Insider Reporter

Insider Report

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

w/e December 14, 2008 SCRI International, Inc © 1984 - 2008


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Mobile DTV Alliance & Broadcast Mobile Convergence Forum Team Up

The Mobile DTV Alliance has formed a strategic liaison with the Broadcast Mobile Convergence Forum (bmcoforum) in order to better address the needs of key stakeholders in the expanding mobile digital TV market. The bmcoforum is an international non-profit organization focused on developing an open market environment for mobile broadcast services. The MDTVA also announced the signing of an agreement with the Global Certification Forum (GCF). The GCF is an active partnership between network operators, device manufacturers and the test industry.

The liaison and agreement reflect the broader mandate the MDTVA adopted earlier this year to incorporate additional broadcast systems such as ATSC mobile/handheld, as well as its original commitment to DVB-H, with the goal of making mobile digital TV a mass-market service.

The liaison with the bmcoforum also provides the MDTVA a valuable opportunity to build on the knowledge acquired by the bmcoforum through their extensive deployment and testing in mobile DTV markets outside of North America. “The MDTVA has closely followed and evaluated mobile TV pre-launch interoperability profile activities in Europe which were overseen by the bmcoforum,” said Walt Tamminen, president of the MDTVA. “In line with our guiding philosophies of speed and efficiency, we will leverage the bmcoforum’s existing profiling processes and organizations and adapt the best practices learned by the European market stakeholders.”

In addition, the MDTVA has made public an agreement with the GCF to provide much-needed specifications for the mobile digital TV market. The GCF will help provide a crucial specifications suite for emerging mobile DTV technologies.

Also in accordance with their expanded mandate, the MDTVA announced the formation of technical working groups targeted to meet broadcaster needs at their recent members meeting in Washington, DC. One group is devoted to driving the interoperability profile of mobile digital TV technologies, in conjunction with the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), an international, non-profit organization developing voluntary standards for digital television. A second group is focused on measuring audience metrics. The third working group is concentrating on how best to leverage the audience data in order that broadcasters may provide their clients more targeted advertising opportunities as well as interactive ads.

Set-Top Box Shipments to Peak in 2012

The global market for set-top boxes will grow gradually over the next few years, then will peak at around 110 million shipments in 2012, according to a new report from ABI Research. Thereafter STB unit volumes for all platforms – DTT (Digital Terrestrial Television), IPTV (Internet Protocol Television), DBS (Direct Broadcast Satellite), and CATV (cable) – will begin a gradual decline.

STB revenues show a different pattern. According to ABI Research principal analyst Robert Clark, “STB revenues for all platforms have declined significantly between 2007 and 2009, but will recover by 2010 and remain relatively stable through at least 2013.”

Sales of basic STBs have already been falling for some time; now HD-only and PVR-only STBs are also showing the first signs of downturn. From 2009 on, Clark expects to see a greater share of combined HD/PVR sales, especially in the DBS segment.

The decline in shipments after 2012 is due in part to the expected completion, in most developed countries, of the transition to all-digital television broadcasting. Pay-TV platforms in particular are affected through 2012 by the threat of displacement by over-the-top video, and the substitution potential of residential gateways, media hubs and gaming boxes. STB components will increasingly be integrated into TVs themselves.

On the revenue side, IPTV has been the most affected of all the pay-TV platforms by the current dip. It was already forecast to slow down because network operators have been rethinking their future investments, especially from the standpoint of differentiation. The recent economic upheavals have exacerbated the decline.

“The STB won’t disappear as a result of threats from other set-top devices,” adds Clark. “But in the DTT sector where the needs are more basic, there is an opportunity for STB component integration into newer flat screens."

Telco TV Headend Market Growth Linked to HD

The telco TV headend equipment is expected to grow substantially over the next five years, reports In-Stat. This growth, driven by the expansion of video channels, the introduction of high-definition (HD) content, and the continued adoption of on-demand services will position telco operators to pursue highly-profitable personalized advertising and converged services business models, the high-tech market research firm says.

“For operators to generate significant profitability from telco TV and related video services, they must find ways for the network to add value,” says Keith Nissen, In-Stat analyst. “This will dictate finding solutions to the challenges faced with personalized advertising, converged video services, and ultimately the integration of network and Web-based applications.”

Recent research by In-Stat found the following:

  • The telco TV headend equipment market will grow to over US$ 700 million by 2012.
  • The upgrade to MPEG-4 encoding was strong during 2007 and 2008.
  • Increasingly, headend functionality will be distributed to the edge and access network

    MySpace mobile videos

    MySpace is launching a new streaming video service for mobiles, which will allow its members to watch all MySpace-hosted videos on a range of multimedia phones. MySpace is using technology by RipCode that works in real-time and can play video out across multiple handsets, screen sizes and playback specifications.

    MySpace claims 10 million unique users access its mobile site each month globally generating 3 billion page views. The new video feature will roll out internationally in beta

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    Broadcast & Media Technology Growth Stalls

    After an extended period of strong sales growth and profit performance the IABM Industry Index reveals the first indication of a downturn in the broadcast and media technology sector.

    The IABM Index tracks year on year change in overall sales and profitability for the broadcast manufacturing and media technology sector worldwide by examining the latest reported financial data. Companies analysed in this report have sales turnover in the last 12 months of over US$10.3BN. Global sales have increased by 11.9 per cent year on year, but this rate of increase now appears to have peaked. 74 per cent of companies are in profit in the latest results, but the number moving into loss is increasing and the aggregate profit to sales ratio stands at 11.7 per cent and is declining.

    Roger Stanwell, IABM Chief Executive Officer, commented, "The cyclical peak rate of sales growth seen in both October 2006 and October 2007 has hardly happened at all this year. There is now an indication of the start of a decline in the long term value of this Index, for both North American and European companies."

    Profitability has still improved, but now by only 9.3 per cent year on year, the lowest increase since the Index tracking started three years ago. Profit growth in Europe has in fact turned negative – a 1 per cent decline on the prior 12 month period.

    Inter BEE 2008 Draws Big Crowds

    The Inter BEE Organizing Committee announced that Inter BEE 2008 — popularly known as The Professional Show for Audio, Video, and Communications drew a total of 781 exhibitors, the largest number ever (400 overseas exhibitors from 27 countries/regions), using 1,968 booths. It is also expected that the total number of visitors over the 3-day period exceeded the 35,000 participants recorded last year.

    All over the world, TV broadcasters are making the transition to terrestrial digital broadcasting. For example, the US will be making the shift to digital on February 2009 and Japan is scheduled to terminate analog services in 2011 with the service area for terrestrial digital broadcasting already reaching over 80% of the nation. Also, the spectacular progress of video technologies is heralding the dawn of a new age in HD production for the industry, and signifies the start of next-generation broadcasting. Add to this the synergies that result from the fusion of broadcasting and communications, and there are high expectations in the industry for a whole new genre of services in the near future.

    During Inter BEE 2008 — which is a comprehensive exhibition providing diverse viewpoints on the developments of a variety of new technologies — the Inter BEE Forum 2008 were held to address major global trends emerging in the fields of broadcasting, communications, IT, acoustics, and lighting technology.

    YouTube Seeking Content Monetisation

    YouTube director of content partnerships Jordan Hoffner has outlined its plans to monetide its content to a B&C conference in New York. YouTube is taking a number of different approaches to build its revenue stream, hoping to capitalise on its market dominance.

    The site has struck a number of deals with professional content providers in the past few months, and Hoffner says the company’s number one priority in 2009 is getting that content in front of viewers. The vast library of user-generated content (UGC) is the key he says, using the example of a video featuring a skateboarding cat.

    "The companies say they want to be away from the cat on the skateboard," Hoffner said, "but it is your friend, because the cat on the skateboard is what gets you your traffic. The trick is, how do you get the premium content in front of the audiences watching the UGC."

    One of the ways YouTube is trying to achieve that is through VideoID, fingerprinting software that lets participating content owners remove, track or place ads on their content that can be uploaded by users.

    Once viewers find that professional content, YouTube is trying a number of approaches to monetize it. In addition to more standard lower-third ads and ads next to videos, the company is placing a focus on click-to-buy and co-branded entertainment opportunities. As an example, he says that a three-year-old best-of Monty Python DVD set went from being the 10,000 most purchased item on to number 5 a week after the British comedy troupe started posting clips on YouTube, with a referral to Amazon.

    "If people want to see the last episode of Ugly Betty they know they can go to, but on the other side, we can compete by getting into everyone’s old favorite [TV shows] and feature films," he said. "Given the audience and how big it is, do we essentially become the museum of broadcasting? Do you start doing deals for libraries?"

    With YouTube’s recent deal with CBS, classic episodes of shows such as MacGyver and Star Trek are already available on the site, and Hoffner says more content deals are coming.

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    Sony to Cut 8,000 Jobs; 5% of Total Workforce

    Sony announced that it will cut 8,000 jobs, or about 5% of its global electronics workforce, as part of a plan to reduce costs by $1.1 billion annually amid the economic downturn, the Associated Press reported. The company will also cut an additional 8,000 seasonal and part-time employees; reduce spending on semiconductors and other investments; cease production at various plants; and further outsource production to lower-cost areas.

    "These initiatives are in response to the sudden and rapid changes in the global economic environment," the company said in a statement.

    Sony last made a major round of layoffs in 2005, when current CEO Howard Stringer took over and cut some 10,000 jobs.

    Viacom cuts 850 jobs

    Viacom has announced a major restructuring across its entire global business, which including MTV Networks and Paramount Pictures. It will cut jobs in all divisions of the company, which will result in the reduction of its workforce by approximately 850 posts or 7 per cent of the staff. The company is also suspending senior level management salary increases for 2009. In addition, the company will write down certain programming and other assets.

    The restructuring and write-downs together will result in a pre-tax charge of between $400 million and $450 million in the fourth quarter of this year. However, the cutbacks are expected to improve profitability, resulting in pre-tax savings of between $200 million and $250 million in 2009.

    Viacom said the plan was designed to better align its costs with what it termed "evolving economic conditions".

    Cisco media processing platform

    Cisco has unveiled a media processing platform that simplifies live and on-demand media sharing across PCs, mobile devices and other digital screens, by seamlessly formatting video and rich media for viewing on any device. The create once and share anywhere Cisco Media Processing platform provides media conversion, real-time post production, editing, formatting, and network distribution capabilities in a single networked solution to help businesses develop targeted visual communications that drive intimacy with employees and customers.

    Beijing cable TV provider to produce content

    Beijing's cable TV service monopoly has confirmed it will soon be producing content for digital TV programmes, but did not specify what kind of content it will offer. Beijing Gehua CATV Network Company said it will establish a joint venture together with two institutional investors from Shanghai and Shenzhen to develop digital television content and engage in cable channel management. Gehua is believed to hold 40 per cent of the proposed company, which has a total investment of $7.26 million.

    Nokia acquires Symbian

    Nokia has completed its acquisition of Symbian Limited. Symbian is the software company that develops and licenses Symbian OS, the market-leading open operating system for mobile devices. The closing of the offer is a fundamental step in the establishment of the Symbian Foundation, announced in June by Nokia, together with AT&T, LG Electronics, Motorola, NTT DOCOMO, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, ST-NXP Wireless, Texas Instruments and Vodafone.

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    Panasonic Announces Availability of Varicam 3700

    Panasonic announced the immediate availability of the VariCam 3700 (AJ-HPX3700), its premier solid-state P2 HD VariCam camcorder that combines uncompromising cinematic quality, film-style operability and the exceptional reliability of solid-state, file-based recording.

    Offering the ultimate in image quality, VariCam 3700 advances the art of high-end cinematography by teaming VariCam’s renowned filmic-look, variable frame rates, and subtle tone control with master-quality, 10-bit 4:2:2 AVC-Intra recording and a host of new functionality.

    The VariCam 3700 provides premium-quality performance for narrative feature films, episodic television and commercial production. The 2/3” 2.2 megapixel 3-CCD camera features full native 1920x1080-pixel acquisition and independent-frame recording with 10-bit, 4:2:2 color sub sampling. It records in full-raster 1920x1080 resolution in AVC-intra 100 for the highest quality, in lower-bit-rate AVC-Intra 50 for extended recording and in DVCPRO HD for added flexibility.

    The VariCam 3700 is available at a suggested list price of $59,950. A new color viewfinder, model AJ-CVF100, is planned to be released early 2009. The VariCam 3700 is backed by Panasonic’s industry’s leading five-year limited warranty.*

    In addition to the VariCam 3700, Panasonic has also introduced the VariCam 2700, a 720/1080 camcorder equipped with native 1M 2/3” 3-CCDs to produce 10-bit, 4:2:2 recording in AVC-Intra 100, as well as recording in AVC-Intra 50 and DVCPRO HD.

    Sony Products at Inter BEE 2008

    The Sony booth was based on a theme of "Evolution to HD For All Begins with Sony," based on which theyintroduced many new products and new solutions as measures to support increasingly diversifying customer needs. A layout of 22 cameras was centered on this camera studio and included the F34, XDCAM HD, HDCAM, system cameras, and the HDCAM EX. Each corner was divided into seven zones where new products and new solutions were introduced.

    At the center was the Camera Corner and on the left side the News Solution Corner. All of the monitors in the Sony booth were LCD monitors. Monitors for professional use will likely transition to LCD monitors Sony stated.

    Sony was exhibiting movies, commercials, and TV programs produced using the HDCAM-SR format. On this screen Sony was showing actual productions such as movies, commercials, and dramas that were produced using the HDCAM-SR format.

    At the monitor corner, Sony introduce their new products include the 17-inch BVM-L170 Master LCD Monitor and the PVM-L2300 LCD Monitor. The BVM-L170 features the industry's first 17-inch full HD LCD panel, and the PVM-L2300 is the model designed to fall within a price range that targets widespread use. As the switch to liquid crystal monitors progresses, we expect that this model will be widely popular. The roughly 60 monitors being used at the Sony booth at this show all feature LCD monitors.

    "MameCam" is the new compact HD camcorder. Because it is small, it can be mounted to a helmet for use in filming variety programs or such. The recording unit is also extremely small, and AVC-HD compression can be used for recording on a memory stick.

    Blackmagic Demos 9 New Products at Inter BEE 2008

    Blackmagic Design Inc. announced it will showcase theirlatest award winning product line launched earlier this year, and show to the Japanese broadcast and post production industries at Inter BEE 2008. These new products include DeckLink HD Extreme, the world's most powerful broadcast video capture card, Blackmagic Video Recorder, a low cost H.264 encoding solution for consumer video capture for iPod, Blackmagic Mini Converters, Broadcast Videohub, and the massive Broadcast Videohub 72 x 144 3 Gb/s SDI routing switcher. All Blackmagic products are available from Blackmagic Design authorized resellers worldwide.

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    Patrick Woolcocks to Head up Business Development at IPV

    IPV, a global leader and largest independent supplier of low bit-rate, frame-accurate video technology to the broadcast and professional video sectors, has appointed Patrick Woolcocks as Business Development Manager. Woolcocks will be responsible for growing IPV's partner and Channel business and helping to drive the global sales operation for its Curator product.

    Woolcocks comes to IPV with over 25 years of strong international sales, business development and marketing experience in the professional television industry having held key positions at Brick House Video, Clear-Com Communications Systems, Leitch Technology and AVS Broadcast.

    "We are delighted to make this announcement, as Patrick brings with him a wealth of experience from over two decades spent in the professional broadcast arena," said Nigel Booth, Executive Vice President for Sales and Marketing at IPV. "Patrick's appointment underscores our commitment to building our new direct business channels for our tapeless workflow Curator system. His knowledge and understanding of the global broadcast market and his particular know how in building and driving successful distribution models will help IPV grow its business internationally."

    Woolcocks is active with a number of industry-based committees including the role of Chair of the Exhibition Task Group at the International Association of Broadcast Manufacturers (IABM).

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  • Broadcast/Pro Video Product Sales Top $10 billion -- read more

  • 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
  • HDTV / Digital Trends Report
  • IPTV / Mobile TV Report

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