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CEA Cuts 3DTV Forecast For 2010

The Consumer Electronics Association -- which last month projected more than 4 million 3DTV sets would ship this year -- is now putting the number at 1.05 million units, after narrowing the definition of what it considers a 3D television set.

In December the CEA had estimated 2.2 million 3DTVs will ship in 2010. Then last month, as part of announcing its 2010 sales forecast at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the trade group raised projections to more than 4 million 3DTV sets for the year.

Now the trade group is forecasting 1.05 million units shipped to dealers, representing $2.05 billion in revenue. That implies an average price of $1,952 per unit for 3DTVs.

CEA spokesman Steve Kidera said the previous figures were based on a broader definition for 3D television sets. "The new definition clearly describes the different display approaches inherent in today's 3DTV sets and the new forecast better captures the market opportunity," Kidera said.

Previously, the trade group loosely defined the 3D television category by minimum screen-refresh rate (to be capable of rendering left- and right-eye images), and the prior projections encompassed HDTVs that had refresh rates of 120 Hz or higher.

According to the CEA's new definition, a 3DTV is a digital television that has HDMI 1.4 support for a 3D video source using at least one industry standard format aside from anaglyph (the old-fashioned red-and-blue stereoscopic technique). Version 1.4 of the HDMI spec, which become publicly available Feb. 3, essentially adds a way for a 3DTV set to indicate its capabilities to a set-top box or DVD player.

Furthermore, a 3DTV for the CEA's forecasting purposes must include support for at least one of the following three 3D display approaches: active shutter glasses through a built-in emitter or a jack for an accessory emitter with matching active shutter glasses available with the product or separately as an accessory; polarized glasses through polarized display filter with matching polarized glasses available with the product or separately as an accessory; or an autostereoscopic display -- i.e., one that requires no glasses -- such as those using lenticular lens or parallax barrier technologies.

The revised CEA forecast is in line with projections from research firm DisplaySearch, a subsidiary of NPD Group, which put 3DTV unit shipments at 1 million for 2010 and increasing to 9 million by 2012.

At CES, 3DTV was a major focus, with Panasonic, Sony, LG Electronics, Toshiba and Vizio announcing new 3D televisions and Blu-ray Disc players, while programmers, including Discovery Communications and ESPN, touted plans for new 3D content.

ESPN is gearing up to debut a limited 3DTV channel with the June 11 broadcast of the first match of the FIFA World Cup, and DirecTV is readying three dedicated 3D channels for June. Discovery, meanwhile, announced a joint venture with Sony and IMAX to launch a 24-hour linear 3D service in 2011 with movies, documentaries and children's programming.

Some programmers are expecting the adoption curve of 3DTV to mimic that of high-definition. Discovery founder and chairman John Hendricks predicted that about 5 million households are "early adopters" that will purchase a 3DTV set within the next 24 to 36 months, with another approximately 20 million affluent households that will subsequently adopt the technology.

Pro Online Video Up 18% in '09

Professionally produced, hosted or syndicated online media and entertainment video views increased by 18% in 2009 to 49.1 billion, according to a R&M report.

The report, Pro Online Video: View Analytics and Category Share provides rigorous analytical explanation and detailed graphical illustrations of historical and market growth forecasts to 2014 based on extensive AccuStream data sets spanning 1998 - 2009, compiled and sorted by month, site, brand, event, affiliate partners, channels and aggregation services.

Internet brands (counting online entertainment destinations owned and operated by major media companies such as Comcast, CBS, Fox Broadcasting, NBC, ABC that include, and captured 52.1% of total professional video views in 2009.

Cable and television cross-platform brands captured a 33% share, while broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and CW) captured a 10.3% share, a figure which incorporates serialized episodic program views. Broadcast affiliates, magazines and newspapers combined for a 4.5% share.

The major broadcast networks enjoyed the highest viewer conversion rates, with 5.9 views per unique user per site per month, followed by Internet brands at 5.1; cable TV networks and premium channels generated a 4.9 view comparable.

Television video views increased category share by 85.7% to 13% of total video views across all categories (compared to 7% in 2008), driven principally by episodic programming on brand operated, co-owned or affiliated sites. Episodic views increased by 134% in 2009.

Television and entertainment (including Kids programming) combined for a 51.2% share of total views, with content aggregation services at 14.3% (including AOL, MSN, Comcast, Blinkx, Real Networks and CNET). News and information video captured a 14% share, while sports, music and movies generated 20.4% of the annual figure. "The growth stimulus of syndication and affiliation acting on professionally branded and owned content has clearly been a beneficial one, specifically for rights holders," commented research director Paul A. Palumbo. "However, maintaining growth and viewing share will require rights holders make a concerted commitment to increasing library size, functionality and accessibility, particularly in the Entertainment and Kids categories."

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Belo Raises 1Q Outlook

Belo Corp. said the company’s first quarter is shaping up better than previously expected. Belo, based in Dallas, is a pure-play broadcaster with 20 TV stations that generated a 4Q profit of 21 cents a share, beating analyst forecasts by 4 cents.

Referring to the current quarter compared to 4Q09, Shive Below CEO, “Total spot revenue was up more than 9 percent in January and will be up a greater percentage in February due to the Olympics airing on our four NBC stations and the Super Bowl airing on our five CBS stations. On our year-end earnings call on Feb. 4, 2010, we said first-quarter spot revenue was pacing up in the low double-digits. Based on how we’re tracking today, first-quarter spot revenue is now pacing up closer to the mid-teen level. Belo’s automotive category is currently pacing up more than 40 percent in the first quarter.”

Shares of Belo (NYSE: BLC) surged more than 7 percent on the news, from around $6.80 at the opening bell to around $7.25 for most of today. Belo shares have logged a gain of nearly 33 percent year-to-date.

Interpublic claims 'cautious optimism' despite 42% fall in operating income

Interpublic Group, parent to McCann Erickson, Universal McCann and Initiative, posted an operating income fall of 42.1% for 2009, to $341m. The bulk of Interpublic's operating income came in the fourth quarter, when the US-based agency earned $268m. It was still down 18.9% from the fourth quarter of 2008.

Revenues at Interpublic were $6.03bn during 2009, down 13.4% from 2008. However, including the effect of foreign currency translation and the impact of net acquisitions, the resulting organic decrease in revenue was eased to 10.8% year on year.

Revenues between October and December 2009 were $1.8bn, down 5.3% from the same period in 2008. However, when the effect of foreign currency translation was included in the final quarter, the organic revenue decrease was 8.2%.

The bulk of Interpublic revenue comes from the US – 55.9% in 2009. The UK is Interpublic's fourth largest market with 7.6% behind continental Europe (15.3%), and Asia Pacific (9.5%).

Michael I. Roth, chairman and chief executive of Interpublic, said the 2009 results reflected "the impact the recession had on revenue, but also the strong focus on cost discipline brought to bear by our management teams across the organization".

Looking forward, Roth said: "Economic conditions appear to have stabilised, clients are beginning to re-focus on their brands, and the tone of the business is one of cautious optimism."

Liberty Global Q4 Revenue Up 4%

Liberty Global announced financial and operating results for the fourth quarter (“Q4”) and year ended December 31, 2009, with revenue of $11.1 billion, reflecting 4% rebased growth

President and CEO Mike Fries said, “2009 was a successful year for LGI with continued growth and consistent performance in the midst of difficult global economic conditions. In terms of our full-year guidance targets, we achieved rebased OCF growth of 7% and FCF growth of 47%, at the high-end of our 5%-7% guidance range for OCF growth and substantially above our 25% target for FCF growth. Our Q4 performance was highlighted by our strongest quarter for organic subscriber additions in two years and we are seeing that momentum continue in the first quarter of 2010.”

“In Europe we delivered a 37% year-over-year improvement in Q4 organic subscriber additions, capitalizing on our new ‘Fiber Power’ broadband products and enhanced digital video offerings to drive increased customer penetration and lower video churn. Our Dutch business, the furthest along in our European 'Fiber Power' roll-out, tripled its quarterly broadband subscriber additions as compared to Q4 2008, and leveraged its simplified bundling offers and superior video products to post its strongest quarter for digital cable additions in three years. This encouraging performance has positive implications for our other European markets, as we are accelerating advanced digital video features and expanding next-generation broadband services across our footprint, with all of our European markets expected to have next-generation broadband widely available by year-end 2010.”

“On the M&A front, we recently completed two significant transactions. First, in late January, we completed the acquisition of 100% of Unitymedia, the second largest cable operator in Germany. Second, last week, we completed the sale of our 37.8% interest in J:COM, the largest cable operator in Japan. Pro forma for these transactions, approximately 85% of our consolidated revenue will be generated in Europe and our available liquidity5 as of year-end 2009 would have exceeded $3.5 billion.”

“Additionally, as a result of our substantial liquidity position and our commitment to stock repurchases, we recently approved an increase of $350 million to our buyback program. This increase brings our total available buyback capacity to over $500 million.”

“We are optimistic about our growth prospects for 2010, particularly given the positive subscriber trends we are seeing with respect to next-generation broadband internet and digital video services. Together with our cash-rich balance sheet, the potential for accretive M&A activity, and our stock buyback capacity, we remain focused on driving increased value for our shareholders.”

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Miranda Q4 Revenue Up , Net Income Down

Miranda Technologies Inc. reported results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended December 31, 2009.

Fourth quarter revenues came in at $35.7 million, up 9% over 2008. Quarterly net income was $2.1 million or 9 cents per diluted share, compared to $7.4 million and 31 cents respectively last year. The steps taken during the year to strengthen the business and mitigate the market downturn are working, with quarterly revenues and net income coming in at the highest levels for the year. As well, cash flows were strong with the Company generating $2.6 million of cash from operating activities and ending the quarter with cash, cash equivalents and temporary investments of over $49 million.

Sales for the year were $131.8 million driven by the NVISION acquisition and stronger International sales, largely offset by lower sales in North American where broadcast markets were hardest hit by the economic downturn. For the first time, International sales surpassed those to the United States, reflecting the benefits of having a global reach. International sales grew 16% over last year, coming in at $68.3 million, while sales to the United States were down 7% to $56.9 million. EBITDA(1) came in at 15.0 million, down from $34.8 million in 2008. Net income for the year was $5.5 million or 24 cents per diluted share, versus $22.7 million and 92 cents respectively in 2008. When excluding 2009 restructuring costs of $1.5 million and $0.9 million of one-time charges, net income for the year would have been $7.0 million, translating into fully diluted earnings per share (EPS) of 30 cents and adjusted EBITDA of $17.3 million.

"It was a difficult year for broadcast markets, but we are now stronger financially, operationally and competitively," said Mr Goodship, Miranda's President and Chief Executive Officer. "Although markets were below historical levels, we have seen improvements in our sales volume as we strengthened our business over the course of the year. In particular, the successful integration of NVISION helped us to be more competitive by broadening our portfolio of solutions and allowing us to win a growing number of combined deals. We have seen sequential improvements in the revenue contribution of the NVISION line throughout the year."

To mitigate the impact of the downturn, we took a series of measures to improve productivity which included workforce reductions and the consolidation of NVISION's electronic assembly operations into our Montreal manufacturing facilities. This was made possible by our recent expansion of our Montreal headquarters. We now have the capacity and efficiency to deliver quality products even more rapidly.

We continued to invest in R&D to build our future and introduced a series of new award winning products, such as the Kaleido-X16 and the Kaleido-Modular. These products helped us win new customers in the USA, and internationally, and strengthened our position with some major accounts. With the recent rise of 3D TV, we demonstrated 3D enabled products, worked with a number of pioneering customers and actively participated on the standardisation of 3D for television.

Sales in Canada and the United States were down 70% and 4% respectively versus last year, while International markets continued to drive growth, increasing 28% over 2008. Canada, the United States and Other Countries generated 1%, 38% and 61% of quarterly sales respectively.

Autodesk Q4 Revenue Down 7%

Autodesk, Inc. reported financial results for the fourth quarter and full year fiscal 2010.Revenue was $456 million, an increase of 9 percent sequentially and a decrease of 7 percent compared to the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009.

“We finished the year with better than anticipated revenue and profitability in the fourth quarter,” said Carl Bass, Autodesk president and CEO. “These results were driven by a sequentially improving demand environment and continued competitive displacements. In addition to our focus on growth, cost containment contributed to our performance.”

Driving the performance in revenue and profitability were sequential increases in revenue from commercial new seat licenses, revenue from every Geography, revenue from each product type, as well as revenue from our Manufacturing, AEC, and Platform Solutions and Emerging Business segments.

Combined revenue from Autodesk's 3D model-based design solutions was $134 million, an increase of 10 percent sequentially and a decline of 7 percent compared to the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009. Revenue from 2D horizontal and 2D vertical products was $213 million, a 13 percent increase sequentially and 8 percent decrease compared to the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009. Combined revenue from our AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT products increased 9 percent sequentially and decreased 9 percent compared to the fourth quarter last year.

“Fiscal 2010 was a challenging year by any measure,” continued Bass. “We took action to significantly reduce our cost structure and increase our efficiency. As a result, we greatly exceeded our initial goal of pre-tax cost savings of $250 million. Those actions, and our continued investments in essential parts of our business, helped strengthen Autodesk and position the company for long-term growth and success. Going forward, we will continue to build on our foundation as a world leader in design, engineering, and entertainment software.”

Vizrt '09 Revenue Down 13%

Today broadcast graphics, asset management (and now streaming technology for mobile) provider Vizrt posted their results for Q4 and FY09.

Revenue for the full year was down 13% versus 2008, but revenue in Q4 was up 26% versus the previous quarter, and up 11% y/y versus the same period a year ago.

In the earnings announcement (link below) the company attributed some the increase in Q4 revenues to an improvement in market sentiment, saying “The end of the year revenues came back as it used to be some years ago. The “Christmas shoppers” showed us signs that the media houses once more feel comfortable with the markets going forward.” Also in the announcement, company CEO Bjarne Berg issued a relatively upbeat statement that touched on all aspects of the company’s business including graphics for HDTV & 3D, MAM, online and streaming. Berg finished by saying “Overall, the company’s immediate goal is to return to the kind of revenues and multiples that we used to achieve before the collapse of the financial markets. It is not an easy task but it is certainly possible and, though perhaps too early to be firm on this, the signs are positive.”

Bjarne Berg, CEO of Vizrt, stated, “At the end of last year we started to see signs of the re-emergence of an ”old behavior pattern” with our customers – namely discretionary spending not tied to specific project budgets. Generally consisting of incremental additions to existing Viz systems, these additional sales have always been a good barometer of the extent to which our clients have the freedom to invest. In 2008, “last-minute” orders evaporated almost completely, and our loyal customers had to make do with what they had for another year. This year, however, these spontaneous orders have started to return. It is perhaps too early to conclude too much based on these early signs of recovery, but it is probably safe to assume that our customers believe they are heading towards better times. It is gratifying to see that customers remained loyal to Vizrt throughout, preferring to wait until budgets allowed for buying our premium products rather than substituting them with cheaper and lower-quality systems. Another significant trend is that all broadcasters currently specify high-definition (HDTV) systems in anticipation of future developments, even though their channels currently predominantly broadcast in standard definition. We are convinced that soon this trend will become universal and that all broadcasters will be HD-ready within the next two years. But HDTV is no longer the pinnacle of broadcast technology. Right now, the hot new format is Stereoscopic 3D production. Already there have been some worldwide premieres in stereo 3D for Vizrt, with ESPN in the USA and Sky Sports in the UK. If stereo 3D takes off in the way that TV screen manufacturers hope it will, then our existing broadcast customers will realize that they backed the right horse all along. Vizrt’s technology has always been based on a true 3D system. While 2D was the standard broadcast format, most of our competitors were not able to deliver true 3D animations. Stereo 3D really separates the wheat from the chaff. The good news for Vizrt customers is that it is very easy to convert their existing Vizrt graphics into stereo animations. Equally, the good news for Vizrt is that this requires an additional Viz rendering engine to represent both eyes, which will have a positive knock-on effect for Viz Engine sales.

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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 for more information.

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