Dish Network is looking to make a splash at this week’s 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas — but one announcement, which leaked out prematurely, could raise the ire of ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. Tech trade publications Dealerscope and TWICE broke news embargos tied to Dish’s press conference later today regarding a multi-room DVR called Hopper: It will have three tuners and a huge storage capacity of 2 terabytes. Hopper will make it possible for users to stop watching a recoded show in one room and resume where they left off in another, reports blogger Dave Zatz, who saw a posting of the TWICE article before it was taken down, and Multichannel News, which caught the one yanked from Dealerscope. But it also includes a feature called Primetime Anytime that will automatically record primetime broadcasts from local stations for ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC and retain those shows for a week — in effect turning Hopper into into a catch-up VOD service. Broadcasters have been licensing catch-up rights to Hulu and cable VOD. The TWICE article also notes that Dish is dropping the word “Network” from its name as it focuses more on technology. READ MORE »
Amazon stoked the hype around its new Kindle Fire tablet by shipping it a day ahead of schedule, the company announced today. That’s a smart move: In addition to the extra PR and customer goodwill it generates, the decision gives the online retailer one more day to sell videos, music, and books that will “offset the weaker margins (or even losses)” it may see this quarter by selling the tablet below cost, Caris & Co analyst Scott Tilghman says. Research firm iSuppli estimates that Amazon spends about $210 to make each Kindle Fire that it sells for $199. No wonder the promotion machine is in high gear: Hulu Plus — which is available on the iPad and Barnes & Noble’s new Nook Tablet — today joined the parade of content companies crowing about their Kindle Fire apps. A Hulu Plus subscription costs $7.99 a month, and can be used on any device that accommodates it. Hulu’s “never-ending mission is to bring you the world’s premium content when, where and how you want,” senior product manager Lonn Lee says in a blog post.
Talk about raining on Apple’s parade. America’s favorite tech company seemed ready for another great news day today: It says that it sold more than 4M new iPhone 4S’ this past weekend in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the UK. Not a bad follow-up to Friday, when Apple shares hit their highest-ever price — $422.00 — and a promising lead-in to tomorrow, when Apple’s expected to announce a big increase in 3Q revenues and profits. But before you become too giddy, consider what BGC Financial analyst Colin Gillis says today in a report downgrading Apple to “hold” from “buy.” Following the 31% increase in the company’s stock price in 2011, “the company has to constantly set records just to meet expectations.” And he says investors may be disappointed tomorrow. iPhone sales in 3Q will reflect “a phone that was at the end of its refresh cycle, not the start of a new one — as has been the case in September quarters in the years past.”
UPDATE: The question about whether Apple devices can show UltraViolet films is complicated, it seems. The folks at Warner Bros say that iPhones and iPads can handle them – but not through the traditional channel, the iTunes Store. Users must download an app to also register with Flixster, a site that Time Warner owns. Movies can be streamed, but not downloaded yet. Sony’s likely to have a similar work-around for its Dec. 2 release of UltraViolet-enabled Blu-ray discs for Friends With Benefits and The Smurfs.
PREVIOUS, 10:50 AM: There’s still a fair amount of skepticism about the entertainment industry’s long-awaited UltraViolet program today as it kicks off with Warner Bros’ home video release of Horrible Bosses — to be followed on Friday by The Green Lantern. The DVD and Blu-ray versions of Bosses will be first that make it possible for buyers to watch it on mobile devices from UltraViolet’s Internet cloud. Studios and consumer electronics companies have a lot at stake in promoting the “buy once, play anywhere” concept. It’s part of a process to slow the stomach-churning decline in home video sales. Consumers will spend about $16.9B on home video this year, down from $24.4B in 2004, SNL Kagan says. If UltraViolet catches on, then it also could give studios a lot of flexibility to control the way their films are presented and handled as consumers begin to abandon discs and just rely on digital streams and downloads.
The problem? UltraViolet movies won’t play on Apple gadgets such as the iPhone and iPad. The initiative also won’t include movies from Disney, which is preparing its own cloud-based system called Disney Studio All Access. “Not only is the ecosystem not fully launched, with a common downloadable file format a ways off, but there has been no consumer education on the technological transition from a pre-UV world to the new UV ecosystem,” BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield says.
A few surprises this morning in Amazon’s release of its Kindle Fire tablet. The bad news: It’s Wi-Fi only, which means you can’t download content when you’re away from a hot spot. Other tablets, including Apple’s iPad, can handle wireless 3G connections. But Amazon says it will offer free cloud storage for content bought from Amazon. The company also will deploy its Whispersync technology for movies and TV shows: If you’re watching a video on your Kindle and are interrupted in the middle, you can pick up where you left off later on another device including the TV set. The Kindle Fire will have a 7-inch screen and cost $199 beginning Nov. 15 when it goes on sale. The company also announced new, low-priced versions of the Kindle e-reader. Here’s the release:
SEATTLE, Sep 28, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) — (NASDAQ: AMZN)–Millions of people are already reading on Kindles and Kindle is the bestselling e-reader in the world for four years running. Today, Amazon is excited to introduce an all-new Kindle family: three all-new Kindle e-readers that are smaller, lighter, and more affordable than ever before, and Kindle Fire – a new class of Kindle that brings the same ease-of-use and deep integration of content that helped Kindle re-invent reading – to movies, TV shows, music, magazines, apps, books, games, and more.
“We’ve now reached the magical two-digit price point for Kindle – twice: the new Kindle and Kindle Touch are only $79 and $99. Kindle Touch 3G is the new top of the line e-reader with free 3G – no monthly fees or annual contracts – and is only $149,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO. “Kindle Fire brings together all of the things we’ve been working on at Amazon for over 15 years into a single, fully-integrated service for customers. With Kindle Fire, you have instant access to all the content, free storage in the Amazon Cloud, the convenience of Amazon Whispersync, our revolutionary cloud-accelerated web browser, the speed and power of a state-of-the-art dual-core processor, a vibrant touch display with 16 million colors in high resolution, and a light 14.6 ounce design that’s easy to hold with one hand – all for only $199. We’re offering premium products, and we’re doing it at non-premium prices.”
Howard Stringer: Sony Will Overtake The iPad With Content
A rival has revolutionized the mobile computer industry and Sony hasn’t had a device catch on big with consumers in years. But worried? Not Sony, not if you believe CEO Howard Stringer. “Yes, yes, Apple makes an iPad, but does it make a movie?” he said at a Berlin electronics show today. “We will prove that it’s not who makes the tablet first who counts but who makes it better.” Stringer unveiled its two tablet models, priced at $599 and $499, about the same price as an Apple 2. But analysts and technology reviewers’ first impresssions were largely negative. Also today, Sony announced in Tokyo that it will merge its liquid-crystal display manufacturing efforts with Toshiba and Hitachi and use $2.6B of government-backed funds to fend off competitors in Korea and Taiwan. The merged entity will be the world’s largest maker of the LCD panels used in smartphones and tablet PCs.
‘The Kennedys’ Takes Acting Prizes At Canada’s Geminis
It may have struggled to find a buyer in the U.S. and drawn fire from both ends of the political spectrum, but the controversial miniseries The Kennedys was a winner tonight in Toronto at the Gemini Awards, Canada’s top TV honors. Barry Pepper won for lead actor for his role as Bobby Kennedy and Diana Hardcastle won supporting actress for her role as matriarch Rose Kennedy. The Pillars of the Earth was named the top TV movie or mini. The Jason Priestly comedy Call Me Fitz won for direction (Scott Smith), supporting actor (Ernie Grunwald), supporting actress (Rachel Blanchard) and writing (Pat Bullard).
Hulu Rolls Out Subscription Video Service In Japan
Streaming entertainment site Hulu is on the auction block, but that isn’t stopping it from making its first international foray. The company said today that Japanese audiences are “passionate about premium video content” and that the country is a “major producer of world-class TV and feature films.” Japan’s extensive broadband coverage and
NEW YORK / BURBANK, Calif., June 23, 2010 – DC Comics, publisher of Superman, Batman, Green Lantern and Fables, is partnering with comiXology and PlayStation®Network for two separate digital comics distribution deals launching today, Wednesday, June 23. In addition, a DC Comics App for the iPhone®, iPad® and iPod® Touch is available allowing consumers an easy way to access DC Comics’ content. The announcement was made jointly today by DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Digital Distribution.
“At DC Comics, it has been a top priority that DC forges a meaningful, forward-looking digital strategy,” said Jim Lee, Co-Publisher, DC Comics. “As both a comic book creator and Co-Publisher, it was incredibly important that our plan includes not only creator incentive payments, but also an innovative component that supports comic shop owners. We see digital as an opportunity to grow our entire business.”
Both the comiXology and the PlayStation Network Digital Comics launch offerings will include classic titles from DC Comics, Vertigo and WildStorm, such as Batman: Hush, Green Lantern: Rebirth, Fables: Legends in Exiles and Planetary: All Over the World and Other Stories. Both programs will share a tiered pricing format, with digital comics priced from $.99 to $2.99 per issue. The Justice League: Generation Lost mini-series will be available through both platforms day and date with each issue’s print edition on-sale date, with both the digital and print editions priced at $2.99. Several comics will be available for free at launch, including the first installment of the ZUDA series Bayou and select stories from Batman: Black & White.
To further promote today’s announcement, DC Comics is offering a free 10-page preview of the 700th issue of Superman available through both platforms, day and date with the issue going on sale in comic book stores. The 10 page story is a prelude to writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist Eddy Barrows’ highly anticipated “Grounded” storyline that will be published in Superman which will examine how Superman sees America, and how America sees Superman.
“Grounded is a major turning point in the history of Superman,” said Dan DiDio, Co-Publisher of DC Comics. “This storyline has the potential to generate national headlines and bring new readers the series.”