Insider Reporter


Insider Report

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

w/e May 11, 2008 SCRI International, Inc © 1984 - 2008

INDEX

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

TECHNOLOGY NEWS

Mobile content platform market reaches $3.4bn

The market for premium mobile content platforms grew almost 20 per cent in 2007, resulting in a $3.4 billion share of the $18.5 billion of revenue generated by the mobile premium content market, according to recent research by MultiMedia Intelligence. As mobile phone subscribers worldwide increasingly look for personalisation and enhanced entertainment content on their handsets, subscribers are continuing to purchase more premium content, such as ringtones, music, mobile games and video

Mobile TV Broadcasting Here to Stay -- New Report

There is a fragmentation of standards for digital mobile TV broadcasting—just as we have NTSC, PAL, and SECAM for analog TV—that appears to be the way of the future, reports In-Stat. In digital mobile TV broadcasting, several standards are being used, several mainly in one country, and that situation is likely to continue in the future, the high-tech market research firm says.

Recent research by In-Stat found the following:

  • The most popular mobile TV broadcast services are those that are offered without a subscription, as in Japan and South Korea. However, mobile TV broadcast services are viewed by many as a way to generate revenue, so many of the mobile TV broadcast services will be subscription-based.
  • DVB-H is the most widely used digital mobile TV broadcast standard, in terms of number of operators having launched services.
  • Analog mobile TV broadcast viewers will outpace digital mobile TV broadcast viewers and subscribers in 2009.
  • Worldwide mobile TV broadcast subscription revenue will reach US$12 billion in 2012.

    AT&T mobile TV

    AT&T plans to launch a television service for mobile phones next week, following in the footsteps of rival Verizon. The service, which will be available in 58 markets, will offer programmes from several major TV networks, including CBS, Comedy Central, NBC and Fox. While some of the network programming will air simultaneously with what is airing on television, a little more than half will be delayed from the TV airtime.

    The service is on top of the streamed video offerings already available and, like Verizon’s service, will use the network built by MediaFLO that is designed to offer live television. Consumers must purchase one of two new AT&T phones to watch the mobile-TV service. LG Electronics' Vu, which has a large touch screen, will sell for $300 with a two-year service contract. The Samsung Access will be $200 with similar conditions. Additionally, users must sign up for a TV service plan on top of their monthly voice and data plans. The starter package is $15 a month for unlimited access to television. A $30-a-month plan adds additional features, including Web browsing. AT&T also hopes to generate revenue from advertising

    Fiber-Based Broadcast Video Transport Services Market Forecasts

    According to a new F&S report, the U.S. fiber-based broadcast video transport services market generated revenues worth over $200 million in the year 2007, and the market revenues are expected to exceed $600 million in 2012. Never before have the terrestrial networks been in as much demand for transporting broadcast video content as now, which is largely due to the emergence of IP/MPLS backbones and next-generation transport technologies such as the Ethernet. The timing could not have been better, as the high definition (HD) video formats gain traction, thus fueling faster adoption of fiber-based bandwidth for video transport.

    Although terrestrial networks have been historically used to transport analog video content, such as NTSC or TV1, terrestrial network service providers are finally seeing the light of day, only now, due to a favorable demand (higher bandwidth to carry digital/HD video content) versus supply (glut of fiber) situation in the market.

    "The demand for bandwidth due to the growing migration to HD format video, and the large-scale availability of Fiber has contributed immensely to the migration of media and entertainment vertical clients from satellite transport services to Fiber-based transport services," observes Senior Industry Analyst Roopashree Honnachari.

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    INDUSTRY NEWS

    Blockbuster stake in Viacom movie channel

    Blockbuster is in talks to take a stake in the new US premium TV channel to be launched by Viacom with Lions Gate Entertainment and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. As part of an agreement, Blockbuster will get digital rights to the channel's programming in return for an investment in the partnership. The new TV channel venture led by Viacom is seen as a challenge to CBS, which controls the Showtime Networks premium movie and TV cable channels.

    Comcast profit, but getting tougher

    Comcast has reported quarterly profits of $588 million excluding one-time gains, compared with $537 million last year. Last year, Comcast posted a $300 million gain from the dissolution of a cable partnership with Time Warner Cable.

    Revenue was up 14 per cent to $8.39 billion in the latest quarter. Revenue rose as people spent more on cable television, which helped offset lower spending on the company's phone and Internet services. Operating income was up 23 per cent to $1.55 billion while free cash flow - an important indicator for debt-laden industries such as cable - soared by 59 per cent to $702 million. But the slowing economy seems to have exerted a drag on signing new customers: Comcast added 1.46 million lines of service in the quarter, down 20 per cent from a year ago. The number of basic subscribers fell by 57,000, versus a gain of 83,000 a year ago. Digital cable added 494,000 subscribers compared with last year's 658,000.

    The company added 492,000 new high-speed Internet customers, down 16 per cent year-over-year. But its digital voice service added 639,000 new customers, up 9 per cent from last year. Its circuit-switched phone business, which Comcast is exiting, lost 110,000 customers. Customers spent an average of $63.46 for cable TV, up from $59.97 in 2007's first quarter. Cable TV revenue rose by 5 per cent to $4.71 billion. For Internet service, where Comcast faces more competition, customers spent an average of $42.18, down from $43.08. Revenue for this business rose by 12 per cent to $1.75 billion. For digital phone service, subscribers spent $40.24, down from $42.44. Revenue, however, more than doubled to $573 million as the company poached customers from phone companies.

    TW spins out cable, income slides

    Announcing Q1 results Time Warner’s CEO Jeff Bewkes finally confirmed the company’s intention to spin off TE’s 84 per cent stake in Time Warner Cable, the country’s second-largest operator. But no details were immediately given on how the Time Warner Cable stock would be separated.

    "We’ve decided that a complete structural separation of Time Warner Cable, under the right circumstances, is in the best interests of both companies’ shareholders," Bewkes said. "We’re working hard on an agreement with Time Warner Cable, which we expect to finalise soon. At the same time, we’ll continue to pursue the rest of our aggressive agenda that we believe will deliver increasing value to our shareholders." The move is expected release approximately $4 billion that will be returned to shareholders.

    Meanwhile Time Warner for the quarter ended March 31st, net income slid 1 per cent when excluding $670 million in one-time gains during the year-ago period from proceeds from asset sales. Revenues rose 2.1 per cent to $11.42 billion from $11.18 billion.

    "Our results this quarter - particularly the underlying operating strength at our cable, networks and filmed-entertainment businesses - gave us the confidence to reaffirm our full-year business outlook," Bewkes said. The current quarter was depressed by a one-time $116 million restructuring charge related to consolidating its New Line Cinema movie studio into Warner Bros.

    Google: Making money with YouTube is top aim

    Google's top priority this year is to make money off YouTube, Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said in a TV interview that sent Google's shares up 4.7 per cent. "I don't think we've quite figured out the perfect solution of how to make money, and we're working on that. That's our highest priority this year," Schmidt said.

    Schmidt said YouTube planned to introduce a series of new products aimed at generating advertising revenue. "We believe the best products are coming out this year. And they're new products. They're not announced," Schmidt said, adding that such ads would be "much more participative, much more creative ... much more interesting in and of themselves."

    The new ad services will go beyond basic in-line advertising that YouTube already runs, Schmidt said. In-line ads are text ads that run along the bottom of YouTube videos

    Verizon adds TV subs

    Larger than expected gains in mobile subscribers helped Verizon Communications, the second largest US telecommunications group, report a 9.8 per cent increase in first quarter net profits on sales that grew by 5.5 per cent to $3.8 billion. Net profits increased to $1.64 billion, or 57 cents a share, from $1.5 billion, a year earlier. Sales rose 5.5 per cent to $23.8 billion.

    Verizon is spending $23 billion over seven years to make an advanced fiber-optic network, called FiOS and capable of delivering video services, available to 18 million homes by the end of 2010. FiOS TV added 263,000 customers, tripling the user base to 1.2 million.

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    COMPANY NEWS

    Chyron Q1 Earnings & Conference Call

    Chyron Corporation announced plans to release its first-quarter 2008 results on Thursday, May 8, 2008, prior to the market open.

    A conference call to review those results will be held on Thursday, May 8, 2008, at 10:00 AM Eastern Time. Participants who wish to participate over the Internet may access the call at www.chyron.com or www.earnings.com. Web participants are encouraged to go to either website at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the call to register, download, and install any necessary audio software. Participants who wish to participate using the telephone may go to www.theconferencingservice.com/prereg/key.process?key=PJFBKMWUC to pre-register. Pre-registering is not mandatory but is recommended as it will provide you immediate entry into the call and will facilitate the timely start of the conference. Pre-registration takes only a few moments and you may pre-register at any time, including up to and after the call start time. Upon pre-registering you will be provided with a confirmation with the dial-in telephone numbers, participant pass code and your unique PIN. Alternatively, if you would rather be placed into the call by an operator, please call, at least 15 minutes prior to the call start time, 877.391.6746 (US and Canada) or 617.597.9377 (International) and refer to pass code 30563886. The replay numbers are 888.286.8010 (US and Canada) or 617.801.6888 (International), and pass code is 75269119; the online archives will be available shortly after the conclusion of the call on both sites. Each replay will continue for seven days, through May 15.

    NXP to Acquire Conexant’s Set-Top Box Operations

    In its latest transformational move, NXP Semiconductors, the independent semiconductor company founded by Philips, announced it will acquire the Broadband Media Processing (BMP) business of Conexant Systems, Inc., (NASDAQ:CNXT). With this transaction, NXP’s existing set-top box and digital TV operations will be combined with Conexant’s BMP business. The combined operations will create a top three player in digital video systems with the scale to establish a strong leadership position. The deal represents NXP’s fourth acquisition since independence and is the first for its Home Business Unit.

    Conexant’s BMP business, which provides industry-leading solutions for satellite, cable and IPTV applications, accounted for US $205 million in revenue in 2007. Under the terms of the deal, NXP will pay Conexant US $110 million in cash up front, and additional consideration of up to US $35 million based on achievement of certain revenue milestones over the period from closing through 2009.

    Conexant’s strengths in broadcast operator set-top box (STB) solutions are complementary to NXP’s terrestrial IP and retail STB and Digital TV products. Combined, they will offer the widest semiconductor portfolio for STB and digital TV applications in the industry, creating a unique technology source for developing digital video applications: innovative IC solutions for receiving more digital content in terrestrial, cable, satellite and IPTV broadcast environments with best in class picture and sound quality, anytime, anywhere in the home.

    Focus Enhancements Q1 Results Conference Call

    Focus Enhancements, Inc. announced the company will host its first quarter 2008 results conference call on Monday, May 12, 2008 at 1:30 p.m. Pacific Time. Brett Moyer, president and chief executive officer, and Gary Williams, chief financial officer, will deliver prepared remarks and conduct a question and answer session. The first quarter results news release will be disseminated on Monday, May 12, 2008, after the market closes.

    A webcast of this call can be accessed at Focus Enhancements’ web site at www.focusinfo.com through May 12, 2009. If you do not have Internet access, the telephone dial-in number is 888-816-3972 for domestic and 706-634-0182 for international participants. Please dial in five to ten minutes prior to the beginning of the call at 1:30 p.m. PT (4:30 p.m. ET). A telephone replay will be available through May 14; dial (800) 642-1687, and enter access code 46400426.

    Harmonic Q1 Net Sales up 24%

    Harmonic Inc. announced its preliminary and unaudited results for the quarter ended March 28, 2008. For the first quarter of 2008, the Company reported net sales of $87.3 million, up 24% from $70.2 million in the first quarter of 2007. The strong year-over-year revenue growth reflected continued success with longstanding domestic cable and satellite customers, as well as sales to an expanding range of new customers worldwide that are deploying a variety of innovative new video services. International sales grew proportionately to domestic sales, and represented 39% of revenue for the first quarter of 2008, compared to 40% in the same period of 2007.

    “We are very pleased with our strong operating performance in the first quarter, with both sales and gross margins exceeding expectations,” said Patrick Harshman, President and Chief Executive Officer. “We saw strong revenue from our domestic cable and satellite customers, as they continue to expand their on-demand and high-definition channel offerings. We also continued to see strong growth outside of the US, as we extended our global customer base throughout Europe, Asia and Latin America.”

    “Our newest IP-based systems and solutions are winning prominent industry awards and continuing to strengthen our technology leadership. Our products for advanced video delivery continue to be selected to power many of the high profile digital video deployments worldwide, driving our growth and continued customer diversification, while also improving our gross margins and profitability. We have also continued to improve the efficiency of our operations and inventory management, and strengthen our balance sheet. At the same time, we are investing in the future of our business and introducing exciting new products that address the powerful trends toward more high-definition, on-demand and anytime, anywhere video, which continue to reshape the video delivery marketplace.”

    Scopus Reports Record Q1

    Scopus Video Networks Ltd., a provider of digital video networking products, announced its results for the first quarter of 2008, ending March 31, 2008. Revenue reached a first quarter record of $16.4 million, a 34% increase over the first quarter of 2007 - Net income of $0.3 million on a non-GAAP basis (excluding the cost of options) - Net loss of $1 thousand on a GAAP basis - Positive operating cash flow of $0.9 million in the quarter - Continued improvement in business fundamentals

    "We had a fantastic start to 2008. I am excited by our continued progress and financial results, which topped our expectations in all parameters: revenue, margins, positive operating and net income, and strong cash flow," commented Dr. Yaron Simler, CEO of Scopus. "Our continued focus on our systems' offering has improved our traction in the market for our newly released products and systems. This, coupled with our solid execution across the board, has been instrumental in enabling us to maintain our positive momentum. At the same time, we believe we are well positioned to benefit from additional opportunities derived from the emerging trends of our industry."

    Pixelworks Q1 Sales Down 11%

    Pixelworks, Inc. announced financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2008. First quarter 2008 revenue was $24.0 million, at the high end of management guidance, reflecting stable revenue generation from the Company’s core projector and advanced television businesses as well as sales of legacy products. Revenue for the first quarter declined 11% sequentially from $27.0 million in the fourth quarter of 2007 and was unchanged from $24.0 million in the first quarter of 2007.

    “During the first quarter, we achieved further reductions in operating expenses as a result of our ongoing restructuring initiatives and improved our balance sheet with the retirement of debt,” said Bruce Walicek, President and CEO of Pixelworks. “While revenue came in at the high end of the range during this seasonally slow quarter, we began to see the effects of a more cautious global consumer spending environment among our customers. We will remain focused on continuing to deliver improvements to our business model while leveraging our R&D investment into value added products and markets.”

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    PRODUCT NEWS

    Cable STB market sees record growth

    In 2007, the cable set top box (STB) market experienced record-setting growth, as both worldwide unit shipments and revenues reached new highs, reports In-Stat. Strong demand for basic digital cable STBs, especially in the Chinese market, coupled with sustained demand for advanced digital cable STBs in the North American market, is fuelling the market growth, the high-tech market research firm says.

    The next several years also look bright for this market. In-Stat is forecasting that demand for worldwide digital cable STBs will remain strong through 2012, although unit shipments will decrease gradually throughout the forecast period as the analogue to digital cable TV transition matures.

    In-Stat found that the worldwide digital cable set top box unit shipments spiked to over 41 million units last year, up from 29.7 million units in 2006, and worldwide cable set top box revenues passed the $6 billion mark in 2007, up from $4.8 billion in 2006

    Avid Introduces Next-Generation RAID Solutions

    Avid Technology, Inc. has announced the next-generation of its high-performance storage disk arrays – Avid® VideoRAID® ST and Avid VideoRAID SR solutions – which combine real-time performance, cost-effective SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) drive technology, and the security of fail-safe data protection in the event of a disk drive failure.

    Unlike other RAID solutions that may be unusable during a drive rebuild, Avid VideoRAID solutions help customers keep up with the fast pace of digital content creation by maintaining full performance and data protection, while rebuilding the drives in the background. Customers will also be able to take advantage of real-time playback of up to two streams of uncompressed HD on as few as eight Avid VideoRAID drives. Additionally, Avid is offering all new VideoRAID ST and SR customers a three year warranty on drive mechanisms and enclosures, providing advanced exchange of replacements parts at no additional cost.

    Available in a 5-drive tower (ST) or a 16-drive rack mount (SR) configuration, Avid VideoRAID ST/SR disk arrays support a wide range of Avid editing systems, including the recently announced Media Composer®, Symphony™ Nitris® and NewsCutter® family of products, as well as third-party applications, via an industry-standard SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) interconnect. The products provide the protection of parity through the use of RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) which can handle multiple streams of uncompressed SD and HD media with ease and offer a capacity ranging from 2.5TB to 16TB per editing system.

    The new Avid VideoRAID solutions are expected to begin shipping in Q2 2008. Pricing begins at $4,795 USMSRP for 2.5TB configurations

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    PEOPLE IN THE NEWS

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    RESEARCH NEWS

    SCRI Broadcast/Pro Video Product Reports

    2008 - 2009 Broadcast/Pro Video Product Reports

    2008-09 Broadcast/Pro Video Macro Industry Overview Report

    2008-09 Broadcast/Pro Video Micro Quantitative Product Data Report

    2007 - 2009 HDTV / Digital Trends Report

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