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w/e January 21, 2007 SCRI International, Inc © 1984 - 2004


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DVB-H Set to Be the Future of Mobile Television

The concept of providing television services on a mobile device is generating much enthusiasm among the wireless industry, in turn driving the growth and development of digital video broadcasting-handheld (DVB-H) technology. Overwhelming support from the wireless industry is likely to be one of the major drivers for the growth of the technology, as will be the increasing demand for content on the move. In short, DVB-H could well become a global standard similar to Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM), creating an altogether new market for television viewership.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan reveals that revenues in this market totaled $60 million in 2006 and is likely to reach $2.04 billion in 2010.

"Many participants in the wireless industry support the DVB-H technology as it is an open industry standard, and this non-proprietary feature of the standards is likely to vastly assist its growth in the wireless market," notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Nagarajan Sampathkumar. "Furthermore, DVB-H delivers an improved end-user experience over current video streaming services that utilize cellular networks, while also providing, broadcasters, cellular operators, handset manufacturers and silicon providers with tremendous growth opportunities."

This apart, the quality of service (QoS) is likely to be better due to the use of a dedicated broadcast network. Additionally, though DVB-H claims speeds of 25 frames per second (fps), trials show practical speeds of 15-16 fps, which seem to be sufficient for existing screen sizes and resolutions. However, in future, these speeds are likely to increase to 20-25 fps for fixed digital TV in Europe.

Despite the promise, one of the biggest challenges to adoption of DVB-H by mobile operators is the issue of business and revenue models. With DVB-H, mobile operators are likely to prefer to continue operating in their area of domain expertise service provisioning, billing, and customer care and therefore, broadcasters would have ownership of the content and the overall visual experience.

"Hence, mobile operators would need to differentiate their offerings and provide value to ensure customer loyalty and remain profitable," says Sampathkumar. "This also means that mobile operators are likely to serve only as a link to customers and would not be in a position to negotiate for better revenue splits with others in the value chain."

Service providers would be required to work very closely with content creators, aggregators, and broadcasters, and ensure secure content and support digital rights management in an effort to protect copyrighted content. While revenue issues could be addressed through subscription models, event-based, pay per view, and even interactive services, the most important challenge is likely to be the optimizing of battery life of the handsets.

HD Sports Key Driver to HDTV Sales

Sports fans are driving the sales of high-definition televisions (HDTV) according to the second annual “Inside the Mind of the HD Sports Fan” survey conducted by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA®) and the Sports Video Group (SVG). The survey was unveiled at the 2007 International CES®. The International CES, the world’s largest showcase of consumer technologies, runs January 8-11, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The survey, conducted between November 27 and December 11, 2006, concluded that nearly 50 percent of sports fans purchased a HDTV for the purpose of watching a specific sporting event. Among the top sporting events driving HDTV purchases: the Super Bowl (13 percent), the Daytona 500 (7 percent), the NBA Finals (6 percent) and the college bowl games (5 percent).

“Sports fans have long been enthusiastic about HD content, but this report shows a direct correlation between sports enthusiasm and HDTV sales,” said Tim Herbert, CEA’s senior director of market research. “Twenty-nine percent of sports fans say HD programming impacts their decision to watch and 41 percent of sports fans believe that watching sports programming in HD is almost as good as attending the event live, proving they are not just enthusiasts but true HD aficionados.”

“This survey provides sports networks, advertisers and the consumer electronics industry greater insight into how HD sports influence consumer viewing and buying habits,” said Ken Kerschbaumer, SVG editorial director. “That knowledge can directly translate into more effective marketing campaigns and programming decisions that can help drive the HD transition.”

The survey also reviewed the top “favorite events” sports fans watch in HD. The list included:

  • 1. Super Bowl
  • 2. College football bowl games
  • 3. World Series
  • 4. NBA Finals
  • 5. NCAA college basketball tournament

    While nearly 60 percent of HDTV owners are sports fans, HDTV continues to be quickly adopted by all consumers. In 2006, more than 13.5 million HDTV sets were shipped in the U.S. and CEA predicts that nearly 16 million HDTV sets will be shipped in 2007. This is 57 percent of the total digital television unit sales predicted for 2007. U.S. factory-to-dealer shipments of HDTV have exceeded 30 million units since inception.

    Video fuels Cisco's growth

    According to a recent AP report, when it comes to making money, the online video explosion is mostly about potential. Studios selling TV shows and movies for download, and Web sites like YouTube that link ads to user-generated content, stand to reap billions from the Internet's hottest trend.

    But a select group of companies whose products exist largely outside the public view are already profiting handsomely. Led by industry powerhouse Cisco Systems Inc., the network equipment makers are seeing their gear snapped up by service providers who must upgrade their networks to accommodate surging Internet traffic and booming broadband demand.

    "Cisco would like to see video delivered to every device everywhere," said Zeus Kerravala, a network infrastructure analyst with Yankee Group. "If you're looking to something to create the next wave of network upgrades, video is front and center. It drives bandwidth like we've never seen before."

    Video consumes thousands of times the network space of e-mail messages, and demand is growing so fast that it's poised to overtake peer-to-peer file sharing as the dominant form of Internet traffic.

    But online video _ which is projected to grow from $1.3 billion in revenue last year to more than $7 billion by 2010, according to the market research firm Parks Associates _ isn't yet the profit machine the online community envisions. Companies are still grappling with how to generate reliable revenue from content that is largely free and often littered with copyright-infringement land mines.

    That's a rich opportunity for Cisco, Alcatel-Lucent, Juniper Networks Inc. and Redback Networks Inc., companies that build the Internet's infrastructure.

    Their products _ routers and switches that direct traffic over the Internet and other networks _ help the cable companies and telecoms manage the growing traffic load and intelligently direct massive amounts of data.

    The end result for the consumer: faster downloads, higher video quality, and the ability to eventually upgrade to Internet Protocol Television, or IPTV _ TV delivered over a broadband connection.

    Millions of broadband customers in the U.S. already get their telephone service through Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, and IPTV is being hailed as the Next Big Thing in video delivery to the home.

    For the service providers, IPTV is a crucial component in their fight to deliver the so-called "triple play," or the commercial bundling of data, voice and video over a single network connection.

    Companies like Comcast Corp., the nation's largest cable operator, and others have already begun rolling out their own versions of the service.

    Charlie Giancarlo, Cisco senior vice president and chief development officer, said the push also is forcing Cisco to change the way its products are built to deliver high-quality video, which puts more strain on the network than voice or data transmissions.

    "It's a big challenge for us," Giancarlo said. "It's not just that they want more of the same thing. What they want are things that change the nature of our product in multiple ways."

    Worldwide broadband proliferation is also helping fuel the demand for more sophisticated networking gear.

    An estimated 210 million people have broadband subscriptions worldwide, and some 40 to 50 million new subscribers are expected to sign on each year, according to networking and telecommunications industry researcher Dell'Oro Group.

    The increased traffic, coupled with video's huge bandwidth requirements, create a lucrative opportunity for the networking companies, which have profited from the booming sales of their routers and switches to service providers.

    In 2006, the market for service provider routers was $5.5 billion, a 26 percent increase over the year before and continued several years of double-digit growth, according to Dell'Oro Group.

    Carrier Ethernet switches had a $2.1 billion market, a 33 percent increase from the previous year.

    Cisco is the far-and-away leader in both markets, commanding more than a 50 percent market share in each category.

    Cisco has posted admirable profits in recent quarters _ including a 28 percent gain in the most recently reported period _ and Wall Street has cheered the company's performance.

    Cisco shares are up nearly 50 percent from a year ago, which has translated into about $56 billion in additional shareholder wealth.

    Financial analysts said they are optimistic the company can keep up its impressive pace. On average, they expect Cisco's annual revenue to grow 20 percent in the current fiscal year to about $34 billion.

    "This is going to be a multiyear phenomenon _ right now you've got the YouTubes and the consumer applications sucking up capacity on the networks, and we haven't even had IPTV deployments in any significance yet," said Troy Jensen, senior research analyst with investment bank Piper Jaffray & Co. "But once this couple-year investment cycle winds down, it could potentially be tough times again."

    Cisco's competitors have also seen strong growth in similar areas even as their overall financial health in some cases suffered.

    Some industry observers said they are still puzzled how content providers plan to make money off so-called "over-the-top" Internet video like that on San Bruno-based YouTube, which was streaming more than 100 million videos a day but had not yet turned a profit in its short history when it was acquired by online search leader Google Inc.

    IPTV, on the other hand, involves TV delivery over a closed network infrastructure for a fee and is viewed as a much more lucrative arena.

    "The core customers, the service providers, are having a difficult time figuring out what to do with over-the-top video," said Sam Wilson, a communications equipment analyst with JMP Securities. "They'd love to not have it at all; it's competition. But the government wouldn't like that. So companies like Cisco are benefiting from the carriers having to carry it, and carry it in a responsible manner."

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    Skype founders launch internet TV service

    NewsSkype founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstršm have launched internet TV service Joost, which will broadcast TV-quality programs over the internet.

    The online TV software went under the codename 'The Venice Project' throughout its development and uses peer-to-peer streaming technology to deliver its programs over the internet.

    Currently Joost offers a limited line up of sports, documentaries and music programming and, as of yet, no major content deals with major movie studios or TV producers have been announced.

    Fox TV Stations Adopt Panasonic P2 HD/P2

    Panasonic Broadcast announced that it has signed a three-year agreement with the Fox Entertainment Group, Inc. to supply P2 HD and P2 solid-state camcorders and recorders to all Fox owned-and-operated television stations.

    Fox Television Stations, Inc. part of the Fox Entertainment Group, is one of the nation's largest owned-and-operated broadcast groups, and comprises 35 stations in 26 markets, covering nearly 45% of U.S. television homes. This includes five duopolies in the top 10 markets, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Washington D.C., as well as duopolies in Houston, Minneapolis, Phoenix and Orlando.

    Under the terms of the three-year agreement, Panasonic will be the exclusive supplier of certain electronic news gathering (ENG) equipment for Fox’s owned-and-operated television stations. The agreement covers AJ-HPX2000 2/3” P2 HD camcorders, AJ-HPM100 P2 HD mobile recorders, P2 Cards as well as P2 drives and other P2 products.

    John Baisley, President, Panasonic Broadcast, said, “We are very pleased to be chosen by Fox, one of our original development partners for P2, to supply its television stations with P2 HD and P2 equipment. This substantial commitment reinforces Panasonic’s leadership in high definition.”

    “P2 is a proven technology with extensive customer experience, and Panasonic is deeply committed to the continued development of innovative yet practical P2 HD solid state solutions that deliver substantial workflow improvements and overall operating efficiencies,” added Baisley.

    Currently, five Fox stations – WNYW-TV and WWOR-TV, New York City; WTXF-TV, Philadelphia, KRIV-TV, Houston; and KTVI-TV, St. Louis; are using Panasonic’s P2 standard definition equipment in their news production operations.

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    TANDBERG Aquqired by ARRIS

    ARRIS and TANDBERG Television announced that they have reached an agreement to combine the two companies through an acquisition of all outstanding TANDBERG Television shares by ARRIS. The offer price of NOK 96 consists of NOK 80 cash and NOK 16 shares in ARRIS, a US NASDAQ listed company, although ARRIS can increase the cash portion of the offer at its discretion. The aggregate purchase is expected to be $1,214 M at current exchange rates. The transaction is expected to be completed in Q2 2007 and is subject to regulatory and other customary approvals, as well as, to ARRIS receiving valid and unconditional acceptances of the offer from shareholders representing more than 90% of the shares.

    After diligent, thorough review, the Board of Directors of TANDBERG Television unanimously recommends the shareholders accept the ARRIS offer. "The on-going industry consolidation amongst our key customer base creates a demand for companies that can offer an increasing scale and scope of supply on a global basis. The combination of ARRIS and TANDBERG Television clearly creates that market leading supplier of voice, video and data solutions. Further, the NOK 96 offer price represents a substantial premium of 47% to TANDBERG Television's 90 trading day average share price," says Jan Christian Opsahl, Chairman of TANDBERG Television.

    Combining the resources and experience of ARRIS and TANDBERG Television will produce a new company, unique in its ability to enable voice, video and data over any network and to any device. ARRIS is a leading global provider of VoIP, (voice over IP) data broadband network equipment and consumer premises devices; TANDBERG Television leads the digital video sector with more than 25% share of the global video processing market and award-winning solutions for advanced compression, on-demand and interactive television.

    ARRIS and TANDBERG Television have a strong shared philosophy of innovation and track-records of profitable growth. The new company will have a significant global presence with over 1600 employees and 2000+ customers in more than 100 countries. ARRIS' strong North American cable business and strategic customers in key international markets will be significantly expanded through TANDBERG Television's international market leadership position in IPTV, HDTV and on-demand television.

    "The combination of ARRIS and TANDBERG Television is positive for the digital media industry and a truly exceptional opportunity for both companies. By bringing together these two market leaders we are able to expand on our vision to be the global leader in the provision of digital IP infrastructure and to enable voice, video and data to be delivered over integrated broadband networks from the content provider to the head-end to the home," says Bob Stanzione, Chairman & CEO of ARRIS. "With this merger we are creating a new force, with best in class technologies and an outstanding team of people with a unique understanding of all service provider networks, the technologies that enable them and the content that travels through them."

    As cable operators, telcos and pay-TV providers compete for the subscriber, the triple play of voice, data and video, and the eventual quad play with mobile, is driving increased bandwidth needs. Additionally, as new services such as VoIP and high definition, on-demand TV emerge, the pressure on bandwidth increases further, pushing data speed requirements over 100Mbps. These macro-trends underpin the combination of ARRIS and TANDBERG Television and will drive the future success and growth of the new company and its highly scalable, revenue producing technologies for high speed data, VoIP, IPTV, HDTV and on-demand television.

    "Our customers are increasingly relying on next generation technologies to help them create and distribute converged and differentiated voice, data and video services. There is a clear benefit in being able to source these solutions from one trusted partner. The combined ARRIS and TANDBERG Television is ideally placed to provide the technologies, the knowledge and the systems delivery and integration expertise that our customers around the world can rely on to build profitable digital businesses," said Eric Cooney, CEO of TANDERG Television.

    Optibase Buys 23% of Scopus Video Networks

    Optibase Ltd. announced the purchase of 3,035,223 ordinary shares of Scopus Video Networks Ltd., representing approximately 23% of Scopus' issued share capital, from Koor Corporate Venture Capital and Koor Industries Ltd. at an aggregate purchase price of approximately US$ 16 million.

    Scopus develops, markets and supports digital video networking products that enable network operators to offer advanced video services to their subscribers.

    Tom Wyler, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Optibase, commented, "We believe that this investment in Scopus represents an attractive investment opportunity. We intend to monitor Scopus' business, operating results and financial position and depending on market conditions and our continuing evaluation of the business and prospects of Scopus and other factors, we may acquire additional securities of Scopus. We have not made any definitive plans or reached any definitive conclusions as to any future actions."

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    Autodesk Releases Maya 8.5

    Autodesk has released Maya 8.5, the long-awaited Universal Binary update to the high-end 3D suite. The new version also adds in some workflow, performance, scripting and creative enhancements. It ships today, with a Personal Learning Edition set to follow in the spring.

    For Mac users, the most significant enhancement to Maya is its ability now to run natively on both PowerPC- and Intel-based hardware. Maya had previously been able to run on Intel-based Macs, but not natively, so it took a significant performance hit.

    Rob Hoffmann, senior manager of product marketing for Autodesk, said that the new version "screams" on Intel-based Mac hardware. "This is yet another choice for artists who want to do creative work [on their platform of choice]." he said, "instead of being forced into a particular hardware and operating system."

    The new version is not qualified to run on Intel-based Mac laptops, though Hoffmann said the company is looking at the MacBook Pro for possible qualification.

    The new Universal Binary is not available in a 64-bit version for the Mac ... yet. Hoffmann wouldn't commit to any particulars on a potential future release of a 64-bit build for the Mac, but he did tell DMN, "We're lookig very closely at it. Once the [64-bit Mac] OS is finalized and out there, we'll be looking at it very closely. On Linux and windows, we have 32- and 64-bit [versions]. That can give you a good idea of where our heads are at."

    Maya 8.5 is now shipping for Mac OS X and Windows. The new release also supports Japanese localization. Autodesk said the English and Japanese versions use the same binary and the English version, allowing users to switch back and forth through a setting in the application's preferences. It supports Japanese fonts, language tools, labels and instructions and provides multi-lingual learning movies.

    Maya 8.5 software pricing remains unchanged from previous versions.

    Maya Complete (Standalone) is $1,999; Maya Complete (Network) is $2,999; Maya Unlimited (Standalone) is $6,999; and Maya Unlimited (Network) is $8,399. Upgrades run $899 for Maya Complete 8 (Standalone), $1,069 for Maya Complete 8 (Network), $1,249 for Maya Unlimited 8 (Standalone) and $1,499 for Maya Unlimited 8 (Network).

    ClipStoreMXc is Disk Recorder of Choice at Mobile TV Group

    Mobile TV Group (MTVG) has made a significant purchase of fifteen (and counting) ClipStore™MXc high-definition digital video disk recorders from Abekas over the past nine months. The Mobile TV Group has built this nine-truck fleet of multi-format HD mobile trucks over the past three years, and each HD truck in their fleet is now equipped with two ClipStoreMXc HD disk recorders.

    "The ClipStoreMXc made it possible for us to offer our clients the ability to do on-air effects in Hi-Def instead of just SD. We chose the ClipStoreMXc disk recorder for its outstanding versatility, superb HD image quality and low cost." said Philip Garvin, general manager of Mobile TV Group. "Tight integration with the Lance TDC controller was also an important factor."

    The ClipStoreMXc disk recorder features an HD/SD channel supporting video, key, audio and timecode, which can be used to record or play live video feeds, and to play pre-programmed animated transitions, teasers and bumpers. The disk recorders employed by MTVG are integrated with Lance Design TDC-100 controllers and are used to play animated graphics transitions live on the air, as triggered by the on-air switcher’s timeline events. Most times, these disk recorders are in use during live college and regional professional sporting events such as baseball, basketball, football and hockey.

    During pre-game setup, the ability to easily exchange the media disk drive set inside ClipStoreMXc from one machine to another is an incredible time-saver, says Mr. Garvin. "Most of our end-user clients have purchased spare disk drive sets from Abekas for use in the ClipStoreMXc, and the TD’s (Technical Directors) arrive at the game site with all of their animations pre-loaded on the disk drives. It’s then a simple matter of sliding the disk set into the machine, and immediately after boot-up, they're ready to roll."

    Another crucial advantage of the ClipStoreMXc, according to Mr. Garvin, is its Viewer feature, which aids ease-of-use. On a single quad-view monitor screen, the fill image, matte image, audio meter and timecode can all be viewed; with a fourth "keyer preview" pane that displays matte and fill 'keyed' over a static background image. With a single glance, the operator knows what’s going on inside the ClipStoreMXc. This feature also saves on monitoring space in the tight confines of a mobile production truck.

    "The cost of the ClipStore is low enough that we were able to add these to our trucks without increasing our rates. And, above all," Mr. Garvin concluded, "with live, on-air operations you need to have a very reliable product and first-class support — and that's exactly what Abekas provides."

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  • Broadcast / Pro Video Market Size Forecasts -- 2005, 2006, 2007

  • Broadcast / Pro Video Market & Technology Trends Report - 2005 -2006

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