 million by the end of 2011.

Telco TV continues to grow, with operators such as AT&T U-Verse, Verizon FiOS, and China Telecom enjoying a strong year. According to ABI Research industry analyst Serene Fong, "Telco TV subscribers will number 47 million by the end of 2011, with a CAGR of 22.5 per cent over the next five years (2009-2014)."

Western Europe has the highest Telco TV penetration rate and continues to increase in subscriber numbers, especially in France, Italy and Germany. North America and Asia-Pacific regions are the second and third highest in Telco TV penetration. The numbers of subscribers in those regions are forecast to exceed 9 million and 15 million respectively by the end of 2011. In the Asia-Pacific region South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan are the leading countries in Telco TV adoption.

Operators are extending Telco TV services by deploying triple-play offerings in order to reduce customer churn rate and to increase ARPU. "The improvement of broadband access is one factor which helps to increase Telco TV subscriptions," notes research associate Khin Sandi Lynn. "Other type of pay-TV platforms, satellite, cable and terrestrial are also found to be increasing, although at a slower rate."

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COMPANY NEWS

Thomson's Restructuring Plan approved by the Suppliers/Lenders -- Needs 2/3 of Noteholders

Thomson S.A. announced that both the Suppliers' committee and the Lenders' committee under the syndicated credit facility (Lenders' committee), which were convened today under the aegis of the Administrateur Judiciaire's office, voted to approve the Restructuring Plan made public by Thomson on 9 December 2009.

The Committee of the Suppliers approved the Restructuring Plan at 100%, and the Lenders' Committee at 100%, thus providing their clear support to the Plan.

The committee of Thomson's noteholders (Noteholders' committee) is scheduled to be convened tomorrow, Tuesday 22 December 2009, and will be the final group of creditors to vote on the Restructuring Plan.

Should the Restructuring Plan be approved tomorrow at a majority of the two thirds, the Restructuring Plan will be submitted to the vote of Thomson's shareholders at the Ordinary and Extraordinary Shareholders' Meeting to be convened on 27 January 2010 (First call: 19 January 2010).

Should the Restructuring Plan not be approved tomorrow at a majority of the two thirds, the Company will submit an alternative Court-imposed plan in accordance with French commercial code provisions.

Wegener Q1 Down and "very disappointing"

Wegener Corporation, a provider of products for television, audio and data distribution networks worldwide, announced preliminary operating results for the first quarter ended November 27, 2009.

Preliminary operating results for the first quarter of fiscal 2010 were revenues of $1.9 million and a net loss of approximately $(992,000) or $(0.08) per share compared to revenues of $2.3 million and a net loss of $(1.2) million or $(0.09) per share for the same period in fiscal 2009.

Wegener Corporation's eighteen-month backlog was $4.2 million at November 27, 2009, compared to $8.1 million at November 28, 2008. The total multi-year backlog at November 27, 2009, was approximately $6.6 million compared to $12.5 million at November 28, 2008. Bookings for the first quarter of fiscal 2010 were approximately $1.8 million compared to $1.3 million for the same period in fiscal 2009. Final first quarter fiscal 2010 numbers will be released in January 2010.

"As we have previously discussed, our first quarter performance was very disappointing," stated Troy Woodbury, President and CEO of Wegener Corporation. "During October of this year we reduced our headcount by 19% as we have continued to lower our breakeven point. The fiscal 2010 first quarter operating results reflect approximately $250,000 in severance costs compared to $24,000 in the first quarter of fiscal 2009. "

"During the past eight weeks, I have met or talked with a number of our key customers to ascertain what will be required to increase bookings. We have received some excellent feedback and are very focused on implementing changes that we believe will result in improved performance in the future."

Image Entertainment Receives Nasdaq Delisting

Image Entertainment, Inc. , a leading independent licensee and distributor of entertainment programming in North America, announced that it received a Nasdaq Staff Determination Letter (the "Letter") from the staff of the Nasdaq Stock Market Listing Qualifications Department (the "Staff") on December 15, 2009. The Letter indicated that the Company had not regained compliance in accordance with Listing Rule 5810(c)(3)(D) with the minimum market value of publicly held shares requirement for continued listing set forth in Listing Rule 5450(b)(2)(C) by December 14, 2009 in accordance with the Nasdaq Staff Deficiency Letter previously issued on September 15, 2009. The Letter further indicated that, unless the Company requests a hearing to appeal the Staff's determination by December 22, 2009, trading of the Company’s common stock will be suspended from The Nasdaq Stock Market ("Nasdaq") effective at the opening of business on December 24, 2009 and a Form 25-NSE will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission that will remove the Company’s common stock from listing and registration on Nasdaq.

The Company currently intends to request a hearing before a Nasdaq Hearings Panel (the "Panel") to appeal the Staff's delisting determination on or before December 22, 2009. A hearing would stay the suspension of the Company's common stock and the filing of the Form 25-NSE pending the issuance of the Panel's written decision. Accordingly, so long as the Company requests a hearing by the deadline the Company’s common stock is expected to continue to be listed on The Nasdaq Global Market pending the conclusion of the appeal process. There can be no assurance that the Panel will grant the Company's request for continued listing.

Symphony 3D buys MasterImage

Symphony 3D will inject $15 million into MasterImage, which has been renamed MasterImage 3D. MasterImage has supplied 1,000 of its 3D theater systems to exhibs in 36 countries since it was set up in 2004, as well as enabling more than 300,000 stereoscopic mobile devices. Symphony 3D, which is about to move its headquarters to Burbank, is a fund focused on investment in the media and technology industries. It also has inked a pact with KDC Corp., an IT manufacturing and service company based in Korea. MasterImage and KDC have been partners since 2005. Korea Content Agency recently appointed KDC subsidiary Realscope to supply 3D cameras to local shingles.

Kudelski Group acquires Medialive

The Kudelski Group, the independent provider of value-added content protection solutions, has acquired Medialive. Medialive develops and licenses innovative and patented content protection and marking technologies for distribution over broadcast, Internet, and mobile distribution networks and devices.

The acquisition marks a turning point in the cooperation between the two companies to combine the Kudelski Group's strengths in conditional access with Medialive's innovative encryption and watermarking technology.

Video Recommendations Firm Jinni Gets $1.6 Million

Jinni, the developer of a personalized recommendation system for online video, has raised $1.6 million in new financing, led by DFJ Tamir Fishman Ventures, PaidContent reported.

Founded in 2007, Israel-based Jinni's "Taste Engine" provides recommendations based on analyzing a user's preferences.

The company is also developing a "Movie Genome," similar to the "music genome" developed by music streaming service Pandora, that uses semantic technology to determine the "mood" of a video and classify it accordingly.

The company previously raised $1 million last year from Start-Up Factory.

Apple granted permanent injunction against Psystar

The age of Psystar may be drawing to a close at last. On Tuesday, Apple snagged a permanent injunction against the clone-maker from U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup, who’s been presiding over the case in the Northern District of California. Apple won a summary judgment against Psystar in November and the two companies reached a partial settlement earlier this month.

Among the stipulations in the injunction, Psystar is prohibited from no-brainers like infringing Apple’s Mac OS X copyrights, circumventing technological protection measures in Mac OS X, making or distributing non-Apple computers that run OS X, and helping or inducing anybody else to infringe Mac OS X copyrights or circumvent technological protections. In addition, Psystar is required to destroy any and all technology it’s used to create its products.

Psystar must comply with all of the stipulations of the injunction by midnight on December 31, giving it just over two weeks (it has already stopped selling clones as of earlier this month); the company is furthermore prohibited from selling off any of its infringing products, so don’t expect any bargains.

Social Avatar Firms Gizmoz, Daz 3D Merge, Raise $5.3 Million

Authored by Mark Hefflinger on December 16, 2009 - 9:15am. San Francisco - Gizmoz, a provider of 3D social media avatars, announced on Wednesday that it has merged with Utah-based rival Daz 3D. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded in 2003, San Francisco-based Gizmoz has to date raised around $13 million, from investors including Benchmark Capital, Columbia Capital, DoCoMo Capital and NGI Capital, while Daz has to date raised $4 million, from investors including Highway 12 Ventures.

TechCrunch reports that the merged company has received $5.3 million in new financing from Benchmark Capital, Highway 12 Ventures and Columbia Capital.

"We are excited to announce the formation of a company dedicated to delivering digital goods with unprecedented life-like characteristics ideal for social networks, cross-platform gaming, 3D animation and development," said Eyal Gever, president of the merged company and CEO and founder of Gizmoz.

"By offering the most advanced mass-market 3D character creation technology, combined with a highly robust marketplace of 3D content, the company is perfectly in line with virtual goods market growth expectations of $3 billion by 2010."

PEOPLE NEWS

Zucker Outlines Comcast/NBCU Transition Team

NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker issued a memo, detailing the members of the transition team that will oversee the firm's proposed take over by Comcast Corp.

The memo was first revealed by Mediabistro's TV Newser. According to the Website, the "Operational Transition Team," will be led by Salil Mehta, who is described by NBC insiders as Zucker's right hand man. Mehta's official title is president of business operations, strategy and development. Joe Donnelly, the CFO of Comcast's programming group will work together with Mehta. "Jeff Shell, president of the Comcast Programming Group, and Jeff Gaspin, chairman of NBCU TV Entertainment, will both be heavily involved with this team," writes Zucker in the memo.

The goal of the transition teams is to plan for how the joint venture will operate after the deal closes which is expected to be anywhere between nine month to 18 months away.

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PRODUCT NEWS

Sony to Use RealD Technology in 3-D TV Sets in 2010

Sony Corp said it will use technology from RealD to make 3-D capable TV sets starting next year,according to a report on BloombergNews.

Sony is licensing RealD’s stereoscopic format to show three-dimensional images on TV screens, as well as the know-how needed to make 3-D glasses, the Tokyo-based company said today in a statement.

Hollywood studios are planning to release Blu-ray discs in 3-D in 2010 after enjoying record box-office sales this year that were buoyed in part by higher ticket prices for 3-D movies. Sony and RealD already work together on 3-D theater systems.

Sony American depositary receipts fell 43 cents to $28.58 at 4:02 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The ADRs have gained 31 percent this year. Closely held RealD is based in Beverly Hills, California.

NewTek Launches HD Portable Live Production System

NewTek has launched TriCaster TCXD300, a product that redefines portable live production with benefits that include high definition and standard definition (HD and SD) live multi-camera switching, full HD streaming, live HD virtual sets, HD titling, HD digital disk recording, HD editing, audio mixing, efficient workflow, multiple effects layers and much more.

"NewTek TriCaster TCXD300 represents a breakthrough in portable live production, allowing users to more successfully engage audiences, deliver messages and events, build brands and create new revenue streams. Customers can now produce network-quality HD or SD output, access unprecedented effects and layering capabilities, and take advantage of the most powerful virtual set technology available," said Andrew Cross, executive vice president, engineering, NewTek. "As the newest member of our TriCaster product line, this system combines industry-leading performance and ease-of-use to suit the diverse goals of producers ranging from beginners to seasoned professionals."

"NewTek Tricaster continues to play a major role in MTV's online original production process," said Jeff Jacobs, vice president, production planning and strategies, MTV. "We find that TriCaster is a most effective tool for producing quality content with the option of streaming live. We have used various Tricaster models to produce talk shows, after-shows, music sets and live press conferences both on TV and online. After initial work with the TriCaster TCXD300, it is clear that this new HD portable live production system is equipped with the features that will help MTV discover new efficiencies while reaching new creative heights."

TriCaster TCXD300 is available in North America for US$14,995 and in multi-standard internationally for US$17,995. The TriCaster family of products in NTSC is available in North America starting at US$3,995. The TriCaster family of products is available in multi-standard internationally beginning at US$5,995. Educational pricing is also available.

Streambox Releases SBT3-9300 Video Transport Solution

Streambox announced the release of its next-generation SBT3-9300 video transport system for delivery of broadcast-quality video and audio over IP-based networks. With the ability to capture and encode stunning, full-motion and full-frame 1080i/720p HD content in addition to SD, the SBT3-9300 provides a flexible and cost-effective path to full HD transmissions for many types of organizations including broadcasters, production companies, and houses of worship.

"In today's economy, the competitive pressure to migrate to HD transmissions is often at odds with budgetary realities for many broadcasting organizations," said Bob Hildeman, chairman and CEO of Streambox. "The SBT3-9300 is a true hybrid solution which offers built-in HD capabilities for the price of an SD system. Broadcasters can take advantage of low-cost, low-bandwidth IP networks for transporting SD video now — and when the rest of the facility is ready later to convert to HD, the SBT3-9300 will be ready to go without requiring a costly upgrade."

The system supports full 1080i video as well as HD/SD digital and analog input and output formats, transmitting at data rates ranging from 512 Kbps to 30 Mbps for HD video and 64 Kbps to 15 Mbps for SD. The SBT3-9300's exclusive Web interface enables operators to control the system from any computer connected to the network.

Google's Android Market doubles--trouble for Apple?

Google's Android Market application storefront unofficially surpassed the 20,000 app benchmark this week, according to analytics provider AndroLib.com. The number may not seem particularly impressive in comparison to Apple's App Store, which now boasts close to 118,000 total iPhone and iPod touch applications based on the latest count supplied by mobile ad exchange Mobclix. But consider that Android Market only reached the 10,000 application milestone in early September, almost a year after its October 2008 launch--by contrast, the store added the next 10,000 apps in under four months. The leap supports an earlier report issued by in-application analytics provider Flurry stating that Android software project starts increased 94 percent between September and October, a period coinciding with the announcement that Verizon Wireless would release Motorola's Droid smartphone, and makes it clear that developers are betting big on Android's future.

Those bets are poised to pay off handsomely in the years ahead according to a new forecast issued by ABI Research, which anticipates application downloads to reach five billion by 2014, up from an estimated 2.3 billion downloads in 2009. While ABI believes the iPhone will remain the leading platform for mobile apps, the forecast declares Android will benefit most from the upcoming boom, increasing from 11 percent of total application downloads this year to 23 percent five years from now. Chalk up the growth to the continued expansion of the Android OS--there are presently 14 smartphones running on Android, and a flood of additional devices are expected in 2010. (Chief among them: Google's rumored branded Android phone, the Nexus One, reportedly slated to drop early next year.)

Despite Android's recent growth spurt, expect Apple to remain out in front for the foreseeable future--according to Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty, "Apple has a two- or three-year lead" over its mobile competition. This week, the investment firm released its Mobile Internet Report, the 424-page sequel to its influential 1995 Internet Report, considered the bible of the dot-com era in many quarters. Morgan Stanley projects more consumers will access the Internet via mobile devices than PCs within five years, with Apple in the "pole position." The study notes that as of now, iPhone users generate 65 percent of the world's mobile web browsing and 50 percent of its app usage, despite representing just 17 percent of the global smartphone installed base--at least for the time being, the Android platform lags far behind, making up 8 percent of mobile browsing along with 11 percent of app usage.

But while the Morgan Stanley report concedes Apple is leading in mobile innovation and impact "for now," it argues that the depth of each app ecosystem, user experience and pricing will ultimately determine the long-term winners, adding "Newcomer Android has quickly surpassed the old guard." In other words, let's not crown Apple just yet--its lead is sizable, but for the first time, the company should be looking over its shoulder.

RESEARCH NEWS

SCRI RESEARCH NEWS

2009-2010 Broadcast Pro Video Marketplace Reports

2009-2010 Broadcast Pro Video Marketplace Reports Series is now available. A total of 25 individual product reports as well as a macro industry overview and micro quantitative data analysis reports are available. Contact des_chas@scri.com for more information.

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