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

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


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3D TV expected to dominate 2010 CES

3D TV is expected to dominate the show floor at the 2010 International CES this week with an abundance of products on display ranging from television displays and Blu-ray DVD players to end-to-end 3D solutions. A focal point of 3D exhibits at CES is the Experience 3D TechZone located in Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) where more than 10 companies will showcase their products and technologies.

Some highlights at CES include:

  • 3D displays in all formats: flat screen (in a variety of sizes--mostly large screen), video projector and computer monitors
  • 3D movies demonstrated via the just finalized Blu-ray 3D standard on prototype 3D Blu-ray players
  • 3D games demonstrated on all popular videogame console formats
  • 3D authoring software for Blu-ray
  • End-to-end 3D solutions encompassing everything from image capture through distribution and display
  • 3D still images that do not require glasses to view
  • 2D-to-3D real-time and offline video processing
  • Technology for converting a live high definition broadcast to 3D including live capture in HD of show attendees with 3D viewing
  • Accessories such as active shutter 3D glasses and 3D-optimized projector screens

    TV Broadcasters Showcase Over-the-Air Broadcast Spectrum at CES

    The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) along with other organizations is showcasing the consumer benefits of some of the many innovations being delivered through digital over-the-air broadcasting at a gathering this week at the annual Consumer Electronics Show. The gathering will take place at the Bellagio Hotel where attendees will hear about and experience innovations made possible only through broadcasting such as Sezmi, set to bring advanced television services at very low cost to consumers in 2010, and mobile television solutions presented by the OMVC (Open Mobile Video Coalition). Mobile television is expected to see tremendous growth this year through the adoption of digital broadcast-based services.

    “Our breakthrough nationwide television service brings significant new revenue opportunities to broadcasters while providing consumer with competitive choice in television service”

    Gordon Smith, president of the NAB, said “Broadcasters are charging into 2010 working with innovative organizations like Sezmi and the Open Mobile Video Coalition that improve the quality, delivery and accessibility of broadcast content. Such services represent the vibrant future of broadcast-based services that will greatly benefit the public, and cannot be replicated by broadband. Their foundation is the digital television spectrum.”

    Digital broadcast enables advanced television alternatives that bring greater affordability and choice to the public, increased competition to the television service industry and lucrative business opportunities to broadcasters. Unlike broadband delivery, mobile television and Sezmi utilize the spectral efficiency of broadcast to deliver content to millions of viewers at a time. In contrast, to deliver that same content to millions of broadband viewers requires millions of separate transmissions. Sezmi goes a step further, using a hybrid network that delivers popular content over broadcast and niche content over broadband, driving new efficiencies that save consumers money. While just emerging in the United States, hybrid television solutions are accelerating internationally as a key consumer opportunity, with initiatives such as Hybrid Broadband Broadcasting TV gaining momentum.

    Sezmi’s service, which will begin rolling out in U.S. markets early this year, operates over broadcast spectrum to deliver a highly differentiated television viewing experience combining broadcast, cable, on demand and Internet content, at a price much more affordable than cable or satellite services. Currently in a public pilot In Los Angeles where consumers are proving strong demand for such new television alternatives, Sezmi demonstrates the type of powerful innovation and forward progress in home entertainment made possible through highly efficient use of broadcast spectrum.

    “Our breakthrough nationwide television service brings significant new revenue opportunities to broadcasters while providing consumer with competitive choice in television service,” said Buno Pati, cofounder and CEO of Sezmi. “As we prepare for our nationwide rollout this year, we’re pleased to have the support of many television broadcasters paving the way for more competitive consumer choices in television.”

    “Consumers are interested in taking their favorite TV programs while on the go. Another innovative service now being rolled out by America’s broadcasters is Mobile Digital TV, which brings live, local programming to viewers wherever they are. At the Consumer Electronics Show, manufacturers and service providers are demonstrating more than a dozen new Mobile DTV products that will be introduced to consumers this year. New products include prototype cell phones with Mobile DTV reception capability, USB receivers for laptops, small netbook computers with integrated Mobile DTV receivers, an accessory that receives Mobile DTV broadcasts and beams those programs to a Wi-Fi device such as a laptop or smartphone, and battery-operated Mobile Digital Television sets expressly designed to receive the robust signals from local broadcasters,” said Anne Schelle, Executive Director of the Open Mobile Video Coalition.

    DECE milestones for open digital market

    The Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, the coalition with support from every sector of digital entertainment, announced at the Consumer Electronics Show it has reached key milestones toward establishing the first open market for digital content distribution. In addition, DECE announced that 21 companies have joined the group which now includes 48 members across entertainment, software, hardware, retail, infrastructure and delivery.

    The milestones include:

  • Agreement on a Common File Format, an open specification for digital entertainment, that will be used by all participating content providers, services and device manufacturers
  • Vendor selection for and role of the Digital Rights Locker, a cloud-based authentication service and account management hub that allows consumers rights access to their digital entertainment
  • Approval of five Digital Rights Management (DRM) solutions that will be DECE-compatible
  • Full technical specifications will be available in the first half of 2010.

    DECE has agreed on a Common File Format, an industry first in digital distribution. An open specification for digital entertainment, like DVD or Blu-ray, the Common File Format may be licensed by any company to create a DECE consumer offering.

    DECE has selected Neustar as the vendor for the Digital Rights Locker, a cloud-based authentication service and account management hub that allows consumers rights access to their digital entertainment. It will authenticate rights to view content from multiple services, with multiple devices as well as manage content and registration of devices in consumer accounts. DECE will provide an open Application Programming Interface (API) that allows any Web-enabled storefront, service or device to integrate access to the Digital Rights Locker into its own consumer offering.

    DECE has approved five DRMs that will be compatible with the Common File Format – Adobe Flash Access, CMLA-OMA V2, The Marlin DRM Open Standard, Microsoft PlayReady and Widvine. Compatibility with multiple DRMs will ensure that content can be played back via streaming or download on a wide variety of services and devices.

    In 2009, 21 companies joined DECE, including: Adobe, Ascent Media Group, Cable Labs, Catch Media, Cox Communications, DivX, DTS, Extend Media, Irdeto, Liberty Global, Motorola, Nagravision, Netflix, Neustar, Nokia, Rovi, Secure Path, SwitchNAP, Tesco, Thomson and Zoran.

    "The digital entertainment marketplace is on the cusp of a new era of rapid growth," said Mitch Singer, President of DECE. "The key to unlocking this potential is giving consumers the 'Buy Once, Play Anywhere’ experience they want. That’s the goal of DECE and one we’re making rapid progress toward today."

    However, not everyone is on board, Disney is advocating a similar plan called KeyChest, which analysts say it may introduce working with Apple. A Disney spokesman said the company would give an early look at the rival technology at CES.

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    Fox, Time Warner Cable announce broadcast deal

    Fox and Time Warner Cable have reached a deal that will keep the network on the cable provider after Fox threatened to pull the plug over a fee dispute.

    Fox had been threatening to force Time Warner Cable and Bright House to drop the Fox broadcast signal from 14 of its TV stations and half a dozen of its cable channels as a contract expired at midnight Thursday.

    Neither company would divulge the terms of the deal. Fox wanted to be paid $1 per cable subscriber each month for the broadcast signal it had once given away freely from the stations it owns. Other Fox affiliate stations that are owned by different companies had already cut deals to be paid by cable operators for a fraction of that fee.

    "We're pleased that, after months of negotiations, we were able to reach a fair agreement with Time Warner Cable — one that recognizes the value of our programming," said Chase Carey, chief operating officer at News Corp., which owns Fox.

    Discovery, Sony, IMAX set 3D agenda

    Discovery Communications, Sony Corporation and IMAX Corporation announced at CES that they are forming a joint venture to create a 24-hour 3D television network in the US. They gave no details on carriage with pay-TV operators or the technical infrastructure behind the service but Discovery says it will start talks with distributors now and it expects the channel to be a broadly distributed entertainment channel, not a premium offering.

    The partnership aims to launch in the US. in 2011 with a mix of 3D-friendly content, including natural history, space, exploration, adventure, engineering, science and technology, motion pictures and children's programming from Discovery, Sony Pictures Entertainment, IMAX and other third-party providers. It will also explore international distribution opportunities in the future.

    Separately ESPN (a Disney company) announced ESPN 3D but has only committed to that network through June, 2011.

    Meanwhile, Discovery founder John Hendricks likened the launch to that of Discovery HD Theater in 2002. Hendricks said that the network will target primarily early adopters for the first 24-36 months, people who will likely be the first to buy television sets that are 3D capable. After that, the target households will be the 20 million affluent homes in the U.S., after which the technology and the price point will likely be affordable to the average consumer.

    The channel will require specialized glasses though Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer said they expect 3D sets that do not require glasses to be available in about 3-5 years. The companies also say the channel will require about 6 megahertz of bandwidth, or about the same amount required for a standard high definition channel.

    U.S. Videos Viewed Online Surpass 30 Billion in NOv.

    comScore, Inc. released November 2009 data from the comScore Video Metrix service, showing that more than 170 million U.S. Internet users watched online video during the month. Online video viewing continued to reach record levels in November with nearly 31 billion videos viewed during the month, and Google Sites accounting for 39 percent of all videos viewed online in the U.S.

    Google Sites continued to rank as the top U.S. video property in November as it delivered 12.2 billion videos viewed with accounting for nearly 99 percent of all videos viewed at the property. Hulu ranked second with 924 million videos viewed (3.0 percent) followed by Viacom Digital with 500 million (1.6 percent) and Microsoft Sites with 480 million (1.5 percent).

    More than 170 million viewers watched an average of 182 videos per viewer during the month of November. Google Sites attracted 129 million unique viewers during the month (94.7 videos per viewer), followed by Yahoo! Sites with more than 55 million viewers (8.5 videos per viewer) and Fox Interactive Media with 50 million viewers (8.9 videos per viewer). The average Hulu viewer watched 21.1 videos during the month, representing another all-time high for the property.

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    Apple buys mobile ad company

    Apple has agreed to buy Quattro Wireless, a mobile advertising and publishing company. The move puts Apple in head-to-head competition with Google which just unveiled its new Nexus One phone (see below).

    Quattro runs advertising networks for smartphone applications and for the mobile Web. Its advertisers roster include Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Netflix and Disney. Google purchased a rival mobile ad firm, AdMob, in November.

    Selling mobile ads will give Apple another revenue source from the iPhone apps that it offers through its App Store. Apple said it had logged its 3 billionth download from the App Store.

    Skype TV deals with LG and Panasonic

    Skype has forged deals with consumer electronics makers LG Electronics and Panasonic in a bid to move its Internet video service beyond the desktop computer to the TV.

    The service, which includes free video calls between Skype members, will compete with consumer video conference services being developed by companies such as Cisco Systems and Polycom, which plans to develop consumer video services with International Business Machines Corp.

    Skype, a former eBay unit, said both LG and Panasonic will have high-definition TVs supporting its service around mid-year. Both television makers will embed the Skype technology in television models with Internet connections and will sell separate Web cameras that have built in microphones for television viewers who want to use Skype.

    Skype said Panasonic will support Skype in its VT and G series televisions in the United States, with screen sizes up to 65 inches. LG will embed Skype in 26 new LCD and plasma screen TVs, which will also come in a range of sizes.

    Both LG and Panasonic are expected to demonstrate the service this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

    SeaChange to Acquire VividLogic

    SeaChange International has entered into a binding agreement to acquire all of the outstanding shares of VividLogic, Inc. VividLogic is a privately-owned, California-based company that provides software and services to cable television service providers, set-top box manufacturers and consumer electronics (CE) suppliers. Its software products include tru2way™, Multimedia Home Platform (MHP) and Globally Executable MHP (GEM)-based IPTV operability for set-top box and CE manufacturers, and in-home content protection, as well as funded software development for the creation of service provider-sponsored home media gateways. The combination of existing SeaChange in-home technologies and the VividLogic platforms will enable SeaChange to capitalize on the market shift towards IP-delivery into and within the home.

    “As the next generation of in-home devices including wireless gateways and cable-ready televisions emerge, it is important that we embrace these technologies to continue to lead in the in-home software markets”

    Commenting on the acquisition, Bill Styslinger, SeaChange Chairman and CEO noted, “VividLogic expands our software product portfolio by providing wireless gateway, tru2way and MHP capability to our in-home offerings. Tru2way and MHP are especially important as both North American and European service providers prepare their networks for customer interactive applications. SeaChange has made great progress with its software strategy. Not only have we established ourselves as the leader in backoffice, advertising and application software, additionally our various in-home software products are deployed in approximately 30 million devices.”

    “As the next generation of in-home devices including wireless gateways and cable-ready televisions emerge, it is important that we embrace these technologies to continue to lead in the in-home software markets,” Styslinger continued. “In 2010 our restriction to sell TV Navigator in North America is lifted and, combined with our strong set-top software presence, we plan to offer tru2way, MHP and wireless gateway software that will enable our customers to share content and offer next-generation applications. We are excited about the market changes and the growth opportunities that lie ahead. VividLogic’s leadership in key areas that complement our own software offerings uniquely position us to lead in the next generation of in-home infrastructure software, middleware and application software.”

    Silicon Laboratories Aligns Organization

    Silicon Laboratories Inc., a provider of high-performance, analog-intensive, mixed-signal integrated circuits (ICs), announced an organizational alignment to accelerate the adoption of its broad-based product lines and maximize the leverage of its design team. The company believes the new structure will enhance collaboration between product lines enabling higher levels of differentiation, the development of system platforms that can be leveraged to accelerate new product introductions, and the creation of sales, support and design efficiencies, all with the ultimate goal of delivering market leading growth and profitability.

    “As Silicon Labs nears the half billion dollar revenue mark, we are at a phase in our growth cycle where proactively aligning our business will allow us to accomplish three key goals,” said Necip Sayiner, president and CEO of Silicon Laboratories. “We want to maximize our ability to deliver differentiated products to market quickly, we want to capitalize on growing synergies within our diversifying portfolio to aggressively capture more market share, and we expect to create resource efficiencies to preserve our margins while sustaining investments in our business. I firmly believe the organizational changes we’re making will pave the way to further enhance our ability to outperform the industry.”

    The new organizational structure aligns Silicon Labs’ short range wireless products, human interface products and isolation products within the power business with the company’s microcontroller (MCU) products under a new Embedded Mixed-Signal product group. The existing product line general managers will report to Mark Thompson, who was previously the vice president and general manager of the MCU products.

    Consistent with the objective of creating more highly differentiated products and bringing them to market faster, the company’s IC design teams will be centralized under Tyson Tuttle as the newly appointed chief technical officer.

    Dave Bresemann, a veteran Silicon Labs vice president and general manager, will assume Mr. Tuttle’s role as vice president and general manager of Broadcast products, including the audio and video product lines.

    Mr. Bresemann will be replaced as vice president of the Wireline products by his general manager of modem and voice products, Carlos Garcia, who will now also be responsible for the power over Ethernet and timing products to take advantage of end market and customer synergies in networking applications.

    AOL: ‘worst deal of century’- Levin apologises

    Jerry Levin, who sold Time Warner for AOL shares inflated by the dotcom boom, has marked the 10th anniversary of the disastrous $164 billion deal with a call for today’s corporate titans to accept responsibility for the recent financial crisis.

    The former Time Warner chief executive, who had avoided apologising for the billions of dollars destroyed by the deal, was speaking during an appearance on CNBC. "I presided over the worst deal of the century, apparently, and I guess it’s time for those who are involved in companies to stand up and say: you know what, I’m solely responsible for it," said Levin. "I was in charge. I’m really very sorry about the pain and the suffering and loss that was caused. I take responsibility."

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    Panasonic's New Pro HD 3D Camcorder

    Panasonic Corporation will release the world’s first professional, fully-integrated Full HD 3D camcorder in Fall 2010. The company will begin taking orders in April. Engineering samples of the professional Full HD 3D solid-state camcorder will be exhibited at the Panasonic booth at the 2010 International CES in Las Vegas, USA, from January 7-10.

    In addition to a camcorder, Panasonic also plans to offer a professional-quality 3D Full HD LCD monitor for field use as well as a professional HD digital AV mixer for live event production. Panasonic will offer professional production equipment to allow video professionals to efficiently create 3D content, so consumers can enjoy 3D video using Panasonic 3D home theater systems.

    Sony's New NXCAM Camcorder & Flash Memory Unit

    Sony Professional unveiled the first product in its recently announced NXCAM family brand, the HXR-NX5E, which utilises the professional implementation of AVCHD technology to bring seamless production workflow. The entry level file-based camcorder uses both Memory Stick Pro Duo* recording media and an optional HXR-FMU128 128GB Flash Memory Unit to offer professionals and semi professionals the very best in hybrid recording.

    Both the HXR-NX5E and HXR-FMU128 are now available throughout Europe..

    The HXR-NX5E is the first camcorder by Sony Professional to combine low-cost consumer memory cards with the latest AVCHD technology. AVCHD has been widely adopted in the consumer camcorder market and with further developments in non-linear editing tools and IT products, Sony has now created a professional offering designed to allow maximum versatility and cost-effective video production.

    “There has been a high level of interest in NXCAM since our customers first experienced the HXR-NX5E prototype back in November,” said Bill Drummond, senior product marketing manager, Sony Professional. “From listening closely to our customers, we feel now is the time to develop a strong AVCHD product line for professionals who want outstanding picture performance and unrivalled flexibility in the way they record content.”

    JVC introduces IF-2D3D1 Stereoscopic Image Processor

    JVC Professional Products introduced the IF-2D3D1 Stereoscopic Image Processor, which works as a 2D-to-3D converter and as a 3D L/R mixer for video content producers. Housed in a 1RU metal cabinet and compatible with a wide range of HD formats, the IF-2D3D1 is designed to help 3D content producers improve their workflow, whether they are converting archived 2D material or shooting original content in 3D.

    “With the public’s renewed interest in 3D for both theatrically released content and beyond, many content producers are looking to repurpose existing 2D materials to meet demand. Meanwhile, other producers creating new content need an uncomplicated way to check their 3D footage on location,” explained Dave Walton, assistant vice president of marketing and communication. “This single unit is ideal for both. The IF-2D3D1 is the key to providing new solutions for virtually any 3D content creation scenario.”

    Using unique JVC algorithms, the IF-2D3D1 converts 2D content to 3D in real time, offering no fewer than four 3D mixed formats (which combine left-eye and right-eye images) for stereo video output on a compatible device: line-by-line, side-by-side-half, above-below, and checkerboard. JVC is making this 2D-to-3D conversion technology widely available under license. The IF-2D3D1 can also output discrete left and right signals via HD-SDI or HDMI for dual projection or editing. Output can be adjusted for parallax (image displacement) and 3D intensity – both with natural, anaglyph, and sequential viewing modes.

    Generally, 3D footage is shot using a pair of video cameras, but producers have not had a practical method of real-time monitoring on location. The IF-2D3D1 easily combines the left-eye and right-eye images – nothing else is required except a 3D capable monitor, such as JVC's GD-463D10U, a 46-inch 3D LCD panel. A built-in HD-SDI frame synchronizer provides sync for two cameras that lack external sync, plus anaglyph and sequential viewing modes provide multiple ways to check 3D content.

    Content creation workflow can also be improved through a variety of additional features. The Scope feature provides a waveform monitor and vectorscope for comparing both video streams on a display to ensure the settings for both cameras – such as exposure and white balance – are matched. The Split feature combines the two video streams on one screen with a moveable boundary, allowing instant L/R comparison. And when one of the two cameras has to be positioned upside down (to ensure correct spacing), Rotation makes sure both streams can be viewed the right way up and in sync.

    EditShare showcases recently acquired Lightworks/Geevs NLE

    EditShare announced plans to exhibit at the Broadcast Video Expo (BVE) 2010 February 16th through the 18th, the EditShare Complete Collaboration product line and the newly acquired Geevs and Lightworks technologies. Exhibiting for the first time under the EditShare marquee will be the full line of Geevs playout solutions. Designed to manage automated SD/HD playout of single and multi-channel stations, Geevs solutions bring enormous efficiencies and reliability for real-time and continuity multi-format playout.

    Harris Expands Nexio

    Harris Corp. has expanded storage capacity 33 percent in its Nexio line of SAN storage arrays for the same price as previous lower capacity units. The enhancement provides storage of up to 96 TB, allowing users to retain up to 14,000 hours of MPEG-2 12 Mbps content, or 3,600 hours of Sony XDCAM HD422 content. The company attributes the increase in capacity to the development of 600 GB hard drives.

    “Video bandwidth has increased dramatically with HD, along with the associated demand for storage,” said Brian Cabeceiras, vice president of strategic marketing and technology at Harris Broadcast Communications. “Our additional capacity is ideal for broadcasters working with valuable, high-bandwidth assets including HD content for news, sports, production and programming.”


    3D TV shipments to jump by 2018

    The market for 3D TVs and other displays should explode to $22 billion in 2018, marking a 38% compound annual growth rate from 2008, according to DisplaySearch.

    The displays are necessary for households to enjoy advanced 3D in homes. Manufacturers are set to pair new 3D TV sets with new 3D Blu-ray players this year.

    In 2008, just 700,000 3D-capable displays—including TVs, computer monitors, notebooks and mobile phones—were sold in the U.S. By 2018, 196 million units will be shipped, representing a 75% CAGR jump from 2008.

    At that time, 65 million of these product shipped will be 3D-capable TVs, marking a leap from the 200,000 such TV units shipped in 2009. 3D TVs should represent the largest segment of the 3D display business in terms of revenue, generating $17 billion by 2018, according to DisplaySearch.

    3D computer monitors will rise from 40,000 units in 2009 to 10 million in 2018, while 3D notebook PCs will expand from 66,000 units in 2009 to 17.7 million in 2018.

    Also, 71 million mobile phones equipped with 3D will be shipped.

    “3D displays are taking off with consumers due to increasing availability of 3D content. In addition, 3D standardization has also been addressed or is being evaluated in several 3D organizations,” said Jennifer Colegrove, director of display technologies at DisplaySearch. “A number of manufacturers of consumer electronics devices, including TVs, monitors, notebooks, Blu-ray Disc players and digital cameras/camcorders/photo frames have aggressively promoted 3D in the home. In addition to consumer use of 3D displays, the technology has also been used for many professional applications and advertisement/public displays.”

    Separately, theatrical 3D will continue to expand alongside the rollout of 3D in homes, with more than 7,000 new 3D cinema screens installed in 2010 and another 9,000 in 2011.

    IPTV and equipment markets hampered by slow sub growth

    According to new reports from Infonetics Research:

  • Worldwide set-top box (STB) revenue dropped 6 per cent in 3Q09 from 2Q09, due to lower subscriber growth, a decrease in purchases of add-on STBs by subscribers with multiple televisions, and operators looking to replenish their inventories
  • Motorola is the worldwide set-top box market share leader, followed by Cisco and Pace
  • Worldwide revenue for all video infrastructure segments declined quarter-over-quarter, including VOD and streaming content servers, video encoders, IPTV middleware/content delivery platforms, video content protection software, edge QAMs, digital cable middleware, and satellite video middleware
  • However, combined revenue for all video infrastructure segments is up 90 per cent year-over-year, and quarterly growth is expected to pick up, led by VOD and streaming content servers, video encoders, and edge QAMs
  • Worldwide revenue derived by service providers and cable companies for IPTV, cable video, and satellite video services is forecast to grow to $234 billion in 2013.

    Broadband-enabled TV households to top 360m by 2014

    According to research from The Diffusion Group (TDG), by 2014 more than 360 million households worldwide will own the components necessary to enjoy Over-the-Top (OTT) video services on their TV, with more than half actively receiving OTT services. This and other themes are discussed in TDG’s latest digital media analysis, Broadband-Enabled TV: Evolution of OTT Hardware Platforms

    "A key reason why many OTT efforts have failed (and will continue to do so) is their dependence on proprietary single-function hardware paid for by consumers." notes Colin Dixon, managing partner at TDG. "In order to grow a profitable base of service users, OTT operators must either give the hardware away for little to nothing—something upstarts cannot afford to do—or leverage other Internet-enabled platforms as a conduit to the living room. The latter approach is preferable yet its success hinges on the rate at which these Internet-enabled platforms diffuse– a factor over which OTT providers have little control."

    Dixon notes that a number of companies including Netflix and the BBC have been embedding their service software in a variety of retail video platforms and are enjoying early success. As normal replacement cycles unfold over the next five years, and as manufacturers accelerate their shift to embedded solutions, the number of households with at least one Internet-enabled living room video platform will grow (and rapidly so).


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