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Insider Report

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w/e february 8, 2010 SCRI International, Inc © 1984 - 2009


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UHD video and 3D video on the horizon

As HD video has hit its stride worldwide, the TV and film industry are looking ahead to the next new thing. 3D TV and Ultra-HD (UHD) are on the horizon, according to In-Stat.

3D video is already out of the gate, with growing proliferation of 3D films in theatres. Pay TV operators are in the early stages of deploying 3D TV capability. Early 3D TVs and 3D Blu-Ray players will ship in 2010. In-Stat projects worldwide 3D TV shipments will reach 41 million in 2014. 3D Blu-ray player shipments will track closely with 3D TVs.

UHD will take considerably longer to roll out, but has started to garner interest and discussion among long-term planners in the TV, film and technology industries. In-Stat believes the first UHD broadcasts will start around 2017. UHD TVs will reach about 5 per cent household penetration in some regional markets in the early 2020s. Technology companies and equipment manufacturers will need to have solutions available ahead of time to support the long term opportunity.

The end of mobile TV as we know it?

This report is by Robert Briel at Broadband TV News.

With the hype at an end, mobile TV operators are now facing up to a reality that far from matches the expectations

This month, the French media authority CSA has called all potential partners for a mobile TV service using the DVB-H standard in the country. The authority is getting impatient with the (lack of) progress of developing a business model. The parties include the 13 broadcasters that received a licence almost two years ago, in May 2008, and the country’s three main mobile operators.

In Germany, the Commission for approval and oversight (ZAK) of the combined media authorities, has asked any parties with a viable business proposition to come forward.

Ever since the Mobile 3.0 consortium handed back its DVB-H licence in the autumn of 2008, a special working group of the regional media authorities has explored a possible rebirth of a DVB-H service with potential candidates and other market players. The ZAK now hopes to reach a clear decision on the possible future of DVB-H.

It is no coincidence that in two major European countries the development of a national DVB-H service seems to stall. We are now past the initial hype and the first experiences in the few European countries that already have a mobile TV service up and running are not very encouraging.

The problems facing a live mobile TV service are plentiful: first, a completely new transmitter network needs to be build at great expense; all parties involved need to be involved – the broadcasters, the operators, the handset manufacturers and the retail channel; then, the pubic needs to be convinced it really needs such a service.

Consumer acceptance looks like being the main ‘obstacle’ as well as ongoing technical progress. Do people really want a live stream of all the channels they watch at home? If the answer is ‘yes’, they can find a much easier solution by adding a small USB DVB-T stick to their laptop and have reception (almost) anywhere. On top of that, manufacturers of DVD players, navigation other mobile devices are now adding a tuner.

There are now even handset manufacturers that are adding the DVB-T tuner – in effect making DVB-H obsolete. And there are of course the many apps for the iPhone making live streams of TV channels possible.

Having television available on other devices than the mobile phone also gives more possibilities – such as recording programmes and taking any video content you want ‘on the go’. And – judging by anecdotal evidence – this seems indeed a feature people want to have. Travelling on the train, waiting for a plane, sitting on the back seat of the car – there is a need and a want for mobile video.

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TV Stations not as Reliant on Ad Revenues

According to Kagan analyst Robin Flynn, diversification of TV station revenues finally appears to be taking hold, at the samw time that ad revenues that supplied nearly 100 percent of TV revenues for decades contracted dramatically in 2009:

“In 2006, we estimate that TV station revenues from the three sources stood at $24.6 billion,” Flynn wrote. “In 2009, despite growing retrans and online revenues, due to terrestrial ad revenues that on a preliminary basis appear to have been off by 20 percent or more, we estimate the total revenue pie shrank to less than $19 billion.”

Kagan analysts don’t see a full recovery to 2006 revenue levels in the near future, projecting total 2013 levels at $21.7 million. Of that, they say 16 percent will be from retrans and online advertising, compared to 3 percent in 2006.

“Based on our latest projections, TV station industry revenues could go from what was a 97 percent reliance on local and national terrestrial ad revenues in 2006 to a revenue mix of just 84 percent from terrestrial ad revenues by 2013 with 9 percent from retrans revenue and 7 percent from online revenues,” she said. “Based on expectations for increasing online and retrans revenues, that 16 percent from nontraditional sources is expected to continue to grow, with mobile interactive revenue also potentially contributing to the category.”

Comcast Reprots Q4 Increases in Revenue & Profits

Comcast Corporation reported results for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2009.

Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Comcast Corporation, said "I am pleased to report healthy operating and financial results for 2009. We are particularly proud of our accomplishments this year in light of a difficult economic environment affecting the consumer and our advertising business, as well as intensified competition. These results highlight the strength and resilience of our businesses, as well as effective execution, with a focus on profitable growth, expense control and prudent capital management. In 2009, we continued to invest in our products and services and in growth opportunities like Comcast Business Services. We also made real progress deploying All-Digital and Wideband, and launched innovative products like Comcast High-Speed 2go, our 4G wireless broadband service, and On Demand Online. We believe these initiatives and our focus on delivering the best consumer experience further improves our competitive position now and in the future.

We are also excited about the opportunity to strengthen our position in content through the announced NBC Universal transaction, and to bring those assets together with our already-strong position in cable and broadband distribution. Our technology platform now allows for significant cross platform integration and product innovation that will help us expand the entertainment options we offer our customers.

As we begin 2010, Comcast is well positioned to continue to execute and deliver growth with a continued focus on building value for our shareholders.”

Time Warner profits rise

Time Warner said its net income rose to $627 million, in the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a $16 billion loss in the year-earlier quarter (based mainly in writing down AOL value).

The company said adjusted operating income rose 35 per cent to $1.5 billion, matching analysts' expectations. Sales rose 2 per cent to $7.3 billion.

Time Warner's television networks, which include CNN and other Turner programming, also performed well in the quarter. Sales grew 4 per cent on an 11 per cent rise in cable subscriptions, which more than offset a 4 per cent drop in advertising sales.

Meanwhile, in its first quarterly filing since splitting from Time Warner, AOL Inc. said that it swung to a profit in the fourth quarter from a year earlier. The company reported net income of $1.4 million. That compares with a loss of $1.9 billion in the year-ago quarter.

There were sharp declines in AOL's subscriber base. Subscription revenue plunged 28 per cent, while advertising sales were down 8 per cent. The company continued to lose subscribers as users flock to higher speed Internet connections.

New Frontier Media Reports Solid Q3

New Frontier Media, a provider of transactional television and the distribution of independent general motion picture entertainment, reported its results for the fiscal 2010 third quarter and nine month period ended December 31, 2009.

"New Frontier Media's performance during the third quarter of fiscal year 2010 was solid," said Michael Weiner, chief executive officer of New Frontier Media, Inc. "We have successfully executed against our strategic objectives throughout fiscal 2010, which include the expansion of our international footprint within the Transactional TV segment and the growth of our Film Production segment's distribution of mainstream repped content to VOD platforms. In the most recent quarter, the Company generated net income of $1.5 million, or $0.08 per share, on revenue of $11.5 million. These results include approximately $0.9 million of international revenue within our core Transactional TV segment. We have continued to gain distribution space with many of our core customers throughout the economic downturn, and we believe there may be signs of stabilization within the domestic business."

"Distribution of mainstream content to VOD platforms contributed to the 22% increase in the Film Production segment's revenue during the most recently completed quarter. We expect this segment will complete two producer-for-hire productions and an episodic series production within the next three to nine months which will provide strong momentum during the remainder of fiscal 2010 and into fiscal 2011."

Mr. Weiner continued, "We believe New Frontier Media, which currently delivers content to over 217 million network homes world-wide including over 33 million network homes internationally, is well positioned to participate in the changing landscape of media distribution. Because of our extensive investment and focus on people, processes, and technology over the past 18 months, our current infrastructure is capable of distributing content through a variety of platforms including traditional broadcast television, VOD, IPTV, mobile devices and other consumer electronic devices, including connected TVs, Blu-ray players, and game consoles. Our Company is a distributor of content regardless of the platform. We believe the Company's strategic execution and ability to leverage its technological infrastructure with new and upcoming platforms will provide steady long-term growth for the Company."

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InPhase Technologies Shuts Down

InPhase Technologies, a pioneer in holographic storage, has gone out of business and had assets seized by the Colorado Department of Revenue for back taxes, local media outlets report. The company was said to owe the state more than $10,000. A public auction of the assets is pending. The company’s 60 employees received final paychecks Friday, after nearly a year of working at reduced wages while lead investor Bart Stuck sought additional funding. The Longmont Times-Call said one engineer from InPhase was being paid $11 an hour.

InPhase, spun out of Bell Labs around 10 years ago, had raised and run on around $100 million in venture capital, including $20 million in January, 2009. Within five years, it was demonstrating holographic storage, whereby data is stored within the physical body of a disc rather than merely on the surface. A holographic disc was said to store 30 times more data than a DVD. TV Technology gave InPhase a Star Award at the NAB Show in 2006. Network Computing named it one of the Top 10 Startups to watch in 2007, when it was expected to bring a product to market. The prototype was featured in Popular Science magazine as a “Best of What’s New ’07,” with a projected $18,000 price tag. Turner Broadcasting conducted the first TV trail with the technology, switching in an ad for the National Basketball Association from a holographic disc. (eWeek has details.)

Despite the attention, InPhase was unable to bring a product to market, even though it lists several resellers and OEM partners, including Hitachi, also an investor. Others include Investors include Stuck’s Signal Lake, New Venture Partners, Bayer MaterialScience AG, Newton Technology Partners, ALPS Electric Co., Yasuda Enterprise Development, Japan Asia Investment Co., Nanotech Partners and B.J. Cassin.

General Electric has also been working on holographic storage and was said last April to be talking to potential partners about bringing the technology to market, according to Enterprise Storage.

Harris Broadcast Communications Names New President

Harris Corporation has named P. Harris Morris as president of the company’s Broadcast Communications business. Previously, Morris served as vice president and general manager of the Media and Workflow area of the Broadcast Communications business.

Before joining Harris Corporation in January 2008, Morris served as chief strategy officer for the Thomson Learning Division of Thomson Corporation, where he played an instrumental role in the development of Thomson’s growth strategy for international channel expansion and digital products.

Previously, he was a partner and vice president for Bain & Company, a global business consulting firm. In his 13 years with Bain & Company, he helped a wide variety of global clients analyze markets, develop growth strategies, expand into international markets and drive operational efficiencies. His expertise centered on media, technology and telecommunications, as well as consumer products and industrial sectors.

Morris has an MBA from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree with distinction in economics and foreign affairs from the University of Virginia. As an author, his work has been published in the Financial Times and Catalyst magazine.

Dolby Labs 23 & Increase in Q1 Revenue

Dolby Laboratories, Inc. announced the Company's financial results for its first quarter of fiscal 2010. For the first quarter, Dolby reported total revenue of $221.2 million, compared to $180.3 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2009, an increase of 23 percent.

“In the first quarter, we made progress on a number of fronts,” said Kevin Yeaman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Dolby Laboratories. “We experienced increased global adoption of our next-generation audio format, Dolby Digital Plus, experienced strong demand for our cinema 3D systems and, in January, saw a leading set-top-box manufacturer adopt Dolby Volume in certain models.”

For fiscal 2010, Dolby is targeting revenue of $780 million to $810 million, total gross margin of approximately 87 percent on a GAAP basis, and 88 percent on a non-GAAP basis.

Belden Q4 Up

Belden announced results of the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2009. The Company reported fourth quarter 2009 revenue of $387.8 million with an operating profit of $16.6 million. Net income during the fourth quarter of 2009 was $19.9 million, or $0.42 per diluted share. Revenue in the fourth quarter of 2008 was $417.3 million with an operating loss of $482.4 million and a net loss of $448.1 million, or a loss of $9.64(1) per diluted share.

Revenue of $1.4 billion in the year ended December 31, 2009, was approximately 29 percent lower than 2008 revenue of $2.0 billion. Operating income in 2009 was $1.6 million, and the net loss was $24.9 million, or a loss of $0.53 per diluted share. This compares to an operating loss of $342.2 million, and a net loss of $361.8 million or a loss of $8.10 per diluted share in 2008.

Discussing the results, John Stroup, President and Chief Executive Officer of Belden said, "Although we experienced a historic downturn as a result of the global economic crisis in 2009, our decision to take direct, aggressive restructuring actions early in the year allowed us to significantly improve our cost structure and exit the year a much stronger company. I would like to thank all of our associates for their hard work throughout this process."

Our markets are stable, but the timing and magnitude of the recovery remains uncertain. Therefore, our focus remains on those things within our control, including our Lean Enterprise and Market Delivery System," commented Stroup. "The business is well-positioned to deliver expanded profitability and solid cash flow and to further benefit from the economic recovery whenever it occurs."

Harmonic Q4 Sales Up

Harmonic Inc. announced its preliminary and unaudited results for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2009.

For the fourth quarter of 2009, the Company reported net sales of $86.7 million, compared to $83.9 million in the previous quarter and $96.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2008. Total bookings in the fourth quarter of 2009 were $107.6 million, up from $79.9 million in the third quarter. For the full year 2009, net sales were $319.6 million, compared to $365.0 million in 2008.

International sales represented 50% of net sales for the fourth quarter and 49% for the full year of 2009, up from 47% and 44%, respectively, for the same periods in 2008. In 2009, the Company's 10 largest customers contributed 47% of net sales, compared to 58% in 2008.

The Company reported GAAP net income for the fourth quarter of 2009 of $47 thousand, or $0.00 per diluted share, compared to net income of $13.2 million, or $0.14 per diluted share, for the same period of 2008. For the full year 2009, GAAP net loss was $24.1 million, or $0.25 per share, compared to GAAP net income of $64.0 million, or $0.67 per diluted share in 2008.

"We're pleased with our sequential growth in sales and bookings in the fourth quarter, driven by improving demand across our expanding global customer base and by the success of our newest products," said Patrick Harshman, President and Chief Executive Officer. "While 2009 presented considerable economic challenges, we completed a significant acquisition, continued to invest in compelling next-generation technology, maintained our strong operating efficiencies and ended the year with a much improved backlog and deferred revenue position."

"Moving into 2010, we plan to continue to extend our global reach, strengthen our technology leadership and introduce powerful new solutions for a growing array of new video applications. Although our customers face continued global economic uncertainty and we anticipate the usual seasonal slowdown in first quarter bookings, we expect to continue to grow our revenue and earnings throughout the year."

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2009-2010 Broadcast Pro Video Marketplace Reports

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