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

w/e March 4, 2007 SCRI International, Inc © 1984 - 2004

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TECHNOLOGY NEWS

Apple TV launch delayed

Apple has delayed until March the launch of its gadget for streaming video and other content from computers to TVs, but the company would not explain why. The company had said in January the $299 Apple TV set-top box would be available this month.

"Wrapping up Apple TV is taking a few weeks longer than we projected, and we now expect to begin shipments mid-March," Apple spokeswoman Lynn Fox said. She declined to comment further.

Apple TV is designed to move digital content from a user's computer to a TV set and is anticipated to be a highly competitive product in the growing crop of offerings that deliver Internet-based videos to the television.

Some analysts are projecting the set-top box could be yet another hit product for Apple, adding to the Cupertino-based company's growing fortunes as it expands its consumer electronics portfolio beyond Macintosh computers and iPod portable players.

Sony to Ship their Internet-TV Device in July

Sony Electronics announced that the Bravia Internet Video Link module -- which will stream free, Internet-based video to new models of its HDTV sets -- will ship in July and sell for about $300.

Sony also unveiled seven Bravia HDTV sets that will be compatible with the device. Sony's initial partners for the Bravia Internet Video Link include Time Warner's AOL, Yahoo, Sony Pictures Entertainment and its Grouper http://grouper.com video-sharing site and Sony BMG Music.

"Internet-video popularity has reached an all-time high, but until now, there was no easy way to bring it into the living room," Randy Waynick, senior vice president of Sony's Home Products Division, said in a prepared statement. "The Bravia Internet Video Link seamlessly streams Internet video content to your TV the way it's intended -- free of any additional charge."

The Bravia Internet Video Link module attaches to the back of Sony's TVs via a universal-serial-bus cable and connects to an existing broadband Internet service through an Ethernet port.

The device will be supported by Sony's Bravia S-series flat-panel LCD line (KDL-46S3000, KDL-40S3000, KDL-32S3000 and KDL-26S3000) and the new KDF-37E3000 micro-display, which will ship this spring. Other Bravia models supporting the module include the new V-series and XBR flat-panel LCD line (KDL-46V3000, KDL-40V3000 and KDL-32XBR4) and the E-series micro-display line (KDF-50E3000 and KDF-46E3000), shipping this summer.

Sony announced the Bravia Internet Video Link last month at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Thomson's Technicolor Launches Digital Intermediate Facility

Technicolor, part of the Services Division of Thomson announced the formal opening of its first “studio-based” digital intermediate (DI) facility – built on the Sony Studios lot in Culver City, California.

The new Technicolor facility, its first on the Westside of Los Angeles, will allow for an expansion of Technicolor’s DI service offering to filmmakers wanting to stay on the Westside of Los Angeles to do post-production and film finishing work - as well as for those projects that will be completed at Sony Studios’ world-renowned feature sound-mixing stages. The proximity of the new Stage 6 DI facility to Sony’s theatrical sound mixing stages will accord filmmakers the option of working in one location while finishing both look and audio mix of their films.

The new facility is located on the first three floors of the newly rebuilt historic Stage 6, in the heart of the studio’s Main Street. The infrastructure includes three new color-timing theaters based on Technicolor specifications developed over the last five years from its flagship DI facility in Burbank. Along with Technicolor’s Hollywood postproduction facility, the three facilities will share talent and expertise, and will be inter-connected to share film-recording infrastructure with its sister facility in Burbank via dark fiber.

The three new Stage 6 color-grading theatres are outfitted with both film and digital projection. Projection specifications for both film and digital will use Technicolor’s projection calibration and color standards.

The technical infrastructure of the new facility is based around a range of digital solutions for color-correction, editorial conform, scanning and film recording geared to the specific needs of a diverse range of projects and clients. Beginning with a hardware-based color-correction capability, a process refined over the last 6 years at Technicolor’s flagship DI operation in Burbank, Technicolor also offers a software-based workflow at 4K-resolution.

The facility’s new dailies and mastering capabilities will be performed in two new high-definition suites. Further, Technicolor will also continue to service the industry with expanded film mastering, restoration and preservation capabilities.

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INDUSTRY NEWS

HD transition boosts broadcast industry

The global broadcast technology industry is growing from strength to strength with the industry’s trade association, the IABM, reporting supplier confidence at an all time high this quarter according to the results of its latest quarterly IABM Industry Trends Survey.

More than 73 per cent of suppliers reported increased long term confidence levels, a rise of 18 per cent from the Q3 survey and the highest level ever recorded. The main reason cited for supplier optimism is the worldwide transition to HD.

ABM chief executive Roger Crumpton said: "The global transition to HD is picking up momentum as broadcasters and content production companies systematically upgrade their equipment to HD standards, even if they do not plan to broadcast in HD in the immediate future. Our research shows that HD uptake will be fuelled by increased competition between pay TV operators across three platforms: digital cable, satellite direct-to-home (DTH) and IPTV."

Cablevision posts strong Q4 subs growth

Cablevision strongly increased its subscribers for its TV, internet and telephone services in the fourth quarter. It reported revenue growth of 18.6 per cent for its cable business, but overall performance was lower due to a weaker performance in its cable networks and the Madison Square Garden sports venue.

The Dolan family, which controls Cablevision, tried to take the group private but its offer was rejected by a committee advising the board after the family refused to raise it further.

Total revenues rose 13 per cent of $1.69bn, from $1.49bn a year ago, Cablevision said. For the cable business, with operating income up 12 per cent versus a year ago to $195m. The company said it would reduce its capital expenditure in 2007.

Cablevision did not make projections for Rainbow, the company’s programming unit. This again raised speculation that the Dolans, who control Cablevision with 71 percent of the voting rights, and 20 percent of the equity, might try to sell Rainbow or at least some of its cable networks

Google video ads

Google is working with media companies including Condé Nast, Sony BMG Music Entertainment and other large content companies to syndicate their video content on other Web sites.

The videos will appear inside Google ad boxes on sites that are relevant to the content of the videos, with advertisements running during or after the content. Google intend to share the ad revenue with the video provider and with the sites that show the videos.

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COMPANY NEWS

Focus Enhancements Raises $6.3 Million

Focus Enhancements, Inc. announced a $6.3 million offering of its registered common stock at a price of $1.26 per share pursuant to its shelf registration in which it will issue 5 million shares of common stock and warrants to purchase an additional 500,000 shares of common stock under definitive signed securities agreements. The five year warrants have an exercise price of $2.00 per share and are immediately exercisable. The company intends to use the net proceeds from this financing transaction for working capital and general corporate purposes. customer shipments of UWB chipsets currently expected to begin in the third quarter of 2007, while providing the working capital we need to grow our business in 2007.”

On February 20, 2007, the company announced it expected cash and cash equivalents plus available credit facilities to be approximately $6.5 million at December 31, 2006.

DTS to Sell Cinema and Digital Images Business

DTS, Inc. announced that its Board of Directors approved a plan to sell its cinema and digital images business in order to focus exclusively on licensing branded entertainment technology to the large and evolving audio, game console, PC, portable and broadcast markets. The sales process has begun and is expected to conclude later in 2007. The cinema and digital images business, now known as DTS Digital Cinema, will focus on the potentially large and emerging market for digital cinema products and services.

Sony Stresses Market Gains

Sony Electronics accentuated the positive, emphasizing market share gains across the board and in HDTV in particular, and revealing plans to broaden use of the BRAVIA brand name in the line, during its Executive Media Roundtable at the Sony Building, here, this morning..

Stan Glasgow, president/COO of Sony Electronics who was joined by Randy Waynick, senior VP of its home products division, and Steve Haber, senior VP of its newly formed digital imaging and audio division (which will begin operations on April 1) outlined Sony's progress during the past year and hinted at new products that will be introduced during its line preview in Las Vegas later this week.

Glasgow said that Sony's U.S. consumer electronics business "continues to participate positively in the company's growth" and cited the brand's No. 1 position in units and dollars for calendar year 2006 in 11 different product categories, according to numbers from The NPD Group. The categories where Sony was No. 1 included home theater audio, home DVD, Blu-ray, camcorders and several others. To illustrate the success of the Sony brand, Glasgow cited examples, such as HD DVD camcorders where "Sony has a 60 percent market share."

XM Profits Narrow, Miss Forecasts

XM Satellite Radio Holdings reported that its net loss narrowed to $263.1 million (90 cents per share) versus $270.4 million ($1.22) a year ago. However, the Q4 result missed the 71 cents per share loss expected by Thomson Financial estimates.

XM's Q4 revenue rose 45 percent to $257 million from $177 million. The company's adjusted EBITDA loss improved to 69.8 million from $172.9 million a year ago.

For 2006, XM's loss widened to $732 million ($2.70) from $675 million ($3.07), missing Thomson Financial's $2.50 per share estimate. But revenue rose 65 percent to $933 million from $558 million in 2005. XM finished the year with 7.6 million subscribers, a 29 percent increase from the 5.9 million customers it had at the end of 2005. However, the company had predicted at the beginning of 2006 that it would end the year with 9 million subscribers.

XM's 2006 adjusted EBITDA loss improved to $166.2 million from $403.7 million a year ago. The decline in adjusted EBITDA loss was attributed primarily to growth in subscription margin and lower marketing costs.

XM and rival Sirius announced last week a plan to merge their operations under one umbrella. However, the proposed deal faces significant regulatory hurdles, as FCC regulations currently prohibit one satellite radio company from owning the other.

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PRODUCT NEWS

Apple releases Final Cut Pro 5.1.4

Just a week after releasing Final Cut Pro 5.1.3, Apple have released 5.1.4 to resolve the issues that rose with 5.1.3: lost Custom User Interfaces in FXplug plug-ins and XML import issues.

"Final Cut Pro 5.1.4 provides important bug fixes to resolve plug-in issues. This update is recommended for all Final Cut Pro 5.1, 5.1.1, 5.1.2 and 5.1.3 customers."

It has been confirmed that this release fixes the Custom User Interface issues, and Wes Plate confirms that the issue with Automatic Duck is resolved, I would wait to install it unless I had already installed 5.1.3 and had issues that need immediate fixing. Otherwise, hold off a week.

Sony previews new LUMA LCD Pro Video Monitors

Sony has announced that it is redesigning its LUMA line of professional LCD monitors with the introduction of three new one-piece, widescreen models, the LMD-2030W, LMD-2450W and LMD-2050W.

The LMD-2030W is a 20-inch display (measured diagonally, as are all display measurements in this article) with HDMI input connectivity. It is designed to work with HDV (and AVCHD) camcorders and decks in portable video production applications such as event videography or location shooting.

The LMD-2450W 24-inch and LMD-2050W 20-inch displays can accept 1080/60P signals via a standard DVI input and feature 10-bit processing. The LMD-2450W display delivers 1920 x 1080 resolution while the 2050W and 2030W are only 1680 x 1050 (less than necessary to display a full 1080 signal). As well as the HDMI input on the 2030W, the new monitors accept video signals in Y/C, RGB, component and (optionally) HD/SD SDI or from computers DVD-D and HD15 are supported.

Each of the new models is suitable for AV or IT applications, with an easy upgrade path to HD production. They are designed for use by technical directors, producers and editors working in broadcast, post-production, event video production, mobile trucks, and rental houses.

The new models also feature Sony’s "ChromaTru" color processing. This technology compensates for variations in LCD color levels commonly caused by differences in chromaticity coordinates, color temperature and gamma curves.

ChromaTru processing is based on color space conversion and white balance adjustment. Color space conversion adjusts chromaticity coordinates, color temperatures and gamma curves. White balance adjustment delivers broadcast-quality gradation while maintaining standardized gamma characteristics. The technology allows each model in this series to closely color-match not only other LUMA monitors but also the SMPTE-C, EBU or ITU-BT709 color standards traditionally used in CRT models.

The three new displays are expected to be available in May, with suggested list pricing still to be determined.

Avid Solutions for Video Forensics Labs

Avid Technology announced that two prominent law enforcement agencies – the Law Enforcement & Emergency Services Video Association (LEVA), and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) – are implementing its solutions for use in video forensics investigations and training labs.

LEVA has established the first forensics video processing training facility in the country (the LEVA Digital Multimedia Evidence Processing Lab) at the University of Indianapolis. The Lab is expected to open on February 26, 2007 and be equipped with 20 video analysis workstations running Avid® Media Composer® software and dTective software from Ocean Systems. The labs will also be equipped with Avid Mojo® acceleration hardware and 4TB of storage on an Avid Unity™ LANshare. Each year, approximately 400 full-time law enforcement personnel will participate in a variety of basic, intermediate and advanced video forensics courses at the facility. The lab may also be transformed into an operational command center, if needed, in times of crisis.

Ocean Systems’ dTective software, which is powered by Avid nonlinear video editing systems, is the most widely used system when it comes to analyzing video footage pertaining to criminal activity. Currently used by more than 1,000 law enforcement agencies across the country, the software allows users to easily work with full frame, uncompressed video and run a host of forensic processes to clarify evidence.

Grant Fredericks, a national video forensics expert and lead instructor to LEVA said, “With more than 12 million video surveillance systems operating in the US today, video is clearly the most prolific evidence collection resource available to law enforcement. In addition, collecting video footage is a priority on the federal government's list for assessing and understanding the contributing factors that lead to terrorist attacks. Using Avid’s forensics solutions to help fight the ongoing war on terror enables us to work much more efficiently. The process of sifting through hours of surveillance footage will be far less overwhelming for investigators.”

In addition, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has established its own support network of video analysis in the US. This new network will also utilize video analysis workstations running Avid Media Composer Adrenaline™ systems with dTective software. The Department of Justice and the IACP are establishing four Regional Forensic Video Labs strategically placed throughout the country to assist local and state agencies in processing and managing video related evidence. The goal is to link the 1,000 local, state and federal agencies, currently using Avid’s video forensic solutions to process cases, and to share information about unsolved cases and criminal trends where video evidence is seized. The LEVA training facility at the University of Indianapolis will provide training and support for these new Regional Forensic Video Labs.

Sony announces less expensive Blu-ray player

Sony plans to bring out a cheaper player for Blu-ray discs early this summer. The BDP-S300 will cost US$599, yet will have the same capabilities as the $999 BDP-S1 Sony (shown) is currently selling, says Randy Waynick, senior vice president of the home products division of Sony Electronics.

Sony and Samsung Corp., which also makes a Blu-ray player, have been undersold by Toshiba Corp.’s players for the rival HD DVD format. Toshiba has a model on the market for $499. However, sales of players for either format have been tepid, as consumers have stood back, waiting for the market to settle on one of the discs.

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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

DTV / HDTV Spurring Advances In Supporting Technologies

A new F&S research report, Global Advances in Digital Television and HDTV Chipsets concludes that the anticipated growth of digital television (DTV) and high-definition television (HDTV) is likely to have a significant impact on a range of support industries including flat panel displays, broadcasting, telecommunications, chipset design and production, set-top box manufacturing, and software or middleware development. The flat panel display industry, in particular, has seen tremendous growth in the uptake of liquid crystal displays (LCDs) as well as plasma discharge displays (PDPs) and the forecast for this industry remains bullish as a result of the promising outlook of DTV and HDTV. Riding this growth wave, leading companies, research institutes, and universities are emerging with new and improved display technologies, with the aim of challenging the LCD dominance in the market. Amongst them, organic light-emitting diodes (OLED) and field emission displays (FED) are two technologies with enormous promise and recent advances in manufacturing techniques have enabled a cost-effective method to mass produce large OLED panels.

With regard to mobile display technology, new concepts for projector technology have lead to the invention of a miniature size projector, which allows future mobile device to project large images. The market for Broadband TV (BTV) or Internet protocol TV (IPTV) also looks promising in Europe as well as Asia and progresses in set-top box (STB) software technology has enabled IPTV video streaming on networks without guaranteed bandwidth. Improvement in compression technology have also helped in reducing the bit rate requirement for IPTV and new compression standards such as Moving Pictures Expert Group (MPEG)-4 AVC are likely to replace the conventional MPEG-2 standard in the short term, notes the analyst of this research service. In line with these developments, chipsets that support multiple standards are emerging in the market and lossless audio compressing coding will also be released soon, posing a threat to the MP3 market.

As the technology for the reception of DTV signals matures, there is a general trend among the STB manufacturers to integrate more advanced functions in the high-end STBs. The most common feature integrated is the digital video recorder (DVR) or personal video recorder (PVR) and apart from increasing the demand for memory capacity in STBs and additional supporting components, this also raises the demand for application-specific integrated circuits (ASIC) and application-specific standard product (ASSP). Further, besides adding more functions, manufacturers are looking at ways to integrate the components into a single silicon chip.

Going forward, as more broadcasters switch to digital transmission, STBs will become an increasing necessity to convert the digital signal to the analog format that most TVs can display. Although DTV and HDTV have been introduced in a few countries, technologies that enable them continue to evolve and key industry participants are highly sensitive to any developments in display, chipsets, compression coding, networking and broadcasting technologies, says the analyst. This is leading to rapid progress in the above areas and the future DTV would be dependent on such continuing developments driven by the leading companies in the industry.

LCD Monitor Market Grows to an All-Time High of $36B

With the consumer market for PC/CE products on the rise, a new replacement cycle for PC/IT products emerging with Windows Vista, and growth in emerging markets for IT related technologies, the worldwide market for flat-panel LCD monitors continues to grow as the market moves beyond the question of "CRT vs. LCD" to one of "Square LCD vs. Wide-Aspect Ratio LCD." The transition timing for desktop displays from square to wide will be deliberated and debated by leading companies in the desktop displays market at the 9th Annual DisplaySearch US Flat Panel Display (FPD) Conference, North America's largest display industry conference at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines in San Diego on March 6-8.

The desktop display market has always had replacement cycles: from monochrome CRTs to color, from curved-faced CRTs to flat-faced CRTs and from CRTs to LCDs. This time, the transition is from the square-viewed world of home and office computing into one with wider and larger displays. Unlike the TV market which is almost purely driven by consumer needs and desires, desktop displays touch both the work and home environments. Wide desktop displays offer unique and separate advantages for each of these worlds, allowing for increased productivity in the B2B commercial work environment and for continued convergence of TVs and PCs in the B2C consumer home environment.

In the Managing the Next Desktop Monitor Replacement Cycle session, executives from the three largest LCD monitor companies in the world, HP, Dell and Samsung will present their views of the WW LCD monitor market which their companies helped to grow 25% on a unit volume basis from 2005 to 2006. An additional third party perspective will be offered by one of the world's leading independent agencies dedicated to creating better work environments world wide, TCO Development.

Local Video Ad Market is Set to Grow to $371 Million in 2007

A new Report from Borrell Associates Inc looks at local online video advertising which was a $161 million market segment in 2006 and will more than double this year. Long-form “infomercials,” not the traditional 15-second commercial, are driving most of the growth which will reach $5 billion by 2012.

Are newspapers making more money from video advertising than local TV stations?

On the Internet, it’s true – and will continue to be true for at least another year. In 2006, newspaper-run Web sites captured about $81 million in locally spent streaming-video advertising, while local TV broadcasters captured about $32 million. Although it is small potatoes in the $280 billion U.S. advertising industry, it spotlights a fascinating phenomenon: Print media are using the Internet as a crossover platform to tap traditional TV advertisers, just as TV stations (and others) are trying to use the Internet to tap traditional print advertisers.

Nearly all local broadcast TV Web sites now feature classified ads, and almost half of all newspaper sites offer video. This print/video crossover is also taking place on sites operated by local cable multi-system operators (MSOs), radio stations and yellow pages directories.

This trend is part of a larger change in local Web advertising – one where “old” forms such as banners and paid listings fade, and new forms such as video advertising and paid-search applications become prominent.

Online competition between newspapers and broadcast TV stations – the leaders in local advertising – will intensify this year as both sides develop Web-based video products. The clash will focus on automotive advertisers initially, though real estate, health and employment are prime targets as well. The opportunity to deliver 15-second pre-roll ads along with a tantalizing new opportunity for local advertisers - long-form “infomercials” on demand – are becoming antidotes for media companies suffering declines in their core products.

The local video advertising market is still small – just $161 million in 2006, growing to $371 million this year. It is barely five percent of all money spent on local online advertising and is less than one-half of one percent of total local advertising. But as the popularity of online video grows, so will the applications, the “avails” and the money. In five years, local online video advertising will surpass $5 billion, representing more than one-third of all local online advertising.

Number of HDTV homes to treble by 2011

The number of households around the world with high-definition television (HDTV) will treble over the next five years as viewers switch to its clearer, more vivid picture, according to a report by Informa Telecoms and Media.

According to thbe report, the number of homes taking the product will jump to 151 million worldwide by 2011 from 48 million at the end of 2006 when an estimated 1.2 billion households had a television.

The report said some 58 percent of HD homes were currently found in the United States and 20 percent in Japan, with Britain, Canada, China and Germany also high on the list.

"The falling price of high-definition sets has really caught the public's imagination, and consumer uptake is impressive," Adam Thomas, the report's author said.

But he also said some customers were disappointed with the product as, on some services, there is not always enough content to watch.

The report said it expected this to change and highlighted the situation in the United States, Japan and Australia where governments had set deadlines for broadcasters to deliver a quota of programming in HD.

"Maybe it's time for that practice to become more widespread," Simon Dyson, senior media analyst at Informa, said.

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