PwC: M&E CEOs Confronting Change

February 11, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

Cindy McKenzie, managing director of media and communications for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), had a sit-down with a studio executive Feb. 10, and was told about a potential problem. A relatively new one.

It had nothing to do with theatrical piracy or the decline of disc sales. Instead it was a source of content studio executives might have scoffed at just a few years ago.

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Netflix, Amazon, Redbox All Mull Price Hikes

February 7, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

Netflix has been down this road before. And the company is praying this time will be different.

Following its ill-fated attempt in mid-2011 to split off its streaming and DVD-by-mail businesses — charging $7.99 for each — Netflix witnessed a subscriber revolt, losing more than 800,000 in just three months.

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Analyst, Retailer Back CEA UHD Report

February 6, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

When it comes to Ultra-HD TVs, seeing is believing, according to a new survey from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

The more opportunities consumers have to see these new 4K-resolution Ultra-HD (UHD) TVs, the better chance of success the format has, according to CEA, the group responsible for the annual International Consumer Electronics Show.

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Warner Hits Revenue High

February 5, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

Time Warner enjoyed its best quarter ever in terms of revenue, bringing in $8.6 billion in the fourth quarter, up 5% from the previous year. The company did see its quarterly profit down, though, reporting income of $983 million, down from $1.11 billion.

“We had another very successful year in 2013, with Turner, HBO and Warner Bros. all posting record profits while also investing for future growth,” said company CEO Jeff Bewkes. “Adult Swim had the most-watched year in its history and ranked No. 1 on ad-supported cable among adults 18-34 in total day for the ninth year in a row.

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Adobe: Gaming Consoles Fastest Growing for Video Consumption

February 4, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

Gaming consoles have become the fastest growing video consumption device with 365% year over year growth, according to a Feb. 4 report from Adobe.

Smartphones are growing faster than tablets when it comes to TV Everywhere and premium video consumption on second screens, gaining 3% market share in the fourth quarter to 31%, and viewing on Android devices is up more than double year over year.

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Net Neutrality Debate Heats Up

February 3, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

In the past week a petition with more than a million signatures was delivered to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging it to restore Net Neutrality; the FCC chairman vowed to make it a priority; and President Obama weighed in on the issue.

“Just two weeks after a federal court threw out the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules, we delivered petitions from more than 1 million people who support the freedom to connect and communicate online,” said Josh Levy, Internet campaign director for Free Press. “It’s time for the agency to correct its past mistakes, reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service, and restore Net Neutrality for good.”

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LA Film Czar and Anti-Piracy Spokesman Tom Sherak Dies

January 31, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

Less than two months before passing away at the age of 68, film producer Tom Sherak told a gathering at the Content Delivery & Security Association’s (CDSA) Content Protection Summit that as “film czar” for the city of Los Angeles, he would take on runaway production costs for films and TV shows made there.

But he also had his eye on another problem facing the industry.

“I actually see piracy as a much bigger issue,” said Sherak at the Dec. 12 event.

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MPEG LA: Proposed HEVC Licensing Terms Benefit Everyone

January 30, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

Since June 2012, patent packaging group MPEG LA has been working on establishing a pool license for the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) standard. With 25 companies agreeing on licensing terms this month — and a proposed HEVC license expected during the first half of 2014 — MPEG LA has made serious headway…

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ITA Revamps Mission, Partners with MESA

January 29, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

When the Interactive Television Alliance (ITA) first launched in 2002, Google wasn’t in the TV business, Netflix was still an unprofitable DVD-by-mail business, OTT services like Hulu didn’t exist, and the idea of “second screen” interaction with a mobile device was an unknown concept.

Times have changed, drastically. And the ITA has changed with it.

“We’ve always represented the larger ecosystem, and have been project based,” said ITA group CEO Allison Dollar. “What’s different now is that the industry finally has the infrastructure to create stable business models.  One-off experiments don’t work long term. Models have to be scalable. They have to be replicable.”

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E&Y Report Tackles Digital Challenges

January 28, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

A new report from Ernst & Young surveyed executives at more than 550 companies, analyzed secondary reports, includes nearly a dozen case studies, and comes up with one undeniable conclusion: media and entertainment companies are finally gotten fully behind digital.

“For a long time people out there have doubted whether the large media and entertainment companies are as agile as they need to be, as competitive as they need to be, in the digital space,” said Howard Bass, partner with Ernst & Young, which released the report “Sustaining Digital Leadership” Jan. 28.

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Dolby CEO Strikes Positive Tone, Despite Revenue, Profit Drops

January 24, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

Both revenues and profit for Dolby Labs were down for its first fiscal quarter of 2014, but that didn’t prevent the company from sounding a positive note with its results.

Revenue for the quarter was $231.3 million (down from $236.6 million), with the company posting a profit of $60.6 million (down from $66.4 million). Licensing revenue accounting for $205.7 million. Broadcast revenue accounted for 36% of total licensing in the quarter, PC revenues accounted for 21%, consumer electronics accounted for 19% and mobile revenues accounted for 15%. Gaming and automotive — among others — accounted for approximately 9% of total licensing.

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Dolby CEO Strikes Positive Tone, Despite Revenue, Profit Drops

January 24, 2014 · Posted in M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

Both revenues and profit for Dolby Labs were down for its first fiscal quarter of 2014, but that didn’t prevent the company from sounding a positive note with its results.

Revenue for the quarter was $231.3 million (down from $236.6 million), with the company posting a profit of $60.6 million (down from $66.4 million). Licensing revenue accounting for $205.7 million. Broadcast revenue accounted for 36% of total licensing in the quarter, PC revenues accounted for 21%, consumer electronics accounted for 19% and mobile revenues accounted for 15%. Gaming and automotive — among others — accounted for approximately 9% of total licensing.

“I’m pleased with the continued growth in our mobile and broadcast businesses,” said Dolby CEO Kevin Yeaman, speaking during a conference call with investors. “We have made progress in bringing new technology to the market, including our enhanced imaging technologies and Dolby Voice.”

Mobile revenues were up 40% year over year, and Dolby technologies are now used by five of the seven most-used over-the-top services in the U.S., he added. In Japan, Amazon Instant Video has begun streaming using Dolby technology to the Kindle Fire HDX, HBO Go is now using Dolby in the Nordics.

“Currently, nearly all of the Hollywood studios participating in UltraViolet are using Dolby Digital Plus.,” he added.

Regarding broadcast, Yeaman said 52 of 86 high-def channels in China and 18 of 32 high-def channels in India are using Dolby’s audio format. For cinema, approximately 330 screens worldwide are using Dolby Atmos audio, with more than 100 titles released or announced using the audio technology.

During this month’s International Consumer Electronics Show, Dolby showed off its Dolby Vision technology, an end-to-end video technology that promises better color and brighter highlights, with Sharp and TCL integrating Dolby Vision in their TVs this year.

“Also at CES, nine TV manufacturers, including Sharp, Vizio and Changhong, showcased TVs with Dolby glasses-free 3D technology,” Yeaman said. “We expect to see TVs shipping by the end of 2014 with this technology.”

Netflix Talks 4K, Net Neutrality, HBO Go

January 23, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

While discussing the company’s better-than-expected fourth quarter financial results, Netflix executives also shared their thoughts on the future of 4K, what the net neutrality ruling means for the company, and took a dig at competitor HBO and its HBO Go TV Everywhere offering.

The company posted a quarterly profit of $48 million on revenue of $1.18 billion, compared to $8 million in profit and $945 million in revenue during the same quarter in 2012.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings called it a “great start for the year” and that “we are excited about what’s unfolding.”

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IBM Profit Rises; Lenovo Reportedly Eyeing IBM Server Business

January 22, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

IBM reported a profit of $6.2 billion for the fourth quarter of 2013, up 6% year over year, on revenue of $27.7 billion, down 5%, with better revenues coming from the company’s software business segment, but also with hardware revenues down sharply.

Reports also surfaced that Chinese multinational technology company Lenovo is in talks to buy IBM’s server business, which was among the hardest hit in the fourth quarter financial report.

While revenues from IBM’s middleware products (WebSphere, Information Management, Tivoli, Social Workforce Solutions and Rational) was up 5% to $5.8 billion, IBM’s mainframe server products revenue was down 37%.

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IBM Profit Rises; Lenovo Reportedly Eyeing IBM Server Business

January 22, 2014 · Posted in M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

IBM reported a profit of $6.2 billion for the fourth quarter of 2013, up 6% year over year, on revenue of $27.7 billion, down 5%, with better revenues coming from the company’s software business segment, but also with hardware revenues down sharply.

Reports also surfaced that Chinese multinational technology company Lenovo is in talks to buy IBM’s server business, which was among the hardest hit in the fourth quarter financial report.

While revenues from IBM’s middleware products (WebSphere, Information Management, Tivoli, Social Workforce Solutions and Rational) was up 5% to $5.8 billion, IBM’s mainframe server products revenue was down 37%.

“In hardware, as you know, we went to the backend of the mainframe product cycle and we are dealing with some challenges in other areas,” said Martin Schroeter, IBM’s chief financial officer and SVP, during a conference call with investors. “IBM does have a resilient model based on continuous transformation and we are investing substantially in key opportunity areas.”

Recently, IBM has made major moves in the cloud-computing arena, announcing earlier this month a $1.2 billion investment to double its data centers, and for the quarter the company reported $4.4 billion of revenue for cloud solutions, up 69% year over year. “IBM will have cloud centers in every major geography and key financial center,” Schroeter added.

Still, the earnings report fell below analysts expectations, leading IBM CEO Ginni Rometty to forego her annual bonus.

Several news outlets said the sale of its hardware business would make sense, as the company focuses on its higher-margin software and services business.

“Over the years, it has been very clear to us that IBM has been divesting commodity parts of the portfolio to focus on higher value-add areas such as software, services, or next-generation computing, such as cognitive computing — for example, the Watson supercomputer,” Brian White, an analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald, told The Street.

IBM earlier this month announced a $1 billion-plus investment to launch a new IBM Watson Group to create cognitive computing services, software and apps.

Verizon Reports Higher Earnings, Acquires Intel Media

January 21, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

Verizon Communications Jan. 21 shared both higher earnings for its fiscal fourth quarter and the news it was acquiring Intel Media, Intel’s division dedicated to cloud TV products and services, including the OnCue cloud TV platform.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

OnCue was intended to be Intel’s answer to Netflix and other video services, but never got off the ground. Verizon intends to integrate Intel Media’s intellectual property into its own FiOS video service, promising better search and discovery, more interactivity and more second screen opportunities.

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A Potential 4K Problem?

January 20, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

John Batter, CEO of M-Go, the transactional VOD content service backed by DreamWorks Animation and Technicolor, had every reason to smile at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

Standing in front of a 4K TV at the sprawling Samsung booth, Batter showed off an upgraded, more user-friendly interface for M-Go, which had just announced a new 4K streaming service exclusively through Samsung.

“We think it’s really visually [unique],” he said of the 4K service, which will offer a combination of native 4K and up-scaled 4K movies, from Fox, Paramount and other studios. “Our plan is to build it up aggressively. We’ve got discussions going on with everyone right now.”

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BluFocus Takes on UltraViolet Verification Program

January 17, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

Longtime Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) member BluFocus has just been tasked with managing all aspects of DECE’s Compliance Verification Program (CVP) for UltraViolet.

That means making sure every licensor with the cloud-based digital content service — content owners, retailers, download and streaming service providers and hardware companies — is in compliance with DECE’s mandatory requirements.

“We are very excited about this opportunity,” said Juan Reyes, chief technology officer for BluFocus. “We’ve been involved with DECE for quite some time around UltraViolet, and what this allows us to do is work very closely with all the licensees in helping them get through the CVP process in as painless a manner and as quickly as they possibly can, to ensure their implementations are compliant with the DECE specifications.”

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IHS: Digital Helped Home Entertainment in 2013

January 16, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

A second set of numbers analyzing the state of the home entertainment industry in 2013 has concluded the same thing: digital is helping to make up for the decline in disc sales.

The numbers from IHS Technology put home entertainment spending at $18.3 billion in 2013, a 1% growth year over year and up markedly from the $17.6 billion in spending in 2011.

Internet content sales ($1.3 billion) and Internet rentals ($600 million) saw the biggest jumps in revenue, 39% and 40%, respectively, and subscription VOD was up 31% to $3.1 billion.

Pay TV VOD saw minor growth at $1.48 billion, up from $1.47 billion in 2012.

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Net Neutrality Ruling a Negative for Netflix

January 15, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

A Jan. 14 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules requiring Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to stay neutral when it comes to regulating Internet traffic.

And that could prove costly for the likes of Netflix and other streaming services, analysts agreed.

Known as net neutrality, the FCC regulations, first implemented in 2011, called for a non-discrimination policy for ISPs when it came to regulating Internet traffic by its consumers, whether it be file sharing or subscription VOD services.

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Net Neutrality Ruling a Negative for Netflix

January 15, 2014 · Posted in M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

A Jan. 14 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules requiring Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to stay neutral when it comes to regulating Internet traffic.

And that could prove costly for the likes of Netflix and other streaming services, analysts agreed.

Known as net neutrality, the FCC regulations, first implemented in 2011, called for a non-discrimination policy for ISPs when it came to regulating Internet traffic by its consumers, whether it be file sharing or subscription VOD services.

The Jan. 14 ruling opens the doors for ISPs to discriminate on what Web sites and services consumers use, potentially allowing ISP companies like Verizon — which has a deal with kiosk operator Redbox to deliver the Redbox Instant Video content service — to discriminate against the likes of Netflix, in favor of its own service.

“This means that ISPs can charge content providers for preferential treatment, and means that they can charge based upon the data transmitted,” said Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter, in a note to investors. “As a practical matter, this ruling will impact those Web sites that transmit the most data, so sites that stream video content (particularly in high definition) will potentially feel the most significant impact.”

ISPs still charged subscribers fees based on data consumption, before Tuesday’s ruling, but faced severe limitations on how they handled the sites and services that accessed their networks.

“This can be read both ways for Netflix,” Pachter said. “It is arguable that Netflix might be able to obtain preferential treatment by paying to ensure that its streams queue faster or stream faster and in higher fidelity than its competitors.

“However, we expect ISPs to behave as if they were profit motivated, and think that they will seek to extract as much value from all websites as the court’s ruling will permit. We think it is far more likely that Netflix will see its users throttled by ISPs unless they pay for unrestricted delivery. In our view, it is most likely that ISPs would seek to extract a set fee per gigabyte (GB) of data transmitted.”

That could prove very costly for Netflix, which may have to pass on those higher costs to its 40-million-plus subscribers.

It was Verizon Communications that challenged the FCC’s ability to levy the net neutrality rules in the first place, and the appeals court agreed in it ruling.

“One thing is for sure: Today’s decision will not change consumers’ ability to access and use the Internet as they do now,” Randal Milch, Verizon’s EVP of public policy, and general counsel said in a statement. “The court’s decision will allow more room for innovation, and consumers will have more choices to determine for themselves how they access and experience the Internet.

“Verizon has been and remains committed to the open Internet, which provides consumers with competitive choices and unblocked access to lawful websites and content when, where and how they want. This will not change in light of the court’s decision.”

Technicolor Shows off HDR Video Tech

January 14, 2014 · Posted in M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

With more 4K displays coming out of the woodwork, Paris-based Technicolor wants to make sure the Ultra-HD content is coming across as beautiful as possible.

The company showed off its High Dynamic Range (HDR) video technologies on the final day of the International Consumer Electronics Show. Technicolor’s HDR solutions intend to improve the brightness and contrast of both high-def and 4K images, a spokesman said, by using a flexible compression technology that works with existing infrastructures.

“It works with any format, not tied down,” the spokesman said. “It delivers better and brighter pixels. A lot of people don’t choose to watch things like fireworks on TV because the details just don’t come across. HDR solves that.”

To deliver HDR-enabled content, Technicolor has developed its own proprietary compression solution, intended to solution that “provides high performance with robustness for a wide range of operating points from high to low bit-rates and bit-depths,” the company said.

“It’s a huge amount of data, so we need to compress it, without hurting the pixels, and keeping the overall quality of the video,” the spokesman said.

Technicolor is also taking its HDR solution to the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG), for possible inclusion in the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) compression standard.

In other Technicolor news, the company announced that consumer electronics company Seiki has received Technicolor 4K Image Certification for its video processing HDMI cables and adapters, which up-converts high-def content to 4K.

“Broadcast 4K is still in the future and a real 4K Blu-ray Disc player isn’t here yet,” the Technicolor spokesman said. “The idea behind the certification program is to put our stamp on upscaling to 4K content.”

Technicolor introduced its 4K certification program in 2013.

“Seiki’s new U-Vision up-conversion HDMI products will empower 4K Ultra-HD TV owners to create and experience the highest quality digital entertainment at home without waiting for 4K content,” said Frank Kendzora, EVP for Seiki. “With Technicolor 4K Image Certification and advanced 4K video processing technology, Seiki aims to make today’s 4K Ultra-HD TVs more practical for the home, and at the same time build consumer confidence about 4K Ultra-HD as the next TV standard.”

Technicolor Shows off HDR Video Tech

January 14, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

With more 4K displays coming out of the woodwork, Paris-based Technicolor wants to make sure the Ultra-HD content is coming across as beautiful as possible.

The company showed off its High Dynamic Range (HDR) video technologies on the final day of the International Consumer Electronics Show. Technicolor’s HDR solutions intend to improve the brightness and contrast of both high-def and 4K images, a spokesman said, by using a flexible compression technology that works with existing infrastructures.

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How the Media Saw CES

January 13, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

With the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in the books, the media that was in attendance is busy dissecting the show, offering opinions on what worked and what didn’t.

Ultra HD TVs and curved screens grabbed the most headlines, but media was mixed on whether either has a real future in consumer homes.

Among the more thorough news organizations covering CES was Engadget.com, which shared more than 560 event posts, nearly 250 photo galleries and more than 120 videos.

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Saffron Digital Shows Off Digital Delivery Solution

January 10, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

LAS VEGAS — Welcome back to America, Saffron Digital.

At the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Saffron Digital showed off its our Stage end-to-end online video platform, which allows for any retailer or content owner to launch a premium multi-platform entertainment service or UltraViolet storefront.

The specialist in managing and delivering premium OTT services was acquired by Cinram from HTC Corp. for $47 million in September, and has most every major studio and companies like Dolby and DTS as partners.

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CES Variety Panel Talks the Future of Tech

January 9, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

LAS VEGAS — Steve Power Brown, chief evangelist and futurist for Intel, isn’t faulting the consumer electronics industry for going for gold with Ultra-HD. He just wonders if there’s consumer patience for it.

“The consumer electronics industry is rallied around giving consumers an experience they didn’t actually ask for,” he said Jan. 8, speaking at a Variety-sponsored panel at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES). “[They’re] more interested in consuming content in different ways, and less interested in having a giant 80-inch screen.”

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CES Variety Panel Talks the Future of Tech

January 9, 2014 · Posted in M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

LAS VEGAS — Steve Power Brown, chief evangelist and futurist for Intel, isn’t faulting the consumer electronics industry for going for gold with Ultra-HD. He just wonders if there’s consumer patience for it.

“The consumer electronics industry is rallied around giving consumers an experience they didn’t actually ask for,” he said Jan. 8, speaking at a Variety-sponsored panel at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES). “[They’re] more interested in consuming content in different ways, and less interested in having a giant 80-inch screen.”

It was a point of contention among many at this year’s CES: yes, Ultra-HD (UHD) is beautiful, and both the consumer electronics companies and major studios are backing it in a big way. But considering the CE and content industries had everyone upgrade the high-def not long ago, is it too much too soon?

“People want the basics,” said Paul Berry, founder and CEO of online content publishing company RebelMouse. “Get it to us timely, easy to get to and cheap. And we’ll pay.”

Lincoln Wallen, chief technology officer for DreamWorks Animation noted that content is still king, no matter the format, and all you have to do is look at the younger viewers for proof. He said they demand more interaction and more participation with their content, at levels their linear TV elders don’t quite understand.

While everyone at CES is talking about the next big thing — 4K — David Cohen, senior editor with Variety, noted that nobody at CES is talking about what was supposed to be the next big thing — 3D — just a couple years ago.

Thomas Gewecke, chief digital officer and EVP of strategy and business development for Warner Bros. said 3D is less of buzz word, something that is already incorporated into most 4K sets, and not going anywhere anytime soon.

“If you look at how popular 3D is in the theatrical experience, you can see how important and valuable it is to bring it into the home,” he said.

Wallen isn’t one to disagree about the importance of 3D. After all, his studio creates every theatrical release in 3D.

“The issue we found early on is that the content has to be native 3D,” he said. “It’s a marriage with the content and the technology, and that takes time. I don’t think [3D] is dead. I do think for casual users, autostereoscopic [3D without glasses] is important.”

Gale Anne Hurd, executive producer of “The Walking Dead,” used herself as an example of why people shouldn’t shy away from new technology. She walks around with a Samsung-branded smart watch all the time now, and she does so with no hesitation, she said.

“When people see it, they want it,” she said.

Experts at CES Discuss Problems with Content Everywhere

January 8, 2014 · Posted in M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

LAS VEGAS — Pam Schechter, VP of business affairs for NBC Universal’s digital cable entertainment business, gets it: consumers want what they want when they want it.

That doesn’t make it realistic, or profitable, she said Jan. 7, speaking at the International Consumer Electronics Show.  “We have [content] windows to maximize revenue,” she said. “We understand the consumer wants to see content everywhere, but …”

But it creates problems for content companies, including BBC Worldwide, according to Beth Clearfield, the company’s SVP of digital, media and business development. When long-standing windows are challenged due to impatient consumers and digital piracy, what are content companies to do?

She suggested what many content companies have experimented with: eliminate the linear piece of the puzzle, and go straight to digital. She said that approach still allows for electronic sellthrough and DVD windows, while still giving consumers what they want, when they want it.

John Calkins, partner and VP of IBM’s Strategy and Transformation Center of Competence, said the problem facing content companies isn’t just the ease of digital, it’s the ease of rental. When companies like Redbox began offering DVDs for $1 or so a night — instead of $15-$20 to own — it was the beginning of the end for packaged media, he suggested.

That may be why content companies are taking a stab at things like 3D and 4K … with mixed results, panelists said.

“Any one of these new technologies introduced is great for the consumer,” said Lisa Choi Owens, chief operating officer of uLive, one of Scripps Networks Interactive’s online content portals. “If you can afford it.” She added that when content owners support all the different versions of content — 4K, 3D, HD, and dozens of online codecs — it creates a strain on their resources.

And Elizabeth Huszarik, EVP of media research and insights for Warner Bros., looked at it from the point of the average American, pulling in less than $60,000 a year. “When you think about the share of wallet, are consumers going to run out and buy a 4K TV?” she said.

Schechter looked at it from a logistical standpoint for content owners: making 4K requires new and expensive equipment, and pushing it through the pipes presents challenges. “Unless there’s an easy way to send this content, it’s going to be hard to adapt to it,” she said.

Still, Emil Rensing, chief digital officer for Epix — the multiplatform pay-TV channel run by Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and Lionsgate — said 4K has a chance with consumers, if 3D is any indication. The higher ticket price for 3D movies in theaters and the higher SRP for 3D content in the home proves “there’s definitely a revenue stream with 3D,” he said.

Experts at CES Discuss Problems with Content Everywhere

January 8, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

LAS VEGAS — Pam Schechter, VP of business affairs for NBC Universal’s digital cable entertainment business, gets it: consumers want what they want when they want it.

That doesn’t make it realistic, or profitable, she said Jan. 7, speaking at the International Consumer Electronics Show.  “We have [content] windows to maximize revenue,” she said. “We understand the consumer wants to see content everywhere, but …”

But it creates problems for content companies, including BBC Worldwide, according to Beth Clearfield, the company’s SVP of digital, media and business development. When long-standing windows are challenged due to impatient consumers and digital piracy, what are content companies to do?

Click here to read the full story…

4K Content Picks Up

January 7, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

LAS VEGAS — The early knock on the Ultra HD (UHD) ecosystem has been that there’s a lack of content. Several companies are working to change that.

Amid the many Ultra HD TV unveilings at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Jan. 6 were several 4K content announcements, from consumer electronics companies, content services and studios.

Samsung may have made the biggest splash, announcing 4K content streaming partnerships with Amazon, Comcast Xfinity TV, DirecTV, M-Go and Netflix, with each service provider’s app expected to stream 4K content on Samsung UHD TVs.

Click here to read the complete story…

4K Content Picks Up

January 7, 2014 · Posted in M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

LAS VEGAS — The early knock on the Ultra HD (UHD) ecosystem has been that there’s a lack of content. Several companies are working to change that.

Amid the many Ultra HD TV unveilings at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Jan. 6 were several 4K content announcements, from consumer electronics companies, content services and studios.

Samsung may have made the biggest splash, announcing 4K content streaming partnerships with Amazon, Comcast Xfinity TV, DirecTV, M-Go and Netflix, with each service provider’s app expected to stream 4K content on Samsung UHD TVs.

“We will continue to work with global content partners and distribution channels to accelerate consumer adoption and access to UHD content,” said Kyungshik Lee, SVP of Samsung’s Service Strategy Team of Visual Display Business.

Samsung is also launching a UHD Video Pack, a 4K content hard drive pre-loaded with UHD content from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and Paramount Pictures. Samsung is expected to add a total of 50 titles available for download on the drive this year.

“This partnership with Samsung is one way our customers can stream shows and movies in 4K UHD, offering subscribers a glimpse of the television viewing experience of the future,” said Matt Strauss, SVP and GM of video services for Comcast. “Later this year, our new X1 set-top boxes will deliver 4K UHD content to all 4K UHD capable televisions.”

Amy Reinhard, EVP and GM of Paramount Home Media Distribution, called the Samsung UHD partnership “a terrific opportunity for consumers to truly experience the superior picture quality of UHD.” Paramount films on the drive at launch include Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, World War Z, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and Forrest Gump.

Meanwhile, Amazon, in addition to partnering with Samsung to deliver 4K content, is also working with Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox and Discovery to bring more 4K content to consumers. Amazon has already committed to producing all of its 2014 original series in 4K.

“There are a number of elements that need to work together to create a true 4K experience for customers — you need great content and compatible devices but you also need a service that can deliver that content to your devices so that it plays beautifully — we’re excited about making that a reality,” said Bill Carr, VP of digital video and music for Amazon.

Jim Packer, Lionsgate’s president of worldwide TV and digital distribution, added: “Ultra-high definition is the tip of the iceberg in underscoring the potential for new technologies to enrich our library of great franchises and other premium content in the years to come.”

Panasonic announced it’s developing a video codec, compliant with the HEVC international standard, which can potentially deliver 4K content on low speed communications lines.

And Sony Electronics announced it will offer 4K content from Netflix on its UHD TVs, as well as 4K photo services from 500px and PlayMemories. The company’s Video Unlimited 4K download service now offers more than 140 movies and TV shows, including “Breaking Bad,” Elysium, After Earth and This Is the End.

“Couple our key industry partnerships with our group-wide collaboration and innovative technologies, and consumers will see Sony continues to lead, advance and enrich the 4K entertainment experience,” said Mike Lucas, SVP of Sony Electronics’ Home Entertainment and Sound Division.

Sony will also be providing technical support for 4K production of this year’s FIFA World Cup final in Brazil.

CES: Toshiba to use Samba TV Technology

January 6, 2014 · Posted in M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

LAS VEGAS — Toshiba will integrate Samba TV’s interactive software into its next set of HDTVs, making it easy for viewers to interact with content via a second screen, the companies announced at the International Consumer Electronics Show.

The integration of Samba TV’s technology will give Toshiba TV owners exclusive access to TV show clips and share them via social networks, access photos and Tweets from TV show sets, and vote live during reality shows.

“We’ve been working on this for a long time, and this was a pretty exciting development for us,” said Ashwin Navin, co-founder and CEO of Samba TV. “Toshiba has been at the forefront of a lot of innovations for the living room.

“What we’re able to do with the Toshiba set is allow broadcasters and advertisers to make their content more enhanced, improved from a user standpoint. More interactive, more engaging, more social. It creates a blank canvase for broadcasters to enhance the experience.”

Shows like American Idol could use the feature to allow users to vote with their remote.. Showtime viewers will be pointed to a one-click download option for their own second screen app, Showtime Sync. And shows from both A&E and The History Channel will be enhanced by the offering as well.

“Enabling multiscreen interactive TV addresses consumers’ changing media consumption behaviors and Toshiba sits at the forefront of this innovation,” said Scott Ramirez, VP of product marketing and development for Toshiba America’s Digital Products Division. “Our strategic relationship with Samba allows us to not only offer a seamless, interactive experience, but also bring additional content to our customers.”

CES: Toshiba to use Samba TV Technology

January 6, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

LAS VEGAS — Toshiba will integrate Samba TV’s interactive software into its next set of HDTVs, making it easy for viewers to interact with content via a second screen, the companies announced at the International Consumer Electronics Show. The integration of Samba TV’s technology will give Toshiba TV owners exclusive access to TV show clips and share them via social networks, access photos and Tweets from TV show sets, and vote live during reality shows.

Click here to read the complete story…

Technicolor Launches Virdata, Partners with IBM

January 3, 2014 · Posted in M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

At the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Paris-based Technicolor will debut Virdata, a new, cloud-based monitoring and analytics offering that provides businesses with machine-to-machine (M2M) and Internet of things (IoT) services.

Technicolor is teaming with IBM and its SoftLayer cloud service to show off several uses of Virdata at CES, including geo location, real-time and historical tablet data, tracking patient information with a heartbeat monitor and performance data in a connected vehicle. IBM acquired SoftLayer and its cloud computing technologies in mid-2013.

Technicolor will target consumer electronics, health, retail and other industries for Virdata’s services.

“Technicolor’s foray into services that enable businesses to conduct faster and more thorough analysis of big data and apply that information is a logical extension of our commitment to develop innovative solutions to address the expanding digital market and to leverage existing assets for scale or access to broader ecosystems,” said Vince Pizzica, senior EVP and president of corporate partnerships and ventures for Technicolor. “Employing these strategies, Virdata is working with IBM, the global leader in cloud, to bring an exciting new approach to IoT services”.

Virdata will operate as a “pay-as-you-go” solution, and functions under a cloud-agnostic architecture, Technicolor said. Current application partners include NexStep, a customer-care application, and Olea Sensor Networks, which develops intelligent sensors and analytic software.

Virdata is a member of the Smart TV Alliance and is working with academic research facilities at the University of California, Berkeley (for emerging, real-time, in-memory analytics stacks) and Ghent University in Belgium (for data analytics).

Technicolor Launches Virdata, Partners with IBM

January 3, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

At the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Paris-based Technicolor will debut Virdata, a new, cloud-based monitoring and analytics offering that provides businesses with machine-to-machine (M2M) and Internet of things (IoT) services.

Technicolor is teaming with IBM and its SoftLayer cloud service to show off several uses of Virdata at CES, including geo location, real-time and historical tablet data, tracking patient information with a heartbeat monitor and performance data in a connected vehicle. IBM acquired SoftLayer and its cloud computing technologies in mid-2013.

Technicolor will target consumer electronics, health, retail and other industries for Virdata’s services.

Click here to read the complete story…

Hightail Touts Security Tools

December 30, 2013 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

In mid-December, Forbes published a list of 10 must-have mobile apps as ranked by top business executives, and making that list was file sharing service Hightail, with Jim Joseph, president of Cohn & Wolfe North America, saying “I can’t imagine life without it.”

Joseph, a professor at New York University, said in the article that juggling the agency and teaching work makes it “almost impossible to keep up with the onslaught of creative presentations happening across the agency.”

Click here to read the complete story…

Hightail Touts Security Tools

December 30, 2013 · Posted in M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

In mid-December, Forbes published a list of 10 must-have mobile apps as ranked by top business executives, and making that list was file sharing service Hightail, with Jim Joseph, president of Cohn & Wolfe North America, saying “I can’t imagine life without it.”

Joseph, a professor at New York University, said in the article that juggling the agency and teaching work makes it “almost impossible to keep up with the onslaught of creative presentations happening across the agency.”

“Some of those files are huge, which is why one of my go-to apps is Hightail,” he wrote. “It allows me to quickly review and comment on complex presentations while I jump back and forth between my computer and mobile device. [The Hightail app] always picks up where I left off.”

Thyaga Vasudevan, director of product management at Hightail, said his company was thrilled Hightail made the Forbes list. Hightail’s combination of encryption technology (that protects data during storage and transit), along with its sharing tools (password protection, identity confirmation, expiration dates) have made it indispensible to businesses.

“We are excited to be included in a list that highlights our mobile app,” he said. “The Hightail mobile app for iOS allows users to access their content on the go, whether they are connected to the Internet or not.”

Vasudevan spoke briefly with the Media & Entertainment Services Alliances (MESA) about Hightail’s security tools and the ability for users to monitor activity.

MESA: Speak more to the flexibility of sharing controls (how some departments in an organization would need easier access). Can you offer an example of where/how this would be utilized?

Vasudevan: Hightail’s sharing controls give an account administrator the ability to manage how people within their organization share content. For example, if an admin wants to be sure all documents from the legal department of their organization are tracked for recipient downloads, they can apply a group-level policy for return receipts.

When someone in the legal department sends a document to a client or colleague, they will automatically get a return receipt, which means they’ll be notified by email when the document is downloaded. Similarly, an admin can enforce account-level policies for verification of recipient identity, password protection and file expiration dates. On the user side, these sharing controls help keep their content secure and protected with every shared document. By default, these controls are not enabled and the user can apply them as they want by checking boxes before they send a file.

An admin can also specify different sharing policies for users in various groups within an organization. By default, groups inherit the account-level policies, but an admin can override certain policies for the group if they want. As an example, if there is an “intern group” within an organization, they can set group-level policies that enforce password protection for every file sent from people within that group. This group will have both return receipts (account-level policy) and password protection (group-level policy) enforced on every file they share.

MESA: It may seem obvious, but can you offer some benefits to both whitelisting and blacklisting certain domains?

Vasudevan: The biggest benefit of whitelisting and blacklisting certain domains is to ensure content is secure and your organization prevents data loss.

By enforcing the domains the admin can be confident that corporate content shared through Hightail is only with users on trusted domains. Also, similar to all policies, this can be also enforced at an account or group level. Some customers protect their data by blacklisting domains of their competitors. Others enforce whitelisting to be more restrictive with who their users are collaborating with outside their organization.

For the latest on Hightail’s mobile app for iOS, visit: http://blog.hightail.com/work-offline-with-hightails-ios-app-update-2/.

For a video highlighting detailing Hightail’s mobile apps, visit vimeo.com/70567048.

To read more about managing and securing your company’s content with Hightail, please read more here.

MESA Names World-Renowned Economist Head of China/USA Initiative

December 23, 2013 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

The Media and Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) has appointed Dr. Demos Vardiabasis, Ph.D., a professor of International Business and Chairman of the Presidential Key Executive MBA Program at Pepperdine University, to serve as the Chairman of the newly formed MESA China Entertainment Technology Alliance.

“As world attention turns to China with its growing and seemingly insatiable market for entertainment and technology, this role is more critical than ever in bridging the communication gap between the two countries,” observed Devendra Mishra, MESA Chief Strategist.

An international business expert, Dr. Vardiabasis brings an extraordinary understanding of building business relationships in China. His  plan is to organize meetings of delegates in both countries, consisting primarily of business executives and government officials, and Hollywood-related companies.

Click here to read the complete story…

CBS Interactive Exec, Rob Gelick, to Keynote the 2nd Screen Summit at CES, Jan 6

December 20, 2013 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

Rob Gelick, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Digital Platforms, CBS Interactive, one of the second screen’s biggest broadcast innovators, has been named a keynote speaker at the second annual 2nd Screen Summit at International CES in Las Vegas on January 6 at the Treasure Island Hotel.

Gelick joins fellow-keynoter Allen Devoise, Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder of Michinima on this official International CES program that also includes speakers from Fox, Showtime, NFL, Dish Network, Ogilvy and others.

Driven by millennial viewing behavior and a surge in online video advertising, second screen viewing experiences have accelerated greatly in recent months, driving content creators to adapt their user experiences to support both companion and viewing experiences. Gelick will talk through the incredible pace of change over the past year, resulting in the convergence of companion and viewing experiences into a single app for all CBS Entertainment programming.

Click here to read the full story…

IBM to Acquire Aspera

December 19, 2013 · Posted in M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

In the last five years IBM has invested more than $16 billion in more than 30 analytics acquisitions. But the tech giant believes it’s found something special in Emeryville, Calif.-based Aspera.

IBM announced Dec. 19 it would acquire the Emmy-winning company during the first quarter of 2014.

“The amount of data that’s being created today, every day, is phenomenal,” said Jeanette Barlow, program director of IBM’s smarter commerce product management. “The insight we’re going to help organizations get from [the acquisition] can really transform their businesses, their value chains, and the ways they can be responsive to customers and clients.

“Big data is, well, big, and you have to be able to get it from point A to point B, or points B, C and D, in an efficient way, and this is where Aspera compliments the investments we’ve already made, by providing the fastest, secure, highly predictable ways to transfer that data across the network and up to the cloud.”

Aspera — which counts Netflix, Universal, Civolution, Deluxe and DirecTV among its many clients — touts that its patented large file transfer technology bumps up the secure transfer of large files and collections of files by nearly 100%. A 26-hour transmission of a 24 GB file can be sent halfway around the world in less than a minute.

“Our team has redefined how the world’s biggest data can be moved quickly, securely and reliably around the world,” said Michelle Munson, president and co-founder of Aspera. “By tapping into IBM’s innovative capabilities and global resources, we will solve ever expanding data movement challenges for our customers now and in the future.”

Aspera’s technology has proven especially fruitful for media companies, who can shorten production cycles and upload content to streaming services faster, and gaming companies, which have utilized it to get their hands on third-party software to enable faster game development.

“It feels more real-time than it ever has before, and if you look at their customer list, there are many in the media and entertainment space, organizations like Netflix and studios, that take advantage of this, where the transfer doesn’t degrade the user experience,” Barlow said.

She added that the acquisition builds on IBM’s “Smarter Commerce” and “Managed File Transfer” initiatives, allowing businesses to accelerate their digital supply chains.

“There are challenges in moving large data sets from one part of the world to another,” she said. “This is a distance neutral transfer solution, that [allows clients to] take advantage of a global value chain, without the traditional bottlenecks, and let’s organizations seriously look at cloud computing for data-intensive workloads, ingesting that data up to the cloud, and using Aspera, do that far more efficiently.”

IBM to Acquire Aspera

December 19, 2013 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

In the last five years IBM has invested more than $16 billion in more than 30 analytics acquisitions. But the tech giant believes it’s found something special in Emeryville, Calif.-based Aspera.

IBM announced Dec. 19 it would acquire the Emmy-winning company during the first quarter of 2014.

“The amount of data that’s being created today, every day, is phenomenal,” said Jeanette Barlow, program director of IBM’s smarter commerce product management. “The insight we’re going to help organizations get from [the acquisition] can really transform their businesses, their value chains, and the ways they can be responsive to customers and clients.

Click here to read the full story…

L.E.K.’s Frack Shares Piracy Estimates

December 18, 2013 · Posted in M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

Bill Frack, managing director of L.E.K. Consulting, has both good news and bad news for the media and entertainment industry.

His firm estimates there are 42 million people in the U.S. who pirate content, amounting to a billion pieces of content that are being illegally viewed. The good news? Nearly 95% of those people pay for content as well.

“One of the key things to being successful is understanding your customer, and to understand this problem, you have to know the customer,” Frack said, speaking at the recent Content Protection Summit, produced by the Content Delivery & Security Association.

Those who steal content can be broken down into segments, Frack said: they may be sensitive to the cost associated with purchasing what they want, or they may want to just build up their library of content. There are those who don’t think stealing content is wrong, but there are also those who do it simply because it’s convenient. There are hard-core content enthusiasts who’ll do whatever it takes to get what they want. And there are those who just do it on occasion.

“These segments … vary on the number of movies they watch,” he said. “They vary by their motivations.”

A cost-sensitive pirate may be part of a low-income family and “who may not have enough income” to get what they want, Frack noted. They may not like stealing, and they tend to give up more easily when confronted with barriers to pirating content.

They’re night and day different from people like the library builders: young, urban professionals who grab what they can because they can, not because they can’t afford it.

What may have been most frightening among L.E.K.’s findings was the 36% who responded in the affirmative that piracy was “no big deal,” a younger set of “consumers” who look at it as the norm, want it now, don’t feel guilty and basically say “why not?” “The irony is, it’s a very big deal,” Frack said. “The question for the industry is when they get older, get money, will they move over? The [results of the] music industry says don’t bet on it.”

Content owners and distributors won’t be able to convert everyone in those groups into legitimate consumers, but there are a number of things media and entertainment companies can do, Frack said. Protect what you own the best ways you can, while keeping a content pirate’s motivations in mind when offering content legitimately. Many occasional and convenience pirates won’t spend more than a minute fighting security measures to get something.

“As you think about your strategies, whether they be anti-piracy tactics or new services, you’ll find convenience comes into play,” he said. “Pirates are people like us. They’re not Jack Sparrow. They’re regular movie fans.”

Frack’s data — while certainly disconcerting for anyone in the business of being paid for their work — has some humor behind it. Instead of focus groups, L.E.K. started with one on one interviews with those who steal content, and from that conducted their survey.

“You get pirates in the room, it’s a very strange dynamic,” Frack said. “They start swapping secrets with each other on how to bypass the latest technology.”

L.E.K.’s Frack Shares Piracy Estimates

December 18, 2013 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

Bill Frack, managing director of L.E.K. Consulting, has both good news and bad news for the media and entertainment industry. His firm estimates there are 42 million people in the U.S. who pirate content, amounting to a billion pieces of content that are being illegally viewed. The good news? Nearly 95% of those people pay for content as well.

“One of the key things to being successful is understanding your customer, and to understand this problem, you have to know the customer,” Frack said, speaking at the recent Content Protection Summit, produced by the Content Delivery & Security Association.

Click here to read the full story…

EY Identifies Future Trends of TV

December 17, 2013 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

Howard Bass, leader of global media and entertainment advisory services for Ernst & Young, is well aware the TV industry is facing major changes in the monetization and storytelling across new channels, platforms and devices.

His suggestion to media and entertainment companies?

“Our message is to embrace this, don’t be afraid of it, it’s here. Optimize it,” Bass said, discussing the results of a Dec. 17 report from E&Y that tackles the ongoing trends transforming the way TV is delivered and consumed.

The “Future of Television” report — which came about following an analysis of thousands of hours of interviews with executives from media and entertainment companies worldwide — identifies a half-dozen trends that the industry needs to prepare for, from digital supply chain management to telling stories across multiple platforms.

Click here to read the full article…

Analyst: Netflix Closing in on Growth Ceiling; Franchise Movies top Streaming List

December 16, 2013 · Posted in M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

Netflix has more than 40 million subscribers worldwide and its stock closed at nearly $369 Dec. 13. But according to Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter, the streaming company may have reached its limit.

In a Dec. 16 note to investors, Pachter acknowledged that Netflix is unlikely to lose any subscribers at its current $8-a-month price point, but if the company were to raise prices, the company would both lose subscribers and face higher content fees from studios, he said.

“If Netflix were to become wildly profitable, we would expect content providers to seek higher fees for content, in a manner similar to movie studio deals with theatrical exhibitors,” Pachter wrote. “The studios share in ticket sales, irrespective of ticket price, although minimums are set for film rent. We think that Netflix’s current content deals reflect minimums, and believe that if Netflix were to increase prices, content costs would rise in lock step.”

Pachter offered a hypothetical: if Netflix were to raise its prices $4 a month per subscriber, its quarterly profit would be $22 a share, based on third quarter numbers. The company’s current stock valuation is nearly 17 times that hypothetical figure, Pachter estimates. And Pachter points to an October Wedbush survey that shows 79% of subscribers saying they would not accept any price increase from Netflix.

“Notwithstanding their protestation, we think that fewer than 25% would actually quit if prices were raised,” Pachter wrote. “We cannot say the same for content providers.”

In other Netflix news, data from The NPD Group shows franchise movies are the most-streamed content on the subscription VOD services, with The Hunger Games and The Avengers being the top two titles.

“It’s not surprising that big box office hits do well with the SVOD audience,” said Russ Crupnick, SVP of industry analysis for NPD. “With The Hunger Games, The Avengers and other franchise titles, there’s the added sweetener of introducing new audiences to the franchises and improving box office receipts.”

The top three TV series streamed this year on Netflix and other subscription VOD services were “Breaking Bad,” “How I Met Your Mother” and “The Walking Dead,” according to NPD data. Crupnick added that original Netflix series are proving especially popular with subscribers, with 11% streaming at least one episode of “Arrested Development” per week in the six weeks following its release.

“SVOD has been shaking up the home video market, since it was introduced in 2007,” Crupnick said. “Today, one out of four U.S. consumers who acquired a movie or TV show through subscription, rental or purchase in the first-half of this year did so using SVOD.”

And when Netflix users start a series, they don’t stop: a Dec. 13 Harris Interactive survey commissioned by Netflix found 61% of streaming customers regularly binge watch TV series.

Finally, Netflix announced Dec. 16 that it would have exclusive streaming rights to the first season of the “Breaking Bad” spin-off “Better Call Saul” after it finishes airing on AMC in 2014. Netflix subscribers in Europe and Latin America will see the series after it airs in the U.S.

“’Breaking Bad’ is widely recognized as one of the great TV experiences in this new golden age of television,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer. “It has also proven very popular with Netflix subscribers around the world. This spin-off promises to continue its tradition of powerful storytelling. We are proud to be in business with Sony PicturesTelevision to bring Saul Goodman to our subscribers around the world.”

Analyst: Netflix Closing in on Growth Ceiling; Franchise Movies top Streaming List

December 16, 2013 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

Netflix has more than 40 million subscribers worldwide and its stock closed at nearly $369 Dec. 13. But according to Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter, the streaming company may have reached its limit.

In a Dec. 16 note to investors, Pachter acknowledged that Netflix is unlikely to lose any subscribers at its current $8-a-month price point, but if the company were to raise prices, the company would both lose subscribers and face higher content fees from studios, he said.

“If Netflix were to become wildly profitable, we would expect content providers to seek higher fees for content, in a manner similar to movie studio deals with theatrical exhibitors,” Pachter wrote. “The studios share in ticket sales, irrespective of ticket price, although minimums are set for film rent. We think that Netflix’s current content deals reflect minimums, and believe that if Netflix were to increase prices, content costs would rise in lock step.”

Click here to read the complete article…

Sheraks Share Piracy Views at CDSA Content Protection Summit

December 13, 2013 · Posted in M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Film producer Tom Sherak (The One, Rent) was recently named “film czar” for the city of Los Angeles, and charged with putting a stop to runaway production costs for films and TV shows made here.

But, speaking Dec. 12 at the Content Delivery & Storage Association’s Content Protection Summit, he doesn’t see that as the No. 1 problem the industry needs to deal with.

“I actually see piracy as a much bigger issue,” he said. “The things we are doing trying to protect [content] are expensive and have to be done, but piracy has become ingrained in the younger generation. [They believe] that content is not owned. It’s theirs.”

A former president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Sherak noted that even with all the watermarking and security surrounding content, it only takes one slip-up (an unscrupulous employee, an unthinking family member) for a screener to be put up online, and ruin things.

“It hurts people, it hurts jobs,” he said. “You can’t give stuff away. You have to have stronger laws here. … You have to be tough about it. It’s hard to be tough about it. And here’s the problem: It’s not going to stop. I don’t know if we can educate them enough that it’s stealing.”

The messaging, the PSAs running before movies, may not be having any impact, he said. Stronger laws may be the only way to go with the public at large. Though in the industry, messaging goes a lot farther when someone’s job is at stake.

Sherak’s son William, president of Stereo D, a 2D-to-3D conversion company (owned by Deluxe), said his company takes a number of measures to prevent leaks when dealing with studio content entrusted to his company.

“It’s a multi-, multi-million dollar extravaganza to follow the [Motion Picture Association of America] protocols and all the studio protocols to make sure not only content, but data of all kinds lives in a secure environment from facility to facility, and the transfer of that content to and from the studios that give it to us.

“It’s a laundry list of practices for physical protection as well as the data protection,” he said. “It’s an annual look at it as well as day to day, making sure you follow best practices. It’s the thing that keeps us up at night, every night: what happens to that image if it gets out of our facility?”

Last summer Stereo D was working on a “little movie” called The Avengers, and the very first content delivery sent by Marvel included a shot of the heroes from the movie, William Sherak said. “You sit there and go, ‘Oh my God, this is the shot the whole world wants to see,’” he said. “And now it’s sitting in my facility, with thousands of artists. How do you make sure nobody sees it? It’s not just the movie, it’s every single frame.”

Vendors don’t get to charge for security, he added. That’s just an added given of the job companies like Stereo D need to take on when they sign up for the work.

The average age of his employees is under 30, and they have it hammered into their heads the consequences of letting content out into the world, he said.

“Once it’s out there, the sharing of it, there’s just no thought,” he said. “You can do things with security practice, no cell phones, no Internet connections on the computers, but at the end of the day, if somebody wants to steal it, how do you protect from that? It’s an education process … but the problem right now is no law is being written. It’s best practices.”

Tom Sherak says that vendors and studios alike need to treat their technology departments as their best friends, and follow all the rules they lay down. That’s the best thing they can do to keep their content under wraps.

“Once it’s out there, it’s gone,” he said. “The Internet is so wonderful, and so big. And it’s creating whole new ways to [facilitate] stealing.”

Sheraks Share Piracy Views at CDSA Content Protection Summit

December 13, 2013 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

Film producer Tom Sherak (The One, Rent) was recently named “film czar” for the city of Los Angeles, and charged with putting a stop to runaway production costs for films and TV shows made here.

But, speaking Dec. 12 at the Content Delivery & Storage Association’s Content Protection Summit, he doesn’t see that as the No. 1 problem the industry needs to deal with.

“I actually see piracy as a much bigger issue,” he said. “The things we are doing trying to protect [content] are expensive and have to be done, but piracy has become ingrained in the younger generation. [They believe] that content is not owned. It’s theirs.”

Click here to read the full story…

Hurd at Content Protection Summit: Google, Corporations Can Help Stop Piracy

December 12, 2013 · Posted in M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Gale Anne Hurd, executive producer of “The Walking Dead,” can understand how easy it is for consumers to illegally access copyright-protected content. She’s almost done it herself.

The devout fan of the English Premier League’s Arsenal Football Club once found herself unwittingly on an illegal sports streaming site, entering her credit card information to watch her team live. “The only thing that stopped me from being an illegal downloader is it didn’t work on an iPad,” she said Dec. 12 at the Content Protection Summit (CPS), produced by the Content Delivery and Storage Association (CDSA).

Hurd gets it, but that doesn’t mean she excuses it. She said fans of her work who stream or download illegally hurt the very products they love, pointing to how the season four premiere of “The Walking Dead” in October was illegally downloaded more than 500,000 times in less than 24 hours.

“The good news is that’s not most of our fans,” she said. “I don’t think they’re saying ‘I’m going to find an illegal download site.’ [But] I do what I can to encourage our fans to keep us in business. We can’t continue to create it if nobody’s going to pay for it.” It’s a hard line to walk, she admitted. Content creators want fans to pay, without alienating them.

Part of the problem, she said, lies in the enablement of these illegal sites. Google can block child porn and malware, but let’s illegal streaming sites show up all the time. And Fortune 500 companies aren’t doing their part, by continuing to allow their advertising to appear on those sites, she said.

“They have to believe it’s in their best interests [to stop], that it’s going to hurt their bottom line,” she said. “[But] right now they’re profiting off it.”

And Hurd isn’t one of those people who believe a little piracy actually helps a product. The Hurt Locker was downloaded approximately 10 million times, about 2 million more than the number of box office tickets sold, she said. There’s nothing good about that.

“I don’t buy into the philosophy that piracy helps [the business],” she said. “It creates a habit and I don’t think it’s something we should encourage.

“We have to craft a message … [and] it needs to be a relatable message that people understand. The fact it’s called file sharing [doesn’t help]. Maybe if it was called file stealing, people would understand the consequences.”

The least Hurd can do is start small: she said she caught her daughter downloading music without paying for it, and immediately confronted the “so what?” attitude she received.

“’Do you still want to be clothed and fed?’” was Hurd’s response.

Hurd at Content Protection Summit: Google, Corporations Can Help Stop Piracy

December 12, 2013 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

Gale Anne Hurd, executive producer of “The Walking Dead,” can understand how easy it is for consumers to illegally access copyright-protected content. She’s almost done it herself.

The devout fan of the English Premier League’s Arsenal Football Club once found herself unwittingly on an illegal sports streaming site, entering her credit card information to watch her team live. “The only thing that stopped me from being an illegal downloader is it didn’t work on an iPad,” she said Dec. 12 at the Content Protection Summit (CPS), a day-long affair produced by the Content Delivery and Storage Association (CDSA).

Hurd gets it, but that doesn’t mean she excuses it. She said fans of her work who stream or download illegally hurt the very products they love, pointing to how the season four premiere of “The Walking Dead” in October was illegally downloaded more than 500,000 times in less than 24 hours.

Click here to read the full story…

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