Monthly Archives: July 2013

More Original Content from Netflix

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Following 14 total Emmy Award nominations for its original series House of Cards, Arrested Development, and Hemlock Grove, Netflix says it plans to expand its original content repertoire.  Not only has it ordered new seasons for all of its shows, but the company said in a letter to its shareholders that it also intends to venture into stand-up comedy and full-length documentaries.

Netflix’s long-term goal is to overtake rival HBO as the go-to provider for video content.  To do that, says Joan E. Solsman, the company will have to overcome deficiencies between it and HBO:

“Unlike HBO, Netflix doesn’t own own the content it’s helping to produce, though that would be a natural path for Netflix to take in the long term. And Netflix international reach is trifling compared to HBO’s. Earlier this year, Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes said HBO has 114 million global subscribers. Netflix’s worldwide subscribers were more than 37 million, it said Monday.”

Although Netflix recently edged out HBO in US subscribers, the fact that HBO owns all of its content allows it to have an overwhelmingly superior global presence.  Having “original” content is all well and good, but Netflix will continue to be globally overshadowed by HBO until owns outright all the content it produces (the global success of Game of Thrones is proof of this).  

In the meantime, however, we can all be resigned to the fact that we will, for the foreseeable future, have to use services like MyRepublic’s Teleport if we want to watch shows like House of Cards (which is fantastic, by the way).  

Referenced from TechCrunch and CNet

Fox’s Appeal on Dish Decision Denied

getsrchttp3a2f2fimagestDish Network once again was given the nod in a barrage of cases involving automatic ad-skipping on its Hopper DVR service (called “AutoHop”).  Last Wednesday, a U.S. appellate court denied Fox network’s request to overturn a lower court’s November 2012 refusal to file an injunction against Dish.  The appellate court agreed that Fox has not provided adequate evidence showing that AutoHop would result in copyright infringement or breach of contract between the two companies.

Although this latest ruling has not necessarily dealt a mortal blow (Fox says they may file another appeal), it certainly will set a precedent for similar suits, namely those filed by NBC and CBS against Dish.  At a basic level, the suits against the satellite TV provider deal with its liability for plaintiffs’ lost ad revenues due to AutoHop. However, the courts say that by giving their customers control of the ad-skipping feature, Dish absolves itself of any direct liability for the lost revenues.

Sourcefednews.com explains Dish’s indirect liability:

“Additionally, Dish can’t be held liable indirectly either because time-shifting is a protected fair use and networks cannot challenge commercial skipping because they don’t have a copyright interest in the commercials themselves.”

Fox’s consecutive failures, for the same reason, to stop AutoHop seem to all but condemn both existing and future suits on the matter, at least in the U.S.  Could this case set a global precedent for ad-skipping procedures on VOD platforms? That depends on the country and the similarities between its laws and those of the U.S.

Referenced from FierceCable and the Chicago Tribune

See the appellate court’s full decision here.

YuMe Online Video Advertising

yume_logo_484 (1)Online news source Video Ad News recently conducted an interview with Ed Haslem, senior vice president of marketing at YuMe, an online video advertising firm.  The purpose of the interview was to discuss the release of YuMe’s Household Targeting ad service.

Haslem explained briefly what the service provides:

“In a nutshell, Household Targeting delivers 100% in-stream, interactive video ads to all screens in a household – smartphone, tablet, CTV, PC. By utilizing our Connected Audience Network these ads will reach more than 147M video viewers per month, in the United States.”

How does the service work? It uses complicated “heuristic algorithms,” as Haslem calls them, along with other processes that normal humans like myself could not possibly understand.  The main point is that the service looks to close the gap that exists between online video and TV advertising, insofar as household exposure.   Online ads, unlike those on TV, are usually only seen by a single family member at a time, giving TV ads a marked advantage.

Haslem said brands that would likely use YuMe’s service are those that already use TV ads heavily: cars, movies, restaurants, travel, etc.  Because these brands routinely include an entire household in the decision process (unlike, say, buying a set of golf clubs for Dad), adding online ads with family-wide exposure makes perfect sense.

YuMe plans to go public soon, as it filed for a US$65 million (S$82 million) initial public offering earlier this month, which was higher than expected (possibly due to this new service).  The company posted US$123 million (S$156 million) in sales for the 2012 fiscal year.

See full interview at VideoAdNews.com

Asia-Pacific Satellite Industry Committee

images (2)The CASBAA Satellite Industry Forum takes place every year, and was held this year on 17th June at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore.  The theme of this year’s forum was “An Industry in Transition,” highlighting the growth of the industry in the Asia-Pacific region.  Fittingly, the opening speaker at the forum was Gwynne Shotwell, president of satellite company and new CASBAA member SpaceX.

Many topics were explored this year, among which were the industry’s huge rise in competition (and, thus, drop in prices), different aspects of and bodies involved in regulation, and talk of new satellite technologies.  Discussions were mostly geared toward managing these aspects in order to secure future success for the industry.

CASBAA’s press release for the forum quotes Paul Brown-Kenyon, CEO of MEASAT and Chairman of CASBAA’s Satellite Industry Committee:

“The future is…different. It’s going to be an exciting future – lots of innovation, lots of change…but the key thing is it’s uncertain. The trick is to figure out how to deal with that uncertainty – how to build in the flexibility, to evolve and capture the growth. It is going to come in interesting areas.”

With over 70 satellites hovering over the Asia-Pacific region operated by more than 20 providers, those “interesting areas” could be isolated to companies that differentiate themselves from others.  The market is beginning to look more and more monotonous, so a breakthrough service or idea is certainly at the forefront of all companies’ minds.

Internet DVR Legal in Singapore

On December 1st, 2010, Singapore has ruled Cloud DVR / Internet DVR / iDVR legal by the highest court on appeal in the case of RecordTV.com versus Mediacorp, a subsidiary of Temasek Holdings, a wholly owned Singapore government entity that broadcasts the 7 Free To Air Television channels for Singapore. Here is a copy of the court document for this verdict:

RecordTV Judgment – InternetDVR Ruled Legal by concerned-citizen

Bhaalu Raises S$10 Million

Right Brain Interface nv, the software company behind bhaalu, a new and intuitive TV viewing experience, is working to develop and commercialize a unique video recorder product. A team of top Flemmish investors in Belgium consisting of LRM, PMV, Capricorn Venture Partners, Diepensteyn and Pamica, have joined together to invest EUR 6 million ($7.9m USD / S$10m SGD) of new round capital into Right Brain Interface nv.

The capital increase of EUR 6 million was subscribed by LRM (the Limburg Investment Company) through its ARKIV daughter KMOFIN 2, PMV (PMV), the Capricorn ICT Arkiv, managed by Capricorn Venture Partners (Leuven venture capital provider), Diepensteyn (the holding the family shareholders of Palm Breweries) and Pamica (the investment vehicle of Michel Akkermans, ex FICS and current Clear2Pay CEO and chairman). Other participants of this new round of funding consist of employees, friends and family.

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Photo: Mr. Bart Van Coppenolle and Mr. Philip Vandormael

Both RBI (Right Brain Interface) founders, Mr. Bart Van Coppenolle and Mr. Philip Vandormael, also took part in this latest round of investment funding. The two are former executives of Metris and current executive management of Holy Brain, the investment vehicle for RBI.

“After welcoming 500 private beta testers and consumer electronics customers last month, I am very pleased with the amount of support we have received from fellow entrepreneurs and the innovation-loving Flemish society.” – Bart Van Coppenolle, CEO, Right Brain Interface

“The innovative business model of Right Brain Interface’s bhaalu is consumer-centric, but also provides opportunities for the established players in the media landscape with robust IP portfolios. This factor was crucial for our investment. We also appreciate the user-friendly interface of bhaalu ,providing its customers an intuitive way to navigate through a large amount of video data.” – Katrin Geyskens, ICT partner Capricorn Venture Partners

“It is our mission to invest in innovative consumer driven projects with international potential. Our enterprising abilities at Diepensteyn allowed us to enthusiastically participate in this round of financing. The baahlu project from Right Brain is promising, as it guides the consumer in their desire to easily discover new things while immersing them into an experience their personal interests.” – Jan Toye, Managing Director Diepensteyn

Further development & commercialization of bhaalu

The capital raised will be invested in product development and commercialization of Right Brain Interface’s first product, bhaalu. Bhaalu is a unique video recorder that allows viewers to experience the full extent of their scheduled TV programs by recording and being able to watch all of the TV channels they lawfully have access to view. Consumers will be able to choose where and when they want to watch their recorded programs, whether they wish to view on their home television, on a laptop computer or mobile device. Bhaalu consists of an intuitive TV interface, which makes it easy to find TV content, creating a personal TV universe for consumers.

To test drive or purchase a box bhaalu, you can simply register on the website at www.bhaalu.be for Belgiu and www.bhaalu.nl for the Netherlands. Bhaalu will also soon be rolling out in Germany, New York, USA and Singapore where interested parties can participate in the pre-launch program.

Full Story Here.

CASBAA Adds 7 New Members

CasbaaThe Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA), the lobbying body for multichannel TV across the Asia-Pacific region, has added 7 corporate members, bringing the total membership to 130.  These new additions, including companies headquartered in places like Mexico (Grupo Televisa) and Germany (SmartCast), illustrate just how widespread and diverse the TV industry has become.  Also among the new additions was SpaceX, a California-based company that develops and launches rockets and is currently executing a US$1.6B (S$2B) contract with NASA.

The new member corporations will only add to CASBAA’s claim of over 445 million connections within the TV industry.  Every connection serves to raise the already high influence the association has throughout Asia, which CASBAA has been striving to do ever since its inception in 1991:

“… within a footprint spanning China to Australia and Japan to Pakistan, CASBAA works to be the authoritative voice for multichannel TV promoting even handed and market friendly regulation, IP protection and revenue growth for subscriptions and advertising.”

CASBAA also bolstered its Asia-based membership with Hong Kong law firm Haldanes, information services provider Media Partners Asia (MPA), and online Software as a Service (SaaS) platform Movideo (the largest of its kind in Asia).

With older members such as Sony Pictures, Disney and BBC (to name a few), CASBAA has already established itself within the content production community.  Its new members, however, represent the association’s ongoing desire to have lobbying power from every facet of the broadcasting community.

See full article at bloomberg.com

Slo-Mo Filming for iOS 7?

1373426908Alongside the anticipation of Apple’s new iOS 7 operating system (still in beta testing) is the widespread expectation of the iPhone 5S’s US release this fall.  And if we know anything about iPhone releases, we know that the months leading up to them are fraught with rumors of the phone’s new features, and this time is no different.

The feature that most people expect to be included in the 5S/iOS 7 is a new camera mode, called “Mogul,” that can shoot video in super-slow motion.  Although slo-mo video apps already exist for current phones and operating systems, Mogul would be integrated directly into the phone’s camera, making slo-mo filming as easy as flicking a switch (so to speak).

John Koetsier says the new feature could be an avenue for Apple to one-up the Samsung Galaxy S4′s existing slo-mo capability:

“Typically slow-motion video capture requires lower-resolution capture — the Galaxy S4′s 13-megapixel camera captures slo-mo at only 800-by-450 pixels, almost certainly due to the massive flood of visual data pouring into the camera, CPU, and Flash memory at 120 individual frames every single second…One way Apple could differentiate itself with a coming iPhone 5S, of course, is allow full-frame slow-motion, which would be spectacular.”

If the new feature does end up on the new iPhone, imagine what kind of implications that would have for Instagram or Vine, especially if the videos are in HD.  If so, I really hope somebody decides to re-create Bo Derek’s slo-mo beach run.

Referenced from VentureBeat and cnet.com

Is Netflix Cropping Movies?

croppedJason Bailey knows quite a bit about digital media, having worked in the industry back in the VHS/DVD days. He brings to a potential revelation to light, that Netflix is possibly cropping their widescreen motion pictures to better fit todays television. Aside from making a compelling case, Jason offers a great writing style and enjoyable read. Here is an excerpt:

“I’m not seein’ the whole picture!” customers would complain. “It’s got these lines on the top and bottom!” And I would patiently explain that getting a widescreen movie frame into a television was a case of putting a rectangular peg into a square hole, and the black bars actually showed you more of the picture, and preserved the original image. And customers would nod and smile and understand completely… just kidding. They stared at me blankly before saying the exact same nonsense about what a rip-off it is to have only part of the TV being used and it was a terrible job, the end. But we won, ultimately! In the pan-and-scan vs. widescreen battle, widescreen came out on top. So why, in 2013, is Netflix cropping their movies?”

Full Article here.

Dropbox Further Entrenches the Cloud’s Takeover

On the same day (9th July) that Dropbox announced that it had grown to 175 million users, the cloud-based service also announced its new “Datastore API,” bringing to fruition the do-all capabilities of cloud technology.  

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Although Dropbox has allowed its users to easily store their personal files and folders on its cloud to be accessed anywhere, that was all they could store.  With their new API, users will now be able to store data such as contacts, and even be able to store game progress, from any device with web access.  Dropbox also announced a new feature for its recently-purchased Mailbox servicethat will allow users to send e-mail attachments from their cloud directly within the Mailbox app.

Another feature of the API is the ability for developers to embed it in Android and iOS apps, or anything that runs on Javascript, using only a few simple (for them, at least) lines of code.  This would make it possible for somebody to, for example, start playing a game on their mobile phone on the commute home and finish playing on their tablet when they sat down on their couch.

John Koetsier describes the culmination of all Dropbox has done for its customers and, in truth, technology as a whole:

“The goal is to unify your data on a single platform — a data platform — not a hardware or software platform. In other words, a platform beyond iOS or Android, or Windows versus Mac, or even type of device. A pure cloud platform.”

Referenced from engadget.com and venturebeat.com