Since this is new, we can gather some of the older (really important) stuff initially that might be news to those who haven't read any of this. Standard def as well as high def can be included, but I think we all understand that HD will be much more interesting. IPTV news is OK, as it relates to this topic as well.
It'll be a good resource to have the facts in one place.
Please, stick to News only . Highlight the parts of the news article you think are important - include minimum of chatter.
I expect really exciting times in the months and years ahead!
DOCSIS 3.0 deployments are seen by industry experts as the best way for cablecos with hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) networks to keep pace with large, deep-pocketed, FTTH and FTTN network operators such as Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc., respectively. (For more, read Cast Aside?: Why Comcast and Other Cablecos Are Struggling)
In a separate but related development, Time Warner Cable is expected to begin deploying DOCSIS 3.0 later this month, according to a report released today by New Paradigm Resources Group.
This contrasts with earlier reports saying Time Warner was taking a wait and see attitude toward DOCSIS 3.0 deployment.
Vudu pushed an update to its platform this week which would allow for users to free up hard drive space by "storing" purchased movies on the company's own servers.
Known as the "Vault," it appears to merely allow for the customer to delete the movie from the set-top box's hard drive by flagging the movie as having been previously purchased from the Vudu servers.
The function would be available for select movies and TV shows offered through Vudu, and re-downloads would incur no additional charges. If the consumer wishes to not archive the movie, they would be able to delete it -- in which case, additional charges might apply.
However, in some cases, content providers may only allow for deletion and not archiving. Both functions would be available through the My Movies menu screen.
Other enhancements would be provided with version 1.3 of the set-top box' OS, including revised sort functionality, updated TV show search functionality, a revised advance settings menu, and a new Most Watched list, ranked by popularity among Vudu users.
Vudu said it would also make available an IR receiver kit for $39 which would make the device usable with selected programmable universal remotes.
The company has also confirmed to BetaNews late this afternoon that its Vudu XL, a version of the set-top box with a 1 TB internal driver has begun shipping as of Tuesday. That option would be available for $999, over two-and-a-half times the cost of the standard $295 box.
Now the new numbers; these are highlights, with the full fact sheet below:
· At the end of December 2007, Verizon had passed about 9.3 million homes and businesses in parts of 17 states.
· Verizon expects to continue passing some 3 million premises annually through 2010, when the company expects to have passed about 18 million homes, or over half the homes it serves.
· As of December 31, 2007, Verizon has more than 1.5 million FiOS Internet customers, an increase of 245,000 during the fourth quarter of 2007 – or about 3,900 new FiOS Internet customers every business day at an average penetration rate of 21 percent.
· Verizon expects to attract 6 to 7 million FiOS Internet customers by year-end 2010 – a penetration rate of 35 percent to 40 percent.
· During just the fourth quarter of 2007, Verizon added a net of 226,000 new FiOS TV customers -- or about 3,600 new customers every business day.
· In January 2008 we signed up our one-millionth FiOS TV customer, just 28 months after launching the service, making Verizon the 10th largest subscription television provider in the country.
As speculation continues on whether Microsoft will now move to support Blu-ray as the industry standard, however, Europe boss Chris Lewis has re-emphasised the US giant's commitment to digital downloads, dismissing the significance of Sony's format victory.
"Going forwards, digital downloads is really where it's at," Lewis told GamesIndustry.biz. "More and more people's ongoing and ever-increasing downloading of music and movies is becoming the de facto. I think that's going to happen in very short order; people want to consume that way. Before very long we will look back wistfully at shiny discs as something that was somewhat a historic phenomenon in a way that we kind of think about vinyl or VCRs today."
While Microsoft's belief in the long term potential of downloadable content over physical storage media is well documented, Lewis claimed that, despite Blu-ray's victory, the shift away from discs will happen "sooner than any of us think".
"That's the future direction, and I think that's going to be the case in the next 12-18 months," he predicted. "I think we're going to be talking much more about that than anything else. Do I think that this Christmas will somehow be defined by DVD playback? I genuinely don't think that will be the case. I do not think that [the demise of HD DVD] will have any material impact on our console velocity. And I think other factors, specifically our architecture around downloads, is far more advantageous and important for the future."
He added: "We are best placed to offer that, we already offer that, our online pedigree is such that we will offer the best and most seamless experience."
Our library business continues to perform strongly as well. We are again on track for at least $250 million in library revenues and $90 million in free cash flow generated by our library this year, showing our margins are holding pretty well. This is the year in which we should start to see meaningful revenues from digital delivery as well. With Apple's recent announcement of their entry into the VOD business and their introduction of a new version of the Apple TV, along with a number of other similar VOD enabled set-top boxes on the market, from Sony, XBox, TiVo, Vudu and ARCOS, broadband delivery of VOD is getting close to bridging the gap to the consumer's living room, which is the Holy Grail in driving the broadband digital delivery business.
This is the final element that we have always needed to make digital delivery an important and financially meaningful market. It is why, as we indicated on the last call, we see our digital revenues growing from less than one percent of all home entertainment revenue in fiscal '07 to between 10% and 15% or more by 2010.
We have always believed that digital revenue would primarily be incremental. And as we see the continued vibrancy of our traditional packaged media business going forward, it is becoming increasingly certain to us that these digital revenue streams will be accretive to our overall business and will be instrumental in adding excitement to the home entertainment market.
SAN FRANCISCO, March 26 (Reuters) - Netflix Inc (NFLX.O: Quote, Profile, Research) expects to lead the market for movies delivered over the Web despite growing competition from Web giants like Apple and Amazon, Chief Financial Officer Barry McCarthy said on Wednesday.
One major reason, he said, is that watching movies over the Internet is not yet easy, so Netflix can keep customers happy with the simple DVDs-by-mail technology while Web delivery improves.
"Download services right now have limited value. As long as it's a marginal product because of limited content or because you're limited to PC to watch it, it's difficult for stand-alone services to compete with Netflix," he said.
In addition to its core mail-order DVD business, Netflix, with 7.5 million subscribers, lets subscribers watch movies via the Web on PCs and also plans to roll out a set-top box with LG Electronics Inc (066570.KS: Quote, Profile, Research) this year to let subscribers watch films streamed from the Web to TVs.
The promise of increased Web video viewing has lured companies like Apple Inc (AAPL.O: Quote, Profile, Research) and Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O: Quote, Profile, Research) into the sector, but analysts expect it will be five to 10 years before that market really takes off.
McCarthy said Netflix will announce more alliances like its LG partnership, but declined to provide details.
"We'd like to be on as many platforms as possible. If you buy an electronic platform and you're able to access Netflix content on your TV because it's on that set-top box, that's great," he said.
As Blockbuster Inc. continues to slug it out with rival Netflix Inc., it's staking its claims to differentiation and its future on a bid to be a multi-channel retailer and not just a DVD rental company. And in repositioning to a multi-platform strategy, the Internet and e-commerce figure to play a big role.
A recent overhaul to Blockbuster.com sets the stage for multi-channel offerings, CEO Jim Keyes is telling analysts this spring. For example, Keyes says that customers will be able to purchase movie downloads from Blockbuster.com by the end of the second quarter. The company also plans to experiment with digital downloads at kiosks in stores.
Blockbuster's $6.6 million acquisition last year of Movielink LLC, which has an inventory of thousands of movies and TV shows, will facilitate the company's ability to provide digital content to a variety of formats, including personal computers, portable devices, and, eventually, home TV screens.
Blockbuster also is using a marketing deal with Yahoo to generate more sales online and in stores, and it has announced plans to partner with Paramount Pictures and MTV Networks to offer exclusive digital content.
The company expects to spend some $130 million this year on capital projects including $40 million on information technology and web infrastructure upgrades.
As new entertainment technologies emerge, consumer options multiply, Keyes notes. All of these initiatives underscore our determination to position Blockbuster as the only provider of media content across all platformsin-store, by mail and by digital download.
Oops - Disney's plan to enlist National Treasure 2 director Jon Turteltaub to help promote the film's May 20 DVD/Blu-ray release may have backfired a bit. In a Tuesday online roundtable discussion with reporters, Turteltaub was asked how he personally felt about the BD format. He totally likes it, but he indicated it may soon get replaced by a newer technology.
"No question Blu-ray is the way to go. It's superb," said Turteltaub, who has directed both National Treasure installments. "And as great as it is, it's probably going to be gone in a few years. Things are moving quickly and something better will come along soon, which is great in some ways. But it also makes things very confusing and very expensive for distributors. Knowing when to change is tricky."
Boston (dbTechno) - According to Virgin Media and Microsoft, high-definition movie downloads over Xbox Live should only take around 15 minutes to download. This means that by the end of 2008, HD movies may seem like a much more desirable asset for the Xbox 360.
Virgin Media stated that with the speeds of broadband services improving, it is likely that HD movie downloads will have shorter and shorter times in the future.
Virgin Media's 50MB broadband service will be ready for over nine million homes by the end of 2008, and that is expanding to other broadband services as well.
Microsoft has been trying to push HD movie downloads over the Xbox 360 via the Xbox Live Marketplace, and has been pretty successful thus far.
Things are only going to improve though if they do manage to get the download times this small.
An Xbox spokesman stated that the downloads should be between 15-minutes and a half-hour.
DENVER -- Docsis 3.0 Strategies -- MSOs of all sizes are planning to test or trial Docsis 3.0 as early as this year, but most aren't yet willing to say where they will take a whack at it first.
Among MSOs, Comcast Corp. has been among the most aggressive, stating that it expects to wire up as much as 20 percent of its footprint for the speedier, higher-capacity Docsis 3.0 platform by year's end. Others, including Rogers Communications Inc., Cox Communications Inc. , and Buckeye CableSystem , shed some light on their plans Wednesday, here at the latest Light Reading Live event, Docsis 3.0 Strategies: From Product Development to Deployment.
Cox to start with the downstream
Cox also has Docsis 3.0 on its agenda, and it appears that its channel bonding strategy will synch up with its decision to expand system bandwidth across the board. (See Cox Makes 1 GHz Moves .)
Cox is looking to move Docsis 3.0 traffic into spectrum that will be gained from its eventual move to 1 GHz, according to John Coppola, Cox's director of access technology and engineering.
The MSO plans to do some limited deployments of Docsis 3.0 in the second half of 2008, giving it the ability to add capacity at costs lower than what's afforded by earlier versions of the platform. Those deployments will likely focus on downstream channel bonding initially, and in pockets where Cox is experiencing the most heated competition. Coppola did not identify which markets might come online first, but a possible candidate is Northern Virginia, where Cox is battling with Verizon Communications Inc.'s FiOS platform.
Looking further ahead, Cox expects to fully roll out downstream channel bonding on a fuller basis in 2009, the same year it will start to test Docsis 3.0's upstream capabilities. A broad deployment of the full Docsis 3.0 platform could happen in 2010, Coppola said.
Japan is speed crazy
Liberty Global Inc. , an MSO that has 16 million cable customers in 15 countries, is facing some 100 Mbit/s competition in Japan, and has already deployed some pre-3.0 technologies to meet it.
Jupiter Telecommunications Co. Ltd., Liberty Global's affiliate there, launched the technology in the Kansai area last April, advertising "best effort" speeds of 160 Mbit/s. (See Japanese MSO Moves 160 Mbit/s.)
Phil Colby, Liberty Global's VP of technology, said tests have demonstrated average cable modem speeds of 108 Mbit/s to 110 Mbit/s, while DSL competitors have averaged 25 Mbit/s to 30 Mbit/s, despite advertising much more. "There's no correlation on what's being marketed to what's being offered. It's all best-effort," he said. "A lot of it is about marketing. There isn't a great understanding on what they [customers] are actually getting."
The operator plans to migrate to a full Docsis 3.0 platform when the technology matures, but, in the meantime, it has already seen a decent uptake (up to 30 percent) for its pre-3.0-based service. And that has as much to do with the price as it has with the speed. J:COM's 160 Mbit/s is priced just $6 to $8 more than the MSO's next, lower-service tier of 30 Mbit/s. "It's a fairly attractive option for customers in that market," Colby said.
Buckeye expects to launch a 12 Mbit/s service next month, with anticipation of a 15 Mbit/s service sometime next year using its legacy Docsis system. "We want to make sure we can continue that curve," Jensen said. "As we launch 3.0, we want to maintain that in the eyes of our customers."
While Buckeye has not identified when it will deploy Docsis 3.0, the MSO does plan to begin testing the platform on a couple of hubs next month.
LONDON -- IPTV World Forum -- Microsoft Corp. plans to launch an extension to its Mediaroom IPTV system as early as August this year, and has dubbed the upcoming enhancement "Milwaukee."
Access to the Microsoft Mediaroom Milwaukee Alpha 2 Program Website is still restricted, but, according to Shari Barnett, director of Media Services at Microsoft's TV Division, the software giant plans to make the beta version of the application developers' kit available in May, so that third-party firms can start developing services to run on the software.
Barnett expects to see new applications coming to market in 2009.
The key enhancements the Milwaukee update will add to the current version of Microsoft's Mediaroom system are: the ability to pull in existing data feeds, including real-time updates, from Websites to run concurrently on-screen with video streams; and the ability to build sophisticated recommendation and personalization tools.
A demonstration of the streamed TV/Website data fusion was on display here at Microsoft's stand, using feeds and relevant background data from Nascar's Website, alongside and/or overlaid with video footage of a Nascar race.
The capabilities are certainly exciting Mediaroom user BT Group plc. In a presentation here at the London event, Marc Watson, commercial director of BT Vision -- the carrier's hybrid TV/video-over-broadband service that had 150,000 customers at the end of February -- said Milwaukee would underpin BT's next video services push. (See BT Adds to Its IPTV Options and Soccer Kickstarts BT's IPTV Growth.)
"Microsoft's Milwaukee will give us enormous flexibility in providing recommendation tools and enhanced presentation formats... [including] dedicated advertising and information such as sports scores in the same screen as the content you're watching," stated Watson.
He says BT has already added an HTML-based browser tool to its BT Vision set-top boxes, which allows customers to customize and create their own channels of content based on what's available. The Milwaukee upgrade will enable BT to deliver enhanced functionality that will make on-demand video more "engaging... It can be a cold experience."
Watson said BT Vision's subscriber base growth is accelerating and the carrier has a target of "hundreds of thousands" of TV/video customers by the beginning of April, which would mean adding 50,000 new customers, or one third of its current customer base, in just one month.
Netflix Inc., the world's largest online movie rental service, and LG Electronics, a global consumer electronics leader, today announced they are joining forces to develop a set-top box for consumers to stream movies and other programming from the Internet to HDTVs -- bypassing the need to use a personal computer.
The collaboration is expected to deliver a compelling new online home entertainment service via technology embedded in an LG networked player planned for the second half of 2008. Today's announcement sets the stage for next week's 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES®), which will emphasize digital content as well as hardware solutions.
"Consumers crave compelling and immediate content, and the Netflix online streaming movie feature can provide instant gratification. This alliance underscores LG's goal of developing smart technologies that deliver flexibility, convenience and control to consumers," said KI Kwon, President of the Consumer Electronics Division of LG Electronics USA, Inc.
The technology collaboration supports the Netflix core strategy of offering a multi-dimensional, or "hybrid," service that gives its more than 7 million members a variety of ways to receive movies and TV series for one, low monthly fee.
With the availability of the networked LG product planned for later this year, Netflix subscribers can watch movies streamed from the Netflix Web site on their large-screen home theater HDTVs, in addition to the current capability to watch movies instantly on their PCs.
On top of its rich catalog of more than 90,000 titles on DVD delivered fast through the mail, a growing selection of more than 6,000 familiar movies and TV episodes delivered instantly over the Internet to Netflix members' personal computers or TVs will even more strongly position Netflix in online movie rentals, which it pioneered in 1997.
"Internet to the TV is a huge opportunity," said Netflix Founder, Chairman and CEO Reed Hastings. "Netflix explored also offering its own Netflix-branded set-top boxes but we concluded that familiar consumer electronics devices from industry leaders like LG Electronics are a better consumer solution for getting the Internet to the TV."
In all, today's announcement enhances LG Electronics' position as a top-tier player in the U.S. digital television marketplace and advances the Netflix goal of making electronic delivery -- including future high definition content -- a meaningful addition to its existing DVD delivery platform and a valued enhancement to the Netflix subscriber experience. Netflix took its first step in that direction in 2007 when it enabled members to instantly watch movies and TV series on their personal computers.
Sony marketing VP talks up PS3s chances of current-gen victory
On another note, he also teased about the likelihood of music and movie downloads on PS3 soon. "We have entertainment leverage and that means music and movies. No other company has that ability or those assets. The PS3 is the hub....you can probably connect the dots. Stay tuned!"
The Amazon Unbox video service may be in for the most striking overhaul of all the company's digital services. There are more than 30,000 movies and TV show titles on the site available for rent or download. But the videos play only in Microsoft's Windows Media format and are not accessible from many non-Windows devices, like Apple computers.
When asked how much business Amazon is doing with Unbox, Mr. Rosenblatt of GiantSteps said: Probably very little. But is anyone doing a lot of business with downloadable movies? I think the answer is, not even Apple is.
Mr. Kessel carefully describes Unbox as in its very early days and says customers should expect a lot of innovation from us in this business.
The executives declined to be more specific. But Amazon recently ran an online poll asking users what new features they would like to see in Unbox. Likely possibilities from that list include a high-definition video offering and the addition of streaming video to the service, so customers could watch video almost instantly. (Netflix has a similar watch it now streaming video feature available for subscribers.)
The Amazon executives also suggested that their deal with TiVo to bring Unbox videos directly to television sets is only the first of many such arrangements.
The TiVo relationship is not exclusive in any way, shape or form, Mr. Carr said. We have other relationships and we are perfectly capable of delivering video to other hardware devices.
San Jose (CA) - Adobe is making its entry into what is widely called a next-generation TV era on the Internet. Built on the company's AIR platform, the Media Player 1.0 launched late yesterday with an initial set of episodes and episode snippets from shows airing on major TV networks. Strangely enough, while the software is advertised as a cross-platform media player, Adobe prohibits the use of the software on any device other than desktop and notebook PCs.
Adobe's Media Player (AMP) should not be confused with other Media Players, such as Microsoft's Windows Player (WMP). While the WMP is a playback platform for most of popular media files available offline and online, the AMP is a pure online play that competes with applications such as Joost. Adobe describes its AMP as a cross-platform media player [that] provides exciting new ways for viewers to discover and interact with their favorite content, while offering revenue and brand-building opportunities for content publishers.
But despite the fact that Adobe calls AMP a cross-platform solution, that, by the way, enables users to download Internet video outside the browser in the Adobe Flash format and view it in 1080p, 720p or 480i video display resolutions, the cross-platform claim is somewhat limited at this time. The software's end-user license agreement states that users may not use the software on any non-PC device or with any embedded or device version of any operating system.
Adobe explicitly mentions that the AMP must not be installed on any mobile devices, set-top-boxes, handhelds, phones, web pads, tablets and Tablet PCs (that are not running Windows XP Tablet PC Edition), game consoles, TVs, DVD players, electronic billboards or other digital signage, internet appliances or other internet-connected devices, PDAs, medical devices, ATMs, telematic devices, gaming machines, home automation systems, kiosks, remote control devices, or any other consumer electronics device, operator-based mobile, cable, satellite, or television systems or other closed system devices - and even Media Center PCs as long as they are not running Windows XP Media Center Edition and its successors.
When it comes to outsize ambition, you gotta admire the guys at Building B. This until-now secretive startup is making a flat-out assault on the cable TV industry. The company talked a little bit at CES on Monday. Its service, launching later this year, aims to merge full-blown conventional digital television with full-blown Internet video, from YouTube to Comedy Central's online archive of "The Daily Show" - all on ordinary televisions.
CES is awash in evidence of innovation in online video. Given that most people far prefer to watch video on the TV, not the PC, it's just a matter of time before all forms of video get merged. The TV is the place to do it.
This company may have a way. Building B's product consists of software and a box that aim to turn your TV into one digital home for all the video you would ever want to watch, from whatever source.
The company's co-founders, Buno Pati and Phil Wiser, say they will offer a complete alternative to digital television, with the added bonus of full integration with Internet video content. "You won't need cable and satellite when you have this service," says Pati.
Not only that, but Pati says it will cost less than basic analog cable does today. He said that 55 million American homes get their TV today in analog form, either over the air or via cable. Those ordinary American TV-watchers are the initial target customers for Building B's digital service.
Building B plans to give consumers what Om Malik on Newteevee.com last summer called a "God Box" - one that tries to do everything (more or less). This digital video receiver will attach to a conventional broadband Internet connection. It will also connect to an over-the-air wireless digital television receiver that will offer the same TV channels that consumers usually get via cable. It may take a while to add all the more esoteric and low-viewership cable channels, Pati and Wiser say. And of course, their box has to work.
I met the two for breakfast and a demo at one of the casino-hotel monstrosities that line the Las Vegas strip. Though the company's launch has been delayed before, they plan to formally announce it, along with its real name, in February. (Building B is just a placeholder the company adopted temporarily, presumably to increase peoples' curiosity about its up-to-now hyper-secret machinations.) They intend to begin serving customers in the second half of 2008.
Wiser is a longtime media technologist who co-founded Net music pioneer Liquid Audio and later served as CTO for Sony Corp. of America. Pati is a former Harvard professor of computer science who subsequently helped launch eight companies, most of them involving wireless or semiconductor technology.
Instead of trying to sell its product at retail, Pati and Wiser aim to get telephone companies and Internet service providers to distribute the service to their customers. It will enable them to add television to their offerings - to give them, in effect, an instant so-called "triple play," so they can compete directly with cable companies. "We have architected this to be a turnkey solution for broadband service providers," says Pati. The co-founders claim they are getting a remarkable reception from such companies, even some of the biggest ones. They plan to announce some of these deals in February. They flashed a map of the United States that seemed to show that they had such partnerships in almost every region of the country.
CANNES -- Mark the date. MIPTV 2008. It may very well be remembered as the global market at which the treasure chest from all forms of high-tech media entities began to pay real monetary dividends for content suppliers.
That was the prediction from some major players and a scattering of indies as the sales bazaar wound down Wednesday under grey and rainy skies on the French Riviera.
But the gloomy weather couldn't put a damper on the upbeat mood among top U.S. studio executives. "Our business will evolve more in the next five years than at any time in the history of television," declared Mark Kaner, president of worldwide television at 20th Century Fox Television Distribution.
He was echoing a point that was reinforced by other senior U.S. execs: That mobile content buyers, VOD customers, IPTV streaming and digital content players were writing real checks at MIP for programming deals.
Though details of actual deals were sparse, the chatter at the market's sunset was of the number of new-media players who were on the Riviera. Keith Le Goy, exec vp distribution at Sony Pictures Television International, said that the large presence of such customers as Nokia, Orange and Telefonica is now transforming the ballyhooed potential revenues from the new media sector into "real deals."
Both Kaner and Le Goy said that meetings at MIP with traditional broadcast customers and with many new buyers had been "wall to wall" throughout the market.
"People always ask me 'is the market busy?' and my response is that, for us, the markets are always busy because we set up our appointments well in advance," Le Goy said.
But unlike meetings of just a few years ago when traditional TV networks worldwide were shelling out major money for programming, many of the meetings now are with the on-demand sector. "We are moving into the on-demand universe. That does not mean that the traditional broadcast sector is going away. There will always be a demand for that," Kaner said, adding that content suppliers are seeing a very significant shift to the new media world.
Gary Marenzi, co-president of worldwide television distribution at MGM, added that he and his team had been busy signing content deals for mobile suppliers and VOD entities at MIP. Though the ink has yet to dry on the paper, Marenzi noted, "you have people coming here and taking the time and effort to outline their business plans and aims and we worked to accommodate them with deals that we did here at the market."
A significant representation at the market from the major ad agencies looking to spend money and explore opportunities in the new media appeared to have driven a lot of cash into the dealmaking, suggested indie producer-distributor Gavin Reardon, president of IM Global. "I would definitely say that this MIP will be remembered as the market when revenue started to flow in real terms from these new customers," he added.
"VOD is part of every deal we do now," added Dirk Schweitzer, head of program acquisition and sales at Germany's RTL. "It is becoming a real business, even if it is still small compared to our traditional free-to-air model."
While much of the chatter at the Palais was of the new-media presence and the advertiser-driven deals, many traditional buyers also were trying to pin down exactly what they could expect to see from the studios when they set out next month for the L.A. Screenings.
But the real buzz was definitely the new media presence.
"I genuinely believe that television is in its most exciting phase for years," said Mike Morley, senior executive director of commercial and creative affairs at Dutch format giant Endemol. "Whether you are in content production or distribution you have never had golden years like this. There is more technology, more platforms and more channels clambering for content than ever before. The next three years will give us a definition of the next decade and then there will be much more certainty for all."
The movie-download business also would benefit from a closed window and higher pricing for high-definition rentals, researchers say. The study predicts that spending for Internet-downloaded rentals and sales will grow to $2.5 billion by 2009.
Consumers surveyed prefer renting a movie online to buying a digital download because they don't believe owning a digital copy is the same as owning a DVD. However, if digital downloads worked on more devices and consumers could burn a copy to DVD and have a backup copy kept in an online storage locker, consumers said they'd be willing to pay $5 more to buy a digital download.
A number of content owners, aggregators and service providers including BUYDRM, Daum Communications Corp., iMBC Co. Ltd., Limelight Networks, M-Net Media, Netflix Inc., Paramount Pictures, SK Communications, SBSI, a subsidiary of SBS Media Group, and Technicolor have announced their support for the content protection solution to be provided in Silverlight, due to the technology's proven foundation and support.
"As the dynamics of content distribution continue to accelerate toward the Internet, we need a flexible technology platform that allows us to explore a broad scope of business models and rich user experiences for digital distribution of Paramount Pictures' wide array of content," said Dr. Alan Bell, executive vice president and chief technology officer of Paramount Pictures. "With Silverlight DRM, Powered by PlayReady, Microsoft is bringing nearly a decade of heritage in DRM and content access to the table to deliver a solution with a strong technology foundation - allowing us to provide legal alternatives to our audiences enabling them to consume our content in whatever browser or platform they prefer."
April 15 | Movie downloader CinemaNow and Technicolor are partnering to provide content and technology solutions to enable other retailers to get into the business of digital delivery.
CinemaNow will make its content available to online retailers, and Technicolor will provide the supply chain to handle encoding, digital rights management, formatting for multiple devices and screens, and other services according to the retailers' specifications. The partnership aims to let retailers get into the business of electronic delivery with content provided by CinemaNow and without having to invest their own capital in encoding and storage.
CinemaNow currently has international rights to a large amount of independent and catalog product and is in the process of clearing those rights with the major studios, the company said.
Today, if a retailer wants to sell movies online, they have to get those movies encoded themselves, said Scott Dougall, general manager of Technicolor Electronic Delivery Services. They have to get the rights, they have to license the DRM. They have to store the content. There are huge costs associated with that that make it very difficult for the retailer to make money. We want to be that supply chain, so we can offer retailers a pure variable cost model.
We don't charge retailers upfront for encoding or storage, the Technicolor executive said. "So there's no upfront cost to them to get into the digital business. We charge them by the download, so it's a pure variable cost on their P&L.
At the same time, Technicolor will provide the backend support for CinemaNow's deals with device makers wherein CinemaNow is the embedded movie storefront.
CinemaNow has deals to embed its service in Samsung's P2 portable media player, Archos, Dish Network and Hewlett-Packard and is working on others. It also has a deal with Sonic Solutions to be the embedded movie storefront for DVD burners using Sonic's CSS-enabled download and burn system.
CinemaNow is very bullish on the comes-with-content model for consumer devices, company president and chief operating officer David Cook said. He wants CinemaNow to be the embedded storefront in as many devices as possible.
Device makers are very keen to have a single embedded solution that will work across multiple SKUs and in multiple markets, he said.
Under the partnership, CinemaNow and Technicolor also will work on adding high-definition movies to CinemaNow's library. CinemaNow also plans to expand internationally, leveraging Technicolor's digital supply chain services, including preparing and hosting movies with subtitles and foreign-language audio tracks.
Basically, we're leveraging their digital supply chain to make it possible for us to add [high-def], to support multiple codecs, multiple DRMs, multiple language tracks and to have a single, embedded storefront for international markets as well as the U.S., Cook said. That was very important to a lot of the device makers we're talking to. They wanted a single storefront that they could take into international markets, and working with Technicolor really gives us the ability to have a global supply chain to support that.
For Technicolor, the goal is to build a nice, subtle transition from DVDs to digital delivery, Dougall said. We're one of the largest DVD replicators in the world, but ultimately, that business is going to sunset. We want to be in a position to provide the next generation of supply chains when that happens.
At least two more majors have joined Disney in allowing their new releases to be sold via Apple's iTunes Store.
Fox decided to go all the way on "Juno," offering it for purchase on Tuesday, the same day that the DVD and Blu-ray versions hit shelves. Paramount has begun testing download sales of new releases as well: It offered "Beowulf" for purchase shortly after the pic hit shelves Feb. 26, and "Jackass 2.5" was made available on the Web on Dec. 19, one week before the pic's DVD release.
A Fox rep said it's likely the studio will offer more new releases for sale in the future but indicated that decisions would be made on a title-by-title basis.
A Par spokesman said the studio has started experimenting with selling films on iTunes on a download-to-own basis during their new-release DVD window.
That more majors are even dipping their toes into the iTunes sales waters on new releases reps a notable breakthrough for Apple topper Steve Jobs, who has been trying to lure other studios to do so even since Disney entered the fray a year and a half ago. The Mouse House, which has a relationship with Apple since Jobs is its biggest individual shareholder and sits on its board, ran into static from Wal-Mart when it offered the made-for "High School Musical."
Other studios have hesitated to follow suit due to concerns about Apple's pricing and fears that Jobs could become too powerful. Par, for example, allowed certain older movies to be purchased on iTunes but barred new releases from the service until now.
However, there have been signs that resistance is thawing. In January, the majors all joined iTunes' movie rental service under the respective studios' video-on-demand window. At the time, several home entertainment toppers told Daily Variety that it was just a matter of time before their movies would be available for purchase on iTunes as well.
Studios, all of which are already offering movies for sale through other Netcos, are grappling with ways to grow their electronic sell-through and VOD businesses without further weakening DVD sales. Amazon.com, for example, has a variety of new releases available for purchase and rental on its Unbox service. Fox and Paramount are on board there, as is Warners, Universal and Sony.