Insider Reporter


Insider Report

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

w/e October 21, 2007 SCRI International, Inc © 1984 - 2007

INDEX

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

TECHNOLOGY NEWS

YouTube Video Identification

Google unveiled new software to fight video piracy on YouTube and ease the concerns of critical media content providers. Google has begun offering what it's calling "YouTube Video Identification," which will make it easier for the likes of to identify their content and to manage how it is made available on the site, it is meant to identify potentially infringing video content.

Google said nine media firms, including Walt Disney and Time Warner, participated in a test of the product. Several other media firms, including Viacom, also said they were encouraged by the new effort, but said Google and YouTube have some amount of goodwill to make up to copyright owners.

"We're delighted that Google appears to be stepping up to its responsibility and ending the practice of profiting from infringement," said Mike Fricklas, general counsel of Viacom.

YouTube's announcement may have been designed to pre-empt a planned announcement from several media and technology companies for a set of principles for user-generated content Web sites. These are said to include a recognition of the importance of technology to keep pirated material off sites like YouTube.

Internet TV Growing

The number of people watching internet TV has increased steadily year on year according to Continental Research’s Autumn 2007 Internet & Convergence Report. In particular the number watching shows they have previously downloaded from the Internet has doubled from 1.3 million in 2006 to 2.4 million in 2007.

There is also substantial interest in Internet TV amongst non users. In addition to the 2.9 million who have already watched streamed TV online, a further 2.4 million say they are likely to in the next year. Downloaded TV looks set to grow even faster with current users being potentially swelled by a further 3.3 million likely to download TV.

Helping to explain the growth of Internet TV, satisfaction amongst those viewing TV online is generally positive, with only 12 per cent not satisfied with the service overall. The areas with the greatest dissatisfaction relate to the size of the picture and the quality of the sound and picture. Myring said: "Whilst watching via a PC offers a much greater screen size than watching via a mobile phone (the numbers watching mobile TV has actually not increased in the last year), there is still a significant number dissatisfied with the screen size. In a world where TV screens get bigger and bigger, people have a much higher expectation of screen size.

Spectrum scarcity to block mobile TV until 2010?

The number of mobile broadcast TV subscribers in Western Europe is expected to pass 20m by 2011, according to a new report from Juniper Research. However, following the exit of the BT/Virgin Mobile DAB-IP offering from the market, the UK is not expected to re-launch mobile broadcast TV services until 2010 at the very earliest, well behind most of its European neighbours.

According to report author Dr Windsor Holden, "After the successful launch of DVB-H-based services in Italy, many other Western European countries have either drawn up or are drawing up licensing procedures for mobile broadcast TV services. However, the fact that optimal UHF spectrum will not be made available in the UK for several years effectively prevents any medium-term deployment of such services."

The report adds that while service providers could opt to utilise L-Band spectrum as an alternative, the additional infrastructure expenditure involved would probably mean that such a venture would not be cost-effective. It also recommends that, wherever possible, operators should seek to share broadcast network infrastructure as in Germany, where T-Mobile, O2 and Vodafone are planning to utilise a single DVB-H network.

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INDUSTRY NEWS

Echostar shares up on AT&T speculation

EchoStar Communications Corp shares rose 4 per cent on speculation that US telco giant AT&T could buy the satellite television provider within a year. Echostar's television service would complement AT&T's efforts to expand a high-speed fibre network it is building to sell TV services to better compete with cable and telecommunications rivals.

DTV Cable Demand in Europe Growing

European cable industry trade body Cable Europe, has revealed that cable TV operators in Europe added more than two million digital TV customers in the first half of 2007. The cable industry is expected to count more than 16 million digital TV customers by year-end 2007, that would be a record growth of sixty per cent plus, year-on-year.

Cable Europe executives announced the figures at ‘Cable meets Content’, an event bringing together senior management from both the cable and content industries, concurrently with television programming market MIPCOM in Cannes.

The event also focused on how the cable industry could further monetise its fast growing digital TV customer base by providing interactive and enhanced advertisement services. One possibility that emerged was to enable better targeted TV advertising.

Thierry Bouffioux, CEO Greenwich Consulting Benelux, concluded that cable entering the advertisement business was not only an opportunity to drive new incremental revenues, but also allowed cable to engage in the evolution shift of the TV model and provide additional service value that should protect from end user churn.

US networks will spend $327m+ promoting DTV

US broadcasters promised to air more than $327 million worth of television spots as part of a campaign to alert consumers about the approaching switch-over to digital television. The major television networks, as well as 95 station-owning broadcast companies, pledged to run the ads as part of a $697 million campaign designed to keep viewers from being caught short when broadcasters switch to digital signals by February 17, 2009.

The federal government plans to subsidize the cost of buying a digital STB by offering $40 discount coupons to anyone who owns an analog television.

The campaign, announced by the National Association of Broadcasters, will also include repeated reminders on local news stations, as well as public relations and other educational programmes designed to raise public awareness of about the switch-over.

Media General September 2007 Revenues Down

Media General, Inc. reported September 2007 total revenues of $73.7 million, a 7.3 percent decrease from September 2006. By business segment, Publishing Division total revenues decreased 7 percent, mostly reflecting continued weakness in Classified advertising; Broadcast Division total revenues decreased 9 percent, due to lower Political advertising in this off-election year; and Interactive Media Division total revenues rose 25.7 percent.

In the Broadcast Division, gross time sales decreased $3.5 million, or 10.1 percent, due to lower Political spending in this off-election year. Political revenues of $1.4 million in the month, although stronger than anticipated, compared to $6.8 million last September and represented spending for Presidential candidates and image campaigns in the current year in Florida and South Carolina, gubernatorial and lieutenant governor races in Louisiana, Mississippi and Kentucky as well as issue advertising in Florida, Louisiana, Kentucky, South Carolina and Georgia.

Local time sales increased $635,000, or 3.5 percent, primarily due to higher spending in the automotive, department store and media categories, partially offset by lower furniture and fast food advertising. National time sales rose $1.3 million, or 12.8 percent, as a result of higher spending in the telecommunications, corporate and furniture categories.

Interactive Media Division revenues increased 25.7 percent, reflecting significantly higher revenues from the advergaming business, strong growth in National/Regional and Local advertising and revenues from the Yahoo!HotJobs employment initiative. Classified revenues rose 2 percent, with all markets exceeding last year except for Tampa. Revenues from the Yahoo!HotJobs initiative helped mitigate the overall softness in online Classified advertising.

Local online revenues grew 44.2 percent over 2006, primarily due to a continued focus on direct sales. National/Regional advertising increased 51.4 percent, reflecting higher spending from national agencies. Advergaming revenues more than doubled from last year. Page views were down slightly from last year, while visitor sessions increased 3.5 percent, excluding the new NBC station Web sites. These results reflected fewer weather-related events this year, which are leading traffic drivers.

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COMPANY NEWS

Paramount funds D Cinema

Paramount Pictures International has agreed to help fund European cinemas which are installing new generation projectors. Hollywood studios and exhibitors have tussled over who should bear the cost of the upgrade, with cinema owners arguing that studios should pay a "virtual print fee" as it will be cheaper for them to distribute their films electronically than at a cost of $1,200 per traditional film reel.

Paramount did not disclose the terms of its deal with Arts Alliance Media, a London-based film distribution services group. AAM struck similar deals in June with Twentieth Century Fox and Universal Pictures International which will enable the conversion of 7,000 European screens over two years.

Avid Q3 Conference Call

Avid Technology, Inc. will hold a conference call to review its financial results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2007, on Thursday, October 25, 2007, at 5:00 p.m. EDT, following the dissemination of its press release on those results.

The dial-in number is: 719.457.2617 ; The replay number is: 719.457.0820 The confirmation code and replay passcode are: 8148060 .

The call will also be available via live audio webcast and subsequent replay on the company’s website. To listen via this alternative, go to the Investor Relations page under the About Us menu at www.avid.com.

Best Buy Exits the Analog TV Business

As the end of the analog broadcast era draws near, Best Buy, the nation’s largest consumer electronics retailer, is taking steps to create a smooth transition to digital television (DTV) for all consumers. That’s why Best Buy today announced that they have pulled all remaining analog television products from store shelves and will only sell digital video tuners in the future. The company also announced that they will participate in the NTIA DTV Converter Box Coupon Program to help people purchase digital converter boxes for their analog televisions. Coupon-eligible converter boxes will be available in Best Buy stores beginning in early 2008.

Best Buy is the first CE retailer to publicly announce an exit from the analog television business. Stores were instructed to stop selling these products on October 1, 2007.

“We are committed to helping people understand the digital television transition, and exiting the analog video business is one way we can help avoid confusion,” said Mike Vitelli, senior vice president of electronics for Best Buy. “Customers can now be sure that any television they purchase at Best Buy will be fully compliant with the digital television transition. And for customers who aren’t in the market for a new television, we can help you find the best solution to meet your needs.”

Best Buy has been providing in store and online information about the DTV transition since early 2006. Brochures are available in stores and detailed information can be found on BestBuy.com. Best Buy’s home theater specialists have also been trained to answer questions and help customers figure out the best way to comply with the DTV transition. These education efforts will continue to grow through the remainder of 2007 all the way through the transition date in February 2009.

TANDBERG Reports Third Quarter 2007 Results

TANDBERG® announced financial results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2007. Third quarter revenues were 165.3 MUSD compared with 109.6 MUSD in the same quarter last year. Gross margin for the quarter was 65.5%, compared with 67.9% in the same quarter last year. Selling, general & administrative (SG&A) expenses for 3Q07 totaled 62.9 MUSD, compared with 45.5 MUSD in the same quarter last year. Operating profit was 38.7 MUSD compared with 24.9 MUSD in the same quarter last year. Earnings per share (after tax) were 0.218 USD in 3Q07 compared with 0.164 USD in the same quarter last year.

Reviewing third quarter results, Fredrik Halvorsen, Chief Executive Officer, stated, “Video is becoming an integral component of a total IP solution. TANDBERG’s healthy topline growth in the third quarter reflects this industry trend. The Company executed solidly, strengthened by continued investment in sales and R&D.

To pursue a leadership role in the larger IP communications market, the Company acquired Codian, an award-winning infrastructure provider. The acquisition provides additional resources for accelerating technology innovation. The integration is well underway and well received by customers, partners, and employees of both companies.

To take advantage of the IP communication market opportunity and establish a distinct position as a provider of Natural Communication, TANDBERG continues to execute along the three priorities outlined for 2007:

Sustain strong operating fundamentals: The Company balanced long term and short term execution in the field. Address areas of opportunity in the core business in 2007: TANDBERG has been expanding at the high end of the market with telepresence. In the third quarter, HP announced the HP Halo Gateway, based on TANDBERG technology. The Gateway links HP telepresence studios with standards-based videoconferencing systems. In addition, personal telepresence systems such as the 1700 MXP are gaining importance in this market. HP and TANDBERG are committed to an ongoing partnership.

Invest aggressively to capture the converged IP communication opportunity: TANDBERG’s acquisition of Codian positions the Company to pursue a leadership role in the larger IP communications market. The transaction closed on September 24, 2007 and is already providing customers with a robust platform for large scale HD videoconferencing deployments, and will accelerate innovation. The integration of Codian is proceeding with minimal disruption to the business, and support for Codian Multipoint Control Units in the TANDBERG Management Suite has been made available.

The TANDBERG Video Communication Server (VCS) was launched in 3Q as a key part of the Company’s SIP strategy. The VCS promotes personalized video with the FindMe™ feature, which allows users to set dialing destinations for incoming calls. Calls are completed every time, reaching a person instead of a device.

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PRODUCT NEWS

Apple to Ship Mac OS X Leopard

Apple announced that Mac OS(R) X Leopard will go on sale Friday, October 26 at 6:00 p.m. at Apple's retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers, and that Apple's online store is now accepting pre-orders. Leopard is packed with more than 300 new features and introduces a brand new desktop with Stacks, a new way to easily access files from the Dock; a redesigned Finder that lets users quickly browse and share files between multiple Macs; Quick Look, a new way to instantly see files without opening an application; Spaces, an intuitive new feature used to create groups of applications and instantly switch between them; and Time Machine, an effortless way to automatically back up everything on a Mac(R).

"Leopard, the sixth major release of Mac OS X, is the best upgrade we've ever released," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "And everyone gets the 'Ultimate' version, packed with all the new innovative features, for just $129."

Leopard's new desktop includes the redesigned 3D Dock with Stacks, a new way to organize files for quick and easy access with just one click. Leopard automatically places web, email and other downloads in a Downloads stack to maintain a clutter-free desktop, and users can instantly fan the contents of this and other Stacks into an elegant arc right from the Dock. Users can also create their own Stacks for quick access to folders, documents or applications. Leopard's gorgeous new look extends to all applications, with every window on the desktop offering a consistent design theme and active windows outlined by deeper shadows that make them stand out.

The updated Finder includes Cover Flow(R) and a new sidebar with a dramatically simplified way to search for, browse and copy content from any PC or Mac on a local network. Content on any computer on a local network can now be searched using Spotlight(TM), browsed using Cover Flow or copied across the network with a simple drag and drop. .Mac members can use the new Back to My Mac feature to browse and access files on their remote Macs over the Internet.

Mac OS X version 10.5 Leopard will be available on October 26 at Apple's retail stores and through Apple Authorized Resellers for a suggested retail price of $129 (US) for a single user license, and online pre-orders can be made through Apple's online store (http://www.apple.com) starting today. The Mac OS X Leopard Family Pack is a single-household, five-user license that will be available for a suggested retail price of $199 (US). Volume and maintenance pricing is available from Apple. The standard Mac OS Up-To-Date upgrade package is available to all customers who purchased a qualifying new Mac system from Apple or an Apple Authorized Reseller on or after October 1, 2007 for a shipping and handling fee of $9.95 (US). Leopard requires a minimum of 512MB of RAM and is designed to run on any Macintosh(R) computer with an Intel, PowerPC G5 or G4 (867 Mhz or faster) processor. Full system requirements can be found at http://www.apple.com/macosx/techspecs.

Digital Rapids Advances VOD Encoding for IPTV Providers

Digital Rapids has worked closely with a premier U.S. telecommunications provider, along with leading content providers and post production facilities, to bring to market an advanced H.264 encoding platform meeting the provider's demanding requirements for Video on Demand (VOD) content for its flagship IPTV video service.

Studios and facilities including Ascent Media Group, Global Digital Media Xchange, Starz Entertainment, TVN Entertainment and more are using Digital Rapids' StreamZ encoding solutions with the new Digital Rapids Studio AVC Encoder module to encode VOD assets for the service, the first entirely Internet Protocol (IP)-based video service offered by a national U.S. provider.

"To ensure that subscribers enjoy a viewing experience meeting their high standards, the IPTV provider developed a set of specifications for quality, bit rates and feature richness that encoded content must meet, but which exceeded the capabilities or workflows of other available encoding solutions," said Brick Eksten, President of Digital Rapids Corporation. "We're excited to have worked in tandem with the provider and the studios to break new ground in encoding for VOD and IPTV with the Digital Rapids Studio AVC Encoder."

"This new IPTV service is an excellent example of the IP-based future of television, and we're thrilled to be working with Digital Rapids and the telecom provider on this project," said Andy Shenkler, VP, Operations, Global Digital Services, Ascent Media Group.

"As has always been our experience with Digital Rapids solutions, the new Studio AVC Encoder works very well for encoding premium H.264 content, and has allowed Starz Entertainment to get a quick start on this expanding IPTV distribution opportunity," said Jim Porter, Vice President of Post Production and Broadcast Operations at Starz Entertainment.

Digital Rapids StreamZ encoding solutions combine powerful hardware for video and audio capture and pre-processing with the comprehensive Stream software interface, delivering high-quality, multi-format media encoding for exacting applications such as IPTV and VOD. The advanced, hardware-based video processing features enable optimum quality and the most efficient use of bandwidth in the compressed result. The Digital Rapids Studio AVC Encoder extends the H.264 encoding capabilities of StreamZ with advanced features optimized for the stringent requirements of IPTV applications such as Closed Caption embedding, Transport Stream multiplexing and "trick play" support for set-top box playback.

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PEOPLE IN THE NEWS

Optibase Announces Management Changes

Optibase Ltd. announced the appointment of Mr. Yossi Aloni as president of the Company’s U.S. subsidiary, Optibase Inc., replacing Adam Schadle who is leaving Optibase Inc. for another business endeavor. In addition, Mr. Eli Sharon will be joining the Company as vice president of research & development. Both Mr. Aloni and Mr. Sharon will play key roles in the advancement of the Company as it continues the execution of its business plan. They bring vast experience in both the video and broadcast markets, the primary markets in which the Company operates.

Mr. Aloni will oversee all of Optibase’s US-based activities in addition to his current position of vice president of marketing and the responsibility for the Company’s overall business development, marketing strategy and policy, product definition and product marketing management. Mr Michael Chorpash, who has played a key role in sales management at Optibase Inc., has been promoted to vice president of sales. Mr. Chorpash will be responsible for managing the sales team in Optibase Inc.

Mr. Sharon, in his role as Optibase’s vice president of research and development, will be responsible for the Company’s global research and development strategies. Sharon is taking over these responsibilities from Mr. David Sackstein allowing Mr. Sackstein to devote his time to his role as chief technology officer. Prior to joining Optibase, Mr. Sharon served as director of system engineering and program manager at YES, the leading satellite television provider in Israel.

“I would like to thank Adam for years of dedication and service to the Company. Adam has played a key role in multiple facets of our organization and has been a great asset to the Company. We are very sorry to see Adam depart from Optibase and we wish him all the best,” said Tom Wyler, executive chairman and CEO of Optibase.

Mr. Wyler continued, “On behalf of everyone at Optibase, I would like to welcome Eli Sharon to the Company and congratulate Yossi Aloni in his new role. Both are important contributions to Optibase management team with their vast knowledge and expertise in video and broadcasting technologies. As part of the management team, they will play a key role in leading Optibase forward, creating innovative solutions and striving to achieve our strategic goals. We are very pleased to have them both on board.”

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RESEARCH NEWS

SCRI RESEARCH NEWS

  • NEW: 2007-2009 HDTV / Digital Trends Report This extensive 75 page report includes an Executive Summary, followed by an analysis, charts and tables of how the broadcast / professional video marketplace equipment endusers respond to the key HDTV / Digital Video Trends -- click to view table of contents

  • IPTV / Mobile TV Report: now available, 14 page Executive Summary and Analysis, with over 120 pages of articles and reports from online sources as well as SCRI Insider Reports. Cost is $995, or $695 for current SCRI Insider Report subscribers and clients. Contactdes_chas@scri.com for more info.

  • Broadcast/Pro Video Product Reports. Tracking purchase history (2006), purchase plans (2007 & 2008), brand shares, etc. for each of twenty five specific product types, from Camcorders to VTRs.

  • Broadcast/Pro Video Macro Industry Overview Report. Over 50 pages of analysis and information on the state-of-the-industry compiled from secondary online research sources including industry news sites, manufacturers sites, as well as SCRI's own weekly online News Briefs and Insider Reports.

  • Broadcast/Pro Video Micro Quantitative Product Data Report. 23-page report containing quantitative data tables, for all six verical end-user markets, and all of the 25 Product categories, as well as in total, with summary tables from 2002- 2008.

    IPTV subscriber numbers up

    The number of people using IPTV services increased by 179 per cent in the 12 months to June 30th 2007. Over 8 million people are now connected to telco TV services, according to research from broadband analyst company Point Topic. And for some operators, that means that a significant proportion of their broadband customer base also subscribers to television services.

    Growth was strongest in Europe, with almost 5 million IPTV subscribers by the middle of 2007. Around half of these were in France, where there has been a strong performance from the incumbent, France Telecom, in response to the early deployments of rival operators Free and Neuf. All the major European incumbents now have IPTV products up and running. Telefonica in Spain added nearly 200,000 TV subscribers during the same period, and Belgacom signed up 120,000 in Belgium. Deutsche Telekom and BT have been slower to add subscribers to their telco TV services, with around 35,000 and 20,000 customers respectively.

    The Asia Pacific region also has some IPTV leaders. PCCW in Hong Kong has over 800,000 IPTV subscribers. Chunghwa in Taiwan added 200,000 IPTV accounts in the year to June 30th 2007. And the Chinese market is starting to move from large-scale trials to full deployment.

    In the Americas, IPTV is best seen as a response to triple-play competition from the cable networks. Verizon has had a successful 12 months signing up new customers to its TV over fibre service. AT&T (including SBC) has now started to connect TV customers, after some delays.

    Internet TV set for acceptance

    In the modern-day media age, consumers are being afforded more choice and control when it comes to content. Whether it's PVRs, User Generated Content, or TV shows online, the market has fundamentally started the process of ‘unbundling television/video entertainment’, and this redistribution of control will likely come to dominate the overall consumer landscape in years to come, reports research firm In-Stat in its study - Internet TV Market Strategic Analysis.

    In addition, according to an In-Stat survey of US consumers, when it comes to online video, despite a stratification by age, these trends appear more endemic than unique to the under 25 crowd. Respondents who watch online video were equally bullish on the future of online video, in many cases expecting said forms of entertainment to become more mainstream over time. "A testament to the significance these trends pose to all members within the value chain," noted Michael Inouye, In-Stat analyst. "And just like music, these shifts appear far more entrenched than a simple fad, additional reason to strategically review this evolving market and the new levers they bring."

    In-Stat also discovered that respondents to an In-Stat survey felt online video will become more mainstream over time; social networking aspects are starting to play an important part on how the newer generation wants to watch and interact with TV, and that primary detractors for online video continue to be download speed, user interface, cost, and quality of video (both visual and content).

    More US consumers watching TV online

    Close to 16 per cent of US households who use the Internet watch television broadcasts online, The Conference Board and TNS reported. The number of consumers viewing entire episodes/shows on the Internet has doubled from a year ago.

    Nearly 73 per cent of online households use the internet for entertainment purposes on a daily basis and an additional 15 per cent search for entertainment several times a week.

    Online viewers cite personal convenience and avoiding commercials as their top two reasons for watching TV broadcasts on the Internet. Four out of every five online viewers say that watching these programmes online has not changed their television viewing habits, but a small percentage claim that their traditional television viewing has decreased. More than a third choose online viewing in order to avoid watching television commercials.

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