Excitement, Questions Over Dish’s Sling TV OTT Service

January 15, 2015 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

In just a short time, Dish Network’s new Sling TV over-the-top (OTT) TV service — introduced at last week’s International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has earned a long list of accolades … and a long list of questions on whether it can succeed.

In all the service earned a dozen awards at CES, from Digital Trends, GottaBe Mobile, Mashable, PCMag.com, Reviewed.com, Techlicious, TechnoBuffalo, TechRadar and The Verge. Online technology news service Engadget honored Sling TV not once but three times in its Best of CES 2015 list, giving the product “Best Home Theater Product,” “Best Software/App” and “Best of Show” honors.

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SeeQVault Eyes U.S. Next

January 12, 2015 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

SeeQVault — which is designed for use on storage and devices that incorporate or access flash memory — is looking to take the gains it made in Japan in 2014 to the next level (and the United States) in 2015.

Read the full story here

CES: Dolby Touts Vision, Akamai Sees 4K Future, Rovi’s Fan TV Grows Up

January 9, 2015 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

Unlike many past technology “breakthroughs” that were heavily hyped ahead of CES, only to fizzle on the show floor, 4K Ultra-HD TV saw tangible progress made during this year’s confab.

First there was the announcement that Dolby Vision — an imaging technology that helps content creators and TV manufacturers deliver an upgraded visual experience for content — will be used by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment for future home entertainment releases of “Edge of Tomorrow,” “Into the Storm” and “The Lego Movie,” the companies announced.

Then there was the announcement that Sigma Designs, which provides system-on-chip (SoC) solutions for Smart TVs and IP-based set-top-boxes (STBs), was collaborating with Dolby to bring enhanced 4K Ultra High-Def to consumers with Dolby Vision supported on the Sigma HiDTV PRO- SX6 (STV7603) and SX7(STV7701) Smart TV chipsets.

The goal is to have 4K TVs released this year that support Dolby Vision via over-the-top (OTT) online streaming, broadcast and gaming applications, Roland Vlaicu, senior director of broadcast imaging at Dolby Labs, told the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA). He said Warner is just one of several new content partners: Amazon, Netflix, Vudu and Xbox Video are all looking to incorporate Dolby Vision.

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CES: SCSA Makes Strides; BDA Looks Ahead

January 8, 2015 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

During the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the Secure Content Storage Association (SCSA) made plenty of noise.

The group — primarily backed by 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros. and SanDisk — aims to offer consumers the ability to download, playback and move 4K content across all devices. SCSA used CES to announce it now has nearly 50 members; that Samsung will use SCSA technology to enable a new Ultra High-Def (UHD) movie download service; and that Saffron Digital and Qualcomm had partnered to demo 4K UHD content on mobiles.

That last one stands out: the Qualcomm and Saffron partnership showed, for the first time, how SCSA-enabled content worked with mobile devices, with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810-powered tablet running a Saffron Digital app, showing SCSA movies from 20th Century Fox on a 4K display.

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CES: Sony Chief Addresses Studio Hack; 4K Rolls On

January 6, 2015 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

Since Sony Pictures Entertainment was first hacked in late November, Kazuo Hirai, president of Sony Corp., has been mum on one of the biggest cyber security breaches to ever hit Hollywood.

However, before the start of the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), he addressed the elephant in the room first thing during Sony’s press event Jan. 5. He said he’d be “remiss” if he didn’t mention what’s been weighing on the minds of everyone in Hollywood.

“Sony Pictures Entertainment’s former employees and current employees were unfortunately the victims of one of the most malicious cyber-attacks we have known,” he said. “I am very proud of all [our] employees and all the partners we’ve worked with … who stood up against the … efforts of these criminals.”

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CEA’s Dubravac: CES 2015 Sees ‘A Third Stage of Internet’

January 5, 2015 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

There are more than 1.7 billion computers in use worldwide, and more than 2 billion smartphones, according to data from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

And those figures are nothing compared to what’s next in the world of consumer electronics technology, according to Shawn Dubravac, chief economist and senior director of research for CEA.

“The way we consumer on the Internet has changed drastically,” he said during a presentation before the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES). “We’re going into the third stage of the Internet.”

Before the CES doors open Jan. 6 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Dubravac shared what the world can expect next out of the consumer electronics industry this year: more than 50 billion objects — everything from watches to toothbrushes — will be Internet-enabled, relaying back everything from heartbeats to cavities.

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Piracy, Cutting the Cord and Early Digital: M&E 2014 in Review

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

By Chris Tribbey

You could call 2014 a mixed bag for the media and entertainment industry.

There was plenty to celebrate this year: consumer acceptance of digital ownership, the quick advance of 4K Ultra High-Def hardware, the emergence of new over-the-top services.

And there was a lot of news media and entertainment companies could have done without: the digital leak of Lionsgate’s “Expendables 3,” the pre-order home entertainment spat between Amazon and more than one major studio. And Sony Pictures is still dealing with the fallout of the biggest cyber attack to ever hit the entertainment industry.

Here’s a look back at some of the biggest media and entertainment headlines of the year.

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4K Content Delivery Reliant on Streaming … For Now

December 19, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

Ultra High-Def (UHD) 4K will be front and center once again next month at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), both on the hardware and streaming sides.

There are panels on 4K, new 4K hardware announcements expected from the major consumer electronics companies and new streaming announcements are all but assured, according to Michael Gorman, editor in chief of tech news service Engadget.com.

“I think that any major announcements will likely be about 4K content and its distribution,” he said. He said that despite the limited amount of 4K content available, the hardware industry is going full steam ahead with the technology, evidenced by separate research from both IHS DisplaySearch and The Diffusion Group (TDG).

DisplaySearch pegged third quarter 4K TV shipments worldwide at more than 3 million units, up more than 500% year over year, and bringing the annual total to date to about 6.5 million. “With a scarcity of content and streaming options, much of the early success for 4K will rely on education campaigns from brands and price compression that will make it more affordable,” said Paul Gagnon, director of global TV research at DisplaySearch.

Meanwhile, recent research from TDG pointed to streaming as likely to be the main driver that will boost 4K adoption in 2015, thanks to a combination of improved consumer broadband speeds, and improved streaming technologies, including the next-gen codec HEVC (H.265).

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Forecast Hollywood Speakers Address the Changing Consumer

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

By Chris Tribbey

Audra Priluck, VP of media and entertainment for GfK North America, was more than a bit surprised when her son recently reminded her that his favorite show, “PAW Patrol,” was available on demand.

He’s three years old. And he’s indicative of how quickly things have changed in the content world.

“[Content] today is a mess. You don’t just turn on the TV and have three networks, five networks to choose from anymore,” she said, speaking at the annual Forecast: Hollywood event, produced by the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance. “It’s certainly not simple anymore. It’s become much more complex.”

And part of that complexity has resulted in a dramatic shift in how people view TV, she said. VOD and OTT services are popping up left and right to meet the demands of the watch anywhere and everywhere consumer. In 2014, 30% of consumers were watching content each month on their computer, and 26% were watching on a mobile device, according to GfK data. TV still leads as the No. 1 source for digital content at 39% of viewers.

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Piracy Experts: Disrupt the Money

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

By Chris Tribbey

Elisha Lawrence, associate VP of global anti-piracy and content security for TV network ABS-CBN Intl., noticed something important when she first started looking at the habits of those who pirate content.

“Just a little frustration on the consumer’s part will result in them moving on,” she said Dec. 9, speaking during a panel at the fifth annual Content Protection Summit. If the goal is to keep consumers pointed toward legitimate sites, she has a mantra for everyone in the anti-piracy business: “frustrate and redirect.”

Make it as a difficult as possible for a consumer to download or stream illegal content, redirect them to legitimate sources, and — whenever possible — take down the illegal sites via legal avenues.

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Content Creators: Piracy Enabling ‘A Lost Generation’

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

By Chris Tribbey

John Landgraf, CEO of FX Networks, looks at Internet piracy today, and offers a simple comparison for those who steal: The same amount of money and man hours can be spent constructing both a building and a movie, yet only the latter is considered open season for theft.

And that makes him — in his words — furious.

Contracts, financing, carefully crafted distribution through various windows, ad sales, working with pay TV, over-the-top and brick and mortar to sell your work, all of it thrown aside, simply because the first time a film or TV show is made public, “people feel like it’s their right to make an infinite number of copies” and “take away all the value of it,” he said Dec. 9, speaking during a keynote panel at the fifth annual Content Protection Summit.

It’s not just dollars and cents Landgraf is worried about, he said. It’s the stifling effect Internet piracy has on creativity. With piracy so rampant today, what’s the incentive for new content creators to push their work forward?

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Content Protection Summit Kicks Off with Sony Discussion

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

By Chris Tribbey

Michael Rose, CEO of Ease Entertainment Services, which offers production payroll and accounting services to the film and TV production industries, wasted little time Dec. 9 getting to what was on everyone’s minds at the fifth annual Content Protection Summit (CPS).

Rose said the [Sony] attack underscores the importance of data security and content management, something that major companies seem to be treating less seriously, at least with their budgeting, according to Shafeeq Banthanavasi, managing director of cyber security for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

While the number of incidents of cyber security breaches is up worldwide —42.8 million worldwide, up 40% year over year (and those are just the ones companies and governments detected) — and the cost of these breaches is up as well (an estimated average financial loss of $2.7 million each in 2014, up 34% from 2013), average security budgeting by companies dropped 4%.

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Head of FX, ‘Sons of Anarchy’ Creator Headline Content Protection Summit

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

By Chris Tribbey

John Landgraf, CEO of FX Network and FX Productions, and Kurt Sutter, creator and executive producer of the hit FX series “Sons of Anarchy” will be among the headline speakers at the fifth annual Content Protection Summit, being held Dec. 9 at the W Hotel in Hollywood, Calif.

Produced by the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) and the Content Delivery & Security Association (CDSA), the event’s afternoon keynote discussion with Sutter and Landgraf, moderated by Creative Future executive director Ruth Vitale, will come just hours before the final episode of “Sons of Anarchy” airs on FX, with the two discussing the creative process behind the most popular shows on TV today, and the impact theft has on content creators.

The minds behind one of TV’s most popular series are just one of the highlights at this year’s Content Protection Summit, according to Bryan Ellenburg, conference chair and security consultant for production and post production for the CDSA.

“MESA and CDSA’s annual Content Protection Summit is the most important security event for the media and entertainment industry,” he said. “Recent events have revealed security vulnerabilities that challenge our entire industry, and the economic impact from loss of intellectual property is significant.”

A must-attend gathering for content protection and security executives — as well as anyone interested in the technologies protecting intellectual property against today’s global threats of piracy and cyber attacks — the Content Protection Summit features the best and brightest in the film, TV, software and music industries.

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North Korea Suspected in Sony Film Leaks

December 1, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

High-quality versions of five Sony Pictures films — four that have yet to be released in the United States — have been leaked online, following a Nov. 24 hack of the studio’s computer systems, and the studio is investigating whether North Korea is behind it all.

Brad Pitt’s war film “Fury,” which was released Oct. 17, is the biggest name among the leaked films, with “Annie” (Dec. 19), “Mr. Turner” (Dec. 19), “Still Alice” (Jan. 16) and “To Write Love on Her Arms” (March) the four films that have yet to be released.

The leak of the Sony films marks perhaps one of the biggest Hollywood piracy incidents ever, and certainly the biggest since the mid-July theft of Lionsgate’s “Expendables 3,” which hit BitTorrent sites about three weeks before theaters. On Nov. 25, London police announced the arrest of two men in that theft, which the film’s producers said cost them millions in lost revenue.

The leak followed the Nov. 24 hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s internal network, forcing the studio to shut down its worldwide network through the holiday weekend. A group calling itself Guardians of Peace (GOP) claimed responsibility for the hack, and had threatened to release information it had acquired if unspecified demands were not met.

“The theft of Sony Pictures Entertainment content is a criminal matter, and we are working closely with law enforcement to address it,” Sony told the Los Angeles Times. A Reuters report said Sony Pictures Entertainment has hired cyber security company FireEye Inc’s Mandiant forensics unit to mop up the damage, and that the FBI was investigating the incident.

Rob Enderle, principal analyst with San Jose, Calif.-based technology advisory firm The Enderle Group told the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) that it’s all but certain that North Korea is behind the initial hack and subsequent leaks, with the isolated nation following through on its threats against Sony for the upcoming Seth Rogen and James Franco film “The Interview.”

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HITS Speakers Talk Digital Dollars

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

By Chris Tribbey

Jeffrey Hayzlett, CEO of business consulting company The Hayzlett Group and host of “C-Suite with Jeffrey Hayzlett” on Bloomberg Television, said he thinks broadcast content companies tend to make one major mistake at the outset: they don’t think about the audience first.

Speaking at the inaugural HITS: Broadcast IT Summit — held earlier this month during the Content & Communications World Expo — Hayzlett said C-Suite TV — which is rolling out a half-dozen new shows — and C-Suite Collective — a private online community reserved for business executives with VP level job titles and above representing companies with annual revenues over $10 million — proves that knowing your audience, and targeting directly to them, can be profitable.

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NBC’s Greenblatt: Equal Drawbacks, Rewards with Live TV Events

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

By Chris Tribbey

Last year, NBC pulled in 18.5 million viewers for its live television special “The Sound of Music Live!” This year, the network is looking to top that, with the Dec. 4 airing of “Peter Pan Live!”

NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt said that while the network was pleased with how “Sound of Music” went, they’ve taken what they learned from that experience, and applied it to their latest production.

“[‘Sound of Music’] worked because we hired the best who do Broadway musicals and we hired the best who do live TV,” he said Nov. 7, speaking at the inaugural Live TV: L.A. event.

One thing NBC is doing differently this year revolves around promotion of the event.

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The Challenges of Making Content ‘Smart’

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

By Chris Tribbey

What are online dating services, the Department of Defense and the finance industry doing better than Hollywood? Data.

They’re more organized when it comes to data utilization, and making better use of available information to meet their goals, according to media and entertainment experts, speaking Nov. 5 at the inaugural Smart Content Summit.

“We, as an industry, are very far behind when it comes to being organized with how we use nomenclature, how we use information science, and how we use silos,” said Anthony Accardo, director of research and development for Disney-ABC Television Group. “We have this vision that if we could just capture metadata at the source, it’ll have so much value.”

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Signiant Webinar to Tackle Speed of Cloud Storage

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

By Chris Tribbey

Media and entertainment companies are increasingly looking to the cloud to move large files around, but doing it quickly and efficiently can prove problematic.

The trends driving adoption of cloud adoption, and how to overcome the challenge in using the cloud to move large files in and out, will be the topics of discussion Nov. 6 when file transfer software company Signiant hosts a unique Webinar: “Accelerate Delivery of Files into Cloud Storage.”

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Top Executives Converge for Inaugural Live TV: L.A. Event

October 27, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

Ken Kerschbaumer, executive director of editorial services for New York’s Sports Video Group (SVG) said there’s been a surge in ratings for live Los Angeles broadcasts in the past two years, but no events to focus in on the needs of the TV broadcast and production executive.

Enter the Nov. 7 inaugural Live TV: L.A. summit, co-produced by SVG, TVNewsCheck, Variety, and Variety 411, a day of discussions about everything from production best practices to the use of social media to build ratings.

“During the past two years there has been a surge in ratings from live events, whether award shows, sporting events, or special events like NBC’s broadcast of the ‘Sound of Music,’” Kerschbaumer said. “We wanted to bring the disparate sports, news, and entertainment communities together. There really are no events in the Los Angeles area that focus in on the needs of the TV broadcast and production executive. There are great conferences like SMPTE, which gives the engineer his or fill of information, and Digital Hollywood, but the focus is not on things like practical operations and programming strategies.”

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Keeping Up with the Changing Consumer

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

By Chris Tribbey

When low- and middle-income people find a few extra bucks in their pocket, they don’t throw it in savings or pay down debt. They buy smartphones.

With more than 170 million Americans owning smartphones, according to recent comScore research, media and entertainment companies need to put their focus on the screens sitting in people’s pockets, according to Jonathan Taplin, director of the University of Southern California’s (USC) Annenberg Innovation Lab.

“The old gateways to your TV — the DVD player and the set-top box — are going into the dustbin,” he said Oct. 21, speaking at the Digital Hollywood conference. He said that within just a couple of years, consumers will be able to use their smartphone to communicate with any connected TV, relaying their apps, video subscriptions and content to any screen, anywhere.

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Streaming Execs on Unbundling: Be Careful What You Wish For

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

By Chris Tribbey

The dominoes are falling for “the beginning of unbundling” of pay TV, said one streaming expert Oct. 20 at the Variety Entertainment and Technology Summit.

Last week both HBO and CBS announced they were launching standalone, over-the-top streaming subscription channels, news that was followed today by Lionsgate and Tribeca Enterprises announcing a similar endeavor. “We’re in the early days still,” said Tim Connolly, head of distribution for Hulu, which has had several years worth of a head start in the streaming business. “It’s a good time to be in the business. The technology is just beginning to flower.”

But along with these new streaming services come a few notes of caution, panelists agreed.

DADC New Media Solutions Launches Ven-ue OTT Platform

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

By Chris Tribbey

Sony DADC New Media Solutions has unveiled a new channel creation service, Ven•ue, that allows content owners and distributors to build OTT consumer channels.

For the service, DADC New Media is enlisting Ooyala’s multi-device video streaming capabilities and analytics, and RightsLine rights management services. Ven•ue promises to let content creators and distributor create channels that offer exclusive content for film franchises, TV series, games and other brands.

“Ven•ue was designed to give content owners and distributors the ability to deliver a consumer experience that is equally unique and immersive, while remaining economical and accessible,” said Andy Shenkler, EVP of strategy and operations for Sony DADC New Media Solutions.

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The Final Barrier to Media Workflows in the Cloud

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

By Chuck Parker

It seems everywhere you look these days there is something about “the Cloud” in front of you. Twitter, LinkedIn, the tech press, and seemingly every press release you read has the various players in the Media and Entertainment industry describing what they can do for you in the cloud.

The promise of the cloud is BIG. At its most basic level, there is the opportunity for a company to turn its fixed investments in CAPEX into variable (or “burstable”) spend when required as OPEX. For smaller companies and companies without legacy infrastructure this is potentially the best way forward so that their costs are directly tied to their revenue stream whether those requirements are storage, transcoding or rendering for post production and visual effects work flows.

For larger and more established companies, it is the opportunity to exceed current infrastructure capacity to take on that surprise project. It is also the opportunity to set an investment level threshold where companies build to the “trough” rather than the “peak” for the inherent variability in the media industry business season.

But this isn’t a new promise in the IT world. Back in the early 2000s, this promise was held out to the largest companies in the guise of “outsourcing”. What’s changed now?

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Singer: Technology No Longer A Barrier for Digital

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

By Chris Tribbey

Mitch Singer, president of the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE), the cross-industry consortium behind UltraViolet, said that being innovative and responsive to changing consumer trends sound great, until you try it.

It’s difficult for content companies to be agile, especially when they’re so protective of legacy business models, he said Oct. 8, speaking during a presentation at the Digital Media Pipeline event. His suggestion? Take a risk.

“It’s better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission,” he said.

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HITS Broadcast IT Summit Comes to CCW+SATCON in NYC, Nov. 13

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

HITS, the Hollywood-based studio IT association, will launch a new broadcast initiative, HITS Broadcast IT Summit, at CCW+SATCON at Jacob Javits Convention Center on November 13.

The first-ever East Coast gathering will feature NBCUniversal News Group, Senior Vice President of Analytics, Cameron Davies as the keynote speaker. Davies address will focus on the role big data plays on the creative process of television programming.

“Over the past four years, HITS has played an integral role in providing a voice for the CIOs of all leading studios in the digital transformation of Hollywood. Our board has encouraged us to bring this same high level, senior-executive interchange to their broadcast divisions in NYC,” explained HITS Executive Director Devendra Mishra. “With this first event, we will launch our series of year-round meetings, work groups and professional initiatives aimed at broadcasters and their advertising partners.”

Davies keynote, entitled, “IT Meets Creative – Data Enhanced Decision Making and Broadcast Programming,” will examine real world use cases of how broadcasters have fused data and viewer analytics to create better television programming.

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SAS Presents Premier Business Leadership Series 2014

October 1, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

Business analytics software and services company SAS is bringing top experts in business, government and education to Las Vegas Oct. 21-23, to speak about leadership strategies and analytic solutions for competing in the global economy, during its 2014 Premier Business Leadership Series.

SAS expects a good-sized group of attendees to be from the media and entertainment sector, and in addition to conference sessions, will be coordinating one-on-one meetings and networking events for MESA members…

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Data Experts: Put the Consumer First

September 25, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

Melva Benoit, founder of consulting firm The Marian Dupree Group and a 20-year entertainment industry veteran, doesn’t blame media and entertainment companies when they struggle with how to handle the mountains of data thrown their way.

She’s worked with Comedy Central, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney, Fox, and NBC … and today she still shakes her head when talking about how hard it can be to turn data into actionable results.

“At the time it was ‘We’re all television people, we should be able to do this,’” Benoit said Sept. 24, speaking at the Hollywood IT Society Digital Marketing and Analytics Summit, talking about her time working with MTV Networks and the first online consumer metrics she encountered. That was in 2000, when pulling in a few million viewers a month for a show was admirable.

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Google’s Varian: Super Bowl Movie Ads Worth the Money

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

By Chris Tribbey

Those multi-million dollar ad slots during the Super Bowl are actually worth the money. That’s according to Google chief economist Hal Varian, speaking Sept. 24 at the Hollywood IT Society Digital Marketing and Analytics Summit.

Google studied the opening weekend box office performance of 72 movies advertised during the Super Bowl from 2004-2013 (as well as 72 similar movies that weren’t advertised), and looked at the impact ads had on Google queries of the films in the cities of the teams competing in the game.

“The week of the Super Bowl there’s a huge boost in queries after [the films] have been advertised,” Varian said during a keynote presentation. “The advertising really works … and people remember four, six weeks later.”

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Redbox Instant Halts New Registrations Over Credit Card Concerns

September 19, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

Redbox Instant by Verizon, the subscription service that pairs disc rentals at kiosks with unlimited streaming online, has temporarily stopped accepting new registrations, after it was discovered that credit card thieves were using the service to validate stolen numbers, Redbox and Verizon said.

“Our monitoring systems detected that criminals were misusing our new customer registration process to validate credit card numbers illegally obtained from some other sources,” the companies said in a statement. “This did not involve the compromise of customer information, so our current customers can continue to watch great videos to their heart’s content without reason for worry.”

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Ease Entertainment: Payroll Needs to Evolve

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

By Chris Tribbey

It’s only in the last few years that the way productions have handled payroll has evolved, according to Darren Ehlers, SVP of products at Ease Entertainment Services.

“Fifteen years ago the industry could play fast and loose with its finances and compliances … and the studios only knew what the production told them,” he said. “No studio wanted to be seen as irresponsible, and they let a lot of things go, as long as the film got made.

“Nowadays so much as changed so much. There’s so much more governance. You can’t just rely on someone to simply fax a document.”

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E&Y: M&E Sector Profits Hitting Recent Highs

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

By Chris Tribbey

By the end of 2014, profit margins for media and entertainment companies will hit at estimated 28%, a high mark compared to recent years, and a sign the M&E sector is outpacing other industries, according to a new study from Ernst & Young (E&Y).

M&E industry earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) have grown annually since 2010, thanks to the proliferation of more digital platforms and higher scales of content production and distribution.

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Apex Media COO: Anticipation is Key for M&E Companies

September 2, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

Margaret Boryczka, co-founder and COO of Apex CoVantage, said what makes Apex Media Solutions work for media and entertainment companies is pretty simple: “We anticipate industry trends and build solutions that address current problems.”

“The big new thing on the horizon is the vast stores of video and photo collections that are sitting out there, and growing each day,” she told the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance. “There’s tons of video … [and] that information is at the state that hard copy, books and journals were 25 years ago: They’re not accessible to anybody, they’re not accessible in any meaningful way at this point.”

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3rd i QC Announces 4K/UHD Capablities at Their Culver City Facility

August 25, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

3rd i QC is pleased to announce the establishment of Master-Level Source QC rooms at their facilities in Culver City, California. These new rooms are equipped to handle source material of all resolutions, up to and including 4K/UHD. Anchoring the technology in these rooms is the Rohde & Schwarz Clipster Generation 5.

“After exploring all options, we concluded the Clipster is the best solution for real-time playout of 4K/Ultra High Definition material,” states CTO Ramón Bretón. “Additionally, we’ve secured delivery of the Generation 6 Clipster as soon as it becomes available early next year, which will give us the flexibility to handle literally any file format and resolution. We are excited about the Clipster’s ability to work with IMF files, as this capability will align with where the industry is heading.”

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Analysts Split on Who’s Got the Edge in Disney-Amazon Spat

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

By Chris Tribbey

Richard Saintvilus, with investment research news company Wall Street Playbook, looks at the ongoing spat between Amazon and Disney, and wonders if Amazon has bitten off more than it can chew.

“Retailers don’t often go out of their way to hurt themselves by cutting off revenue opportunities,” he told the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance. “The fact that [Amazon CEO and founder Jeff] Bezos doesn’t care will come as a sign of confidence to Amazon shareholders. It’s the whole ‘survival of the fittest’ mantra at its best [and] Bezos is not going to blink first in these negotiations.”

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Google’s Varian to Keynote HITS Digital Marketing & Analytics Summit

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

By Chris Tribbey

The marketing departments of media and entertainment companies have so much consumer data today, the numbers can influence productions, change plotlines and the story arc of characters, and tell companies who’s going to watch, and how.

How marketing and IT departments are collaborating (and the results of those collaborations) will be shared Sept. 24 in Beverly Hills, Calif. during the HITS Digital Marketing and Analytics Summit (HITS DM&A). Presented by the Hollywood IT Society (HITS), the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance and Variety, the 2013 installment of the DM&A Summit drew approximately 280 marketing, IT and business executives from studios and the service providers and technology companies behind the entertainment industry.

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DreamWorks Animation’s Katzenberg Headlines BoxWorks Confab

August 12, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

The tagline for the 2014 edition of the BoxWorks cloud conference — set for Sept. 2-4 in San Francisco — is “How Tomorrow Works.” It’s an apt title, considering the speakers Box has lined up for the annual cloud-centric tech conference.

Among all the experts speaking at BoxWorks, one name stands out: DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, who’ll sit down with Box co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie on stage for a one-on-one discussion Sept. 3 at 9 a.m.

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T3Media CTO on Simplifying the Digital Supply Chain

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

By Chris Tribbey

All those worries about security and using the cloud to move content around aren’t unfounded, according to Mark Lemmons, CTO for Denver-based T3Media. They just may be overblown compared to the advantages.

“Content owners care about security for obvious reasons, and we’re living in this hyper-connected, digitally accessible world, where programming release windows have significantly truncated, if not collapsed, largely due to security concerns,” Lemmons said. “You don’t want a pirate to download your content, you want your platform partners to deliver it. Security goes hand in hand with content immediacy. Along with security, you need to have capability to distribute content globally.”

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Lionsgate Sues ‘Expendables 3’ Pirates

August 1, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Jeff Hyatt and Chris Tribbey

Lionsgate has filed a lawsuit against 10 anonymous individuals the studio alleges were responsible for illegally sharing a high-quality copy of “The Expendables 3,″ two weeks before the film was set to hit theaters.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, alleges that those who shared the film “may be found in this district and/or a substantial part of the acts of infringement complained of herein occurred in this district,” according to the July 31 filing.

“Lionsgate … believes and on that basis alleges that only a single digital file containing the film was stolen, and that every copy of the film alleged in this complaint (and every copy available anywhere on the Internet) originated from and is a reproduction of that single original digital file,” the suit reads.

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Experts: Metadata More Important Than Ever

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

By Chris Tribbey

Matt Turner, CTO of media and publishing for San Carlos, Calif.-based NoSQL database company MarkLogic, relayed a story where he visited a studio, spending six weeks investigating how the company was using metadata across dozens of systems, covering the entire lifecycle of the company’s workflows.

What he found was inefficiencies, liabilities and the potential for more revenue if metadata was better handled.

“It shouldn’t come as any surprise that metadata impacts all aspects of the business,” Turner said July 30, speaking during “Metadata is the New Gold,” a Webinar produced by the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance and the Hollywood IT Society. “People think of metadata being associated with just digital assets, but it leverages all the data related to the title, the product, marketing information.”

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MarkLogic to Host Metadata Webinar with Condé Nast, Avalon Consulting

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

By Chris Tribbey

In the media and entertainment space, metadata has become an increasingly crucial component when it comes to monetizing digital assets. How studios and other media and entertainment companies are streamlining their businesses with metadata solutions will be the topic of discussion July 30, when San Carlos, Calif.-based NoSQL database company MarkLogic hosts a unique Webinar: “Metadata is the New Gold.”

The Webinar — produced by the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance and the Hollywood IT Society — will be held at 11 a.m. Pacific on July 30. To register, click here.

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The Stars — and Lines — Come Out for Comic-Con

July 25, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

The stars (Matthew McConaughey, Kiefer Sutherland, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Benedict Cumberbatch, etc.) were out in full force for the kick-off of the San Diego Comic-Con. And so were the lines.

Everywhere one looks at this annual pop culture confab there’s a line, especially for the major studio presentations in the infamous 6,500 Hall H, where people were camped overnight for Friday’s presentations.

Here’s a look at what to expect as the convention hits its full stride this weekend:

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One on One with SAS

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

By Chris Tribbey

SAS is among the largest in business analytics software and services, with more than 70,000 business, government and university customers in 135 countries. Nearly 14,000 employees helped SAS generate worldwide company revenue north of $3 billion in 2013.

The Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) sat down with Suzanne Clayton, senior product marketing manager of media and entertainment for SAS, to talk about big data, analytics and forecasting.

MESA: “Big Data” and “analytics” have become buzz words thrown around a lot today, but speak to just how important they are for media and entertainment companies?

Clayton: Media companies want deeper engagement with consumers; better customization, personalization and differentiation of their message; and greater competitive advantage.

With the growing volumes of data media and entertainment companies collect, they need to be able to extract the kinds of insights that can help them better serve customers, users and readers. And make smarter decisions faster by applying advanced analytics to large, complex data sets so they can spot previously unknown patterns, identify key relationships and uncover acumens that would otherwise stay hidden.

We look to help companies harness the power of big data with capabilities for data management (automate the process for unifying large diverse data sources including web analytics logs, social media, set top boxes, audience measurement, etc.); advanced analytics & data visualization (explore and analyze huge volumes of data in seconds with no subsetting or sampling); and flexible deployment (in the cloud with SAS or another provider, on a dedicated appliance or within your existing IT infrastructure).

MESA: DirecTV’s SAS use case seems to be the most obvious example of an M&E company that found real-world revenue savings. Can you elaborate on how DirecTV used SAS’s solutions, and can you offer other examples where M&E companies have leveraged SAS technology?

Clayton: For DirecTV the best way to share info is to point you to what is on our external Web site: www.sas.com/en_us/customers/directv.html.

DirecTV is continuing to expand their usage of SAS into the realm of Audience Intelligence, to help better understand viewership data to know who is watching what, when and how. This helps them with programming negations, marketing and content delivery.

MESA: SAS puts a huge emphasis on data visualization. Can you speak to the importance of not just gathering data, but relaying it in a way that makes sense for clients?

Clayton: Our data visualization capabilities have built-in analytics and are extremely easy to deploy and use. You can explore all of your big data using a drag-and-drop interface, analyze it and share visualized results easily via web reports and mobile devices. The solution helps you perform forecasting, identify patterns, trends, and relationships in data.

Whether you’re a business user with limited technical skills, a statistician or a data scientist, powerful analytics are at your fingertips. Anyone — regardless of analytic background — can understand and benefit from complex data, because sophisticated analytics have been seamlessly integrated with features such as on-the-fly forecasting and scenario analysis, auto-charting, and drag-and-drop capabilities.

Some media use cases of SAS data visualization and predictive analytics include the ability to: discover insights into audience mood state to better understand audience responses, feelings about content, and predict future behavior; mine Nielsen’s All-Minute Respondent Level Data to analyze audience segments and their viewing behavior, track viewership by segment and changes in viewing behavior; and  analyzing both structured and unstructured data from multiple sources across all platforms to better understand individual consumers

MESA: How has SAS approached supply chain forecasting, and how can M&E companies take advantage of those SAS solutions?

Clayton: I love this question. SAS’ bread and butter is advanced analytics, which includes supply chain forecasting. In fact we have an entire practice around this area and have worked with numerous manufacturing and CPG companies to solve their supply chain issues. We have also worked with a few of the studios over the years on DVD forecasting, but we see the digital supply chain as different from physical goods.

In broad digital distribution systems, Studios need to be broad and optimize systems. Systems need to be transparent and update quickly. They need to predict which content and how it will be consumed. Certain countries have certain titles that sell well here. Need to make sure content goes out to the market correctly, e.g. dubs or subs? This is dependent on market. SAS sees this as a digital network optimization issue that can be solved with advanced analytics.

One solution that closely matches the studio supply chain is SAS Demand-Driven Planning & Optimization (DDPO) solution suite. SAS DDPO drives the development of the consensus forecast in conjunction with the sales and operations planning (S&OP) process. Combining the power of automation, analytics and workflow, it generates an unbiased and accurate consensus forecast on a large-scale basis. It also has a new module where studios can incorporate social media data into the forecast to predict how a show or movie will perform or is performing.

MESA: What are the advantages for each analytic deployment option (cloud vs. dedicated appliance vs. existing IT infrastructure)?

Clayton: A cloud deployment allows companies to choose the best method for accessing technology to meet their business analytics requirements — and move rapidly to analytics deployment.

Our cloud tools and technologies are available in private and public clouds or through the hosted SAS cloud environment. SAS programmers, data scientists, business analysts and web developers can work together in an agile SAS Cloud development platform to collaborate on analytics projects.

And we can expand technology to meet future demands. The data processing and storage that companies need today will grow as time goes on. Cloud technologies give companies the flexibility to add computing power or capacity as needed. And automated software updates are available whenever we publish a new version.

SAS On Premise is the traditional way SAS has deployed our software. And has been doing since we were founded on 1976. Many companies prefer to install SAS on site and have their own IT, data scientists and analysts run and manage their SAS applications giving them 100% control over their SAS infrastructure. While there are definite benefits to cloud analytics, we do not discourage customers from doing on premise installs.

Hollywood China Investment Group Joins MESA

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

By Chris Tribbey

The Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) has added Hong Kong’s Hollywood China Investment Group (HCIG) to its ranks, the groups announced July 15.

HCIG’s main goal is to open unique theme parks (centered around animation franchises from both the U.S. and China) in heavily populated Chinese areas (Xiangyang, Hubei province; Guangzhou, Guangdong province; Qian’an, Hebei province; and Yiyang, Hunan province, among others).

While the investment group looks to open in China attractions similar to what Hollywood studios have long done with theme parks here in the U.S., HCIG is also aiming to finance a full-fledged production base for creative animation film companies. “An incubator base for creative … animation talent,” the group announced. A new training area for animation directors, writers and producers is the goal, HCIG said.

The partnership opens up opportunities for MESA’s member companies in an increasingly lucrative Chinese market, according to MESA co-founder and chief strategist Devendra Mishra.

Front Row (sitting. l to r): Sussy Huang, Executive Director, Hollywood China Investment Group (HCIG); Devendra Mishra, Chief Strategist of Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA)
Back Row (standing. l to r): Richard Spinoza, Director, Los Angeles County; Becky Cheng, Director, US Congress District 27; Dr. Lin Chuangyi, Director, Royal Business Bank; Yoursung Yang, Director, HCIG

“This partnership will help foster the mission of MESA, advancing technology and services supporting media and entertainment overseas in China,” Mishra said.

“This enterprise will enable MESA’s service and technology providers to pursue cooperation with companies in China engaged in building the infrastructure and capabilities required to support the emerging entertainment industry.”

Sussy Huang, founder and executive director of HCIG, said that her organization is aiming for a new kind of entertainment tourism destination in China, and that MESA members can help with that goal.

“We are looking forward to being an active member of MESA, [in order to] build a bridge between the mature entertainment industry of Hollywood, and the aspiring and emerging companies of China,” she said.

China’s desire for Hollywood content can’t be understated: during the first half of 2014, the country’s box office grew more than 20%, compared to the first half of 2013, according to Shanghai-based tracking firm Artisan Gateway.

Of the top-10 grossing films at the Chinese box office through June 30, four movies were made in China, while the other six (X-Men: Days of Future Past, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Transformers: Age of Extinction, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Godzilla and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug) came from Hollywood studios.

Dr. Demos Vardiabasis, MESA’s chair of entertainment and technology alliance- China/USA (ETA-CU), was instrumental in facilitating the MESA-HCIG agreement. Vardiabasis is a professor of international business and chair of the Presidential Key Executive MBA program at Pepperdine University. He also served as the chairman of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Commission on Economic Development when he spearheaded the first ever California Entertainment and Tourism Advisory Committee.

To see the full news release from MESA, click here.

Women In Technology: Hollywood (WITH) To Launch July 16 At Networking Luncheon

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

LOS ANGELES: Representatives from the leading Hollywood studios have announced the launch of a new industry group designed to facilitate business networking among women executives with technology roles including management, analysis and coding, across divisions of film, television and home entertainment.

Women in Technology: Hollywood (WITH) will officially launch with its first networking luncheon on July 16 at the Luxe Hotel Sunset Boulevard.

Produced by MESA in cooperation with the Hollywood IT Society, the event is sponsored by Quantum and Zaszou and will feature a panel discussion of senior-level women entertainment executives who will discuss the career advice they’ve received that actually helped them achieve success in their field.

1-WITH Plenary Meeting 5-22-14-2

WITH Plenary Meeting.

This cross-industry organization is being built off the success of a similar group within Sony Pictures Entertainment, which is under the direction of Nadya Ichinomiya, Director, IT, Television and Rachel Souder-Arguedas, Project Manager, IT, Home Entertainment.

Both executives will serve as co-chairs of the new organization, which will be managed by the Hollywood IT Society (HITS) and Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA).

“There is a unique need for women who have combined careers in media, entertainment and technology to network and learn from each other about how to advance their careers as well as use new technologies in their enterprises,” says Ichinomiya.

“WITH will provide us with the communications platform we need and will ultimately help recognize the important role that women are playing in the digital transformation of film, television and all forms of entertainment.”

Studio representatives who have attended WITH plenary meetings included: Nancy Baca, Director Information Technology, Walt Disney Studios; Angela Barto, Associate Director, Enterprise Data Management, 20th Century Fox; Lindsay Caputo, Director Content Protection & Technology Research, Disney/ABC Television Group; Tina Carranza, Manager Content Management, NBCUniversal;  Susan Cheng, Vice President Supply Chain Planning & Data Governance, Warner Bros. Entertainment; Shahrezad McNeil, Director IT, Lionsgate Entertainment; Lara Michalak, Title Management Analyst, NBCUniversal; Payal Shah, Manager Business Process and Analysis, Warner Bros.; LeTisha Shaw, Senior Manager Piracy Management, Walt Disney Studios; and Cheri Strelow, Senior Vice President, CRM Supply Chain, MIS, Warner Home Entertainment.

Admission to the inaugural WITH luncheon is complimentary to all content holders and MESA Advisory Board members.

To learn more details about the schedule and panel discussion for the WITH Luncheon click here.

To register click here.

To find out how you can participate in WITH contact MESA Executive Director Guy Finley at guy@MESAlliance.org — or by calling: (917) 513-5963.

AMA L.A., USC CTM Partner on Internet of Things Event

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

By Chris Tribbey

Asset tracking, smart homes, wearable devices and location-based services: the explosion of connected devices is behind the concept of the Internet of Things, according to Jay Tucker, chief marketing officer and head of programs for the Institute for Communication Technology Management at the University of Southern California’s (USC) Marshall School of Business. “The idea of devices communicating with each other — but without a human in-between — drives a continued evolution of the digital network, and challenges service providers to improve speed and functionality to meet new demands,” he said.

The USC Institute for Communication Technology Management (USC CTM), along with the American Marketing Association Los Angeles (AMA L.A.) and eSage Group, will hold an L.A. Learning Lounge at Cross Camp in Santa Monica, Calif. July 24, to tackle the implications and opportunities of the Internet of Things business.

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IGATE: M&E Solutions on a Global Level

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

By Chris Tribbey

With more than 31,000 employees worldwide, Bridgewater, N.J. based IGATE offers integrated technology and operations solutions for a broad range of industries, from finance and banking to healthcare to manufacturing to energy and utilities, as well media and entertainment.

“We’re a global technology and solutions company, with offices and delivery centers in the US, Europe, Australia and Asia,” said Larry Rupp, Head of North American Services BU. “We are a recognized leader in providing integrated technology and operations-based solutions worldwide.”

In the media and entertainment space, the company has a simple outlook: digital has changed everything. Today’s IT ecosystem must incorporate the cloud, social media, mobile and big data analytics for linear, digital and theatrical distribution as well as home entertainment. It’s all file-based in cinema and broadcast today, and IGATE is addressing the digital supply chain on a global basis.

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ISE Wants Hackers to Attack Routers … Seriously

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

By Chris Tribbey

Normally technology vulnerability testing company Independent Security Evaluators (ISE) is working to prevent cyber attacks, but this time around they want hackers to do their thing.

ISE and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Aug. 7-10 will hold a hacking competition during the annual DEF CON hacking conference in Las Vegas, with hackers encouraged to do everything they can to expose security vulnerabilities in wireless routers.

ISE and EFF are holding the competition — dubbed “SOHOpelessly Broken” — after a series of studies in 2013 discovered a security epidemic plaguing small office/home office (SOHO) WiFi routers, allowing an attacker to take control of the device and intercept and modify network traffic. ISE is of the mind that router manufacturers have done little to address the issues.

“By demonstrating that the issues persist and that consumers are still exposed, pressure will be applied to the manufacturers to take the necessary action to better protect their customers who are currently not empowered to protect themselves,” said Steve Bono, founder of ISE.

For the event EFF is developing a router that allows to access an open WiFi channel that provides Internet access to guest users, without compromising security, privacy or the online experience. EFF is also behind a related initiative: the Open Wireless Movement.

“The outcome of this event will be two-fold,” said EFF’s Ranga Krishnan. “First, we will prove that routers are still vulnerable. Second, we will galvanize a community of technologists to demand remediation by manufacturers.”

The competition will be held at the Rio Hotel and Casino, and will include contest multiple talk tracks, “Capture the Flag,” zero-day vulnerability discovery, and more. To register or sign on as a judge for the competition, go here.

One on One with DirecTV’s Tom Hagopian

June 19, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

The Interactive Television Alliance (ITA) is carrying out a series of one-on-one interviews with its members. First up here is a discussion with Tom Hagopian, VP of advanced ad sales for DirecTV.

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‘Game of Thrones,’ Piracy and HBO

June 18, 2014 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

About a year ago, during a Time Warner quarterly financial call, company CEO Jeff Bewkes was asked how the company would tackle the rampant, record-setting rates of piracy for episodes of HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”

Bewkes’ response was, to the say the least, unexpected.

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Mediamorph’s Newest Deal Harkens Back to Company’s Roots

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

By Chris Tribbey

The latest partnership announced by software-as-a-service (SaaS) firm Mediamorph doesn’t mark any major changes in the company’s focus, according to Michael Sid, Mediamorph’s co-founder and CEO. It’s simply an advantageous expansion.

On June 10, Vubiquity — the world’s largest provider of multiplatform video services — announced it would use Mediamorph and its rights management solution for video service providers and digital retailers (Mediamorph Connect) as a component vendor for the Vubiquity AnyVU Cloud platform.

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