Invenio: Making SAP Easy for Media

February 24, 2015 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

It’s not just that United Kingdom-based Invenio Business Solutions delivers SAP solutions, services and support for the media industry. Because SAP is all Invenio does — with 75% of its global revenue coming from media customers — the company marks itself as one of the best in the SAP business.

Kedar Patwardhan (director of strategic accounts), Subramaniam Pappu (head of American operations) and Matthew Hembrow (global head of media) sat down with the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) to discuss the state of SAP services for the media and entertainment industry, and the success stories of Invenio customers.

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ISPs, CDNs Make Final Net Neutrality Pitches to FCC

February 23, 2015 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

This Thursday the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is expected to approve a proposal to treat Internet access service more like a public utility, essentially banning paid prioritization by Internet service providers (ISPs), and prohibiting the blocking and throttling of legal content and services online.

But the proposal is also expected for the first time to extend net neutrality rules to cover access to last mile ISPs’ networks by third-party edge providers such as Netflix, a step many ISPs fear could leave them holding the bag for congestion problems and other data traffic interruptions to occur elsewhere on the Internet.

With the FCC’s Feb. 26 vote looming, ISPs have launched a last-minute campaign urging the Commission to extend any rules governing traffic exchanges and peering arrangements to cover CDNs and other transit providers as well as last-mile networks, leading to a flurry of dueling filings with the agency.

“If the FCC decides to assert jurisdiction over Internet traffic exchange arrangements, it should make clear that this jurisdiction applies to all parties to these arrangements, not just retail broadband providers,” a Feb. 11 Comcast filing with the FCC reads. “Other parties to such arrangements, including transit providers and content delivery networks (“CDNs”), are engaged in the transmission of Internet traffic and have the ability to create congestion and performance issues that could impact consumers.”

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BDA: 4K Blu-ray Disc Spec Still in Flux

February 19, 2015 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

Earlier this week, various news reports came out that the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) had finalized standards for Ultra HD Blu-ray, the 4K Blu-ray spec expected to be the next generation of physical disc.

It was news to Victor Matsuda, chairman of the BDA’s global promotions group.

“Some things at the very least are incomplete,” Matsuda told the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) about the 4K Blu-ray standard. “And there’s no information at this time that we can offer that differs from what we provided at the [International Consumer Electronics Show in January].”

Matsuda corrected two misconceptions making the rounds regarding the spec: The new 4K Blu-ray spec will support one mandatory High Dynamic Range (HDR) technology, with two optional that can be layered on, and while the Ultra HD hardware will be mandatory backwards compatible with current Blu-ray Discs, the 4K Blu-ray Discs will not work with current Blu-ray players.

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NBC ‘SNL’ App Makes Use of Smart Content

February 13, 2015 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

Matt Turner, CTO of media and publishing for MarkLogic Corp., looks at what NBC has done with its new “Saturday Night Live” app, and sees a first for the world of both OTT and mobile apps.

Indeed, the app — released Feb. 12 — doesn’t just include all 40 seasons of the show, with nearly 800 episodes covering more than 300 hours of video, it actually features a personalization engine that responds to what the user is watching, how they watch and predicts what they want next. The more a viewer interacts with the “SNL” app, the more it offers up clips that fit the viewer’s tastes, and creates “episodes” of “SNL,” predicting the favorite moments the viewer might want to see.

Released to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the iconic show Feb. 15, the app also includes exclusive, never-before-seen videos from the show, original content, a library of 5,500 clips (with more to be added), a user interface that allows owners to swipe from clip to clip, and a search engine that allows for browsing by season, cast member, episode and more.

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DEW Panel: Ignore OTT at Your Own Risk

February 11, 2015 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

A Digital Entertainment World panel of top decision-makers in the content industry covered the benefits — and drawbacks — of the numerous over-the-top services debuting today, and how the millennial generation is driving this demand for OTT services.

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Panasonic Hollywood Lab Opens Doors on New Location

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

By Chris Tribbey

Standing outside the front doors of the new Panasonic Hollywood Lab (PHL) location — just across the freeway from its old spot next to Universal Studios — Ron Martin, director of PHL, smiled while talking about the lab’s new digs, and new mission.

“For me, it’s about the 10th facility I’ve built in town, and it serves our function perfectly,” Martin said Feb. 5 during an open house for the facility. “It brings together all of Panasonic’s divisions — engineers from Japan, from Europe, even from South America — we host them here, and we brainstorm together. It’s cozy and it’s compact. It physically says that it’s a safe zone where we can get together and work toward the same goals.”

The building is about a third the size of what PHL occupied previously, Martin said, but it serves the research and development facility’s new goal: expand Panasonic’s technology work in production, post-production and home entertainment distribution beyond Hollywood, while retaining its commitment to the industry that made PHL what it is today.

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Metadata Madness Set for L.A., N.Y.

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

By Chris Tribbey

Last year, the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) and DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group (DEG) for the first time gathered the who’s who of experts in the world of entertainment metadata together for an all-day event.

In 2015, it’s happening twice. On March 17, the second annual Metadata Madness event kicks off in Los Angeles at the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel, with a bevy of experts in the entertainment metadata field expected to share the latest in movie and TV content data management — from pre-production to archive preservation and everything in between — and how Hollywood is making that data profitable.

FilmTrack, MarkLogic and Zaszou IT Consulting are among the initial sponsors of the event.

And thanks to the success of the 2014 Los Angeles Metadata Madness, MESA will bring its team of experts to the East Coast, with a second metadata event in New York City March 31 at Convene at 730 Third Ave., where they’ll offer an update and information exchange about ways media and entertainment companies are aligning fields of data to automate new creative, production and distribution processes.

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FCC’s Open Internet Plan Draws Praise, Criticism

February 4, 2015 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Tom Wheeler Feb. 4 released proposed new rules for Net Neutrality, ones that would treat Internet broadband as a public utility, ban paid prioritization by Internet service providers (ISPs), and prohibit the blocking and throttling of legal content and services online.

Wheeler is calling on the commission to use its Title II (Communications Act) authority to implement and enforce the regulations, instead of attempting to rely on portions of the Telecommunications Act to maintain an open Internet.

“The Internet wouldn’t have emerged as it did, for instance, if the FCC hadn’t mandated open access for network equipment in the late 1960s,” Wheeler wrote in an editorial published by Wired. “Before then, AT&T prohibited anyone from attaching non-AT&T equipment to the network. The modems that enabled the internet were usable only because the FCC required the network to be open.”

The proposal would allow the FCC to get around an early 2014 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that struck down rules that prevented ISPs from blocking and discriminating against online content.

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NBC: Super Bowl Live-Stream Set a Precedent

February 3, 2015 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

The Super Bowl has long cemented itself as the single biggest night in TV. This year NBC pushed to make it the biggest event online as well.

NBC’s live stream of the game online (via NBC Sports Live Extra) — without requiring a pay TV subscription —set Super Bowl records for concurrent users (1.3 million), average viewers per minute (800,000), and total minutes viewed (213 million), according to data from Adobe Analytics.

The average viewers per minute was more than double the amount Fox pulled in for its 2014 Super Bowl online stream. Approximately 2.5 million people tuned into NBC’s Super Bowl live stream, up 9% from 2014’s Super Bowl.

NBC offered 11 continuous hours of Super Bowl streaming content Sunday, from pre-game, to halftime, to a post-game plug of “The Blacklist.”

Those 2.5 million online viewers can’t touch the 114.4 million who watched the actual broadcast (making Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIX the most-watched show in American TV history) … but NBC looks at Sunday’s online engagement, and sees a bright online future for every major sporting event.

Eric Black, VP of technology for NBC Universal’s sports and Olympics division, discussed the results of NBC’s Super Bowl online streaming event with the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA), covering NBC’s technology partners, the VOD ad experience, and why some Super Bowl streamers encountered a delay.

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NBC Super Bowl Live Stream Sets Records … and Frustrates

February 2, 2015 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

NBC’s decision to live-stream all of its Super Bowl coverage (including the pregame, halftime and postgame shows) for free, without the need for a pay TV subscription, appears to have paid off.

More than 2.5 million people in all checked out the live stream at some point Sunday, with an average of 800,000 viewers a minute, NBC Sports reported, both apparent records for a sporting event. Viewers averaged 84.2 minutes on the live stream.

However, despite its popularity, the live stream wasn’t without its detractors.

Mashable reported that the stream was delayed vs. the broadcast by almost a full minute, and the quality of the stream was poor, depending on a user’s broadband connection. “Still, the biggest problem is perhaps the most hilarious: the lack of full national ad support,” wrote the site’s Christina Warren.

“You would think that the most advertising rich television program of the year would be a perfect boon for online streaming.

“Apparently, lots of national advertisers think differently. The stream on NBC’s website contains different ads from the main game and often forgoes ads entirely to display [a Super Bowl “Coverage Will Return” message].”

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UltraViolet Gets a Boost in France

January 28, 2015 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

The launch of Nolim Films — an UltraViolet-enabled video service from French supermarket chain Carrefour — was over a year in the making, and the nearly 3,000 movies and TV series available at launch are just the start, according to Jason Keane, CEO of Saffron Digital.

It’s Saffron’s premium OTT platform that’s behind the service, which offers both electronic sellthrough and transactional VOD, and is the first UltraViolet service in the French market. Nolim Films offers new releases four months after their theatrical debut, and new TV episodes are available for download via an app the day after they air in the U.S.

Saffron’s OTT platform covers content preparation and management, storefront services, UltraViolet integration and a secure media player, with accessible playback on smartphones and tablets (Android and iOS) as well as Internet-connected TVs and PCs.

“Building one of the first European UltraViolet services was obviously going to present some challenges. It’s something we’ve been working hard on, and the early feedback has been wonderful,” Keane told the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) Jan. 28.

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ContentBridge CEO Tackles Music Licensing Opportunities

January 26, 2015 · Posted in M&E Daily, M&E Exclusive · Comments Off 

By Chris Tribbey

Public performance royalties, soundtracks, even straight-up selling a music library, there are plenty of revenue avenues for content rights holders. But repeatedly those in the visual media business don’t treat music rights as the asset it really is.

That’s according to ContentBridge CEO Jason Peterson, who recently published a white paper (a product of the Entertainment Merchant Associations’s Digital Council) about the opportunities available for rights holders in the $10-billion-a-year music publishing industry. He shared his findings earlier this month at an Entertainment Merchants Association conference held at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

“The music industry has hit an inflection point and is on the way up again,” Peterson told the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA). “However, audiovisual rights-holders often neglect this opportunity to make money on the music in their programs.”

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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.

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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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