Europe's online source of news, data & analysis for professionals involved in packaged media and new delivery technologies

News in Brief

AVATAR has become the fastest-selling home entertainment release of all time in North America, shifting 6.7 million DVDs and Blu-rays in four days. James Cameron's 3D sci-fi epic, released in the US on 22 April, sold 4 million DVDs and 2.7 million Blu-rays. The sales brought in $130m.

NEW ZEALAND's Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill has unanimously passed its first reading in parliament. Rights holders will be able to request Internet service providers to send out notices to alleged infringers, who will receive three warnings. The bill would extend the jurisdiction of the Copyright Tribunal, which would deal with complaints and award damages up to $15,000 New Zealand (US$10,700). Rights holders can seek a court order to have the offender's Internet account suspended for up to six months.

SONY said it will stop selling the 30-year-old “floppy disk” or "diskette" in Japan from March 2011. Earlier this year Sony stopped selling the disks in most international markets due to dwindling demand and competition from other storage formats. The slow death of the "floppy" or began in 1998 when Apple decided to not include a floppy drive in its G3 iMac computer. The storage media was launched by IBM in 1971.

CHINA’s Wondershare Software Co. has launched software that converts DVDs to files playable on the Apple iPad, as well as software that converts video files on a computer to those compatible with the iPad. The company said in a press release: “If you already have tons of DVD movies and videos at hand, then it's not necessary to pay extra money on iPad's built-in iTunes store for exactly the same movie."

TAIWAN Blu-ray Disc Consortium, a group formed by Taiwan-based makers of BD discs, drives and components, plans to consolidate all members’ BD patents into a collective one-stop shop licensing body in an attempt to minimize royalty fees, according to decisions taken at a meeting on April 15.

PARAMOUNT is to offer some of its films preloaded onto external hard drives, as it looks to offset declining DVD sales. The new FreeAgent Go 500GB device from Seagate will have 21 movies preloaded, including a free offer of the new Star Trek film. Users can unlock the other 20 by paying for a pass code for between $9.99 and $14.99 each. Seagate executives said the device, which only works on Windows computers, can hold up to 200 movies. The scheme is currently only available in the US.

SHARP will begin selling 3D-capable LCD TVs in Japan this summer, the latest consumer electronics maker to enter the market. Sharp plans to launch 3D TVs in China, Europe and the United States by December, joining larger rivals Samsung, LG and Sony. Sharp's says the new products will be the world's first 3D TVs using four-primary-colour technology, which utilizes yellow on top of the three conventional primary colours of red, green and blue, enabling the TV sets to offer brighter, more vivid images.

THE NUMBER of digital television subscribers worldwide will grow from 484 million in 2010 to 887 million by 2014, according to estimates by Strategy Analytics. Asia Pacific will post the highest growth in the next five years, and will represent over half of worldwide digital subscriptions by 2014. Cable continues to be the dominant television viewing platform, however over two-thirds of subscriptions worldwide still use analogue. This is expected to change rapidly, with digital cable households outnumbering analog starting in 2012.

SONIC Solutions announced it has integrated Dolby's professional Dolby TrueHD audio stream editing tools within Scenarist, Sonic's world-standard authoring system for commercial Blu-ray Disc production. Support for Dolby TrueHD audio stream editing within Scenarist significantly streamlines production by eliminating up to 90 percent of the effort that was previously required to include the high-definition codec in blockbuster Blu-ray Disc titles.

IN A WORLD first, a Swiss invention brings cracked or broken vinyl discs back to life. From a very high resolution picture of the surface of a defective vinyl disc, a software recreates the initial sound. Under development for over ten years, this processing will start being utilised this Summer at the Swiss National Phonoteque in Lugano. See video report from Swiss television (in French).

CINRAM has announced the appointment of Jeffrey Fink as executive vice president, studio development. Fink, principal and founder of Media Content Management, was previously senior executive VP, home entertainment for Miramax and Dimension Films. Prior to this, he was president, sales and marketing at Artisan Entertainment.

COMSCORE's latest research study reveals “cross-platform TV” viewers who watch both TV and Internet content are more tolerant of advertising during programming. In the survey, 1,800 people responded saying anywhere from six to seven minutes of ads per hour is an ideal amount. On average, there are just four minutes of ads shown along with online TV content — possible lost revenue that might be recouped with a couple more minutes of ad time tacked on. The acceptable ad time information was gathered when participants were asked about ad tolerance in 1-minute increments from 0 to 15 minutes.

ACCORDING to a GfK survey, 91% of the German video buyers are aware that Blu-ray provides movies in high definition into the living room, though many do not have a detailed knowledge of all the benefits of the format. Those viewers who have experienced the BD picture and sound quality say they will no longer do without it. Some 70% of the Blu-ray purchasers say they will continue to buy, mostly or exclusively, Blu-ray discs.