Needham & Co analyst Laura Martin says they are — and her new report making that case should rattle media execs. Martin thinks more deeply about corporate strategy and game theory than any analyst I know. And she warns traditional content providers that streaming infotainment companies including Google, Yahoo, AOL, Microsoft and Vevo are shrewdly sneaking up on them by focusing on young people who like to watch videos on mobile devices including tablets and smartphones. The tech companies are “creating short-form premium videos that are difficult to monetize, and therefore largely ignored by incumbents,” who’d rather create hit TV shows, Martin says. The big guns have to pay attention to conventional programming: Attractive shows help to keep pay TV subscribers attached to today’s high-priced packages. “Unbundling threatens up to 50% of the total revenue of the TV ecosystem,” Martin says. But media money follows time, and as mobile devices become more popular we could see “advertising share shifts away from TV and toward the new premium-video online ecosystem.” The big producers are “fighting over the 0-2% viewing growth pie rather than the 50% viewing growth pie.” Martin says that she’d “feel better” about the long term prospects for Big Media “if they were allocating …
Cinedigm CEO Chris McGurk broke from the traditional gloom and doom many Los Angeles Film Festival keynoters have expressed regarding the future of showbiz. Noting that one previous speaker said, “and I quote: “The sky really is falling”, McGurk pointed out that “the only thing Hollywood has done better than building an industry is predicting its imminent demise.” Once again “doomsayers seem to be proclaiming the Seven Signs of the coming Indie Apocalypse” but McGurk said he sees “the Seven Signs of its Renaissance” — thanks to lower production and distribution costs because of the “digital revolution.” Despite having what he described a reputation as being “a suit” he said “I think I’ve actually become somewhat of a softie in regard to at least one aspect of the film business. Somewhere along my corporate ride in Hollywood, I fell in love with independent film.” McGurk sees enormous targeted opportunities for filmmakers, distributors, marketers and exhibitors. And variety that can satisfy broadly different kinds of people who love movies.
DirecTV has become the patron saint of lost TV causes, saving yet another high-quality series from untimely death. Following its deal with NBC Universal for Friday Night Lights, DirecTV has inked a pact with Sony Pictures TV for the Emmy nominated Damages taking over the ratings-challenged legal drama with an order for 20 new episodes to run over two consecutive seasons, the show’s fourth and fifth, in 2011 and 2012. But unlike the deal for FNL, in which the original network, NBC, got a second window on the series, Damages‘ new episodes will only air on DirecTV. DirecTV has also acquired the rights to Damages‘ first 3 seasons, which ran on FX. Here is the official release on the deal, which had been in the works for the past several months with Sony as the driving force:
BSkyB Still Rejects News Corp’s Increased Offer But Both Agree to Keep Negotiating & Proceed With Regulatory Process For Deal
NEW YORK, NY, June 15, 2010 – News Corporation (“News Corp”) announces that it approached the Board of British Sky Broadcasting Group plc (“BSkyB”) on Thursday, 10 June 2010, and proposed making an offer to acquire the entire issued and to be issued share capital of BSkyB not already owned by it for 675 pence in cash per share subject to the conditions described in this announcement. After News Corp made the proposal, the Independent Directors of BSkyB requested that News Corp enter into discussions with the objective of achieving an agreed proposal for the mutual benefit of all shareholders. Following these discussions, News Corp increased the proposal to 700 pence in cash per share (the “Proposal”).
News Corp and the BSkyB Independent Directors have been unable to reach a mutually agreeable price at the current time. However, both parties have agreed to work together to proceed with the regulatory process in order to facilitate a proposed transaction and, accordingly, we have agreed to enter into a Cooperation Agreement, details of which are set out below.
News Corp has been a major shareholder in BSkyB for over twenty years and has had Board representation throughout that period. News Corp currently owns 686,021,700 BSkyB shares, representing 39.1% of BSkyB’s issued share capital.
Highlights of the Proposal
– News Corp proposes to the Independent Directors of BSkyB an offer of 700 pence in cash per share
Paramount today announced the re-release of the digitally enhanced sing-a-long version of Grease for a limited release on July 8th, with expansion on July 23rd.
Cineworld is extending its lead in 3D digital. About half of the UK exhibitor’s screens will be 3D within three years. At present 33% of its 790 screens are digital. Cineworld has just announced a £30 million ($44 million) initiative with technology company Arts Alliance Media, rolling out across all of its 77 cinemas. AAM will collect virtual print fees from distributors, helping to repay Cineworld’s £40 million total investment.
AAM has virtual print-fee agreements in place with five of the Hollywood majors. It services VPF arrangements with 7,500 screens in Europe. The company operates the UK Film Council Digital Screen Network, so it has installed and maintains screens for nearly every UK exhibitor – multiplexes and independents alike. The technology company also has a deal with UK operator Reel Cinemas to digitise all 60 of its screens.
Cineworld posted a £40 million profit for 2009, boasting how it has led the way in 3D. There were grumbles that most of its digital 3D lead has come from the public purse, upgrading its 73 DSN screens to 3D and playing Hollywood blockbusters on them.
CBS and Fox today rejoined the National Association of Broadcasters. Fox exited in 1999, CBS in 2001 over the issue of station ownership cap. Now all Big Four broadcast networks have returned to the lobbying organization, which is looking to pay a key role on such main issues for networks and stations as the future of the stations’ digital spectum and of compensation for retransmission consent. It also is a vote of confidence for recently appointed NAB president and CEO Gordon Smith. Here is the joined statement by Fox and CBS:
Today’s announcement includes the return of CBS’s 29 television stations and 130 radio stations into NAB membership, as well as the 27 owned-and-operated Fox Television Stations and the MyNetworkTV programming service Jack Abernethy, Chief Executive Officer of Fox Television Stations, commented: “The interests of our industry, our company and our viewers are best served by speaking with one voice on Capitol Hill, at the FCC and in the Courts.”
“As the media landscape evolves ever more rapidly, over-the-air broadcasting faces a number of clear opportunities and some significant challenges,” said Martin D. Franks, Executive Vice President for Planning, Policy and Government Affairs, CBS Corporation. “One of the very best ways to address these issues is through a resurgent NAB under Gordon Smith’s leadership.”
As part of today’s announcement, Franks and Abernethy will serve as CBS and FOX’s members of the NAB Board of Directors.
Forty two online movie stores went out of business last year, according to research firm Screen Digest. Online movie stores that have disappeared over the past few years include Movielink, Lycos, Guba, AOL and BitTorrent. So much for that online movie pot of gold waiting at the end of the rainbow. Here in the UK, iTunes commands a 60% share of the digital movie market. Microsoft, which has been selling movies through Xbox Live since December 2007, is in second place. Apple has an even larger 85% share of the download-to-own TV show market. Xbox is not selling TV through its games console over here yet.
The consultancy estimates that the UK internet-delivered movie market was worth almost £16 million ($21 million) last year — less than 1% of the DVD market. And 63% of that came from download-to-own rather than video streaming. Screen Digest presented its findings this week to industry lobbyist Bsac. The analyst recently slashed its global digital film revenue estimate by one third to $943 million.
EXCLUSIVE: The British government has extended its Digital Screen Network scheme, giving multiplexes which have missed their film quotas time to catch up. The DSN scheme will now run until September 2012. Multiplexes that joined the DSN promised to show a quota of specialised films in exchange for free digital equipment. Instead, cinema chains including Cineworld, Odeon and Vue upgraded their DSN screens to 3D. Whereas other exhibitors have had to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds installing 3D digital projectors and screens, the big chains have been given a massive 3D leg-up courtesy of the public purse. It costs between £70,000 and £100,000 to convert each screen to digital.
The UKFC says it wants to give underperforming cinemas time to catch up with programming commitments. Agreements are being extended by 16 months. Cinemas will be required to show a revised number of specialised screenings each week based on their previous two years’ performance. Otherwise, UKFC could still take their equipment away.
The big three UK cinema chains – Odeon, Vue and Cineworld – were awarded 55% of the £12 million ($18 million) DSN digital systems. The DSN covers approximately 8% of screens in 1/3 of UK cinemas. Cineworld, which boasted recently of the profits it has been making through 3D, accounts for 30% of the DSN screens. Letting multiplexes show 3D Hollywood blockbusters on DSN screens has given them an unfair advantage, one exhibitor tells me. “We were all very …
EXCLUSIVE: News Corp’s Europe and Asia CEO will be giving a speech at the launch of University College London’s new Centre For Digital Humanities on May 20. The invitation says that Murdoch “will address the issues of creativity and culture in the digital age”.
Murdoch’s been making headlines over here this week after he walked into the office of a rival national newspaper and swore at the editor. The Independent newspaper has been running an ad campaign during this month’s election assuring readers, “Rupert Murdoch won’t decide this election. You will.” No doubt the hot-headed Murdoch will have calmed down by the time he addresses academics next month.
EXCLUSIVE: Andy Serkis, who’s pulling on his latex suit again for The Hobbit, has gone into the performance capture business himself. The Imaginarium is the UK’s first performance capture studio. Serkis wants Imaginarium to provide live avatars at rock concerts or the ballet, not just movies and commercials. He’s already directed performance-capture scenes for a couple of video games, one in the US and the other in New Zealand. Serkis was brought in to punch up the cut scenes.
Serkis moans that the UK hasn’t capitalised on its performance-capture talent base. After all, we export CGI technicians all over the world. And Hollywood comes to London when it needs visual effects done on Harry Potter, Batman or James Bond. Part of it’s the usual British snobbery, he thinks. Performance capture acting is somehow looked down on. I wonder if that’s because people look silly in those dotty suits. “Dramatically, there’s absolutely no difference whatsoever,” he says. “There’s no difference in terms of the acting process.”
Serkis is, after all, our greatest cyberthespian. He also played King Kong for Peter Jackson. Anyway, here he is talking about his plans at the recent British Screen Advisory Council confab in London:
Uh-oh. You know how online movies are always being held up as the pot of gold waiting at the end of the rainbow? How downloading movies, or streaming them over the internet, will more than make up for dwindling DVD revenue? Well, London-based consultancy Screen Digest has downgraded its digital film sales forecasts by one third.
The consultancy, whose forecasts all the Hollywood studios subscribe to, has slashed its digital film revenue estimate from $1.5 billion in 2014 to $943 million.
It seems we’re just not as keen to watch movies on PCs and on our Xboxes as Hollywood wants us to be.
Alarm bells rang when last year’s digital film sale revenue was off by 19%. Screen Digest had predicted $360 million in sales. The reality was $291 million. This is the first time that Screen Digest has restated its forecasts for the sector since 2006.
Senior analyst Arash Amel tells me that 2009’s results hide a more troubling figure. The drop off in interest in downloading movies to own is even steeper. The consultancy expected DTO to generate $250 million last year. Now it believes the industry struggled to pass $199 million. Amel says, “Download-to-own has always been seen as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, just out of reach. Well, that pot of gold is fading.”
From Deadline|London editor Tim Adler: That was the message at today’s confab in London organized by industry think-tank the British Screen Advisory Council. Claire Enders, managing director of Enders Analysis, said that Enders pointed out that whatever technological panic there’s been over the past 20 years, the same five Hollywood studios are still at the top of the heap. Technology is “lifting studios to a brighter and brighter future. If you’re a studio then you’re in luck. It’s just bad luck for everybody else”.
She also poured cold water on long-tail theory. This is the idea that people would be buying older, more obscure movies or books because of infinite digital shelf space. Instead, said Enders, all we’ve seen is the blockbuster gobbling up even more dollars. The way that search engine algorithms work just creates more demand for bigger hits. Although iTunes has 13 million tracks listed, Enders pointed out, 10 million of those have never made a sale. “The long tail is rubbish,” she concluded.
Sherlock Holmes was just released this past Tuesday in Blu-Ray and DVD. So a Warner Bros press statement asks: “Why not download it from iTunes for your iPad? Why not also play the game designed for the device? Sherlock Holmes: Mysteries is that immersive game experience that does just that. It leverages the powerful platform of the iPad and its 1024×768 screen resolution for intense graphics through 11 immersive 3-D environments as players work to solve the case. They also take advantage of multi-touch in various boxing matches where Sherlock knuckles his way through 12 unique characters.” In other words, Warner Bros Digital Distrbution chose to support the iPad and leverage the Apple platform and its 1024×768 screen resolution in a big way.
EXCLUSIVE From Deadline|London editor Tim Adler: Cinema chains including Cineworld, Odeon and Vue have all upgraded digital equipment provided free of charge by the UK government to 3D. Whereas other exhibitors have had to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds installing 3D digital projectors and screens, the big chains have received a massive leg-up on 3D courtesy of the public purse. It costs between £70,000 and £100,000 to convert each screen to digital. No wonder rivals to the Big Three think this is unfair competition.
The UK Film Council has invested £12 million ($18 million) in equipping 240 screens in 213 cinemas across the UK, or what’s called its Digital Screen Network. The DSN covers approximately 8% of screens in 1/3 of UK cinemas. Of those, half are controlled by Cineworld, Odeon, and Vue. Cineworld was apparently the first chain to begin upgrading its 73 DSN screens. Then Odeon and Vue followed. Cineworld has just posted a £40 million profit for 2009, boasting how it’s led the way in 3D.
The idea behind the DSN was to enable multiplexes to show a certain percentage of officially approved films across all screens. Otherwise, the UKFC could take their equipment away. But the rush to screen 3D Hollywood blockbusters like Alice In Wonderland and Avatar have elbowed these official movies out of the way. So there’s a question whether the multiplexes will hit the quota targets for officially approved films they agreed to. A review of the DSN is …
BURBANK, Calif. – March 12, 2010 – The Walt Disney Studios and ImageMovers Digital (IMD) today announced that they will close operations at IMD’s Marin County facility after production is completed on Mars Needs Moms. The IMD facility is expected to be closed by January, 2011.
“Bob and the entire IMD team successfully built a state of the art studio and produced an amazing film, A Christmas Carol, at a time when the dynamics of the industry are rapidly changing,” said Alan Bergman, President of The Walt Disney Studios. “But, given today’s economic realities, we need to find alternative ways to bring creative content to audiences and IMD no longer fits into our business model.”
“I’m incredibly proud of the talented team that we assembled at IMD and the fantastic work they have accomplished,” said Robert Zemeckis, one of the co-founders of ImageMovers Digital. “Their pride and dedication to making quality movies is evident in everything we have produced.”
The Studio is hoping to create a new long-term production deal with Zemeckis and his IMD partners, Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey, which will include the continued development of the Yellow Submarine project.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 10, 2010
WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE CONTINUES TO SOAR;
U.S. ADMISSIONS ON THE RISE
3D gives a boost to box office growth
Los Angeles – The Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) today released its annual Theatrical Market Statistics Report for 2009. The report shows that global box office receipts reached an all time high of $29.9 billion, an increase of 7.6% over 2008 and almost 30% from 2005. The U.S./Canada market reached $10.6 billion, an increase of more than 10%, and International receipts increased 6.3% to $19.3 billion in 2009. The 3D market gave the U.S./Canada box office a
boost accounting for 11% of the total compared to just 2% in 2008. With 20 films released in 3D compared to just eight in 2008, higher value entertainment contributed significantly to box office revenues.
“While the motion picture industry continues to face tremendous challenges elsewhere in our business, we’re reminded again this year that the cinema is the heart and soul of our industry and it is thriving,” said Bob Pisano, President and Interim CEO of the MPAA.
Ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada rose more than 5.5% from 2008, the first admissions increase in two years. Per capita ticket purchases in the U.S. and Canada also increased 4.6% to 4.3 tickets per person, the first significant increase since 2002. Sales were fueled by repeated visits to the cinema by frequent
Los Angeles – Emmy-nominated production company Big Fantastic has signed on as a signatory to the Writers Guild of America, West. Going forward, all new media content produced by the company will be made in accordance with the WGA’s Minimum Basic Agreement (“MBA”). Big Fantastic becomes the 33rd digital company to become signatory under the Guild’s recently won jurisdiction in the digital and mobile space. Big Fantastic has storytelling on multiple platforms and emerging technologies as well as more traditional outlets. Prom Queen streamed over 20-million times online, was featured on Verizon phones and sold to over 45 countries, including a successful format adaptation for Japanese mobile. It is now available on DVD. After Foreign Body was featured on Borders.com, it was re-edited for television and sold in multiple foreign markets.
Big Fantastic co-founder Doug Cheney said: “The Guild has done a great job of recognizing and legitimizing the efforts of online creators like us. We chose to become a signatory now because it affords us tremendous opportunities as writers while allowing our company access to the vast WGA talent pool.”
“Now is a crucial time in the history of online entertainment. As it continues to demonstrate its tremendous potential for growth, it becomes ever more important for creators to stand together and make certain that their work is covered by a Writers Guild contract,” said WGAW Executive Director David Young.
To date, 73 successful web projects, including original works such as Dr.
BENTONVILLE, Ark., Feb. 22, 2010 — Walmart announced today a definitive agreement to acquire VUDU, Inc., a leading provider of digital technologies and services that enable the delivery of entertainment content directly to broadband high-definition TVs and Blu-ray players. The deal is expected to close within the next few weeks.
VUDU is a revolutionary service, built into a growing number of broadband-ready TVs and Blu-ray players, that delivers instant access to thousands of movies and TV shows directly through the television. Customers with broadband Internet access and an Internet-ready TV or Blu-ray player can rent or purchase movies, typically in high-definition, without needing a connected computer or cable/satellite service. New movies and features will be added continually, enabling customers to enjoy a product that continues to become more robust long after they have left the store.
“The real winner here is the customer,” said Eduardo Castro-Wright, vice chairman for Walmart. “Combining VUDU’s unique digital technology and service with Walmart’s retail expertise and scale will provide customers with unprecedented access to home entertainment options as they migrate to a digital environment.”
VUDU has licensing agreements with almost every major movie studio and dozens of independent and international distributors to offer approximately 16,000 movies, including the largest 1080p library of video on-demand movies available anywhere. Via their broadband Internet connection, users have the ability to rent or buy titles and begin viewing them instantly.
VUDU will continue developing entertainment and information delivery solutions such as VUDU Apps, a platform that delivers hundreds of streaming Internet