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

News in Brief - may 2005


UK SATELLITE TV operator BSkyB is reportedly set to announce a VOD over broadband offer. The service will allow top tier subscribers (about half the total) download films and sports programmes to their computers over a broadband link. The move is seen as a response to the aggressive plans of cable companies, telcos and ISPs to offer "TV on demand" services. It is believed that Sky will link with an operator – probably BT – or will become a third party supplier. The Sky service would only be available via PCs because Sky’s set top box only has a regular phone connection and would have to be retro-fitted for a broadband connection. The programmes can be then be patched through to a TV but this is seen as less user-friendly than an IPTV connection with a network PVR.

DIGITAL Theater Systems officially changes its corporate identity to DTS to reflects "the growing strength of the company’s DTS brand and an expansion beyond the 'theater' business into new markets and technologies," says the company.

GERMAN revenue from video and DVD broke all previous records in the first three months of this year. Figures compiled by GfK Panel Services Consumer Research for the video trade association BVV showed the German home entertainment market had grown 12.8% from the previous best quarter in 2004, to $501m (€408m). DVD sales were up 21.2% year-on-year.

THERE be 22.9 million DVD recorders and 91.5 million DVD players shipped around the world this year, according to recent projections by the Market Intelligence Center (MIC) a unit of the Taiwanese government-sponsored Institute for Information Industry (III). Taiwanese manufacturers' total shipment volume of DVD recorders was estimated by MIC at 408,000 units the last quarter with a forecast of 753,000 units for this quarter and 972,000 units for the third quarter of this year.

AFTER a few piracy-free months, the encryption code of Sony's recently-launched PlayStation Portable (PSP) has finally been cracked open by persistent hackers, with ISO files of Vampire Chronicles, Ridge Racer and Wipeout Pure having now been publicised on to the Internet. The first batch of games to have been successfully copied from UMD discs and into the ISO image format (a file type used to pack and store multiple files – in this case those files found on PSP UMDs) made it on to the Internet over the last few days.

DVD SALES of The Incredibles and the success of the children's comedy film The Pacifier have helped drive up Walt Disney's quarterly profits by 30%. Net income in fiscal second quarter was $698 compared with $537 million a year earlier. Sales gained 9% to $7.83 billion. Disney's fifth film with Pixar, The Incredibles has sold more than 23 million copies on DVD since it came out in March.

FRENCH film producers and video distributors have launched a legal challenge against a number of the country's newspaper groups, accusing them of undermining the value of movies through cut-price DVD promotions and giveaways. In a joint statement, the Union of Film Producers, the Union of Independent Producers and the Union of Independent Video Publishing described the use of DVDs as loss-leader promotions as "regrettable". Le Monde and Le Figaro, which publish two of France's main dailies, are among those being targeted.

ZOOTECH – best know for realising the interactive possibilities of DVD, and creator of the most successful interactive DVD to date, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire – announced its first move into the education sector for developing the possibilities of the DVD format as an interactive educative tool and creating a more enjoyable and accessable learning experience. ZOOtech has also been approached by a number of government organisations to apply the interactive DVD technology as an educative tool. Deals will be officially announced later in the year.

PIRACY is forcing Hollywood majors executives to think about radically shortening the time between when a film hits theaters and when it is released on DVD. Last year, boxoffice revenue in the United States hit a record $9.5 billion, though it was dwarfed by the estimated $24.5 billion in rental and sales of DVD and video. Research has shown that as many as 50% of those purchasing DVDs for movies that have grossed more than $100 million are doing so without having seen the movie beforehand.

PIMC & PMTC NV has been awarded the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) accreditation, to add to its ISO 9001 certificate. "Every stage from secure receipt of client masters right through to their return, archiving or (if requested) destruction is monitored and checked to ensure total quality and security, says the company. With the two core departments of DVD encoding and DVD/software testing, PIMC & PMTC aims "to maintain its core foundation of quality, reliability and affordability." The DV department has passed its 2000th video. The company is HD-DVD and Blu-ray ready.

TWO AMERICANS were sentenced Tuesday in a Shanghai court to serve up to 2 1/2 years in jail for selling pirated DVDs online. The sentencing of the two Americans, Randolph Hobson Guthrie III and Abram Cody Thrush, and two Chinese co-defendants, Wu Dong and Wu Shibiao, included fines totaling $66,500. The case was the result of an unprecedented three-year cooperation between Chinese police and U.S. customs officials. The four co-defendants were convicted of using the Internet to sell more than 180,000 counterfeit DVDs to buyers in 25 countries. Officials said about 20,000 of the DVDs were sold to buyers in the United States.

THE DEMAND for DVD recorders in the Taiwan retail market this year will reach 80,000 to 100,000 units, jumping 100%-150% from the 40,000 recorders sold in 2004, Pioneer High Fidelity Taiwan forecasts. Last year, HDD DVD recorders accounted for 80% of the total sales volume of all DVD recorder models in Japan and only 20% in Taiwan, Pioneer Taiwan noted, adding that the proportion for Taiwan will rise significantly this year.

LG ELECTRONICS has made a successful test-run of its 3.5-generation HSPDA (high speed downlink packet access)-enabled mobile phone in North America, downloading DVD video and large-capacity multimedia-feature music in a Web server-based 1.4Mbps transmission environment. The demo utilised Lucent Technology's 14Mbps download-supportive WCDMA system, as well as LG's own-developed commercialised HSDPA-enabled mobile phone.