Insider Reporter


Insider Report

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

w/e March 2, 2008 SCRI International, Inc © 1984 - 2008

INDEX

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

TECHNOLOGY NEWS

End of Format War Will Drive Blu-Ray DVD Players/Recorders to Highest Volume

MultiMediaIntelligence reports that Blu-Ray DVD players and recorders will represent the largest segment of Internet Protocol (IP) enabled consumer electronics. The connected DVD equipment segment will reach nearly 50 million units by 2012. This fact is particularly impressive as these Blu-Ray device volumes are in addition to video game consoles, where Blu-Ray DVD is integrated into Sony’s PS3.

Adoption of IP interfaces is progressing across a variety of consumer electronics devices, including video game consoles, TVs, DVD equipment, audio equipment, as well as cable, telco, and satellite set-top boxes. Total annual shipments of IP-Enabled Consumer Electronics devices reached 64 Million units in 2007. Currently video game consoles represent the largest segment. However, next generation Blu-Ray DVD equipment is already integrating Internet connectivity to enhance interactivity and online applications.

“The end of the format war between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD promises to accelerate shipment volume of Blu-Ray DVD equipment,” according to Mark Kirstein, President of MultiMedia Intelligence. “As a result, Blu-Ray DVD equipment could become the largest volume segment of IP-Enabled Consumer devices even sooner than 2012.“

MultiMedia Intelligence’s new research also found:

  • Adoption of IP interfaces is growing steadily, but not explosively. The entire market is still challenged to address ease-of-use, interoperability and numerous business model issues.
  • Beyond the nearly standard Cat 5 Ethernet interface, Wi-Fi (802.11x) will represent the interface of choice for nearly 40% of IP-Enabled DVD players. Coax and Powerline interfaces will see lower adoption.
  • The semiconductor revenue for the IP interfaces across all Consumer Electronics devices covered will exceed $2 Billion by 2012.

    Korean DTV set for 2012

    Korean broadcasters will stop transmitting analogue TV signals by December 31, 2012. A special committee on broadcasting and communication at the National Assembly approved a bill that confirmed the deadline. After the date, TV will only be transmitted via digital signals. The Ministry of Information and Communication and the Korean Broadcasting Commission first proposed the analogue transition in 2006.

    Mobile TV must be free

    Consumer research firm Parks Associates and entertainment technology think tank Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) have released a new study suggesting that content owners should offer more free content on mobile devices in order to aggressively promote movies and programming on traditional media. They say free content is essential to prime the pump for future premium offerings.

    Parks notes that less than 10 per cent of Internet users are willing to purchase a digital movie download at current price points. The white paper exhorts Hollywood to use Apple’s tactics of offering bargain content in order to sell higher margin products for its own benefit – in this case, to drive consumers to new theatrical releases, TV programming, and eventually made-for-mobile programming, or 'mobisodes'.

    "Many content owners have tried re-purposing TV and movie content on mobile and have largely been disappointed by the revenues on those platforms," said David Wertheimer, Executive Director of ETC. "While we believe wholeheartedly in 'Anytime/Anywhere' availability of content, we also know that these devices, when content is created specifically for them, can create opportunities for marketing and selling content elsewhere, especially now, while consumer habits are just taking shape."

    SMPTE Announces Call for Papers

    The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) is seeking proposals for technical papers and tutorials for presentation during the 2008 SMPTE Technical Conference & Exhibition. Proposed papers are to be informational in nature and must address technical theory, application or practice associated with technologies relevant to the Motion Imaging Industry.

    Technical paper proposals must be submitted to SMPTE no later than June 6. Abstracts must be one page (no more than 300 words) and include topic heading, paper title, delivery method, a brief description of the proposed paper’s content, name of author/presenter, company, mailing address, telephone/fax numbers and e-mail address(es). Previously published, product-specific or promotional papers will not be accepted.

    Questions can be addressed to Joel Welch, Director of Professional Development at jwelch@smpte.org.

    IPTV to REdfine Pay TV in the US says Yankee Group

    Yankee Group announced that IPTV will redefine pay TV in the United States. IPTV will change the competitive landscape for subscription services by morphing the service from one-size-fits-all traditional broadcast TV into an open, flexible, customizable offering, tailored to the needs of local communities. By 2011, more than 9 million households in the US will subscribe to telco-provided video service.

    IPTV’s influence in the communications field and on consumer communications services in the US is driven by the impact of the global connectivity revolution on business and market dynamics. As a result, we are witnessing massive transformations taking place in media and entertainment and communications industries. With the digitization of content and the internet as a platform, both industries are morphing from structured, linear ecosystems to open and fluid sectors influenced by greater consumer control.

    “IPTV will forever alter the video ecosystem by creating not only a new breed of service, but also a new breed of service provider,” said Vince Vittore, Yankee Group program manager, Enabling Technologies. “The phone company of the past—the 800-pound gorilla—is dead. IPTV will transform telcos from the market-dominating gorillas they once were, to street fighting guerrillas.”

    According to the recently published Yankee Group Report, From Gorillas to Guerrillas, IPTV Changes Everything, IPTV will also forever transform how telcos operate. It will take the service providers from being highly centralized, giant corporations to become decentralized, flexible entities that can respond much more rapidly to the specific needs of the communities they serve. In addition to the share-shifting that will take place among cable, satellite and telcos in the video market, there will be more fundamental changes:

  • IPTV will change the organizational structure of telcos.
  • IPTV will create micro-markets of intense local competition in the US surrounded by wide swaths of territory where cable operators face only satellite competition.
  • IPTV will change the way applications are developed for TV.
  • IPTV will force the cable companies to become more dynamic and responsive.

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    INDUSTRY NEWS

    ABC offers VOD to affiliates

    Disney-ABC Television Group announced a deal with its Affiliate Association that expands the network's ability to make content available on an on-demand basis through cable, DBS and Telco distributors. The agreement allows local affiliates to participate in the "fast-forwarding disabled" VOD offering through local advertising sales opportunities.

    Additionally, this landmark agreement lifts ABC's re-purposing restrictions, allowing for expanded opportunities to re-purpose network programming at any time through this VOD arrangement, as well as through download services, including iTunes and Xbox, with whom ABC has current distribution deals.

    "We remain focused on our consumers and finding innovative ways to make our content more widely available to them; and we believe that this can be achieved by continuing to evolve the ways we work with our distribution and advertising partners," said Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks, and president, Disney-ABC Television Group. "This new arrangement provides further proof of the dedication the network and our affiliates have to working together in unique and inventive ways to create new opportunities that build all of our businesses."

    Under the new agreement, ABC will provide network programmes through a local advertising- supported video-on-demand service in both owned and non-owned station markets to cable, DBS, telco and landline operators who agree to disable the "fast-forwarding" capability. The number of commercials in the VOD episodes is still being determined, but will be less than the number featured during a live broadcast. Each broadcast affiliate will have the opportunity to insert one locally-sold, 30-second commercial spot within each half-hour of programming in those markets where ABC VOD is available.

    DISH slow Q4

    DISH Network said it added about 85,000 net new subscribers in the quarter, giving the company about 13.78 million subscribers at the close of December. In fourth quarter 2006, the company reported about 350,000 net new subscribers. CEO Charlie Ergen called fourth quarter results for the DBS service "disappointing," blaming sluggish economic conditions and intense competition for generating lackluster numbers during the three-month period.

    DISH Network reported total revenue of $2.89 billion for the fourth quarter, a 12 percent increase compared to the $2.58 billion for the same period in 2006. Fourth quarter net income was $175 million, compared with $153 million for the same period in 2006.

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    COMPANY NEWS

    LIN TV Corp. Q4 and YTD Up

    Income from continuing operations for the three months ended December 31, 2007 was $23.5 million, compared to $5.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2006. Operating income for the three months ended December 31, 2007 was $54.6 million, compared to $36.0 million in the fourth quarter of 2006. The growth in income from continuing operations and operating income was primarily driven by the Company’s $25.8 million gain from the sale of its 700 MHz licenses.

    Commenting on the fourth quarter and full year, LIN TV’s President and Chief Executive Officer Vincent L. Sadusky said: “We finished 2007 with great momentum; fourth quarter core advertising sales, which excludes political, increased 5% and digital revenues grew an impressive 131%. In addition, we reduced our general operating expenses 6% and our cash interest expense decreased by 19%, reflecting the $120.1 million pay-down of our debt in 2007 and our favorable debt structure. These achievements position us strongly for 2008 when we should benefit from increased advertiser demand for our highly-rated stations and the continued growth in our digital revenues.”

    Liberty Global Q4 and YTD Loss

    Liberty Global, Inc. announced financial and operating results for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2007. Loss from continuing operations of $423 million as compared to a loss of $334 million in 2006

    Commenting on the year, President and CEO Mike Fries said, “Our operating results and share price performance in 2007 were attributable to three things – industry-leading organic OCF growth, opportunistic M&A activity, and aggressive management of our capital structure. We posted another year of mid-teens OCF growth with an increase of 15% (rebased) on a consolidated basis, and 16% excluding Telenet. Several operations generated superior OCF results in the year including Poland, Australia, Chile and the Czech Republic – all of which posted rebased OCF growth rates above 20% for 2007. OCF margins improved 360 basis points during the year due primarily to a combination of profitable, high-margin subscriber growth and continued focus on cost controls. With recent and upcoming product launches and new bundled offerings across many of our markets, we are excited about our growth prospects in 2008, particularly in our rapidly expanding digital cable business.”

    “On an organic basis, we added 2.6 million advanced service RGUs (digital video, broadband Internet and telephony) in 2007, with over 900,000 RGUs coming from digital cable. Of particular note, our operations in Japan, Belgium, Switzerland and the Czech Republic had very strong years in terms of digital additions. In the Netherlands, we have launched the entire suite of high-end video applications (DVR, VoD and HD)6, and are generating incremental digital ARPU7 of €8, a 100% increase over the comparable figure in 2006. In terms of our data and telephony products, we added 1.5 million organic RGU additions in 2007, with double- and triple-play offers proving to be a strong catalyst for customer demand. Additionally, we continue to increase data speeds in our markets, offering maximum speeds of at least 20 Mbps across most of our European markets and a next-generation 160 Mbps service in the Kansai region of Japan. On the telephony front, our voice products have found wide consumer acceptance, particularly those that provide unlimited calling for a single price.”

    “We had a successful 2007 on the M&A front, while remaining disciplined given the fact that private market values were considerably above public market values during the year. Our most significant activity on the buy-side was substantially increasing our ownership in Telenet to 51%. We also completed a number of small cable system acquisitions in our existing markets which, in total, added approximately 200,000 RGUs to our global subscriber base. Additionally, in 2007 we rationalized our 50% interest in Jupiter TV. As we look to 2008, we continue to have a healthy M&A pipeline of potential transactions, but will remain opportunistic and disciplined as we assess them, especially in light of the fact that we believe our own equity remains undervalued.”

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    PRODUCT NEWS

    Apple Introduces New MacBook and MacBook Pro Models

    Apple updated its popular MacBook(R) and MacBook Pro notebook lines with the latest Intel Core 2 Duo processors, larger hard drives and 2GB of memory standard in most models. In addition, MacBook Pro includes the latest NVIDIA graphics processors, now with up to 512MB of video memory, and Apple's innovative Multi-Touch(TM) trackpad, first introduced in MacBook Air(TM). All Mac(R) notebooks include a built-in iSight(R) video camera for video conferencing, Apple's MagSafe(R) Power Adapter that safely disconnects when under strain and built-in 802.11n wireless networking for up to five times the performance and twice the range of 802.11g.

    The new MacBook Pro features the latest Intel Core 2 Duo technology with up to a 2.6 GHz processor with 6MB of shared L2 cache; up to 4GB of 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM memory and up to a 300GB hard drive, plus NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT graphics with up to 512MB of video memory. Every MacBook Pro now includes a trackpad with Multi-Touch gesture support for pinch, rotate and swipe, making it more intuitive than ever to zoom and rotate photos in iPhoto(R) or Aperture(TM) 2 or browse web pages in Safari(TM); an illuminated keyboard that makes it ideal for dimly lit environments such as airplanes, studios or conference halls and a built-in ambient light sensor, which automatically adjusts the brightness of the keys as well as the brightness of the display for optimal visibility.

    The new MacBook and MacBook Pro models are now shipping and will be available through the Apple Store(R) (http://www.apple.com), Apple's retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers.

    Sony HDR-HC9 HDV camcorder

    This report is by Douglas Spotted Eagle at SCRI's online partner, DigitalMediaNet.

    HD is taking over the video production world faster than many camera owners can keep up with. Now in its 5th generation, HDV cameras offer a broad range of choices from full-size broadcast cameras to small format palmcorders. The most recent addition to the lineup of HDV camcorders is the Sony HDR-HC9, available from Sony Electronics.

    The HC9 records interlaced images in a 1440 x 1080 stream, recording to MiniDV tape, and records JPEG still images to a Memory Stick Duo card. These features are also found as functions of preceeding camcorders in the HDV line-up such as the HC3, HC5, and HC7 camcorders.

    Where this camera is different is in the control setup and encoding/processing. The HC9 offers nearly full manual control of the camcorder. Exposure is set by slider or scene, rather than fstop, yet focus is manually controlled, and the metering system really makes it easy (and fast) to set up this camcorder.

    The camcorder does allow shooting to a Memory Stick during the video recording process, but is limited to three images per video session, just as are earlier camcorders. Perhaps as memory systems grow faster and less costly, we'll soon see the camcorder and still camera functions become independent, but this isn't the camcorder to break that barrier. The HC9 camcorder also offers filing-system control for users that prefer to use the camcorder as a still camera. The quality is fair, and about as good as a hybrid camcorder can be for taking stills and video. If you're intending on replacing any sort of a stand alone still camera or DSLR for taking photos, think again. Technology still has not reached a point where video cameras can match even the lowest grade DSLR or even point and shoot camera.

    Retail priced at 1099.00, this camcorder offers next-generation encoding (which means a better picture) and next-generation DSP (Digital Signal Processing) in a palm-sized camcorder.

    Xilinx Delivers Complete XtremeDSP Development Platform

    Xilinx announced the immediate availability of the XtremeDSP Video Starter Kit - Spartan(TM)-3A DSP FPGA Edition, a complete development platform for video applications that require low-cost and high-performance video processing. This new kit gives designers of video applications everything they need to accelerate their development including robust video specific intellectual property (IP), reference designs, XtremeDSP and Xilinx Embedded Processing development tools, and a Spartan-3A DSP FPGA development board with video daughter card.

    The XtremeDSP Video Starter Kit - Spartan-3A DSP FPGA Edition (DO-S3ADSP-VIDEO-SK-UNI-G) is available now for $1,595.

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    PEOPLE IN THE NEWS

    Hulu CEO to Deliver Keynote Speech at NAB Show

    Jason Kilar, CEO of Hulu, an online video joint venture between NBC Universal and News Corp, will present a keynote address at the NAB Show in Las Vegas on Wednesday April 16, 2008. Kilar will discuss the trends and technologies that are enticing content providers to distribute and deliver content as never before.

    Hulu is a free online video service that streams premium television shows, movies and clips. Via the destination site Hulu.com, distribution partner sites and embeddable video players, Hulu enables extensive distribution online. Since its beta launch in October 2007, Hulu has won praise for its high-quality consumer experience, particularly its lineup of premium content and well-designed user interface.

    Jason Kilar joined Hulu after nearly a decade at Amazon.com where he served as senior vice president, Worldwide Application Software, reporting directly to Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos. During his career at Amazon, Kilar served as vice president and general manager of Amazon's North American media businesses, leading the company's entry into the video and DVD markets. Kilar began his career with The Walt Disney Company, where he worked for Disney Design & Development.

    Kilar joins Lost executive producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, CSI creator Anthony Zuiker, Pushing Daisies director and executive producer Barry Sonnenfeld, Six Flags President and CEO Mark Shapiro, and best-selling author Alvin Toffler as featured speakers during this year's NAB Show.

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    RESEARCH NEWS

    SCRI RESEARCH NEWS

  • Broadcast/Pro Video Product Reports. Tracking purchase history (2007), purchase plans (2008 & 2009), brand shares, etc. for each of twenty five specific product types, from Camcorders to VTRs.

  • Broadcast/Pro Video Macro Industry Overview Report. Over 50 pages of analysis and information on the state-of-the-industry compiled from secondary online research sources including industry news sites, manufacturers sites, as well as SCRI's own weekly online News Briefs and Insider Reports.

  • Broadcast/Pro Video Micro Quantitative Product Data Report. 23-page report containing quantitative data tables, for all six verical end-user markets, and all of the 25 Product categories, as well as in total, with summary tables from 2002- 2008.

  • NEW: 2008-2009 Broadcast Pro Video Product Reports Annual Updates of SCRI's flagship broadcast / professional video marketplace equipment Product Reports -- available in March -- order now to get 10% pre order discount! Click Here for 10% Pre Order Discounts

  • NEW: 2007-2009 HDTV / Digital Trends Report This extensive 75 page report includes an Executive Summary, followed by an analysis, charts and tables of how the broadcast / professional video marketplace equipment endusers respond to the key HDTV / Digital Video Trends -- click to view table of contents

  • IPTV / Mobile TV Report: now available, 14 page Executive Summary and Analysis, with over 120 pages of articles and reports from online sources as well as SCRI Insider Reports. Cost is $995, or $695 for current SCRI Insider Report subscribers and clients. Contactdes_chas@scri.com for more info.

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