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Insider Report

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

w/e May 22, 2007 SCRI International, Inc © 1984 - 2007

INDEX

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

TECHNOLOGY NEWS

Digital Cinema Gest Boost

Access Integrated Technologies reported that it has completed 1.8 million digital showings as of April 30 on the more than 2,500 networked digital cinema systems it has installed in 30 states to date.

"These milestones demonstrate that we are solving critical issues for theater operators and that there's no barrier, only advantages, for embracing digital," noted Chuck Goldwater, President of AccessIT's Media Services Group. "We're well on our way to meeting our goal of 4,000 screens by the end of the year."

Christie/AIX is a wholly owned subsidiary formed by AccessIT in a strategic alliance with Christie Digital Systems in June 2005 to serve as both integrator and administrator of a planned initial 4,000-screen digital cinema rollout. Supported by all of Hollywood's major studios and major independent distributors, AccessIT Digital Cinema provides exhibitors with fully-integrated and networked digital cinema systems designed to conform to technical specifications set last year by DCI, a consortium of the major Hollywood studios.

Paid video download market is dead

The paid video download market is a dead end, according to Forrester Research. It estimates that paid video downloads will peak in 2007, generating $279 million in revenue, up from $98 million last year. Instead, it believes advertising models will drive the online video market.

In the past year, companies such as Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Wal-Mart have begun offering downloads to own or rent. But a recent Forrester survey showed that only nine per cent of online adults have ever paid to download a movie or TV show. Furthermore, an analysis of these consumers showed they are a niche audience willing to spend heavily on such content; but they do not represent the vanguard the mainstream consumers. Without mainstream viewers joining the service, the video download market will not grow fast enough to support the ambitions of all the companies involved says Forrester.

"The paid video download market in its current evolutionary state will soon become extinct, despite the fast growth and the millions being spent today," said Forrester Research’s James McQuivey. "Television and cable networks will shift the bulk of paid downloading to ad-supported streams where they have control of ads and effective audience measurement. The movie studios, whose content only makes up a fraction of today's paid downloads, will put their weight behind subscription models that imitate premium cable channel services."

46m mobile video subscribers by 2010

Service provider revenue from mobile video services jumped 317 per cent to almost $200m worldwide from 2005 to 2006, and is expected to triple in 2007, says market research firm Infonetics Research in its latest report, Mobile Video Devices, Services, and Subscribers.

Similarly, the number of worldwide mobile video subscribers increased more than 300 per cent between 2005 and 2006, and is set to soar to over 46m by 2010, the report shows. Drivers for this strong growth include increasingly powerful and efficient handsets and the expected analogue broadcast signal switch-offs.

NAB Concerned About STB Shortage

The NAB is concerned that millions of digital converter boxes won't be widely available on Jan. 1, 2008 for consumers who want to keep using analog TV sets many years into the future.

NAB president David Rehr made his concerns known in a letter to the leaders of the Consumer Electronics Association and the Consumer Electronics Retailers Coalition.

"It is critical to our collective success that manufacturers build, and retailers have available for sale, digital-to-analog converter boxes by (Jan. 1, 2008,)" Rehr said. "As I am sure you are aware, if boxes are not produced and on store shelves on Jan. 1, 2008, significant consumer confusion will result and could negatively impact the overall success of the transition."

That Rehr had to convey his message in a letter to CEA president Gary Shapiro that NAB also gave to the media the same day was somewhat ironic because NAB and CEA are supposed to be leading partners, along with the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, in a coalition designed to prepare the public for the government mandated cutoff of analog TV on Feb. 17, 2009.

After Feb. 17, 2009, tens of millions of analog TV sets not connected to cable or satellite TV will need a converter box that can translate digital broadcast signals to analog.

Although Rehr's two-page letter didn't explain the importance of Jan. 1, 2008, he was probably referring to the $1.5 billion federal program that allows every U.S. household to apply for two $40 coupons to defray converter box costs. Consumers can't begin to apply for coupons until Jan. 1, 2008.

"When the coupons become available, we want to make sure the converter boxes are also available," NAB executive vice president Dennis Wharton said. "Also, NAB plans to have our educational campaign up and running in a big way in 2008 (with PSAs and the like). The last thing we want is to be airing PSAs encouraging people to take advantage of the converter box program, only to find there are no converter boxes in stores."

CEA didn't have an immediate comment on Rehr's letter.

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INDUSTRY NEWS

Wexler Video & Panasonic Sign Preferential Purchase Agreement

Panasonic Broadcast & Television Systems Company has granted Wexler Video a production house purchase agreement. This preferential purchase agreement provides Wexler Video with discounts on rental equipment purchases and ensures that Panasonic production products are readily available to Wexler's clients on a rental basis.

Wexler Video and PBTSC have entered into the agreement for an indefinite term. Going forward, Wexler's discount will apply to purchases from the DVCPRO and P2 families of SD and HD cameras, as well as to AV mixers, studio and convertible cameras in SD and HD, LCD monitors, and plasma displays.

In addition to strategic discounts, the agreement with PBTSC provides Wexler Video with prompt-payment discount terms, the option to participate in seed programs promoting new product introductions, discounts on parts purchases, a cooperative advertising allowance, software upgrades and operational product training at no charge, account manager support, and PBTSC Web site support.

AOL acquires Third Screen Media

AOL has acquired Third Screen Media, a mobile advertising network and mobile ad-serving and management platform provider. Third Screen Media will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of AOL's Advertising.com division.

Third Screen Media connects advertisers, publishers and mobile phone carriers on a common platform, allowing ads to be managed and delivered via WAP, downloadable applications, SMS, MMS and mobile video. The acquisition comes as the mobile advertising industry is growing exponentially.

MySpace TV Channels

MySpace is preparing to launch a series of branded news and entertainment video channels over the next few months. The videos will be available as a separate section within MySpace Video from news outlets including National Geographic, The New York Times, Reuters, and entertainment/lifestyle producers including The Daily Reel, Expert Village, Flow and Fox’s IGN Entertainment.

Jeff Berman, GM of video for MySpace, commented: "We’re empowering our partners to customise their own video channels and use them as hubs to create a niche experience for users. (This) announcement is a sign of things to come for MySpace Video."

These channels will join MySpace Video’s other forthcoming video programs, including reality show, ‘Independent’ and existing features such as the site’s deal with Michael Eisner’s Vuguru to air ‘Prom Queen’, and the launch of a dedicated film trailer community Trailer Park

Disney-ABC TV Group and Sprint in Content Deal

The Disney-ABC Television Group and Sprint announced that Sprint customers can now access a comprehensive portfolio of news and entertainment video programming from ABC Entertainment, ABC News and Disney Channel. The content is available in two forms: on demand and via three “linear” mobile channels, which stream continuous scheduled programming throughout the day.

“Through our partnership with Disney-ABC Television Group, Sprint is offering yet another first in the industry and continuing our leadership not only in mobile video services but in wireless data applications as a whole. Customers can now conveniently access their favorite ABC and Disney shows no matter where they are within Sprint’s nationwide wireless broadband network,” said Oliver Valente, senior vice president, product management and development for Sprint. “Customers can watch programs at the airport while waiting for their flight, at the office during lunch and in the thousands of other scenarios where people have some down time and want a news or entertainment break. Disney Channel programming is also great to keep the kids occupied in the car and in many other locations.”

Video-on-demand shows will be available the day after their television premiere. In general, customers will be able to access the four most recently televised episodes of each series. Beginning this fall, selected entertainment and news on-demand content and linear programming will include advertising in order to provide customers with the most variety of content at the least cost to them.

The content from Disney-ABC Television Group is available via Sprint TV on Sprint’s multiple Power Vision devices. All of the content will be included in the Sprint Power Vision TV Pack, which costs an additional $20 per month. The Sprint Power Vision TV Pack also provides 20 other channels of content as well as exclusive entertainment and sports video from Sprint Power View.

Alternatively, content from Disney Channel only, including the on-demand programs and linear channel, will be available in the Power Vision Access Pack, which costs an additional $15 per month. Both Packs also include unlimited use of several other non-video applications such as web browsing, Picture Mail and mobile email (casual usage charges would apply for access to these applications without a data plan).

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COMPANY NEWS

Chyron Q1 Revenue up 35%

Chyron Corporation announced its results of operations for the first quarter of 2007.

Revenue for the first quarter ended March 31, 2007 was $6.5 million, 35 percent higher than the $4.8 million reported for the first quarter of 2006. As compared to the first quarter of 2006, broadcast graphics revenue of $6.2 increased 35 percent and digital displays revenue of $0.3 million increased 28 percent. Net profit for the first quarter was $44,000, or $0.00 per share, as compared to 2006's first quarter net loss of $511,000, or $0.01 per share.

Michael Wellesley-Wesley, Chyron President and C.E.O., commented, "I have stated previously that 2007 is the year that Chyron must deliver strong revenue growth and in that regard our first quarter year over year revenue gain of 35% represents a promising start. We now have to build upon this through the balance of the year. In 2006, we focused resources on developing many of the new products we launched at NAB in April. These products were very well received by our customers and I am hopeful that demand for these products will result in above trend revenue gains through 2007 and beyond. We expect to gain market share both domestically and internationally and with the launch of our channel branding and mobile products we now address a significantly enlarged market opportunity overall."

"The first quarter has historically been one of the weaker trading periods of our year. I am, therefore, reasonably satisfied with net income of $44,000 as compared with a loss of $511,000 in the first quarter of 2006. However, on the assumption that our revenue growth begins to materialize through the balance of 2007 as anticipated, the operating leverage inherent in our business model should result in profit increases providing we maintain our gross margin at current levels and continue to keep a tight rein on operating expenses," added Mr. Wellesley-Wesley.

Gross margins improved to 68 percent for first quarter 2007 as compared to 65 percent for the comparable prior year's quarter. Operating expenses for the first quarter were $4.4 million, up $0.7 million from the first quarter of 2006, with $0.5 million of the increase in selling, general and administrative costs, up 18 percent, and $0.2 million of the increase in research and development costs, up 22 percent. Operating profit for the quarter was $16,000, which is the net of an operating profit of $570,000 for the broadcast graphics portion of the business and an operating loss of $554,000 for the digital display portion of the business.

DigitalFX Makes Strategic Investment in Fusion

DigitalFX International, Inc. has made a $700,000 investment in Fusion Telecommunications International, Inc. that is furthering DigitalFX's global expansion efforts and creating the first of many synergistic relationships that, among other benefits, combine Fusion's superior voice over internet protocol (VoIP) with DigitalFX's superior streaming video and online digital communication capabilities.

Craig Ellins, Chief Executive Officer of DigitalFX said the new relationship with Fusion gives DigitalFX's 16,000 plus sales affiliates a full service VoIP service benefiting their sales efforts and potentially expediting their customer base reach of 10 countries into Fusion's worldwide marketplace.

Concurrent Raises $14 Million

Concurrent (Nasdaq: CCUR), a worldwide leader of on-demand technology and real-time computing technology, today announced that it has entered into definitive agreements with a group of accredited investors to sell in a private placement 11,200,000 shares of its common stock and warrants to issue up to 2,800,000 shares of common stock. Gross proceeds to Concurrent from the sale of the shares of common stock and warrants are expected to be $14 million. The purchase price for each share of common stock and the related warrant is $1.25. The warrants will have an exercise price of $1.62 per share. Concurrent plans to use the proceeds of the private placement for general corporate purposes including working capital and capital expenditures. Neither the shares of Concurrent's common stock nor the warrants to be issued in connection with the private placement have been registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended. Accordingly, these securities may not be offered or sold in the United States, except pursuant to an effective registration statement or an applicable exemption from the registration requirements of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended. Concurrent has agreed to file a registration statement covering the resale of the common stock as well as the common stock which can be acquired upon exercise of warrants issued in connection with the private placement. This press release shall not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy such common stock or warrants.

Digieffects acquired by Robert Sharp

Digieffects, who develop a range software plug-ins for Adobe After Effects and Apple Final Cut Pro has agreed to be acquired by Robert Sharp, a veteran of the digital media industry. Robert, formerly of Terran Interactive and Canopus has agreed to acquire Digieffects and take over management of the company immediately.

Over the next few months, Digieffects will focus on working with users to update products in the short-term as well as define a long-term product roadmap. Users are invited to voice their opinions and ideas at feedback@digieffects.com or the Toolfarm Digieffects forum.

Toolfarm, Inc., the leading distributor and information source for video plug-ins has been appointed exclusive distributor for all Digieffects products. This partnership will enhance Digieffect's presence in the market along with the new design at the Digieffects website.

Scopus Q1 Revenue and Profits up Slightly

Scopus Video Networks Ltd., a provider of digital video networking products, today announced its results for the first quarter of 2007, ending March 31, 2007.

Revenues for the first quarter totaled $12.3 million, a 1.2% sequential increase from the $12.1 million revenues in the fourth quarter of 2006, and a 7.7% increase from the first quarter of 2006. The breakdown of revenue by region was 48% in EMEA, 30% in Asia and Pacific Rim and 22% in the Americas.

Gross profit in the first quarter of 2007 was $6.1 million compared with $6.0 million in the prior quarter, and $5.7 million in the first quarter 2006. Gross profit as a percentage of revenues was 50%, at a similar level when compared to both the prior quarter and the first quarter of 2006.

Pro-forma net loss for the first quarter of 2007, which excludes expenses related to stock based compensation as defined under FAS123R was $730 thousand, or $0.05 per share, compared to a net loss of $417 thousand, or $0.03 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2006, and a net profit of $60 thousand, in the first quarter of 2006.

"I am pleased with our progress and our first quarter results, which came in better than our expectations in all parameters: revenues, gross margin and positive operating cash flow," commented Dr. Yaron Simler, CEO of Scopus. "We saw good progress across the world. In the United States in particular, the splicing application of the IVG product has now advanced to the field trial stage in several locations with top-tier MSOs. This important milestone is another step forward in the execution of our strategy to penetrate leading US MSOs with our IVG product."

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PRODUCT NEWS

Apple releases Pro Application Support 4.0

Apple released Pro Application Support 4.0, which is an update to the supporting tools and Frameworks for the Pro Applications suite, aka Final Cut Studio. According to Apple this update improves general user interface reliability for Apple's professional applications and is recommended for all users of Final Cut Studio, Final Cut Pro, Motion, Soundtrack Pro, DVD Studio Pro, Aperture, Final Cut Express HD, Soundtrack, Logic Pro and Logic Express.

MacFixIt reports some minor issues with running Aperture after the update. (The MacFixIt link will disappear behind a paywall within days.)

The update is available via Software Update or stand-alone installer.

LaserPacific Unveils accurateIMAGE (aIM)

LaserPacific Media Corporation has unveiled accurateIMAGE (aIM), a color-calibrated workflow system that calibrates, connects and integrates all devices used for displaying images in various digital formats. It is utilized on set and for dailies, previews, the digital intermediate and distribution.

The system is designed to faithfully maintain the look created by cinematographers throughout every step of post-production. The aIM process also applies any color decisions or changes made during the early stages of the project to subsequent steps in the workflow. This eliminates the need to start over and recreate a look that had been previously dialed in.

The process incorporates proprietary Kodak color science coupled with LaserPacific's technology. It also supports the Color Decision List (CDL) developed by the American Society of Cinematographer's Technology Committee, which allows color decisions made on set to transfer easier and more accurately to the next level, and all the way through to color correction and final release.

The cinematographer documents a range of set ups during production with digital stills, which he or she manipulates with a personal computer to fine tune looks. The teleciné colorist uses the cinematographer's still images as a roadmap for creating digital dailies. An aIM DailiesPlayer is used to view dailies with an aIM digital projector. All devices used during the process are calibrated.

The images are encrypted for security and a proprietary Look Up Table (LUT) automatically adjusts the projected images to mimic film projection. The cinematographer can make adjustments in color balance using standard printer light controls that mimic film timing. His or her changes are exported to a CDL that is integrated into the workflow and used as the starting point for digital previews and DI timing.

Softimage Launches Alienbrain 8

Avid Technology announced the worldwide availability of Alienbrain® 8 software. Developed by Avid’s Softimage subsidiary, Alienbrain is an asset management system that enables CG artists to visually track, control versions, manage, and share any kind of digital document – from 3D game assets and models to complex visualization files. Alienbrain 8 software introduces powerful plug-ins that easily integrate with leading 3D and digital content creation applications, so artists can seamlessly edit, save, and collaborate during all stages of the digital production process. Starting at the USMSRP of $495, Alienbrain 8 software offers accelerated and scalable solutions that meet the needs of growing global collaborative networks.

Starting at USMSRP $495, all versions of Alienbrain 8 software are available from the Softimage sales team or a certified reseller. Upgrades to existing licenses are also available. For more information and pricing, locate and contact your local reseller at: www.softimage.com/products/alienbrain.

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PEOPLE IN THE NEWS

New SMPTE Appointments

The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers announced the hiring of two new staff members for key leadership positions. Peter Symes will join the Society as Director of Standards & Engineering at the end of June. Heather Tomko recently joined as Director of Marketing.

Peter Symes has nearly 40 years experience in broadcast television and is currently manager, advanced technology for Grass Valley, Inc. In this role he is the liaison among many groups on a range of technology topics, with emphasis on issues related to industry standards and patents.

Peter began his television career in the planning and installation department of the British Broadcasting Corporation, where he led a group responsible for acquisition and installation of studio cameras and related systems. Subsequently he worked in product management roles in Philips and at Central Dynamics Limited in Montreal.

He moved to the United States in 1983, joining Grass Valley Group as a product manager responsible for products including the 300-series production switcher and the Kaleidoscope digital effects system. During his 23+ years with the company he has represented Grass Valley in a number of organizations including ATSC and SMPTE. He holds several patents and is the joint recipient of an Emmy award for the architecture of a digital picture processor.

In recent years Peter worked closely with internal and external legal teams on a range of intellectual property issues, and has contributed to the patent policies of both ATSC and SMPTE.

Peter has written and presented numerous papers at industry conferences, is the author of Digital Video Compression, published by McGraw-Hill, and has taught compression technology in many venues, including the UCLA short course program.

He has been a member of SMPTE for some 30 years and is a Fellow of the Society. During these years he has chaired numerous committees, founded the Sacramento Section, served on the Board of Governors, and as Engineering Director, Television, Engineering Vice President, and Financial Vice President.

Heather Tomko comes to SMPTE with a creative and marketing background, having recently served as Director, Creative Services for the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers. During her eight-year tenure at SCTE, she received three promotions for her outstanding service to the Society, increasingly giving her more responsibility in the marketing and communications department. Tomko graduated cum laude from Salisbury University.

Sinclair Names General Manager of WSMH-TV

Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. announced that John Hummel has been named General Manager of WSMH-TV (FOX 66) in the Flint/Saginaw/Bay City, Michigan market. The announcement was made by Steve Marks, Chief Operating Officer of Sinclair's television group.

Mr. Hummel has over 20 years in television sales. Most recently and from 2005 he was involved in the restaurant business. From 2001 to 2005, Mr. Hummel served as Vice President/General Sales Manager for FOX owned/operated television stations. From 1997 to 2001, he was Senior Vice President and Director of Sales for Petry Media Corporations' FOX television stations. From 1996 to 1997, Mr. Hummel was the General Sales Manager for WUHF-TV in Rochester, now owned by Sinclair. From 1992 to 1996, he served as Director of Sales and Operations for Tribune Plus and prior to that held various positions within the Tribune organization. Mr. Hummel started his broadcast career with the national rep firm, Petry Television. Mr. Hummel holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Mary's of the Plains College.

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RESEARCH NEWS

SCRI RESEARCH NEWS

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

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    Data from SCRI's definitive, extensive & annually updated (since 1984) survey among U.S. broadcast and pro video facilities, tracking purchase history & purchase plans for each of twenty five specific product types, analyzing market size, trends, growth patterns, brand shares and industry trends, is now available. This 27 volume series of Product Reports (25 Product Reports along with a Micro and Macro Industry Executive Summary) is ready to ship to clients pre-NAB.

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    Contact info@scri.com for more information and/or to place an order.

    OTHER RESEARCH NEWS

  • Almost 50% of Europe watches TV online US Internet video audience double Cable TV

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