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

News in Brief - july 2009


SHEFFIELD-based Zoo Digital Group, the creative media production and technology company, has appointed Gordon Doran to the board as the group's commercial director with immediate effect.
Mr Doran, is currently president of the group's North American division, having joined Zoo in 2005 to establish its US operations. Stuart Green, CEO of Zoo Digital, said: "Given the proportion of sales from the US, we believe it is important to have board representation in this region."

THROUGH a deal between Sonic Solutions and Widevine, USB flash drives, preloaded with HD feature films, will be on sale in US stores in Q4 this year. Each purchase will allow playback on up to four devices with performance optimised for each platform. The USB drives include an integrated media player that enables instant high-quality playback of movie content offline.

THE NUMBER of subscribers worldwide to telco/IPTV services will approach 40 million by year-end 2009, according to international research firm Parks Associates. The strong growth is due partly to aggressive provider deployments according to the firm, the most successful rollouts will incorporate multiple services, such as home networking, convergence in entertainment and communications features, and unique interactive services such as quality on-demand programming.

VIDEO rental firm Blockbuster, which has been struggling to keep up with rival Netflix, announced a deal with Samsung that will allow users to rent movies streamed over the Web. Dallas, Texas-based Blockbuster said that the on-demand service will be integrated into Samsung high-definition televisions and Blu-Ray players starting in the fall.

THE GERMAN Blu-ray version of 'Terminator 2 - Judgment Day' (Skynet Edition) has won an 'Excellence in Advanced Interactivity Award' from IDMA (formerly the DVDA). The Blu-ray features were realised by using the BD-J authoring platform Kaleidoscope developed by the Hamburg, Germany-based software company. The atmospheric menus and screens were designed in co-operation with the original film designers to integrate the look and style of the movie.

BLOCKBUSTER UK has confirmed an agreement that allows consumers to instantly view movies and video from its OnDemand service on Samsung's televisions and electronics devices. Under the deal Blockbuster's OnDemand service will be integrated into new Samsung HD TVs, Home Theatre Systems and Blu-ray players.

JOHANNES Larcher, senior VP at Hulu, has confirmed that the online video service will be coming to the UK with an expected launch date in September, but didn't specify which UK media companies would provide content for the service. He said the UK version would differ from the US one, making a very localised product. Also, to ensure that the quality of the videos on the site will be high, the company may collaborate with local ISPs. Hulu backed by three of the four major networks in the US (Fox, NBC and ABS/Disney).

Al JAZEERA English, the 24-hour English-language world news channel based in the Middle East, has launched AJE Live, a software application which gives viewers access to the channel live on their Apple iPhones and iPods anywhere in the world.

THE GLOBAL demand for high-bandwidth applications will jump in the next few years as the number of households with broadband will reach around 650 million by 2013, according to research firm Parks Associates. The number of broadband households worldwide grew by over 18% in 2008 to exceed 400 million. Asia-Pacific is the largest market, accounting for over 160 million subscribers, and it will have over 49% of the global market share by 2013.

VIRGIN Media and Universal Pictures are teaming up to launch PictureBox, a movies-on-demand TV subscription service. From July, the PictureBox service will be available to Virgin Media's 3.6 million UK TV subscribers for £5 per month. Subscribers will access a selection of 28 films at any given time, with seven new titles added to the line-up every Friday.

VIACOM’s Paramount Pictures studio is in advanced talks with Sony Pictures and News Corporation’s Fox studio in seeking to merge its home entertainment division. The negotiations follow an industry-wide slump in DVD sales, the entertainment sector’s most profitable revenue stream. Sales have fallen by as much as 20 per cent in the past year, forcing studios to cut costs in order to maintain profit margins.

GLOBAL Gaming Factory’s (GGF) CEO Hans Pandeya, the new owner of file-sharing website The Pirate Bay, say users will be paid for sharing files, the only way to beat illegal file-sharing is to make something more attractive. AGGF's business model for The Pirate Bay would be that it continued to be a file-sharing site. The only difference - at least in terms of content - would be that the files would be hosted legally, rather than stolen from copyright holders.

A STUDY for the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) analyzing the advantages of adopting "benefit denial" technology that would disable DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, and video games until unlocked at the point of sale, found that retailers, motion picture studios, video game publishers, and others in the supply chain could annually see as much as $6 billion in increased sales and an additional $800 million in cost savings and cost avoidance using that technology.