Insider Reporter


Insider Report

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

w/e January 22, 2010 SCRI International, Inc © 1984 - 2009

INDEX

Technology News | Industry News | Company News |
Product News | People in the News | Research News

TECHNOLOGY NEWS

DTH platforms maintain growth

Euroconsult has reported that growth in the satellite pay-TV market remained strong in 2009 despite the global economic downturn. According to the 4th edition of "Satellite TV Platforms, World Survey & Prospects to 2019, Growth through the Crisis", the number of TV Platforms in service increased to 113 in 2009 (+38 per cent in three years). Pay TV platforms combined currently reach 131 million subscribers and earned $70 billion revenues in 2009.

"Subscriber growth in the satellite pay-TV market has been robust, increasing 15 per cent worldwide," indicated Pacôme Revillon, CEO of Euroconsult. "Growth in emerging digital markets has been particularly strong with subscribers reaching the 60 million mark in 2009, a nearly five-fold increase over the previous few years" he added. "Looking forward, the market is expected to remain bright with Euroconsult forecasting roughly 235 million subscribers worldwide by 2019."

Nearly all markets, with the exception of Europe, saw revenue growth in local currency last year. However, more aggressive pricing strategies, both due to the crisis and to more intense competition, weighed down the average revenue per subscriber (ARPU), resulting in revenues growing more modestly than subscribers.

While the aggressive pricing strategy currently practised by many platforms drives subscriptions more than revenues in the short term, fee increases - which are very likely over time - should help securing long term revenue growth. This commonly-used strategy enabled platforms like Russia’s Tricolor TV to sign close to three million subscribers in only three years of operation with a basic package at around one dollar per month. Meanwhile, its rival NTV+ is still striving to reach the one million subscriber mark after more than a decade.

FCC Future of Media Web Initiative

The Federal Communications Commission launched an initiative on the future of media and the information needs of communities in the digital age. This initiative will examine the changes underway in the media marketplace, analyze the full range of future technologies and services that will provide communities with news and information in the digital age, and, as appropriate, make policy recommendations to the FCC, other government entities, and other parties.

“We are at a critical juncture in the evolution of American media,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. “Rapid technological change in the media marketplace has created opportunities for tremendous innovation. It has also caused financial turmoil for traditional media, calling into question whether these media outlets will continue to play their historic role in providing local communities with essential news and civic information. With this crucial initiative, the FCC commits to fully understanding the fundamental changes underway in the media marketplace and examining what impact such changes may have for Commission policies, while vigorously protecting the First Amendment.”

The Commission issued a Public Notice posing preliminary questions that the FCC will consider as it prepares a report on the future of media in the digital age later in 2010. Initial topics under consideration include: the state of TV, radio, newspaper, and Internet news and information services; the effectiveness and nature of public interest obligations in a digital era; the role of public media and private sector foundations; and many others. The initiative will not include any effort to control the editorial content of any type of media.

The FCC also launched a preliminary Web site that will serve as an arena for public discussion on the future of media and any public policy recommendations. At launch, the Web site includes a forum for citizens and experts to weigh in on key questions, and an area for consumers to describe the health of, or problems with, media in their communities.

The public can participate in the proceeding via the traditional comment filing system, as well as the Future of Media Web site, www.FCC.gov/FutureofMedia. All comments will be deemed part of the official record. The Commission will conduct interviews, review existing studies and hearing records, and may hold public workshops or hearings to elicit feedback and participation.

The effort is being led by former journalist and Internet entrepreneur Steven Waldman, who recently joined the FCC as senior advisor to Chairman Genachowski, and a working group of experts from throughout the FCC.

US Telcos want free hand for bandwidth shaping

The Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) has unsurprisingly supported the Federal Communications Commission’s recognition that its Internet policies should be subject to ‘reasonable network management’ and urged the Commission to continue to allow the industry to establish appropriate management techniques to meet evolving consumer needs.

ATIS cited the ongoing work of its Next Generation Interconnection Interoperability Forum, Telecom Management and Operations Committee, Network Performance, Reliability, and Quality of Service Committee and Wireless Technologies and Systems Committee to address myriad network management issues. Based on its network management experience, ATIS submits that available management tools ‘should not be unduly constrained by regulatory action.’

In its comments, ATIS also recommended that the Commission not impose regulatory mandates on the potentially new "managed" or "specialised" service category, which includes IPTV. Instead, ATIS urges the Commission to support collaborative, consensus-based and industry-driven developments of these services. ‘Such an approach would promote innovation in these nascent markets, and encourage wide-scale deployment of new services,’ it says.

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INDUSTRY NEWS

Microsoft sues TiVo

Microsoft is suing TiVo alleging infringement of patents for a system that displays program information and a secure method for buying and delivering video programmes.

TiVo, which has 2.7 million direct DVR subscribers, is using portions of the two Microsoft patents in its products or components, including set-top box products, subscription services and software, without a licence, according to a complaint filed in federal court.

Microsoft seeks a court order declaring its patents are valid and blocking TiVo from infringing them, as well as unspecified monetary damages.

"We remain open to resolving this situation through an intellectual-property licensing agreement, and we have initiated discussions to engage TiVo in negotiations," Microsoft said.

TW consolidates HBO Central Europe

Time Warner is near to gaining the regulatory approvals needed to to complete its $160 million purchase Disney and Sony’s combined one-third stake in HBO Central Europe, which operates seven channels. The deal will complete its consolidation of ownership of all HBO international operations.

Nagravision and DISH Network Sign New Long-Term Agreement

Nagravision announced the execution of a Conditional Access System agreement with DISH Network.

DISH Network recently completed a migration of its more than 14 million subscribers (as of Dec. 10, 2009) to Nagravision's new generation security technology. The new ten year agreement with Nagravision and NagraStar L.L.C. aligns DISH Network's and Nagravision's interests to optimize the resilience of DISH Network's security solutions, including the deployment of next generation security smart cards in addition to a broader scope of signal protection covering traditional and emerging piracy threats.

"Nagravision's flexible solutions in supporting new services, features and functionalities as well as their pragmatic approach have helped us grow our pay-TV business in an innovative way," said Charlie Ergen, Chairman, CEO and President of DISH Network. "In an increasingly competitive environment, Nagravision is clearly a strong partner to be with today and going forward."

"We are proud that DISH Network will benefit from the most innovative security solutions available on the market. Our mutual commitment enables customization of our solution roadmap to address DISH Network's specific needs over the next few years and support their growth," said Andre Kudelski, President and CEO of the Kudelski Group.

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COMPANY NEWS

Quantel Appoints New VP, Sales

Quantel announced the appointment of Cory Factor as Vice President of Sales of its North American subsidiary, Quantel Inc.

Factor co-founded DayPort in 1999, and guided its pioneering development of online applications in broadcasting, with a particular emphasis on merging the internet and broadcasting to deliver VOD applications.

Factor first became acquainted with Quantel in 2004 when DayPort and Quantel worked closely together at BSkyB in the UK to implement a publishing toolset for IPTV, VOD, internet and mobile output from Sky's Quantel-based production system. Following the acquisition of DayPort by Entric (which was subsequently merged with Irdeto) in 2008, Factor took on the role of CTO to lead the Irdeto Solutions Group.

Motorola stalls STB sale

Reports say that this week's sale of the EMEA end of the cable modem business marks the end not the beginning of the sale process for the whole $4 billion division. Motorola is rethinking as bids for the US unit have come in some way below expectations. Long term strategy remains to separate the handset, enterprise and home network divisions.

Broadcast Pix Names Director of Sales, Asia Pacific

Broadcast Pix announced that Dennis Breckenridge was named Director of Sales, Asia Pacific Region, on Jan. 1. Breckenridge has been part of the Broadcast Pix team for almost three years, most recently serving as Key Accounts and Business Development Manager.

“Asia is a growing, emerging market for Broadcast Pix. Our revenues tripled in that region over the last year,” said Breckenridge. “This is an exciting opportunity to build on our sales momentum in several countries while improving support for our existing customer base.”

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PRODUCT NEWS

Avid DS version 10.3, Upgrade

Avid announced Avid DS version 10.3 – a solution that combines advanced effects, compositing and graphics capabilities with new features designed to deliver real-time finishing and accelerate the rendering process of popular file-based formats. DS is also now optimized to handle RED, 2K and ARRIRAW projects and offers support for the RED Rocket Accelerator Card, which decodes .R3D files alleviating this process from the CPU, among other key features tailored for film and television programming.

The latest version of DS allows post facilities and high-end independent professionals to more effectively manage file-based project pipeline by reducing ingest and conform requirements. New features include:

DS version 10.3 is available now. Customers with a valid support contract can download the latest version from the Avid download center. For more information, visit www.avid.com, or download a trial version.

Viz VideoHub $1M Order

Vizrt announced that Norway's main commercial television network, TV2, has placed a $1 million order for Vizrt's video clip management system, Viz VideoHub. This sale represents the biggest sale to date by Vizrt of its VideoHub product.

TV2 intends to use the intelligent video storage and management system for hosting soccer match videos from the Norwegian Soccer League on behalf of the Norwegian FA.

Bjarne Berg, CEO for Vizrt, stated, "This is an important deal for us in that it shows the applicability of our VideoHub both on a large scale and for such an important application. We are furthermore very proud to offer a further improved viewer experience with added functionality such as the described video mining capability. It is the offer of online content with added functionality that sets channels apart from their competition, leading to an improved brand and better recognition."

Wegener Receives $460,000 in New Orders

Wegener announced receiving separate orders, with a combined total of over $460,000, for Compel® network control equipment and several hundred Unity 552 media receivers.

The Compel equipment will be used to create a redundant control center and expand a national radio network. The Unity media receivers will be used within an educational network to explore strategies to save bandwidth on international broadcasts. "WEGENER continues to optimize and refine our media distribution solution to enable reliable, flexible 24/7 operations," stated Troy Woodbury, CEO of WEGENER. "It is with pleasure we support our customers as they build and maintain their video, audio and data networks."

RESEARCH NEWS

Over 1bn broadband subs by 2013

During 2009 an average of 8.8 million new broadband subscribers worldwide signed up for service each month. By 2013, In-Stat forecasts that the number of global broadband subscribers will surpass 1 billion.

Research by In-Stat found the following:

  • As of December 2009, there were 578 million worldwide broadband subscribers, an increase of 99 million over the year-end 2008 subscriber total.
  • DSL, mobile wireless, and cable modem service are the leading access technologies, providing 89 per cent of worldwide broadband connections.
  • Mobile wireless broadband is the second largest access technology (behind DSL) with 18 per cent of total subscribers.
  • Over the next few years, the number of households with multiple broadband connections will increase significantly. These multiple connection households will commonly have a wired broadband access technology, like DSL or cable modem service, along with a mobile wireless broadband connection.

    Global IPTV revenues to reach $ 29.3bn in 2011

    Worldwide revenues generated by sales of of Internet-connected televisions will reach $ 29.3bn in 2011, accounting for 58% of global revenues for Internet TV equipment in that year, according to a new report from IMS Research.

    “At CES 2010, CE companies appeared to be largely pushing the 3D concept as a feature in their display offerings," said Rebecca Kurlak, author of the report. "However, a larger part of the picture that wasn’t as heavily addressed is still the growing opportunity to provide consumers with access to more content, and in this case, OTT content.”

    Ms. Kurlak continues: “Although many of the TV manufacturers have committed to manufacturing at least 25% of their TV product lines with connectivity in 2010, IMS Research forecasts that 12.5% of 2010 global TVs shipped will have connectivity. This is mainly due to two factors: 1) TV manufacturers that were interviewed for the study stated that their first half of 2010 sales would largely influence the second half of 2010’s production schedules, and 2) the economy is still in recovery mode, and TV manufacturers may be more optimistic regarding 2010 production schedules than they should be. In fact, IMS believes that 2011 connected TVs shipped will be at the 30% marker, a year later than expected by TV manufacturers.”

    As Blu-ray manufacturers have been quick to incorporate content libraries into their products, IMS Research predicts that TV manufacturers will follow suit and start forming content partnerships this year. Before 3D viewing becomes a necessity in the mid- to long-term future, the research firm believes that consumers will demand access to other avenues of content.

    STB market mixed in 2009

    The Asian market for set top boxes (STB) is estimated to have seen over 40 per cent growth in shipments in 2009, according to In-Stat’s market estimates. Meanwhile, the European market saw unit shipments slip 11 per cent in 2009. The North American market was up 2.5 per cent, primarily due to a temporary surge in DTT set top box shipments. Across all regions, except Asia, HD boxes are growing, while standard definition boxes decline.

    The rapid growth in Asia is being driven by a surge in satellite set top box shipments, in conjunction with strong IPTV STB growth. Europe is seeing shipment declines across all box types, including IPTV, satellite, cable and terrestrial.

    Research by In-Stat found the following:

  • Worldwide digital set top box product revenue was $4.4 billion in Q3 2009, on track to hit $19 billion for the year.
  • IP STB shipments to telco TV service providers are slowing down as telco TV subscriber growth matures and moderates.
  • In-Stat estimates 2009 North American cable set top box shipments declined by over 3 million units.

    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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