Busy news week - Netflix, TiVo, ivi TV, Amazon and LOVEFiLM, Opera Software, Woomi, DivX TV

by | Jan. 26, 2011

After a slighly lull following CES, earnings announcements and a full bevy of newsworthy announcements in the digital media and consumer electronics spaces have my e-mail inbox bursting. Here are a few items worthy of noting:

Netflix Subscribers Surge Past 20 Million
The guidance provided by Netflix's executives in Q3 2010 was subscriber gains of 2.7 million, and total subscribers between 19 and 19.7 million subscribers. In actuality, the company gained 3.08 million subscribers to end 2010 with 20.01 million (that's an increase of 63% from year-end 2009). Netflix's Watch Instantly service is now supported on more than 200 devices. Here's an interesting tidbit of trivia: Netflix says that the Apple TV is now generating more hours of viewing than the iPad.

ivi TV on the Ropes?
I've written about ivi.tv previously (here and here). The company's model is to take broadcast content from the Seattle, New York , Chicago, and Los Angeles and rebroadcast it online to subscribers who pay $4.99 a month. ivi TV officials believe that U.S. copyright law provides them with the right to rebroadcast the content as a de facto cable operator, but major broadcasters disagree. As they did with a service called FilmOn, the broadcasters are seeking an "enjoin" order, which would is basically a cease-and-desist order. In a court ruling last week, the broadcasters gained a victory.

Jim O'Neill at FierceIPTV summed up the court ruling from last week the best with this article:

A federal judge in Seattle late last week rejected a request from ivi TV for a declaratory ruling legitimizing its claims that it wasn't infringing on broadcasters' copyrights. District Court Judge James Robart wrote: "The totality of the circumstances here leads the court to conclude that ivi filed the action here because of imminent threat of suit by the Defendants, and to secure its own forum."

A bevy of broadcasters have sued ivi in New York seeking to stop it from broadcasting their signals. The Seattle ruling means that case can now move forward.

FilmOn does live on, at least in a role as distributor for independent or niche content. In fact, the company issued a press release today where it announced that it signed content agreements with Retro Television Network (RTV), The Ski Channel, The Documentary Channel, and Tuff TV.

Amazon Buys Full Control of LOVEFiLM
Unlike in the U.S., where Netflix dominates streaming video for TV shows and movies (our recently-completed study Digital Video: Three Screens and Beyond reveals that 22% of U.S. broadband households using Netflix's Watch Instantly feature), there is no pan-European equivalent. There are certainly some services to watch closely as their catalogues increase and their availability grows - among them are Acetrax, Qriocity (Sony), and Video Futur. LOVEFiLM is among the larger video distributors in Europe today, as it replicates the online DVD/Blu-ray Disc rental business of Netflix in the U.K., Germany, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. It also has about 4,500 films and TV shows available online. This compares to 20,000 titles available for Netflix subscribers.

Amazon looks like it will take its vast distribution network - and digital video services - to Europe with its full acquisition of LOVEFiLM, announced last week. LOVEFiLM currently has 1.6 million subscribers.

Charter and TiVo Link Up
TiVo's future success is dependent upon lowering its dependency on the retail-based set-top box market and strengthening its relationship with operators and consumer electronics manufacturers that can license TiVo's software and user interface technology or use its hybrid set-top boxes (such as the TiVo Premeire). On January 18, TiVo reinforced its operator strategy by discussing its recent operator wins, including hybrid set-top box deployments with RCN and Suddenlink in the U.S. It notes that it expects similar agreements with Cox Communications and DirecTV in the future. TiVo's TiVo's software is currently ported to the set-top boxes of such European operators as ONO (Spain), Virgin Media (U.K.), and Canal Digital (Norway and Sweden).

On January 25, TiVo announced its latest operator partnership with Charter Communications. The cable operator will utilize TiVo's latest generation high definition user interface and TiVo Premiere set top box, as well as upcoming multi-room and non-DVR platforms. Beyond the initial phase, the strategy will encompass next generation platforms that will expand the service with new devices, features, and third-party applications. TiVo's discovery, search, navigation and recommendation features will bring Charter customers multiple forms of entertainment content, including linear TV, video on demand, online video, and IP applications.

Opera Software Gets Connected with Samsung and Broadcom
As I left CES, one takeaway is that - in the fourth generation of connected TV products - the market is still wide open for a host of technology developers to play a significant role. Whether it's system-on-chip companies, apps developers, user interface designers, content delivery and management specialists, aggregators, Web-on-TV technology providers, and advertising specialists, there is certainly no shortage of opportunity for this market.

Opera Software made two significant announcements in the past week - one with Sony and today with Broadcom. For Sony, the Opera Devices SDK provides the company's browser and other tools to bring Internet applications to Sony BRAVIA connected TVs and Blu-ray Disc players. In the Broadcom announcement, the Opera Devices DSK 2.9 will have out-of-the-box support on Broadcom's BCM7420 set-top-box SoC platform.

Woomi from Miniweb Interactive
Miniweb Interactive's history is in developing interactive features and user interfaces for television services. At CES, it unveiled Woomi, a connected TV services platform. It announced an early partnership with Turkish manufacturer Vestel.

Miniweb predicts that Woomi be available on over half of the world’s connected TVs by mid 2011. Going live across all Samsung smart TVs and Blu-ray players in the UK this month, woomi will then roll out to multiple European territories and the U.S. within the next three months. Woomi will also be distributed by Echostar Europe where it will be the main user interface for video discovery on a new, soon to be launched, set-top box. Also recentlynnounced are global distribution deals with Vestel, a Turkish white-label TV manufacturer, and with Chinese STB manufacturer, DTM.

At CES, DivX (Sonic Solutions, and now Rovi) announced new content and hardware support for DivX TV, its connected TV content platform, including Broadcom, Marvell, and Renesas.

Tags: CES

Next: 3 Technologies from CES Will 2011 be the Year of the Connected Home?
Previous: Parks Associates is supporting DECT World & CAT-iq Conference


    Be the first to leave a comment.

Post a Comment

Have a comment? Login or create an account to start a discussion.