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Latest Video Download Services & Hardware News - Page 17

post #481 of 577
Thread Starter 
Panasonic Chooses Widevine to Deliver Secure, High-Quality Customer Experiences on Its Devices


SEATTLE, WA, Nov 10, 2010

Widevine, a provider of digital entertainment solutions, today announced that Panasonic Corporation has selected Widevine as its preferred provider of video optimization and digital rights management (DRM) solutions. Widevine's video optimization will provide adaptive streaming and virtual DVD experiences, while its DRM will keep content protected on Panasonic consumer electronics such as Viera(R) connected TVs, Blu-ray disc players and more.

As a preferred provider, Widevine's client will be included on millions of Panasonic connected media devices, enabling content providers to securely deliver content utilizing Internet protocols to the Panasonic device of the consumer's choice. Widevine's client will be initially installed on Panasonic Viera connected TVs, followed by other Panasonic devices in the near future.

"Widevine is setting a high standard in video optimization and DRM for over-the-top delivery," said Merwan Mereby, Vice President, Corporate Development and Alliances, Panasonic. "Including Widevine's technology on our connected devices is in line with our commitment to providing our customers with the highest-quality experience possible. By embedding Widevine inside our devices, customers can access the content they want, and replicate a premium viewing environment from the comfort of their homes."

Widevine's video optimization and DRM technologies are utilized by major Internet content services and large cable, satellite and telecommunication companies launching TV Everywhere strategies. The company's software platform optimizes the entertainment experience for live and on-demand content delivered over any network to any device. The solution is natively supported in nearly all types of network connected consumer electronics including televisions, Blu-ray players, mobile devices, gaming systems, and more.
post #482 of 577
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Disney encourages sales of digital movies


November 15, 2010|By Dawn C. Chmielewski, Los Angeles Times

Walt Disney Co. has begun rolling out its plan to spur digital movie purchases by removing the technological obstacles that thus far have stymied growth.

The studio has quietly launched Disney Movies Online, which lets consumers buy or rent digital versions of Disney and Pixar films and watch them on the Internet. The site was conceived as a bridge to gently transition the family entertainment company's mainstream consumers from the physical to the digital world. It debuted in May without fanfare.

How much without fanfare? Disney still isn't promoting the site beyond including the Web address on a sleeve inside DVDs and Blu-ray packages. There isn't even a link to it on the company's main website.

In a more public milestone, Disney partnered with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. this month to offer a free "digital copy" of the movie "Toy Story 3" with the purchase of the movie on disc. Consumers use an enclosed code to unlock and watch the film through the retailer's Vudu online video service.

These two developments help lay the foundation for Disney's vision of the digital future, in which consumers would buy and store digital copies of the studio's films in one place and access them from anywhere. And they work in tandem with an initiative announced last year called KeyChest. Consumers would use the KeyChest technology to pay once for a movie, then watch it on any compatible device, such as Internet-connected computers and mobile phones.

"We believe if we harness the power of these separate initiatives … we'll immediately seize the opportunity, extend a lot more benefits to Disney customers and sort of catapult this thing into the future very rapidly," said Bob Chapek, distribution president for Walt Disney Studios.

Despite the convenience of renting and buying movies online — and the promotional bonanza that 38 million visitors to Disney.com deliver — the company is keeping mum about Disney Movies Online because it is still in a test phase, officials said. A promotional campaign for the studio's digital offering is expected to kick in during the first half of 2011, under the name Disney Studio All Access.

Spurring digital sales is crucial to film studios, as traditional DVD sales decline and consumers gravitate to rentals from Netflix and Redbox. Sales of next-generation Blu-ray discs are growing, but they don't make up for the shortfall. Meanwhile, Internet movie downloads and streams have yet to emerge as a significant source of new revenue.

Disney and other studios are attempting to tackle the problem by addressing some of the chief obstacles to consumer adoption: difficulty in playing back movies on devices aside from personal computers, and storage limitations on computers' hard drives.

"When people buy a file in some form, if you give the ability to play that file on multiple devices or in multiple locations, then you're creating more value for them," Disney Chief Executive Robert A. Iger said during the company's most recent earnings call. "I think lack of interoperability is an impediment or a barrier to growing digital media."

Disney Movies Online
post #483 of 577
Thread Starter 
Hulu officially launches pay service, cuts price


Online video site Hulu says it has now formally launched its premium streaming service for $8 a month.

That's $2 below Hulu's original monthly subscription fee for the service, which it launched as a preview about five months ago.

Hulu said Wednesday that subscribers who paid $10 a month during the preview period will receive credit for the difference.

Hulu's service offers back seasons of NBC, Fox and ABC and other TV shows, such as "30 Rock" and "Glee."

The site is jointly owned by General Electric Co.'s NBC Universal, Fox owner News Corp., ABC owner The Walt Disney Co. and Providence Equity Partners.

The free portion of the site has less content and remains available.
post #484 of 577
Thread Starter 
VUDU 2.0 UI teased; HD PS3 streaming due later this month


VUDU has outed its upcoming UI refresh, VUDU 2.0, as well as promising HD video streaming for the PS3 later this month. The former is optimized for HDTVs with wide-aspect screens, and uses a tabbed organization system; meanwhile the latter will include HD, HDX and Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound, direct to the console.

VUDU says the 2.0 UI will mean quicker, more intuitive navigation for users; they'll also be able to take advantage of motion controllers they may have lying around, such as the PS3 Move. Support for motion-based PC input devices, such as Gyration's mice, will be added over time.

VUDU 2.0 also introduces more functionality than just media streaming, including a social feed which we're guessing will include Twitter and Facebook updates, and enhanced browse and filter capabilities for finding shows quicker. There'll also be a new personal recommendations engine.

Since v2.0 is cloud-based, users will automatically get access to the new UI as soon as it's ready; there'll be no downloading or installing required. Screenshots in the gallery below.


Press Release:

VUDU Unveils its Next Generation User Interface

New Design Offers Unparalleled Experience to VUDU Users

November 16, 2010 - San Francisco, CA -VUDU today revealed its new 2.0 user interface, to be delivered before the end of the year to all VUDU-enabled platforms and devices. VUDU 2.0 features an elegant new design optimized for high definition, wide-format TVs and provides many new options to help users discover the best film to fit their mood. Because VUDU is fully cloud-based, users will be able to receive and experience VUDU 2.0 with no downloads, discs or hassles.

While retaining the rich cinematic feel of VUDU's original, highly acclaimed user interface, the new design provides an easy, intuitive structure organized around tabs, allowing users to navigate more quickly with fewer screen changes and fewer clicks. VUDU 2.0 also provides users with several powerful new tools, including personalized recommendations based on viewing history and ratings and enhanced browse and filter capabilities.

A major new feature in 2.0 is support for next-generation motion-based input devices, such as the PS3 Move, mice, and pointer remote controls. This capability will initially be supported on the Sony PlayStation 3 with the Sony Move controller.

Since our founding, our core mission has been to deliver the best movie watching experience available anywhere, and VUDU 2.0 substantially raises the bar, said Edward Lichty, VUDU's General Manager. With our sleek new design and killer new discovery tools, we've been able to build on what people have always loved about VUDU and make it even better. Finding and enjoying a movie from our extensive library of HD movies has never been easier or more fun.

Today VUDU also announced availability on Sony PlayStation®3, adding a leader in gaming consoles to existing partnerships with top manufacturers of HDTVs and Blu-ray disc players. VUDU is also available on the PC and Mac via the Boxee platform and on the Boxee Box by D-Link. All VUDU devices and platforms will be updated with VUDU 2.0 before the end of the year.

Scheenshots available at the link.
post #485 of 577
Thread Starter 
From Variety:

Tech Tussle: Storm forms over cloud

Titans maneuver to avoid homevideo format war

By Marc Graser
Hollywood has its head in the clouds as studios try to figure out a way to future-proof one of their richest revenue streams: homevideo. Ironically, their answer is for consumers to own nothing physical at all, eventually eliminating the need to buy DVDs or Blu-ray discs.

While that isn't expected to happen for another decade, studios say, Sony and Disney are leading separate charges to make sure the films and TV shows consumers buy on discs today can be played on any device they choose: DVD and Blu-ray players, videogame consoles, iPhones, iPads and other tablets, Web-enabled TVs and computers.

Titles would be saved and stored in a "digital locker" that can be accessed from any platform, creating a "cloudlike" scenario in which entertainment is available to stream or download anywhere.

To this end, Sony heads a consortium of studios, electronics-makers and retailers known as the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) that will launch its UltraViolet system next year. Meanwhile, Disney is focusing on rolling out its inhouse technology KeyChest under the name Disney Studio All Access.

There are signs that another nasty format war could be heating up -- one that could rival past battles such as Blu-ray vs. HD DVD and VHS vs. Betamax.

Both groups are quick to raise the flag of truce, however, with executives eager to stress the interoperability of their systems. Still, even if a new format war does not erupt, there remains a major challenge to overcome: making sure consumers aren't confused by two digital storage offerings.

To overly simple terms, UltraViolet and Disney Studio All Access will essentially manage the various antipiracy technologies used by studios, device manufacturers and retailers, and make movies accessible across nearly every platform. A pic plays as a download or stream when a single agreed-upon key is used to unlock it.

Libraries of purchased movies would be stored online so that their digital file formats don't become obsolete should a new technology be introduced. The files would just be converted to play on a new device that's registered with the system.

In the past, various formats and digital rights management software made that virtually impossible, frustrating customers when a movie bought on Best Buy's CinemaNow wouldn't play on an iPod, for example.

UltraViolet's designers said their system had to be flexible to make all of their partners happy and enable them to keep the digital rights management (DRM) they're comfortable with.

"We didn't want to force device manufacturers to put a single solution in their devices," said Mitch Singer, president of UltraViolet and chief technology officer of Sony Pictures Entertainment. But for the consumer, "DRM has to be invisible (for this) to be successful."

On the UltraViolet website, customers will be able to manage playback of their purchases and control the devices on which they play. At launch, UltraViolet will store only purchased movies, but there are plans to offer rentals as well. Music, ebooks and other entertainment content will eventually be added to the system.

Major omissions

Confusion is inevitable. It's tough to talk about UltraViolet without bringing up the fact that Disney and Apple are not among the 60 companies that back the service -- which many have said indicates lack of confidence in UltraViolet, given Disney's strong brand identity and Apple's dominance of the digital entertainment biz.

But Disney isn't trying to be dismissive in its decision to go rogue; it's just business. The company's bottom line is dependent on the image the Disney name represents among its core customer base of families.

Keeping that in mind, Mouse House chief Robert Iger has been aggressive in aligning all the company's divisions -- from the film studio and TV networks to theme parks, gaming group and consumer products -- to collectively target that audience with each high-profile property produced.

That includes homevideo. Disney Studio All Access will serve as a virtual library to store the digital copies of movies that come with the company's DVD and Blu-rays, stream movies from VOD service Disney Movies Online and distribute films through the point-based Disney Movie Rewards program.

The Mouse House hopes that offering such a service will keep consumers from looking for illegal downloads of a single film to watch on a particular device.

"It's an incentive to buy Disney content," said Bob Chapek, president of distribution at Walt Disney Studios. "In an environment where you don't have interoperability, the consumer is incentivized to get the content for free. If you have six devices, you're not going to buy the movie six times. We're creating an ecosystem where we're encouraging consumers to purchase content legitimately rather than from a pirated site."

The system will get a major promotional push next year, eliminating the KeyChest moniker.

Disney already has been quietly rolling out Disney Studio All Access and already counts 1.6 million entitlements -- or films that individuals have set up to access digitally, mostly through their DVDs -- but it has the capacity to expand to 20 million accounts "very rapidly," Chapek said.

"Everybody who has been logging onto Disney Movie Rewards for the last five years (also) has a vault stored in the cloud," he said.

Once the system is promoted, membership should increase significantly, especially as more people access their digital copies on discs. Nearly 20% of DVD and Blu-ray owners currently do so, Chapek said.

All Access did receive an early promo with the recent homevid release of "Toy Story 3," which enabled buyers to stream the film on Walmart's Vudu service and download the pic via the mega-retailer's website.

Choice and freedom

Of course, UltraViolet was also designed to boost homevid sales.

"What we have found is that what's keeping consumers out of the market today is that existing services are not giving them adequate choice and freedom to play the content on," Singer said. "Consumers still want to collect and buy, but they're uncomfortable with buying into a single platform. The consumer just wants to buy content and know that they can enjoy it in the future on any device that comes out."

The Mouse House knows it needs to keep All Access open to every potential partner to keep customers happy.

"We're big believers in offering interoperability, which is what KeyChest was designed to do," said Iger during Disney's fourth-quarter earnings call last week.

"When people buy a file in some form, if you give the ability to play that file on multiple devices or multiple locations, you're creating more value for them, and I think lack of interoperability is a barrier or an impediment to growing digital media. We are not inclined to or expect to enter a format war over this."

Iger has even said, "There's actually a way that KeyChest can work with the UltraViolet platform." For now, it doesn't.

Said Bob Lambert, president of Technology and Strategy Associates and a former Disney exec: "The main, compelling reason for consumers to adopt UltraViolet is that it works everywhere. But that is not true at this point, because the Apple content -- iTunes -- doesn't work that way, and Disney content doesn't work that way. Until they can resolve that issue, they have a bit of a conundrum in terms of how to position this to consumers."

Disney moved forward with KeyChest when it believed it could develop a system faster on its own rather than deal with the potential headache of having to work with 60 companies to come up with an agreed-upon venture.

"We all know what happens when you get 60 people in a room and try to get them to agree on anything," Chapek said. "We didn't have to get anyone to agree on anything. (KeyChest) is agnostic to business models, DRMs."

Despite its large membership, DECE still has managed to build UltraViolet in less than two years.

"Everything we said we would accomplish this year, we've done," Singer said, which includes agreeing on a company to build out its digital rights locker, specifications on how it would work and coming up with a single file format.

UltraViolet hasn't discussed launch plans beyond saying it will be sometime next year. The service is conducting tests now.

"We set up DECE to be able to get past the logjams that have plagued other standard-setting activities that came before us," Singer said.

Either way, the creation of a digital locker for movies was inevitable given how audiences are quickly getting used to accessing their entertainment on multiple screens.

"It's a natural evolution of video distribution," Singer said. "It's a path forward to give consumers more flexibility and choice."

Digital lockers were the hot topic this month at the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers' annual conference in Hollywood, where James Baldwin, chief technology officer of Microsoft's media platforms business, said: "If I can't get the media I want on my iPad or TV in the home, I tend to frown on it now. We have to start thinking about entertainment being delivered to many devices."

DECE's members aren't concerned that Disney and Apple aren't yet officially on their side.

While Apple's product lineup of iTunes, iPods, iPhones, iPad and Apple TV has established the company as the leader in digital distribution and mobile platforms, digital distribution represents only 4% of the entire home entertainment biz, Singer said. In order for it to grow, "we have to do something different," he added.

"While Apple is very important, they're the market leader of a very small percentage of the entire home entertainment market, and we have a lot of room to grow," Singer said.

It's only a matter of time before UltraViolet content winds up on Apple's devices, considering that services like Netflix are appearing on Apple TV.

"It is starting to open up," Singer said. "I think you can expect to see an UltraViolet app on the Apple platform."

UltraViolet is also confident in how it's been able to attract not only Sony, but the support of heavyweights Warner Bros., Paramount, NBC Universal, Fox, Lionsgate, Microsoft, Intel, Cisco, Motorola, Comcast, Cox Communications, Netflix and Best Buy; and hardware-makers like Motorola, Panasonic, Samsung and Toshiba.

"No matter who leads the charge, what Disney has done with KeyChest is fantastic," Singer said. "And the work that the other studios are doing is exactly what consumers are looking for. The idea that all the studios are going down the path to provide ease-of-use is something we should be proud of. No one can call the studios Luddites anymore."
post #486 of 577
Thanks hulu not me
post #487 of 577
Thread Starter 
Netflix CEO Says U.S. Streaming Option 'Shortly'

Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings said Wednesday that users should expect a streaming-only service for about $7.99 per month "shortly".

Netflix launched a streaming-only option for Canada, priced at 7.99 CDN in September. Hastings was asked when Netflix would launch a similar option in the U.S.

"You should expect things along those lines shortly in the U.S.," Hastings said, adding that the exchange rate between the Canadian dollar and the U.S. dollar was about a 1:1 ratio.

Netflix has previously said that it would bring a streaming-only option to the U.S..

Hastings also said that the company is seeing "very little impact" from the Apple iPad, as opposed to the Sony PlayStation 3 and the Microsoft Xbox, which he collectively called "a huge phenomenon". Reed also said that Netflix viewership on the Mac laptops outstrip viewership on the iPad by a huge margin. Viewers simply prefer viewing Netflix on a big-screen TV, with a larger UI, he said.

Netflix also sees a future in connected TVs, where the television is connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi. Hastingsa said that he sees a third of televisions within the U.S. will have Wi-Fi this year, with two-thirds of those sold next year being connected as well. After three years, virtually all TVs will be connected, he said.
post #488 of 577
Thread Starter 
Cineplex Entertainment Launches Digital Download Service via Cineplex.com


TORONTO, ONTARIO, Nov 18, 2010

Cineplex Entertainment today announced movies can now be digitally downloaded into your home with Download To Own (DTO) and Video on Demand (VoD) service from the Cineplex Store at www.Cineplex.com. New releases will be available for digital download on the same day they are released on DVD and Blu-ray. This new service complements the DVD and Blu-ray products already available for purchase at the Cineplex Store. Customers will now have the option to easily and seamlessly select whichever option best suits their movie-watching needs. Effective today, digital downloads purchased from Cineplex.com can be played on your PC or other compatible devices.

"When Canadians think of movies, we want them to think of Cineplex," said Ellis Jacob, President and CEO, Cineplex Entertainment. "The best way to experience a movie is still in-theatre but when guests want to enjoy the movie again, they can now choose from a variety of formats available from Cineplex.com including digital downloads via our Download To Own or Video on Demand service, or on DVD or Blu-ray."

To celebrate the launch of the download service, Cineplex Entertainment is offering a buy one get one free promotion until December 31, 2010 where customers who purchase any regularly-priced DTO movie will receive a second movie of equal or lesser value free. Some restrictions apply so visit Cineplex.com for full promotional details.

Today the Cineplex Store at Cineplex.com features thousands of titles available for DTO or VoD from major motion picture studios such as Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. Hundreds of titles will be added daily over the next several weeks as we continue to populate our digital library. New releases being added this month include Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World, Sex and the City 2 and Eat, Pray, Love, and coming in December are Inception, Despicable Me and Salt to name a few.

DTO and VoD purchases made from the Cineplex Store can be stored either on a customer's hard drive or in a digital locker contained within the Cineplex Player that customers will download when they make their first digital download purchase. The locker enables purchasers to store their movie safely and securely without depleting space on their device's hard drive while still allowing unlimited future downloads of DTO titles. The Cineplex Player and digital locker technology are powered by RoxioNow(TM) from Sonic Solutions.

Members of our SCENE entertainment rewards program will continue to earn points on all DVD and Blu-ray purchases made through Cineplex.com and will now earn points on digital downloads (DTO and VoD) as well. SCENE members can also redeem their SCENE points to purchase DTO titles, movie tickets, Cineplex gift cards, DVD, and Blu-ray movies. "This is another example of the tremendous added-value that only SCENE members enjoy," said Jacob. "Cineplex rewards SCENE members for purchasing a movie - whether it is in our theatres or online via our Cineplex Store."

Today's launch is the first of a multiphase rollout, with several key features planned for a 2011 update. Cineplex.com will feature streaming High Definition content for DTO and VoD titles and, once available, the ability to store content in a cloud-based UltraViolet(TM) account. UltraViolet(TM) is a digital rights locker and account management system that will allow consumers to watch their digital entertainment across multiple platforms, such as connected TVs, PCs, game consoles, smartphones and tablet PCs, in an easy, consistent way.

UltraViolet is a newly created consumer brand whose goal is to become the symbol for digital entertainment - one that gives consumers the freedom of access wherever they are, and the broadest choice of content, stores and devices. It was created by the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem LLC (DECE), which is a cross-industry consortium dedicated to driving a new, open market for digital content distribution. Cineplex Entertainment is the only Canadian-based retailer and motion picture theatre exhibitor to be a member of this group of nearly 60 world-renowned consortium members.

"We are working to ensure Cineplex.com is the most complete online experience possible for Canadians who want the best entertainment options available," said Ellis Jacob. "By adding the digital download service to Cineplex.com, especially with the features planned for 2011, in addition to our existing entertainment content and online ticketing, we believe we are creating one of the most powerful online entertainment experiences available to Canadians."
post #489 of 577
Thread Starter 
Netflix Introduces Streaming-Only Pricing

It looks as if the DVD is suffering another death rattle.

Netflix's latest pricing options.On Monday Netflix, the video-rental service, began offering a new option to its customers that allows access to unlimited streaming on-demand video through the Internet without having to rent any DVDs. This is a change from the company's prior options, which required customers who wanted streaming on-demand video to sign up for a program to rent at least one DVD at a time.

The new streaming-only service will cost $7.99, and give customers access to unlimited movies and TV shows in Netflix's library.

Netflix also said it would increase the price of its one DVD-by-mail service by $1, subsidizing the rising costs of partnerships to obtain new streaming content. Earlier in the year Netflix signed a $1 billion deal with Paramount Pictures, Lions Gate and MGM to add their content to its services.
In a blog post, Jessie Becker, vice president of marketing for Netflix, said the changes resulted from the availability of more content on the company's streaming service and more Netflix members' signing up for the streaming option.

The streaming-only pricing option has been widely expected for the past year as the company has started to look beyond physical DVDs and onto dozens of new platforms and services.

Over the past few years, Netflix has blanketed the device market with its software, making the streaming version of the platform available on an abundance of devices, including mobile phones, video game systems, laptop computers, third-party set-top boxes and a number of other Internet-capable gadgets.

post #490 of 577
Thread Starter 
Sony's Qriocity video-on-demand services goes live in Europe

Sony said it was coming, and come it has. Just in time for expatriated Americans basking in the glory of being paid in pounds to enjoy over "Thanksgiving," Sony has flipped the switch on its Qriocity on-demand movie service. The UK launch marks the European debut of the service (we're also hearing that it's like 'across Europe'), offering "hundreds" of pay-per-view streaming flicks to those with a network-enabled BRAVIA TV, Blu-ray player or Blu-ray home theater system. We're told that the library consists of material from Fox Home Entertainment, Lionsgate, MGM, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Starz Digital Media, The Walt Disney Company, NBC Universal and Warner Bros., with both new releases and heralded classics up for grabs. Rental prices for SD content start from £2.49 for library content and £3.49 for new releases, while HD content start respectively from £3.49 and £4.49. Not exactly free, but it's a small price to pay to keep that keister planted on Turkey Day.
post #491 of 577
Thread Starter 
Toshiba, Vizio Are Said to Introduce Google TV Products in January at CES


Toshiba Corp. and Vizio Inc. plan to release products based on Google Inc.'s TV software, boosting the Internet search company's efforts to bring the Web to TV screens, people familiar with the matter said.

The two companies will unveil products at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, the people said, declining to be identified because the companies haven't made their plans public. Samsung Electronics Co. is considering making Google TV devices as well, the company said.

The support would give a boost to Google after the company clashed with TV networks over allowing their online content on the system. Google is counting on the product to parlay its dominance in online search advertising into a foothold in broadcast ads. Until now, the software has been used only in televisions and Blu-ray players from Sony Corp. and in a set-top box from Logitech International SA, all using Intel Corp. chips.

We are very happy with the launch of Google TV with our initial partners Sony, Logitech and Intel, Google said yesterday in an e-mailed statement, without naming any new participants. Our long-term goal is to collaborate with a broad community of consumer electronics manufacturers to help drive the next generation, TV-watching experience.

Vizio was the leading maker of LCD television sets in the U.S. in the third quarter, while Toshiba ranked sixth, according to ISuppli Corp.

Toshiba, Vizio

Google certainly is a key partner for us on the PC side and will likely be key for us on the TV side as well, said Jeff Barney, general manager of digital products for Tokyo-based Toshiba's U.S. unit.

Vizio, based in Irvine, California, doesn't comment on unannounced products, said Chief Sales Officer Randy Waynick. Samsung, the largest maker of televisions worldwide, said it hasn't committed to Internet-connected sets with Google's browser software included.

A relationship with Google TV is currently under consideration but no decision has yet been reached, Cho Sung In, a Samsung spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement.

Google rose $11.96 to $594.97 yesterday in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have lost 4 percent this year.

Sony televisions and Blu-ray players, as well as a set-top box from Logitech, went on sale in October using the software as the main interface. The products aim to make it simple for consumers to access all of their TV programs, movies, music and the Web through their home's main living room screen.

Google TV software, along with a push into 3-D television, is key to Sony's attempts to claw back sales lost to Samsung and other set makers. Intel Corp., which is supplying chips for Google TV, is trying to use the products to lessen its reliance on PCs by winning market share in consumer electronics.

Network Opposition

To do that, it will have to overcome opposition from content producers, including Walt Disney Co.'s ABC, CBS Corp. and NBC, controlled by General Electric Co., that have blocked access to programs available to computer users from their websites. Networks are concerned Google TV lets viewers watch pirated video on television sets.

The first Sony and Logitech products haven't delivered on the promise of bringing easy Web access to the living room, according to reviewers.

It's a geek product, said the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg, while David Pogue of the New York Times called it an enormous step in the wrong direction: toward complexity.

Google TV's backers are surprised by how well it's fared after expecting purchases only by earlier adopters for the first year or so, said Lance Koenders, a director of marketing at Intel, whose Atom processors power the software.

More to Come

For us to hit mainstream you have to continue to refine the product, Koenders said. Compared to most attempts at bringing the Web and TV together, we've made a big step. Don't think by any stretch we are done with this product.

That will happen, according to Rishi Chandra, who heads the project at Mountain View, California-based Google.

We have to be realistic, Chandra said. We can't build a product from day one that is going to work for everyone. It's going to get better every day, whether it be us updating the actual software or the content itself is going to get better because new creators are coming in.
post #492 of 577
Thread Starter 
Microsoft eyes leap back into TV: sources

(Reuters) - Microsoft Corp is about to jump back into the TV game. Only this time, it may aim at cable, satellite and phone companies.

The software powerhouse has held talks with TV networks to create a new subscription-based TV service on its Xbox gaming console that would rival efforts by Google Inc, Apple Inc and Netflix Inc, sources told Reuters.

Microsoft's latest explorations after investments in MSNBC and WebTV come as efforts to redefine living room entertainment have accelerated in the past year, with technology companies seeking to offer lower cost alternatives to pricey pay-TV subscriptions.

One scenario under consideration by Microsoft is to create a new TV service on its Xbox gaming console that would establish a "virtual cable operator." The service would charge a monthly fee for access through the Xbox to networks such as ABC, NBC, Fox, CBS, ESPN or CNN, according to two sources familiar with the plans.

Other options include allowing cable subscribers to use the Xbox to watch shows with more interactive functions. Viewers could, for instance, message with friends over the console while viewing their favorite shows.

Microsoft is also exploring the possibility of creating programing packages for customers, setting up a bundle of sports or children shows, for example, these people said.

In addition, it could sell more individual channels, such as an HBO or Showtime, directly to subscribers. It already has Walt Disney Co's ESPN on the Xbox Live online service.

These people said a service may not arrive for another 12 months, but early discussions have been productive.

Microsoft declined to comment. The people involved in the talks asked not to be identified as the discussions were confidential.

News of Microsoft's plans come as the pay-television industry are moving to allay investor concerns that consumers are fleeing expensive subscription packages for cheaper online services operated by companies such as Netflix Inc and Hulu, which both charge $7.99 per month for streamed shows and movies. The phenomenon is called "cord-cutting."

The worry is that so-called over-the-top services could undermine the lucrative cable TV industry, whose dual-revenue stream model has made pay-TV one of the most resilient sectors during the economic recession.

Cable networks such as ESPN are paid carriage fees by pay TV operators and also earn revenue from advertisers.

But programmers have said they would welcome new types of competition to the cable and satellite companies.

Speaking at the Reuters Global Media Summit on Monday, News Corp Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey said the arrival of alternative TV services gives cable and broadcast networks yet another way to reach fragmented audiences. News Corp is parent of Fox Broadcasting.

"The emergence of platforms like that -- from people like Microsoft which is really more a theory at this point, or Netflix -- increases the value of content and brands and those who create the content and channels that actually the business and drives consumer demand," Carey said.

Microsoft has long held ambitions to be a major player in the TV business and has previously invested in MSNBC and interactive television initiatives including Web TV and MSN TV set-top box software. Its latest plans include offering interactive features to engage viewers through social media, interactive advertising and "gesture" technology that lets viewers change channels and fast forward through shows by waving their arms or speaking instructions, say people who have seen early demonstrations.

The Redmond, Washington, company is mulling feedback it has received from programmers including the expense of such a plan, said one person.

Microsoft faces an increasingly crowded field. Google has already launched Google TV, an enhanced Web-TV service with partners including Sony Corp televisions and Logitech set-top boxes.

Apple has also held talks with programmers, but faced resistance industry-wide over its plans to offer a lower-cost subscription TV plan, people familiar with the talks have said. Apple has begun to offer 99-cent TV show rentals for a limited number shows through News Corp's Fox and Disney.
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Amen more competition to apple tv , google tv is better for us
post #494 of 577
Thread Starter 
Millions of U.S. households already using Internet-connected CE to watch video-on-demand, finding convenience and savings in these devices


Parks Associates reports three million U.S. broadband households plan to purchase an Internet-connected TV during the 2010 holiday shopping season, further eroding consumer need for brick-and-mortar video sources.

Nearly 25% of U.S. broadband households already own at least one connected TV device, and one-fourth of these households have watched a paid movie-on-demand at least once in the past month, according to Parks Associates' Connected CE Tracker, part of the firm's landmark Consumer Decision Process Service. Parks Associates' analysts predict connected CE devices will be top sellers in this year's holiday shopping season.

Only 38% of U.S. broadband households plan to purchase a CE device this year, but it's the connected CE and smartphones that will be the most popular items. Connected devices are the future of content consumption and entertainment in the living room as they capture the broader trends of integration among different silos in consumers' lives. We will continue to follow their sales through 2011 with Connected CE Tracker.

Connected devices include Internet-connected game consoles, Blu-ray players, tablet computers including the iPad, and digital video players including Roku and Apple TV. By the end of 2010, more than 40 million U.S. consumers will have a broadband-connected game console, more than eight million will have a PC-to-TV connection, more than five million will have a connected Blu-ray player, and over four million will have a networked digital video player (such as an Apple TV or Roku Digital Video Player).

However, even the significant enthusiasm for these devices does not totally offset the drop in CE buying intentions reported for this holiday shopping season. In 2009, almost 50% of U.S. broadband households planned a CE purchase.

Manufacturers, retailers, and technology providers are noting the tight consumer purse strings and continue to roll out the deals. Consumers want deals; that is their trigger as economic conditions have made them more cautious buyers. Market players must stress the value and convenience of Internet-connected devices. It helps that consumers may choose to save the cost of a video membership and eliminate a trip to the store or kiosk.
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Thread Starter 
Vudu and Walmart launch Twilight Eclipse movie cross-promotion


December 3, 2010 | Dean Takahashi

Vudu continues to cash in on the relationship with its new parent company, Walmart. Starting on Saturday, Walmart will begin selling the Twilight Eclipse movie in the form of DVDs and Blu-ray discs in all of its stores. In each one of those copies, Walmart will provide a coupon for a $5 movie credit on Vudu.

If you’re not familiar with the Twilight series, it’s the vampire movie of choice for 20 million American teenage girls (I think the movies are pretty good too), thanks to stars like Robert Pattinson. Fans will now be able to buy a physical copy of the film and watch it on their home DVD players or Blu-ray players as well as watch a streamed digital copy of the film on any of their connected devices, such as laptops, Boxee set-tops, or connected TVs.

Vudu also offers over 4,000 high-definition movies to choose from, including the original Twilight and Twilight New Moon movies. On Nov. 1, Vudu and Walmart did the same thing with the DVD and Blu-ray purchases of Toy Story 3. The idea is to make the Walmart version of the movie more attractive in order to get more customers. And Vudu itself allows the world’s biggest physical store retailer to dip its toes in the water of digital distribution.

Now that Walmart and Vudu have combined forces, they can encourage users to buy their combination of a physical movie and its digital version for the same price. The combination of retail and digital online distribution is likely to be a powerful one for many businesses. GameStop, the biggest video game retailer, bought the digital online game portal Kongregate in order to execute on the same kind of plan. The big plus is that the retailers get a huge amount of foot traffic and can point those consumers to digital properties while they’re in the stores.

post #496 of 577
Netflix signed a deal with ABC/Disney to bring lots of programming to streaming including new episodes of current programs, all seasons of Lost, etc
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Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by jamieva View Post

Netflix signed a deal with ABC/Disney to bring lots of programming to streaming including new episodes of current programs, all seasons of Lost, etc

Thanks jamieva.

Netflix reaches deal to stream Disney and ABC reruns online


By Dawn C. Chmielewski and Ben Fritz, Los Angeles Times
December 9, 2010

Netflix is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to offer more than just flicks.

The video subscription company on Wednesday unveiled a deal to stream reruns from Walt Disney Co.'s ABC network and cable channels Disney Channel and ABC Family through its online service. The agreement, which lasts one year with an option to extend it, is valued at $150 million to $200 million, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

Netflix, which built its business by delivering DVDs through the mail in red envelopes, is fast transitioning into an Internet streaming provider that is an increasingly formidable competitor to cable and satellite television systems and pay TV channels such as HBO.

Two-thirds of the company's nearly 17 million subscribers have watched video on Netflix's online service, which can be delivered through computers or directly to television sets with Web connections.

The company has in the last few months made several big deals to add TV content to its Internet offerings from such companies as Warner Bros., NBC Universal, and now Disney-ABC Television.

"Television content is continuing to grow for us and is now just as popular as movies in terms of hours watched," said Ted Sarandos, Netflix's chief content officer.

The Disney agreement for the first time allows Netflix subscribers to watch episodes from previous seasons of various ABC shows, including "Grey's Anatomy," "Brothers & Sisters" and "Ugly Betty." In addition, Netflix will add the final season of "Lost," for which it previously streamed the first six seasons. Shows from the latest season will continue to be available only on Hulu, the online video service co-owned by Disney.

Netflix will also offer programs from ABC Family and Disney Channel, such as "Phineas and Ferb" and "Greek," that initially aired on the cable networks as recently as 15 days prior.

In the last year, Netflix has added 4.6 million subscribers and seen its stock price skyrocket 228%. At the same time it has been paying large sums to add content to its online service as it tries to transition customers away from receiving DVDs through the mail. In August, for instance, it agreed to pay nearly $1 billion over five years to three studios through a deal with pay cable channel Epix.

That open-wallet policy is welcome news to entertainment companies like Disney, which are looking for new ways to make money on older TV shows as sales of DVDs decline and local TV stations and cable networks pay less for rerun rights.

"As Hollywood looks for new ways to monetize content, there's one guy standing around in a red shirt handing out checks,'' said Richard Greenfield, media analyst for BTIG, referring to Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings.

Despite the large checks it is cutting, some Hollywood executives have been publicly complaining that they will need a bigger share of Netflix's revenues, as they believe its popularity could be undercutting DVD sales as well as viewership of cable channels like HBO.

Some television industry executives worry that enhancing Netflix's video offerings might encourage "cord-cutting," in which consumers dump their monthly cable or satellite TV service for the less expensive Internet alternative, siphoning off valuable revenue.

Netflix has countered that the huge amounts of money it is spending to acquire content make it a net positive for the entertainment industry.

"Consumers are already shifting to on-demand viewing, which devalues older reruns, but at the end of the day we're paying specific license fees and helping studios and networks to monetize that trend," Sarandos said.

The deal calls for Netflix to pay Disney-ABC $50,000 to $150,000 per episode, the person familiar with the situation said. That's significantly less than what local TV stations and cable channels typically pay to show reruns. For example, 20th Century Fox Television sold its hit "Modern Family" to NBC Universal's USA Network for about $1.4 million per-episode.

Some within the industry worry television licensing agreements like the one with Disney-ABC put Netflix into competition with the syndication business, potentially driving down what cable networks will be willing to pay to air reruns of broadcast shows that are available online.

Netflix recently announced a new $7.99-per-month subscription plan for Internet video. It charges more for plans that also include DVDs by mail but wants to get consumers to switch from DVDs to Web video over the next decade.
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by Alfred Poor on December 9, 2010

Several sources including the LA Times have reported that Netflix has struck a new deal with Disney to gain access to more of its television content. This includes episodes from prior seasons of popular ABC shows such as Lost and Grey's Anatomy. According to the LA Times article, episodes from the current season still will be only available on Hulu. Some of shows from other Disney networks ABC Family and the Disney Channel will be available as early as 15 days after the initial broadcast date.

There are two interesting aspects to this story. First, the Netflix camel's nose is nudging insitently under the tent. No longer are they just streaming content that's avaiable on DVDs; they are getting into television episodes in a big way. Sure, it's not every episode of every show, but at the end of that sentence, you have to put a great big YET. The company is in the right place at the right time to capitalize on the studios' worries about revenues and retransmission rights and plummeting DVD sales. So expect to see more deals that will expand the scope of the content, and compress the delay between initial release and streaming availability.

The other part of the LA Times story that I found interesting is how much Netflix is willing to spend. According to the newspaper's unnamed sources, the company will pay Disney-ABC between $50,000 and $150,000 per episode for the major shows. That may seem like a lot of money, until you find out that some networks pay $1.4 million per episode for reruns of popular shows. Now, the initial conclusion might be that Netflix can't afford to increase their offer by 10-fold to compete with these cable networks. I think that's looking at the wrong end of the telescope. What happens to the studio revenues if cable and satellite services offer more stripped-down packages, or even shift to a la carte pricing? Many of these networks that have these rerun deals may see their subscriber count drop, which reduces ad revenues, which limits what they can pay for the programming. If this happens, it's likely that Netflix could pick up much of the slack, as subscribers would not be paying extra to gain access to these shows. Netflix revenues increase, and is able to pay the studios more. As they become the major outlet, their bargaining position also gets stronger. It will be interesting to see how the money side of episodic television programming develops.

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Thread Starter 
Google Delays TV-Set Offerings


Google Inc. is asking some TV-set makers to put off announcing hardware based on the Internet company's software, according to people briefed on Google's plans.

The move comes after the initial Google TV devicesoffered by Sony Corp. and Logitech International SAhave run into negative reviews. Some content providers have also blocked their offerings from Google TV.

Despite the challenges, some additional companies were expected to use the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January to show off new Google TV products. Samsung Electronics Co. still plans to do so, according to one person briefed on Google's plans. But some others, including Toshiba Corp., will not.

A spokesman for the Japanese company said the company is in talks with Google over Internet TVs, but will not demonstrate products based on Google TV at the trade show.

Representatives of Google couldn't immediately be reached.

Google's move was reported earlier Sunday by the New York Times.

The quest to marry the Internet and television has been going on for more than a decade. Most of the offerings to reach the living room so far provide a small selection of specially formatted content, from providers such as Netflix Inc.

Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., has taken a different strategy, trying to offer TV watchers all the content from the Internet that PC users can view. Borrowing from the way people use its popular search engine, video content is typically called up by searching with text commands.

The approach is more complex than some competing offerings and requires a remote featuring more buttons than others on the market. Some reviewers have criticized the complexity of the technology, which exploits Intel Corp. chips and has been built by Sony into TVs and disk players and by Logitech into a TV companion device.

One of the people briefed on Google's plans said the company sent out word to some hardware makers last week asking them not to announce additional products yet. The delay may allow the company to improve its software, this person said, while possibly trying to address other problems the Google TV effort faces.

But one person familiar with Toshiba's thinking disputed the notion that it was acting on Google's instructions. The decision to put off announcements of Google TV products at the electronics show was a mutual one, this person said.

Samsung representatives could not be reached for comment.
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Thread Starter 
Sears, Kmart Bow Movie Download Service


The “Blue Shirts” have entered the transactional video-on-demand business.

Sears Holdings Inc. Dec. 28 formally launched a movie download service that allows consumers (including subsidiary Kmart) to buy and rent new release movies and television shows.

Called Alphaline Entertainment (http://alphaline.roxionow.com), the previously announced service is offering new releases such as The American (with George Clooney), The Town, Devil, Easy A and Legends of the Guardians, among others, for $3.99 for up to two-day rental periods.

Movies can be purchased for $19.99 and played on up to five different PCs. A title can be transferred to no more than four RoxioNow-approved portable devices.

The service, which is powered by Sonic Solutions’ RoxioNow technology, also offers episodic purchases ($1.99) only of TV series like “Mad Men,” “Sanctuary,” “Chuck,” “Fringe,” “Running Wilde,” “Hellcats,” “Chase,” “Fringe,” “The Closer” and “Two and a Half Men,” among others.

Alphaline will be rolled out in phases at Sears and Kmart stores nationwide with the assistance of the Sears Blue Appliance Crew, the retailer’s answer to Best Buy’s Geek Squad.

“Collaborating with Sonic provides a great opportunity for Sears and Kmart to launch digital services for customers seeking even faster access to the latest in home entertainment experiences,” said Karen Austin, president of consumer electronics for Sears and Kmart.

“We’ll continue to increase the reach and flexibility of the Alphaline Entertainment service by providing consumers on-demand access to the latest entertainment from a range of home and mobile electronics,” she added.

Novato, Calif.-based Sonic, which is set to be acquired by Rovi Corp., provides backend support for digital entertainment distribution services offered by third-party retailers such as Blockbuster, Amazon VOD and Best Buy. Walmart offers content downloads via its proprietary Vudu service.

Studios and media companies have made no secret their desire to monetize content at higher margins (than traditional disc rental) via transactional VOD at the retail, cable and satellite platforms.

Sonic and Sears are also working to embed Alphaline at a chip level on a growing network of devices, including portable media players, Blu-ray Disc players, mobile phones and high-definition television sets from leading manufacturers.

Analyst Richard Greenfield with BTIG Research in New York, said the addition of national retailers, such as Sears and Kmart, to the VOD space underscores the studios’ continued transition from physical to digital media.

Greenfield wonders what consumer would consider buying a digital movie for $20, which is the equivalent of renting it five times.

“With rental now so convenient between Netflix, Redbox and VOD, we believe consumers will simply stop buying movies, especially when it comes to digital content,” Greenfield wrote in a post.

Indeed, the analyst said increased proliferation of digital distribution will undermine Blu-ray Disc, which remains the lone growth vehicle in physical media. Greenfield cited availability of combo disc (Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy) new release The Town on Amazon for $18.99, which is $1 less than Alphaline. He suspects the quality of the 1.5GB digital copy file is inferior to transactional VOD, which could ultimately backfire among consumers.

“With a poor consumer experience in digital, we suspect most consumers will gravitate toward lower-priced rental options,” Greenfield wrote. “In turn, as digital adoption accelerates, overall movie industry profitability will fall.”
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Thread Starter 
LG Unveiling Smart TV Upgrader At CES


Device will turn regular televisions into Internet-enabled sets with access to premium online content, shows, Web sites, and LG apps.

By Esther Shein, InformationWeek
Dec. 30, 2010

Transforming a traditional TV into a smart TV will be made possible with a Smart TV Upgrader LG Electronics will be unveiling next week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the company said Thursday.
The 11-inch ST600 will give owners of regular TVs access to all of LG's Internet-enabled smart TV functions, including premium online content, Smart Share, and LG Apps. Users will also be able to find shows, movies, language classes, and games, and access sites including Netflix, YouTube, Vudu, and Pandora Internet radio, as well as run Yahoo TV widgets.

"The market for smart TVs is set to take off this year, and the ST600 offers a perfect entry point," said Havis Kwon, president and CEO of LG Home Entertainment Co., in a statement. "With the LG Smart TV Upgrader, we're taking the excitement and convenience of smart TV and adding in LG's trademark ease of use because we see a significant audience who are interested, but not interested enough to buy a whole new TV."

The device comes with a BCM7615 processor, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) connectivity to transfer content from compatible PCs; 384 MB of RAM; 1 GB of flash storage; a Web browser; finger-touch RCU input device; and USB. It also has an LG add-on architecture.

The Seoul-based consumer electronics maker did not release pricing for the ST600 but said it would be "an affordable price," and that it would be available in the second quarter of 2011.

The product will compete against devices and services including Roku, TiVo, Boxee Box, Seagate, and Western Digital.

LG has been on a product-launch tear in advance of CES. Earlier this week the company announced it will roll out the largest LCD TV ever to hit the market. The company also said it will release the first dual-core smartphone next month in Korea.

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Thread Starter 
Intel Chip Design Gives Hollywood Studios Security for Movie Downloads


Intel Corp., aiming to alleviate Hollywood's concerns about piracy, is building security into a new chip design that would let Warner Bros. and other studios sell high-definition movies online for viewing on computers.

The chipmaker will announce the Intel Insider feature this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, said Tom Kilroy, the head of sales at the Santa Clara, California-based company. Warner Bros. will use the technology as part of a plan to make more than 300 titles available in February.

The feature is designed to prevent illegal copying of high- definition films, providing the assurance studios need to make more movies available on the Internet, Kilroy said. For Intel, the technology gives consumers another reason to upgrade their computers, and may help the company maintain its edge over rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

Online distribution is where all of the growth is, Kilroy said. This is a major breakthrough.

Computer users will be able to watch movies with the highest-available resolution, 1080p, he said. It also will work with services such as Best Buy Co.'s CinemaNow. Intel is talking with other studios to get them on board, Kilroy said.

Intel developed the technology by adapting security features designed for business computers. By building those features into semiconductors, they are harder to thwart than software-only protections, he said.

WiDi Upgrade

Intel also will introduce a higher definition of its so- called WiDi technology, which allows laptop users to beam whatever is on their computer screen to a nearby television, Kilroy said.

The movie feature is part of Intel's latest processor design, called Sandy Bridge, which will debut at the show. The design features built-in graphics for the first time, stepping up competition with developers of add-in graphics cards. Intel gets more than 90 percent of its revenue from computer chips.
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Microsoft prepares Windows TV platform for the living room

Rumors have been swirling for over a month about Microsoft entering the streaming internet television market with their own product to rival offerings from Apple, Google, and others. There’s no doubt that the software giant has the ability to launch a quality web TV product, but can they be the first to deliver one that rivals cable and satellite?The Seattle Times CES 2011 preview report this week indicated that Microsoft will give a preview of their connected TV plans at the show this week right along with their rivals.
post #504 of 577
Red Netflix Button coming to remotes...

Netflix will become more prominent and easier to use with the arrival of a button this spring on remote controls that connects directly to the company's widely used video-streaming service.

A big, red button with the company name will appear on multiple remote controls for Blu-ray players, TVs, and set-top boxes, the company announced today just before the Consumer Electronics Show gets under way in Las Vegas.

The announced partners are notable, though it's not immediately clear yet how broadly the button will propagate through product lines.

Netflix said its buttons will appear on remote controls for "certain new Blu-ray disc players from a variety of companies including Best Buy's in-house Dynex brand, Haier, Memorex, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, and Toshiba. Sharp, Sony, and Toshiba also will place the Netflix one-click button on remote controls for select new Internet-connected TVs. Remote controls for the Boxee, Iomega, and Roku set-top boxes also will feature the Netflix one-click remote."
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Thread Starter 
VUDU Brings 3D Into The Living Room

VUDU first to stream 3D Movies directly on connected HDTVs, Blu-ray Players and Entertainment Systems from FUNAI Electronics, LG Electronics, Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America, Philips, PlayStationÒ3, Samsung Electronics America, Inc, Toshiba, and VIZIO and devices supporting Boxee Media Software

Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Las Vegas, NV, January 5, 2011 - VUDU, a leader in digital entertainment, will begin delivering instant streaming of 3D movies next week to select 3D-capable HD televisions (HDTVs) and Blu-ray Disc Players (BDPs). Manufacturers that will support 3D streaming from VUDU include FUNAI (Magnavox, Sylvania), LG Electronics, Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America, Philips, Samsung Electronics America, Inc., Toshiba, and VIZIO, as well as to the PlayStationÒ3 entertainment system and Boxee Media Software. As these manufacturers rollout their select 2011 models over the course of the year, VUDU users will have access to a growing library of 3D content on an expanding array of devices.

By adding 3D movies to its industry-leading cinematic streaming experience that already includes instant HD and HDX 1080p and Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Surround Sound, VUDU raises the bar on home entertainment yet again.

Devices that will feature VUDU 3D movie streaming include but are not limited to the following models. Please note that Blu-ray players, STBs and entertainment systems must be connected to a 3D enabled TV to view 3D content:

· FUNAI (Magnavox and Sylvania) HDTVs and Blu-ray Players
· LG HDTVs and Blu-ray Players
· Mitsubishi HDTVs and Blu-ray Players
· Philips HDTVs and Blu-ray Players
· Select 2010 and 2011 Samsung HDTVs, Blu-ray Players and Blu-ray Home Theater Systems with Samsung Apps
· Sony PlayStationÒ3
· Toshiba HDTVs and Blu-ray Players
· VIZIO VIA HDTVs and Blu-ray Players
· Boxee Box by D-Link and Iomega TV with Boxee

"We are proud to be a leader in the delivery of 3D movies," said Edward Lichty, General Manager of VUDU. "Our launch of 3D today is another example of our commitment to deliver the best home entertainment experience available anywhere. There is no better, easier way to get 3D movies at home than through the VUDU Service."

"The biggest obstacle for the 3D market in the home in the past was the lack of 3D content, where buyers just weren't interested in a feature they couldn't use," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst for Enderle Group. "VUDU delivering 3D streaming content directly addresses this challenge and allows consumers who want to enjoy a major advance in home televisions."

VUDU's 3D title selection will be automatically available on any device that is enabled for VUDU 3D, with no additional software to download. 3D titles will be available at all three resolutions - SD (480p), HD (720p) and HDX (1080p) - and the minimum bandwidth requirements for 3D viewing are the same as for 2D.

The VUDU Streaming Movie Service provides customers with access to the world's largest catalog of more than 4,000 on-demand HD movies, and features movies in VUDU's HDX format, the best quality streaming video format with 1080p HD video and Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 surround sound available to consumers today. Movies are available to rent or own without monthly fees or a subscription. The service offers the newest Hollywood releases the same day they are available on DVD and months before they are available on subscription service.
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Thread Starter 
Cisco Joins Race to Combine TV, Web Video


Cisco Systems Inc. is entering the race to combine Internet video and conventional television, people familiar with the matter said, aiming to help cable operators fend off emerging rivals like Apple Inc. and Google Inc.

The networking giant is expected to unveil an effort Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that includes a set-top box combining elements of online video services with live, on-demand and recorded television programming, these people said.

Consumers won't be able to buy the Cisco boxes directly, as they do other devices already available from companies like Roku Inc. and Apple, which allow users to access the Web from their TVs but don't offer a cable connection. Rather, Cisco will sell its hybrid boxes to cable operators who, in turn, will lease them to subscribers, the people said. Cable operators will be able to customize the software interface and decide on pricing for the boxes.

A Cisco spokeswoman suggested the company's announcement Wednesday would go beyond new set-top boxes. "Our announcement is not [about] one thing," she said, but declined to elaborate.

Cisco's hybrid box is designed to help cable operators, who are major customers, maintain their dominance in the living room against the growing field of competitors seeking to deliver premium video online and through Internet-connected TVs and other hardware.

Cisco already produces set-top boxes that run on traditional cable technology as well as units that incorporate so-called Internet Protocol, or IP, technology. But while the IP set-top boxes Cisco currently sells to cable operators allow users to access some Web-based applications, they don't offer consumers broad access to online video.
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Thread Starter 
Comcast's iPad, Android apps to get live TV, on-demand shows


iPad and Android tablet users will soon be able to watch 3,000 hours of on-demand content from Comcast, including numerous TV shows and movies. Additionally, Comcast customers will be able to stream live news and TV shows to their devices later this year, the cable giant announced Wednesday.

The on-demand functionality will come to Comcast's Xfinity TV app on the iPad first"in the coming weeks," according to Comcastand Android-powered tablets later this year. Comcast subscribers will be able to access a plethora of content anywhere they can get an Internet connection, and the company says this is just the beginning; "thousands" of additional programming options will become available in the coming weeks as well.

"Live streaming and the play now feature on our Xfinity TV app are two important pieces of our strategy to deliver any content to any device, any time," Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said in a statement.

Comcast kicked off its efforts to take premium content online in 2009 when it started testing its On Demand Online service. Those who already pay for Comcast service could be the first to stream content from HBO and Cinemaxnot to mention many newly released moviesto their computers, but only if they already paid extra to subscribe to those channels.

That will still be the case with Comcast's iPad app and the forthcoming Android appwithout a subscription to Comcast's services, the apps aren't all that useful. If you do subscribe, though, you can use the app as a remote to change channels, browse through listings, and even program a Comcast DVR. With the addition of on-demand services and eventually live streaming, the apps will become even more useful to those with tablets.
post #508 of 577
Is Netflix the Next Coinstar?


Coinstar (CSTR) Crashes as Investors Question the Company’s Future

Shares of Coinstar (CSTR: Charts, News, Offers), the parent company of video rental company Redbox, crashed last Friday



Movie rental kiosks more popular than retail stores

According to a new study from the NPD Group, the marketshare for standalone movie rental kiosks surpassed that of traditional retail store rentals in the U.S. last year.

In other words, we weren't the only ones spending more time with the Redbox next to the 7-11 rather than the local Blockbuster.

Subscription rental services like Netflix still represent the lion's share of video rentals — 41% in the third quarter of 2010 — but NPD notes that kiosk rentals are now in second place at 31%, just ahead of in-store rentals at 27%.

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Via The Los Angeles Times


For Hollywood, it was a tough 2010

Sales of DVDs, CDs, video games and theater tickets all declined in 2010. And swift changes in technology will make it difficult for Hollywood to capture pre-recession levels of revenue.

To paraphrase Apollo 13 astronaut Jack Swigert, "Hollywood, we have a problem."

The industry that was supposed to be immune to economic downturns looks like it's going to have some re-entry problems as the economy begins to recover.

Broad swaths of the entertainment business declined in 2010. DVD sales were off 13%. Music CD purchases plummeted 19%. Video game sales as well as concert and theater attendance also fell. Even the turnout for America's favorite pastimes — baseball and NASCAR — was down. And swift changes in technology will make it difficult for Hollywood to capture pre-recession levels of revenue.

So much for the value of escapism.
Save on daily L.A. Times deals powered by Groupon.

But perhaps most ominously, last summer the pay-television industry suffered an unprecedented net loss — for the first time — of customers, a yellow warning light that consumers may no longer regard cable TV as a must-have utility on par with electricity and phone service.

Cable and satellite subscriptions, DVD sales and video rentals long have been the profit pillars that supported Hollywood. Although media executives continue to boast "content is king," recently released year-end data suggest entertainment companies are vulnerable to the same disruptive forces that imperiled the music and newspaper industries.

"The studios and the content companies have become increasingly aware of the problem, but they seem collectively paralyzed about what to do about it," said Craig Moffett, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.

2010 now looks to be a watershed year in the confluence of two powerful trends.

The first of those forces, technology, is enabling people to get entertainment in cheaper and easier ways.

And the second, the anemic economy, is widening the gulf between the haves and the have-nots, making it tougher for some consumers to justify paying for cable or tossing a new DVD into the shopping cart.

"Right now it is a tale of two cities," Moffett said. "On the high end, people can't go up-market fast enough," he said, referring to affluent consumers who are buying the latest in mobile phones, portable tablets, or Internet-connected TV sets. "Then you have this other half of the country that is being largely ignored in this discussion."

The "other half" encompasses the lower 40% of American earners, who, after paying for food, housing and transportation, are left with just $100 a month to pay for healthcare, clothing, phone service — and entertainment, Moffett said.

One of them, Rebekah Atkinson, a Biola University graduate, found herself making necessary sacrifices after losing her job two years ago. She disconnected her mobile phone and sliced her food budget to make ends meet. The 30-year-old La Jolla resident ultimately found a job that paid 60% of her previous paycheck. A year later, her husband lost his job, precipitating another round of household cuts.

"The cable bills were starting to come up higher and higher. Before we knew it, we were paying $200 a month on the cable package," Atkinson said. "That's a car payment for some people. It had to go."

The most profound shift among consumers has been toward renting movies and away from buying them, which has enormous financial consequences for Hollywood.

Thanks to the proliferation of Redbox kiosks, which offer $1-a-night movie rentals, cost-conscious consumers have an inexpensive alternative to buying the DVD for $19.99 — representing a significant blow in revenue to the studios. Blu-ray high-definition discs were expected to pick up the slack, but consumers have been slow to embrace the more expensive format.

High-speed broadband access, now available to two-thirds of all homes, is also helping to cap the onetime home video gusher.

Services such as Netflix Inc. are able to pump a carousel of movies instantly into the home via the Internet for only $8 a month. The popularity of the company's streaming service has skyrocketed: 66% of Netflix's 17 million subscribers use it, eliminating the need to receive DVDs in the mail through Netflix's trademark red envelopes or to run out to the corner video store.

Studio revenue from home video rentals amounted to less than $1.7 billion in each of the last two years, compared with $2.97 billion in 2001 — more than a billion-dollar drop in less than a decade, according to market researcher Screen Digest.

"Studios get a double negative whammy from rental's strength," said Tom Adams, principal media analyst for Screen Digest. "Transactions are growing, but consumer spending is not, because they're getting 'em cheaper."

Meanwhile, theater attendance last year was off nearly 5% compared with 2009, as exhibitors charged more for movies in 3-D.

It's not difficult to see why movie viewers are staying home.

"There's no popcorn, no babysitter, no expensive soda. You just sit on the couch," said Michael Nathanson, media analyst with Nomura Securities International Inc.

But the sour economy and high unemployment, with 14 million people out of work, account for only part of the problem. Some analysts think the explosion of Internet-connected TVs and portable devices is leading to permanent shifts in consumer behavior — at least among a certain segment.

Affluent buyers appear more than willing to shell out hundreds of dollars for sexy new gadgets that alter the way they access entertainment. Apple Inc. sold 7.5 million iPads within the first six months of their introduction — even before the holiday stampede. The tablet, which retails for $500 or more and can be used as a portable flat-screen TV, is on track to become the fastest-growing consumer product in history, according to Bernstein Research.

Tablets provide a measure of comfort for media companies because the appeal of these devices hinges on the ability to conveniently check sports scores, read news stories, play games and watch TV shows and movies. Executives see the trend as evidence that it's not consumers' appetite for entertainment that is diminishing, only how they receive it.

But consumers have proved that although they are willing to shell out for gadgets, they view content as cheap filler and are less willing to pay to own it. Because video is seemingly ubiquitous, consumers no longer feel they need to own a DVD or digital downloaded file to watch a movie or TV show.

Some analysts believe that Hollywood, with its history of antipathy toward new technologies, only exacerbated its troubles.

Hulu, owned by News Corp., NBC Universal and Walt Disney Co., encouraged people to watch TV shows for free online. The service, which was intended to combat piracy, appears to have fueled a shift to online video viewing.

"From 2009 to 2010, we saw a 53% increase in online video consumption by broadband users — which is a pretty substantial increase," said Colin Dixon, a senior partner in researcher Diffusion Group.

But there hasn't been a corresponding increase in revenue from online viewing.

Now, media companies are trying to develop business models to take advantage of the popularity of Internet video but also protect their established, and lucrative, businesses.

Companies are experimenting with new approaches that seek to make universal access to content a selling point. Media giant Time Warner is experimenting with a system called TV Everywhere that enables HBO subscribers to watch HBO's shows online, and Comcast Corp., the company taking over NBC Universal, has a similar plan called Xfinity. Both are in the early phase and it's not known whether they will succeed.

Nomura's Nathanson said that history has shown that consumers will pay for entertainment. But he cautioned that media executives should adjust their pricing to reflect the fact that not everyone can afford $35 Blu-ray discs, $60 video games and $100-a-month cable bills.

In the past, technological changes have been met with fear, bordering on hysteria, by Hollywood — as when the late Motion Picture Assn. of America head Jack Valenti famously predicted in the early 1980s that the video cassette recorder represented to the film industry what "the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone."

Yet each time, such advances have created new, more lucrative businesses for Hollywood, as was the case with VHS and its successor, DVD.

For now, it's unclear whether the Internet and the flotilla of connected devices will lift — or sink — the industry.

"The jury is still out on whether there is a digital model that can replicate the profitability of the old linear model," Bernstein's Moffett said. "Nobody has cracked the code for online profitability."
post #510 of 577


HBO: Netflix must charge more to use our content

Don't hold your breath for the arrival of "The Sopranos" or "Entourage" on Netflix's streaming service.

Citing a "high-placed Time Warner executive," The Hollywood Reporter reported late last week that the only way for Time Warner-owned HBO to offer its content on Netflix's service is if the rental company charges customers $20 per month, rather than the $7.99 it currently charges streaming-only users. At such a price, The Hollywood Reporter's source claims, Netflix would get a "meaningful amount of HBO content."

Jeff Cusson, HBO senior vice president of corporate affairs, stopped short of discussing a price point that would make the channel offer its programming to Netflix. He told The Hollywood Reporter that "HBO believes in content exclusivity, especially for high-value content." He made it clear that the company "has no intention of making its content available for streaming on Netflix."

This isn't the first time HBO has said it doesn't want to work with Netflix. Over the summer, HBO Co-President Eric Kessler told Bloomberg that customers would need to "pay a premium" for HBO content and that maintaining exclusivity was important.

To some Netflix customers, this may be disappointing. Currently, several TV networks, including NBC, Fox, and ABC, deliver a decent selection of titles via Netflix. Some of the more popular shows from the past few years, including "Lost" and "Family Guy," are available on Netflix.

But as Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos pointed out to The Hollywood Reporter, HBO's programming is "very expensive to produce." Moreover, the channel survives on monthly subscription fees from customers in order to create all that content. Offering it on Netflix and letting consumers pay a nominal fee to access it whenever they want might not make financial sense for the company.

But that hasn't stopped HBO from streaming programming itself. Last year, the company launched HBO Go, a free service for current HBO subscribers that streams movies, television shows, and other programming.
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