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Insider Report

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

w/e JMarch 25, 2007 SCRI International, Inc © 1984 - 2004

INDEX

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

TECHNOLOGY NEWS

Wireless HD Set-top Box

Korean electronics firm Samsung announced plans to introduce a wireless set-top box that will deliver high-definition TV on home networks. Samsung partnered with chipmakers STMicroelectronics and Metalink on the SMT-H6155, which currently has no release date.

Open IPTV Forum launched

AT&T, Ericsson, France Telecom, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung Siemens, Sony, and Telecom Italia have confirmed the founding of the Open IPTV Forum - an industry consortium that will work to define an interoperable end-to-end specification for delivery of IPTV services.

Initially the Forum will consist of the founding member companies, but will be open for other companies at a later date. The Open IPTV industry forum will focus on development of open standards that could help to streamline and accelerate deployments of IPTV technologies. By aggregating the current diverse standards into a complete delivery solution.

The Open IPTV Forum plans to establish requirements and architecture specifications as well as protocol specifications later in 2007

CBS basketball on YouTube

CBS has unveiled an agreement with YouTube to form a special web channel featuring clips and highlights from the annual "March Madness" college basketball tournament. The clips will be accompanied by Pontiac advertising

The deal comes just two days after Viacom, CBS’s former sister company, filed a suit against YouTube for copyright infringement. It is an indication of traditional media companies’ mixed feelings for YouTube at a time when they are trying to reach young viewers who are increasingly consuming video online.

With the new YouTube channel, CBS believes it will be able to offer Pontiac a large online audience to complement advertising on the CBS television network and on a series of more targeted webcasts of specific games. Quincy Smith, president of CBS Interactive, said basketball fans would be posting tournament footage on YouTube in any case, and that the agreement reflected the media group’s strategy to reach out to them rather than trying to discourage them

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INDUSTRY NEWS

V2oIP Quality Alliance Surpasses 100 Members

The V2oIP Quality Alliance, an alliance of communication industry innovators that focuses on understanding and improving voice and video-over-IP quality issues, announced that the Alliance has surpassed the 100 member milestone and is launching a webinar series focused on educating the market about voice and video over IP quality issues.

The first installment of the webinar series, entitled "Measuring and Improving VoIP Quality" will be held on April 10th at 9 a.m. Pacific Time and will provide insightful perspectives from six member companies. Registration information for this webinar is available at http://www.polycom.com/v2oipqualityalliance. Future webinars will cover a wide range of topics and will be driven by the Alliance membership community.

"The growth the V2oIP Alliance since its launch in September 2006 has been very encouraging," said Joel Fisher, president of the V2oIP Quality Alliance. "This momentum shows the importance quality plays in voice and video-over-IP and in having a proactive, cooperative industry effort focused on understanding, measuring and improving quality that will help accelerate deployment of high-quality IP voice and video services."

ClipSyndicate to Distribute Comedy Time Network Mobile Video

ClipSyndicate, a provider of video syndication services, said that it has signed a deal to syndicate stand-up and sketch comedy clips from Comedy Time Network across its network of websites. Comedy Time Network's mobile video clips are already distributed to over 3 million subscribers worldwide. ClipSyndicate also aggregates video from Bloomberg, AP, Fox TV and Clear Channel.

TV Guide web video search

TV Guide is joining the list of those developing search engines for video on the web. The project is codenamed Stingray and will be available as a private beta site starting on March 21, and then open up to a more public beta on April 16. It will be known as the "TV Guide Online Video Guide." Paul Greenberg, general manager of TV Guide Online said "It makes sense that we should do this, given who we are. Online video is the area we believe needs the most guidance."

News Corp’s TV Guide has indexed about 50 sites, ranging from ABC.com and NBC.com to iFilm and iTunes, and will add about 15 more by the end of the month. "It's all about professional entertainment," says Greenberg, although he does plan to eventually include the top videos from YouTube and other video-sharing sites. Greenberg's whole philosophy is that less is more. If you type in "The Office" on Blinkx you get nearly one million results. On Project Stingray, you get 222 results, most of them pointing to NBC.com.

Time Warner Denies Report of Impending AOL Sale, Spin-Off

Despite speculation on Wall Street, officials from media giant Time Warner have denied a report that the company could spin off or sell AOL as early as this year.

"We believe that the prospects for an outright sale of AOL this year are high as the Internet company tries to go global," UBS analyst Aryeh Bourkoff told Reuters on Friday.

"The best way to do this is through a partnership or merger."

Time Warner, however, has flatly denied the report, saying through a spokesman that "AOL is not for sale nor do we plan to spin any part of it off."

Reuters said that potential suitors would include Yahoo, Microsoft and Google (which already owns a 5% stake in AOL).

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COMPANY NEWS

LOUD Technologies Reports 2006 Results

LOUD Technologies Inc. announced net income for 2006 was $0.6 million, or $0.13 per diluted share on sales of $215.0 million.

“We did not fully achieve our financial objectives for 2006,” said Chairman and CEO Jamie Engen. “However, we did make many significant strides in our plan to improve the long-term profitability of the company. The costs of consolidating our operations, and costs incurred in the process of closing our two remaining domestic manufacturing plants, had an adverse effect on our 2006 performance. We are confident that the steps we have taken will reduce our operating costs and increase our gross margin in the future. By continuing to leverage LOUD's global distribution capability, expanding portfolio of famous-name branded products, and solid reputation for quality and innovation in the professional audio and music industries, we believe we can achieve our goal to deliver long-term value for our shareholders."

For the twelve months ended December 31, 2006, net sales increased 5.2% to $215.0 million from $204.3 million for 2005.

Gross profit for 2006 was $71.5 million or 33.2% of net sales compared to $65.3 million or 32.0% of net sales for 2005. Reducing the 2005 gross profit was approximately $2.4 million of costs relating to the impact of recording St. Louis Music’s inventories at fair value as a result of the purchase price allocation of St. Louis Music.

Operating income for 2006 was $8.8 million compared to $8.5 million for 2005. Included in 2006 are restructuring costs of $1.6 million related to reductions in workforce in the consolidation of St. Louis Music operations and service operations, and the planned closures of our domestic manufacturing plants in the first half of 2007.

Net income from continuing operations for 2006 was $0.6 million, or $0.13 per diluted share. This compares to net income from continuing operations of $0.9 million or $0.19 per diluted share in 2005. Net income in 2005 included a gain on the sale of the Company’s discontinued operations in Italy of $2.8 million (net of tax), or $0.57 per diluted share.

CBS buys broadband TV MaxPreps

CBS has purchased high school sports online network MaxPreps to expand its local sports coverage. MaxPreps, which offers information to nearly 80,000 high school football and 500,000 boys and girls basketball games played each year, will become a part of CBS-owned College Sports Television, or CSTV. About 1 million high school athletes are registered to use MaxPreps, the company said

MXF Mastering Format Project Roundtable

The MXF Mastering Format Project being demonstrated at NAB is now being sponsored by the AMWA - The Advanced Media Workflow Association – “Putting AAF and MXF to Work”.

Advanced Media Workflow Association (formerly AAF Association) is proud to announce its involvement with the MXF Mastering Format Project. At NAB 2007, the AMW Association is sponsoring the first public demonstration of this long-term initiative that is being led by Turner Broadcasting System. The aim of this is to bring a fresh approach to MXF and to provide proposed, real-world solutions for key workflows, focusing on creating a single MXF master file from which multiple versions of a program may be created. This rationalization project currently includes two key strands: MXF Mastering Format and the MXF Processor API. The work - which started two years ago - will be demonstrated at the show and will be open to comment and scrutiny. The AMW Association and Turner welcome comment on this technical proposal.

Manufacturers taking a leading role in this MXF rationalization work are: EMC; Marquis Broadcast; Metaglue; Omneon; OpenCube Technologies; Pro-Bel; Quantum; Snell & Wilcox; Softel; TMD; and Turner Broadcasting.

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PRODUCT NEWS

Avid Delivers AirSpeed 2.5 Server

Avid Technology announced the immediate availability of version 2.5 of the AirSpeed® multi-purpose video ingest and playout server. This new version can run in an Avid Unity™ shared-storage environment and, for the first time, as a standalone video server. As a standalone system, AirSpeed 2.5 can connect directly to Avid® editing workstations over a network and provide direct ingest and playout to and from these systems. Offering greater accessibility to small- and mid-sized broadcasters, AirSpeed 2.5 also delivers several new features, including support for 720p/50 formats for streamlined HD ingest on PAL projects.

“KTBS was a beta test site for AirSpeed 2.5 and the experience convinced us of the viability and value of AirSpeed as a standalone solution,” said Dale Cassidy, director of engineering at KTBS in Shreveport, LA. “AirSpeed, working in conjunction with our Avid NewsCutter® editors, can speed the process of getting content to air and play a key role in transitioning from conventional tape decks to a server-based system.” The AirSpeed system integrates easily with existing equipment, applications and processes – including third-party automation systems – enabling broadcasters to get stories to air efficiently and cost-effectively. The system is available either with front-panel video control and monitoring, which includes new on-screen display (OSD) functionality showing comprehensive information about clips during ingest and playout, or with increased storage capacity (in place of the front-panel monitoring controls) for HD workflows. Regardless of whether the AirSpeed 2.5 system is running within an Avid Unity production environment or as standalone device, the system offers tight interoperability with Avid’s industry-standard nonlinear editing systems.

Avid AirSpeed 2.5 is available now in a standard configuration for $18,000 USMSRP, or a version with four times greater storage capacity and without front-panel controls and monitor for $20,000 USMSRP. Current AirSpeed customers under the Avid Assurance program can upgrade to AirSpeed 2.5 for free on the Avid Download Center.

Mindspeed® Introduces 3Gbps Broadcast Video Cable Equalizer

Mindspeed Technologies, Inc., a leading supplier of semiconductor solutions for network infrastructure applications, announced a 3Gbps (2xHD), high-definition (HD) and standard definition (SD), dual-output video cable equalizer, rounding out its family of 3Gbps broadcast video products. Mindspeed now offers the first complete 3Gbps serial digital interface (SDI) solution on the market today.

The M21424 video cable equalizer is the industry’s only co-axial dual-output equalizer capable of supporting 2.5V low power operation in addition to legacy 3.3V, and is fully SMPTE standard compliant.

The dual-output 3G/HD/SD cable equalizer offers broadcast video equipment manufacturers greater flexibility by providing a secondary output that can be used as a monitoring output. “Our new video equalizer combined with our existing 3G products is the next step toward enabling our customers the ability to build a single, multi-use 3G/HD/SD system,” said Jeff Camillo, marketing manager for Mindspeed. “We are committed to offering our customers the most comprehensive line of broadcast video products available.”

Pioneer 50'' 1080p Plasma Pro Display

At the NSCA Expo this week, Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc. is showcasing its first 50” Pioneer branded 1080p plasma display for the U.S. market. Previously only available in Japan and Europe, the Pioneer PDP-5000EX provides fine detail and accurate color for the entire range of high definition signals including 720p, 1080i and 1080p. The Pioneer PDP-5000EX is one of the few plasma monitors capable of accepting and displaying the 1080p 24Hz rate needed to preserve a feature film’s original sequence.

Currently targeted for professional use, major film studios and authoring houses are among the early adopters demanding this type of monitor to use for testing and evaluation of new high definition Blu-ray Disc movie titles. With more than two million of the world’s smallest pixels, the Pioneer PDP-5000EX faithfully reproduces HD movies as intended by the director.

“The introduction of a high quality 1080p plasma display for the professional market will fulfill a very specific request from the entertainment industry and will bring the best picture performance for high definition film titles to the market,” said Jim Krodel, vice president of professional display for Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc.

The PDP-5000EX combines a higher pixel count of 1080p with the faster refresh rate of 72Hz ensuring professional users can precisely master high definition films with confidence. More than 15 years of painstaking research and development are incorporated into the new plasma monitor with Pioneer industry-leading proprietary technologies.

The Pioneer PDP-5000EX will be available this spring with pricing to be announced.

SANYO DV Camera to Use Next-Generation AVC/H.264 Video Technology

Set for an April U.S. debut, the pocket-sized Xacti CG65 is SANYO's first digital video camera to feature next-generation Advanced Video Codec H.264 (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264) video compression technology, designed to produce excellent video quality while reducing MPEG-4 file size approximately 25%. The slim and stylish CG65 ($399.99 MSRP(*1)) is an ideal video camera for people who want to easily upload and share video clips with friends and the world at large via web pages, vlogs, podcasts and popular video sharing websites. The CG65 is an eye-catching choice in available colors of black, silver and green.

"The SANYO Xacti CG65 is an advanced video camera and 6-megapixel still camera that is designed for today's generation of video sharing enthusiasts," said John Lamb, Senior Marketing Manager of SANYO Fisher Company's Audio Video Division. "The Advanced Video Codec H.264 used in the Xacti CG65 provides an optimal combination of high-quality video and ultra-compact file size that's ideally suited for uploading videos to friends, family and the world."

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PEOPLE IN THE NEWS

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RESEARCH NEWS

  • SCRI Data SCRI Data 2007-2008 Broadcast/Pro Video Product Reports

    The 2007 - 2008 US Broadcast/Pro Video Product Reports are currently being published to allow equipment manufacturers time to review the data prior to NAB 2007. Product Reports include a written category overview, analysis and future forecasts, plus quantitative summary tables and charts with annual purchases for 2006, 2007 and 2008 (units and dollars), purchase rates, ASPs ($), brand shares, and other breakouts by product type etc. All data is shown in total as well as by each of the six vertical user markets.

    Product Reports are available for the following product categories: Camcorders; Camera Mounting Systems ; Cameras ; Character / Logo Generators ; Clip/Still Stores ; Composite/Component Encoders/Decoders ; Digital Effects Processors ; Non-Linear Editing Systems ; Graphics & Effects Software ; Graphics & Effects Workstations / Systems ; Master Control Switchers Small ; Production/Post Switchers Small ; RAID Video Storage ; Routing Switchers Small ; Standards / Formats Convertors TBC's / Frame Synchronizers ; Telecine Equipment ; Terminal Equipment ; Up/Down Converters ; Video Compression Encoders: Video Disk Recorders ; Video Monitors \ ; Video Servers ; Video Test & Measurement : VTRs

    Contact SCRI's Research Director, Des Chaskelson (des_chas@scri.com) for more information and/or to place an order.

    OTHER RESEARCH NEWS

    Satellite TV Grows 200 Percent In Seven Years

    Satellite TV's DIRECTV and EchoStar now collectively own nearly 30 percent of the pay TV audience. And their share of the pay audience has risen roughly 200 percent in the last seven years. That's according to figures released by the Television Bureau of Advertising.

    The group says the satellite TV industry had 29.2 percent of the pay market in February 2007, compared to just 9.5 percent in February 2000.

    Meanwhile, cable TV's audience share of the pay market has fallen from 89 percent to 71 percent in that time period.

    Counting homes that do not subscribe to either cable or satellite, the TVB says dish services are now in 25.2 percent of all TV households. Cable operators are in 61.3 percent of all homes.

    The cable-satellite war is expected to escalate in the next few years with the growth of High-Definition TV. Both cable and satellite are jockeying to position themselves as the go-to service for new high-def owners.

    New telco TV services from Verizon and AT&T also hope to snare a slice of that market. But as of February, Verizon reported having just 207,000 subscribers while AT&T had just 7,000.

    Broadcasters Increasing Use of Addressable Advertising

    National TV networks and local broadcasters are increasing their use of addressable advertising products, and are also expanding their plans for addressable advertising on their Internet portals, reports In-Stat. With the explosion of video, especially broadcast TV programming, flooding onto the Internet, national networks and local broadcasters have an incredible opportunity to become key distributors of addressable advertising that extends beyond traditional TV screens, the high-tech market research firm says. Addressable advertising refers to any form of advertising that is placed under the control of the advertiser.

    “We see the worldwide market for addressable advertising infrastructure equipment, software and services showing very strong, sustained growth in each geographic region for at least the next several years,” says Gerry Kaufhold, In-Stat analyst.

    Recent research by In-Stat found the following:

  • The worldwide market value of addressable advertising will exceed US$680 million during 2011.
  • When a viewer is watching a TV program on the Internet, the play out system can automatically insert very short 5 or 8 second addressable ads.
  • Competition from cable TV, telcoTV, and Internet TV is heating up, but broadcasters can still hold onto their lead in advertising.

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    Sourcing for the above reports are from press releases and news wires unless otherwise indicated