Insider Reporter

Insider Report

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

w/e November 11, 2007 SCRI International, Inc © 1984 - 2007


Technology News | Industry News | Company News |
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Video phone sales to double by 2010

Sales of mobile video phones hit close to $58 billion worldwide in 2006 and are forecast to more than double to nearly $125 billion by 2010, accoroding to a report by Infonetics Research.

Explosive growth in mobile video subscribers is forecast as well, jumping from a few million in 2006 to 58.6 million in 2010, the report suggests. Drivers for this strong growth include increasingly powerful and efficient phones and the analogue broadcast signal switch-offs.

"Despite some concerns around the business plan and subscriber take rates, major service providers continue to move forward with their mobile video network rollouts. They’re taking advantage of spectrum availability, thanks to the switch-off of analogue TV broadcasting networks, and the pressure to get services rolled out before next year's Summer Olympics in Beijing and the European Soccer Championship," said Jeff Heynen, directing analyst for broadband and IPTV at Infonetics.

"In addition, governments are very quickly lining up behind various mobile video technologies to help facilitate deployments, with the EU’s endorsement of DVB-H and the Chinese government’s sponsorship of CMMB being the 2 most visible efforts," Heynen added.

Digital radio market to experience global market growth

The worldwide digital radio market is on a roll, with unit sales expected to increase more than three-fold from 2006 to 2011, reports In-Stat, the high-tech market research firm. Recent developments include the availability of the enhanced Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB)+ standard in the UK, an increase in the number of DAB trials throughout Europe and Asia, and the introduction of mobile devices with integrated DAB support.

"From a regional standpoint, DAB technology is close to mass-market appeal in the UK, and is the pervasive digital radio technology throughout Europe," says Stephanie Ethier, In-Stat analyst. "Satellite radio remains the leading platform for digital radio in the US, despite notable progress in HD Radio awareness."

Research by In-Stat found that the global market for digital radio will grow from 9 million units in 2006 to almost 32 million units in 2011. Increased choice of programming continues to be the primary driver of digital radio ownership.

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Gray Television Q3 Revenue Down

Gray Television announced results from operations for the three months and nine months ended September 30, 2007 as compared to the three months and nine months ended September 30,2006.

On an as reported basis, total net revenue for all stations decreased $7.0 million, or 9%, to $73.6 million due primarily to decreased political advertising revenues and decreased national advertising revenues partially offset by increased local advertising revenue in the current period.

The total revenue results anticipated for the fourth quarter of 2007 reflect the incremental decline in political revenues. Local non-political advertising is currently anticipated to increase between 5% and 8%.

LIN TV Q3 Income Operating Down

LIN TV Corp. reported results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2007. Operating income for the three months ended September 30, 2007 was $18.3 million, compared to $23.1 million for the same period in 2006. Income from continuing operations for the three months ended September 30, 2007 was $2.6 million, compared to $3.7 million in the third quarter of 2006. Decreases in operating income and income from continuing operations were primarily driven by lower political advertising in the current off-election year.

“Despite the tough comparison with record 2006 political advertising and a persistent challenge in the automotive advertising area, our stations continued to drive local new business development efforts and gain important cost efficiencies during the quarter,” said Vincent L. Sadusky, president and chief executive officer of LIN TV. “We also made strong progress this quarter to strategically advance our Internet initiatives and launch a number of exciting new interactive products. We continue to believe we have the right infrastructure, content and sales teams in place to position ourselves well for the remainder of the year and into 2008.”

Early praise for Hulu

NBC Universal and News Corp’s online video venture Hulu has received praise for its ease of use and advertising structure from a group of Beta-testers following its launch last month. But the group questioned its limitations on content, such as the fact that it can’t be downloaded or viewed internationally.

When the site officially launches in the coming months, it will have close to 1,000 hours of content from Fox, NBC and various other studio partners, nearly doubling the current amount of content it has now, according to CEO Jason Kilar. Hulu will update that content every day, adding new clips as frequently as every 15 minutes.

Hulu’s advertising structure, which sees ads fitted according to the length of content, has also been commended by testers.

Nexstar Broadcasting Q3 Up

Nexstar Broadcasting Group reported financial results for the third quarter and nine months ended September 30, 2007. Net revenue for the quarter ended September 30, 2007 grew to $64.5 million from $63.6 million in the third quarter of 2006. Income from operations was $8.3 million for the three months ended September 30, 2007 compared with $9.8 million in the quarter ended September 30, 2006. The Company reported a basic and diluted net loss per share of $0.24 for the three months ended September 30, 2007 compared to a basic and diluted net loss per share of $0.14 in the third quarter of 2006.

Perry A. Sook, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Inc., commented, “The record third quarter net revenue and free cash flow extend Nexstar’s track record of consistently out-performing the industry, meeting or exceeding financial guidance, and increasing value for our shareholders. Our retransmission consent agreements and new media revenue diversification strategies combined with accretive transactions are overcoming the ‘odd year/even year’ revenue disparity related to political advertising. For example, approximately $6.3 million in political advertising revenue was generated in the year ago third quarter compared with $0.8 million of third quarter political revenue this year. Nevertheless, year-to-date in 2007, Nexstar has delivered gains in net revenue, broadcast cash flow, EBITDA and free cash flow compared with the same period in 2006.

Univision Q3

Univision Communications announced financial results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2007. For the third quarter, net revenue increased 9.8%1 to $529.1 million from $481.9 million in the third quarter of 2006, excluding 2006 FIFA World Cup estimated incremental net revenues of $24.7 million.

Joe Uva, Chief Executive Officer, said, “I am extremely pleased that Univision has continued the positive momentum of last quarter, producing third quarter operational and financial results that demonstrate strengthened fundamentals and, combined with last quarter’s gains, solidify our platform for future growth across all of our core businesses. During the quarter, the Univision Network ranked as the #3 broadcast network in the country in primetime for the entire quarter, with a young adult audience larger than CBS, ABC and CW. Univision Radio has sustained very strong revenue growth, while continued to grow in strides, underscoring its position as the #1 Internet destination among Hispanics.”

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Chyron Q3 Revenue & Profits Up

Chyron Corporation announced that for its third quarter ended September 30, the Company generated net income of $0.9 million on revenues of $8.7 million. For the first nine months of 2007 the Company reported net income of $1.6 million on revenues of $23.0 million.

Third quarter revenues of $8.7 million were $2.3 million or thirty-six percent higher than the comparable prior year's quarter. Revenues of $23.0 million for the first nine months were $3.1 million or sixteen percent higher than the $19.9 million reported for the first nine months of 2006.

Third quarter net income of $0.9 million was four and a half times higher than the $0.2 million reported for the prior year's third quarter, and net income for the nine months of $1.6 million was $0.3 million or twenty three percent higher than the $1.3 million reported for the first nine months of the prior year. Diluted net income per share for the third quarter was $0.06 as compared to the $0.01 for the third quarter of 2006, and diluted net income per share for the nine months was $0.10 as compared to $0.09 for the prior year's nine month period.

Michael Wellesley-Wesley, Chyron President and CEO, commented, "This has been a significant quarter for Chyron. Revenues are now beginning to grow at an above trend rate and because of our control of costs both at the gross margin and operating level this top line growth is beginning to result in strong gains in operating profits. This provides a positive foundation to our recent listing on the American Stock Exchange. Other significant third quarter events included the signing of an agreement with NBC Universal to supply graphics systems, the first shipment of graphics systems to NBC Universal, strong sales growth in EAME with Sky Sports News adopting Chyron as single graphics supplier and the first major beta test for within a family restaurant chain."

Thomson Q3 sales down, broadcast recovering

Thomson SA posted a lower-than-expected 2.2 percent decline in third-quarter sales, as a weak dollar shaved $85.10 million off revenue.

But relief the broadcast equipment business, which had been a weak spot in the first half, was recovering and a prediction the fourth quarter would be profitable and cash generative, with a slight revenue growth acceleration, reassured investors.

"Revenue is below expectations but overall the DVD business shows resilience and the broadcast equipment business is recovering," said analyst Remi Thomas from CA Cheuvreux.

"We expect Thomson to generate free cash flow of 245 million euros in 2007 and 400 million euros in 2008," he added.

Thomson predicted revenue growth would slightly accelerate at constant currency in the fourth quarter 2007 from the 2.1 percent achieved in the third quarter, thanks to the launch of new products and new client gains

Chief Financial Officer Julian Waldron declined to provide a detailed revenue growth forecast for the full year. He told a conference call that 2007 growth should "not be far from the revenue growth we experienced since three quarters".

Revenue grew 4.7 percent in the first nine-months of 2007 at constant currency.

Thomson has transformed itself since 2004, exiting electronic consumer businesses such as TV manufacturing.

The group's main drivers are its media and entertainment businesses, which include activities like DVD replication, film post-production, professional broadcasting equipment and TV set-top boxes.

Microsoft signs $500m IPTV deal with Reliance

Microsoft has entered into a $500 million deal with Reliance to launch IPTV and allied services in India. The IPTV service will be launched in Mumbai and Delhi by March 2008, to be followed gradually by other metros.

CEO Microsoft Steve Ballmer said: "Reliance is about to change the way consumers experience television. TV is the only digital device that has been left out of the networking revolution. Microsoft and Reliance are now making TV a 'first class citizen' in the connected entertainment landscape." Ballmer said that very soon India and the US would be the largest IPTV market in the world. The service will be powered by Microsoft's Mediaroom IPTV software.

Andrew sells satellite business

Andrew Corporation is to sell its satellite communications business to Resilience Capital Partners. The private equity firm has agreed to pay upwards of $39 million in total potential cash, in addition to an ownership stake in the new satellite company that Resilience will establish with the acquired Andrew assets.

Optibase Q3 Revenue Down , Net Loss Up

Optibase, Ltd. announced financial results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2007. Revenues for the third quarter ended September 30, 2007, were $5.2 million compared with $6.7 million in the second quarter of 2007 and $4.3 million for the same period a year ago.

Net loss for the quarter ended September 30, 2007, was $1.6 million or $0.12 per basic and fully diluted share, compared with a net loss of $1.2 million or $0.09 per basic and fully diluted share for the second quarter of 2007 and with a net loss of $589,000 or $0.04 per basic and fully diluted share for the third quarter of 2006.

For the nine months ended September 30, 2007, revenues totaled $17.4 million, compared with $12.6 million for the same period in 2006. Net loss for the period was $3.3 million or $0.24 per basic and fully diluted share, compared to a net loss of $3 million or $0.22 per basic and fully diluted share for the nine months ended September 30, 2006. Weighted average shares outstanding used in the calculation for the periods were approximately 13.6 million and 13.4 million respectively.

Amir Philips, CFO of Optibase, said, “We have continued to make progress toward achieving our primary financial and strategic goals. Our revenue increased 19.75% for the quarter and 37.7% for the first nine months and our gross margins are back to historical levels following last quarter’s product mix-related decline.

“Also, there were several contract wins in enterprise, or non-telco markets, an area that represent a growing opportunity for Optibase, which we hope to report on in the future. These wins, including announced IPTV installations at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and Vancouver Airport, are good examples of the adaptability of Optibase’s technology for use outside the traditional telco-TV market.

“Notwithstanding our recent success in the enterprise arena, we are also making steady progress within the more traditional telco market outside of the United States/North America. Bharti Airtel, a carrier with service in 94 cities in India, chose Optibase’s MGW 5100 IPTV encoding platforms for its planned IPTV service offerings. Additionally, our strategy to partner with local systems integrators yielded an installation in Spain.

“We further strengthened our executive suite as Yossi Aloni was named president of Optibase Inc. in the United States and Eli Sharon had joined the Company as vice president of research & development. Both Yossi and Eli have considerable experience in the video and broadcast markets, and we believe both will be great assets in taking Optibase to the next level.”

He concluded, “We remain pleased with the progress we are making, both broadly and within the individual markets we serve. While our revenues were down on a sequential basis, we view Q2 as an anomaly given the high concentration of third-party equipment we sold and are encouraged by our growth as compared to the third quarter of 2006.”

Scopus Q3 Hits Record

Scopus Video Networks announced its results for the third quarter of 2007, ending September 30, 2007. Total revenues reached a record $15.2 million, a 33% year over year increase. Revenues for the third quarter totaled $15.2 million, a 12.3% sequential increase from the $13.5 million revenues in the prior quarter, and a 33% increase from the third quarter of 2006. The breakdown of revenue by region was 51% in EMEA, 30% in Asia and the Pacific Rim and 19% in the Americas. Gross profit in the third quarter of 2007 was $7.3 million compared with $6.5 million in the prior quarter, and $5.2 million in the third quarter of 2006. Gross profit as a percentage of revenues was 48%.

"In the third quarter, we continued the strong progress we have made throughout the year," commented Dr. Yaron Simler, CEO of Scopus. "Most significantly, we reached our goal of becoming profitable. The quarter also marked our continued improvement in the business fundamentals demonstrated by our lower inventory levels and better DSOs which led to our record operating cash flow in the quarter of $2.7 million. Our strong pipeline of new features and products, together with our penetration of larger customers with bigger deals, gives us confidence in our continued revenue growth."

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Product Review: NewTek TriCaster Studio

This report is by Heath McKnight at SCRI's online partner, Digital Media Net.

NewTek’s TriCaster STUDIO is a powerful hardware device that packs everything you’d find in a television production truck or studio, into a small box, about the size of a standard field monitor. The most attractive item is the price: you won’t be paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to get professional quality HD and SD video production, both live and taped.

The TriCaster STUDIO is a production truck in a box, allowing up to six cameras to switch between, live keying with green or blue screen, multiple I/O ports, widescreen support (hey, we’re moving into an HD world, so this is a bonus), the capability to do live streaming over the Internet and much, much more.

Some other features that take me back to my days of working in television news include the capability to call up two pieces of b-roll to cue up and play during a broadcast, much like a technical director would punch up the video that was cued up in two different VTR decks by the Video Tape Operator. Virtual background sets are a plus, too, especially as we move into the high definition world. Having to construct expensive background sets that will look good in HD can cost a lot of money, but a virtual set takes that problem out of the equation. But that’s only scratching the surface.

Don showed us all the highlights, including how effective and “smart” the virtual sets are. You set up your talent, then indicate in the TriCaster STUDIO if you’re cameras are 4:3 or 16:9 (Standard Definition only, up to six cameras total), then you can begin recording, up to 20 hours, in the unit, while switching live between cameras and angles. If you have one camera, you can go from a medium shot behind the desk to a wide shot. The TriCaster STUDIO is “smart” enough to allow not only a wider angle without changing the shot in camera, but it also accounts for real-world reflection on the desk, floor, etc., all in real time. There are many virtual sets to choose from to fit your production and event needs.

You have two “virtual” VTR decks that can have video loaded, ready to roll. If you have multiple clips, you indicate which ones you want and load them into a que on both VTR decks. As your broadcast or event is playing out, you can punch up the footage between the decks. For example, if it’s a news broadcast, you can have clips 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 in VTR one, then clips 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 in VTR two, ready to roll when the story comes up.

You can do Chyron (titles) in real-time, along with cutting video in a “light” version of SpeedEDIT . Don showed Pat and I how, while the video is playing out, he can add a new clip or quick Chyron at the end of the video! I plan on doing a review of the full version of SpeedEDIT very soon

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New managing editor of DV Magazine

NewBay Media L.L.C. announced the appointment of Douglas Bankston as the new managing editor of DV magazine. Bankston will work closely with DV editor-in-chief David E. Williams and Video Group editorial director Cristina Clapp in shaping the content of the print publication as well as and the weekly DV newsletter. The DV team is based in Los Angeles.

For eight years, Bankston served as a staff editor at American Cinematographer magazine, where he covered production and post techniques and technologies. Overseeing AC’s “New Products & Services” department, Bankston has closely tracked the latest developments in digital acquisition, editing systems, lighting gear, grip accessories and much more. He was also a contributing writer to the 8th edition of the esteemed ASC Film Manual, the “cinematographer’s Bible” which received a special Award of Commendation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in 2002.

New Time Warner CEO

Dick Parsons is to step down as chief executive of media giant Time Warner. Parsons will be replaced by Jeff Bewkes, the company's president and chief operating officer, on January 1st next year. Bewkes had been chief executive at HBO where he was credited with building it into a profit driver for the company with original programming, movies and sports.

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Broadband Video Market Report

Recent news concerning NBC and News Corporation’s Hulu joint-venture includes the launch of its recent site in beta mode, signaling that the broadband video market has entered into a new phase.

During initial phases of the broadband video market, TV networks would partner with key video aggregation sites to offer limited amounts of content online. Hulu – a destination site and a content syndication network for NBC Universal and News Corp’s video content – now suggests a larger shift to a market where large content owners dictate terms and garner larger portions of the overall revenue associated with these shows.

“ABI Research believes that while content aggregators will continue to play an important role in this space, control for premium TV content distribution will shift back to the networks, as they create their own syndication networks for these shows on the Internet,” says Michael Wolf, research director. “As online audiences grow, networks realize that the Internet is an important distribution medium for content both in its original broadcast form and in new ways which take advantage of the interactive nature of IP-based video distribution.”

While online distribution networks like Hulu and CBS Interactive Audience Network will play an essential role in online distribution for professionally produced TV content, ABI Research believes that much of the overall market remains out of the control of traditional broadcast television stakeholders.

User-generated content creates a new method for talent to side-step traditional network structures in the broadcast world and to reach wide audiences – while new time- and place-shifting technologies place more power into the hands of patrons with respect to consuming video.

“We see accelerating shifts in how consumers absorb video content,” Wolf continues. “Empowered consumers are choosing the time and place to watch video, and are presented with a host of new viewing options outside of the traditional linear broadcast model.”

“Although ABI Research believes professional TV content will continue to be a staple in a consumer’s video diet, we foresee a teasing appetite for video entertainment by way of new sources and diverse mediums.”


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