Money . . . (woo woo) . . . get away . . .
Anyone who adores Pink Floyd as much as I do will grab my attention, even if it's just briefly. But when someone plays "Money" in surround sound with impeccable sound quality, and at a low bit rate, so that shifting coins and dinging cash registers are attacking me from every direction, they have my immediate, full, undying attention. (I should have been born in the 50s.)
The demo was given by Coding Technologies, a Swedish company that provides audio compression for digital broadcasting, mobile media and the Internet through aacPlus, the company's standardized audio codec.
Since Coding Technologies' solutions save bandwidth, they give service providers such as cable operators the ability to offer more surround channels, additional content channels and extra language options.
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) recently chose the MPEG-4-standardized aacPlus audio codec as the winner in a multichannel audio test. The EBU said the codec is the only one capable of delivering superior surround audio to platforms including mobile, SDTV and HDTV. In a previous 2003 stereo comparison, aacPlus also outperformed other codecs.
"It's the world's most efficient audio codec," says Shawn Hopwood, senior director of licensing and evangelism at Coding Technologies. "This is the next generation of sound."
The EBU's listening test determined that aacPlus, at bit rates between 128 and 192 kbps, outperformed all other surround sound codecs in terms of efficiency, while scoring overall audio quality results in the 'excellent' range. This level of audio quality was only reached by its competitors at much higher bit rates (Dolby Digital, who dominates the market, at 448 kbps and AAC at 320 kbps).
aacPlus is a combination of the industry standard Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) and Coding Technologies' Spectral Band Replication (SBR) and Parametric Stereo (PS) compression methods. SBR reduces bandwidth requirements for high-fidelity audio by 30 to 50 percent, and PS reduces bandwidth requirements for low bit rate stereo by 30 to 50 percent.
AAC + SBR = aacPlus v1, and AAC + SBR + PS = aacPlus v2. The aacPlus v1 achieves the same perceived quality as AAC at about half the bit rate, and aacPlus v2 does it at about one-third the bit rate of AAC.
MPEG Surround (MPS)—developed by Coding Technologies, Philips, FhG and Agere—compresses a multichannel signal into stereo/mono and transmits surround sound side information as ancillary data. aacPlus with MPS delivers at 64 to 96 kbps, versus Dolby Digital's 200 to 484 kbps.
"You don't want to deliver stereo/mono and surround at the same time, so each channel is encoded separately with MPS," Hopwood says. "And it's codec agnostic, so it can be applied to any codec standard."
Coding Technologies delivers audio for SDTV between 64 and 96 kbps, for HDTV between 96 and 196 kbps, and for PC Internet radio between 24 and 64 kbps. Infinite Video, the first integrated IPTV solution for the U.S. market, delivers aacPlus stereo at as little as 32 kbps via Internet VOD services.
Hopwood says Coding Technologies expects its first broadband TV aacPlus service to be deployed this year. In 2008, the company expects to demonstrate the first commercial surround broadband TV service, the first commercial surround mobile TV service and the first HDTV service, and it expects the first commercial MPS mobile device to launch.
—Traci Patterson, Web/News Editor - CED, Editor - xOD Capsule
EU goes with DVB-H standard for mobile TV
The European Union has adopted DVB-H as the mobile TV standard for its 27 member states. It is also stressing the need for available spectrum and a favorable regulatory environment.
The EU compared the mobile penetration in Europe (less than 1 percent in Italy, Europe's most advanced market) with other areas of the world, such as South Korea, where the penetration rate is close to 10 percent, and concluded that the EU has been slow to introduce mobile TV.
"Mobile broadcasting is a tremendous opportunity for Europe to maintain and expand its leadership in mobile technology and audiovisual services," said Viviane Reding, the EU Commissioner for the Information Society and Media. "'Wait-and-see' is not an option. The time has come for Europe's industry and governments to switch on to mobile TV."
Revver rolls out impression-based ad portfolio
Revver Inc. is making impression-based ad products—including pre-roll and post-roll video ads—available to advertisers and content owners.
The new ads will be tested in the coming weeks. Revver already offers a Cost per Click (CPC) ad product, and the company is adding Cost per Thousand (CPM) ad products.
Revver can also match pre- and post-roll ads to create 'bookends'. And as always, Revver will split the ad revenue generated 50/50 with content creators, and those who simply share or host others' videos can receive 20 percent of the revenue off the top.
A&E, MobiTV team up for mobile video launches
A&E Television Networks (AETN) has hooked up with MobiTV to launch mobile channels for A&E and The History Channel.
A&E Mobile and The History Channel Mobile are available on the MobiTV platform for customers who have mobile services through participating providers in the U.S. A&E said the new mobile channels are the first phase of its overall digital strategy to deliver programs and services to viewers on multiple platforms.
A&E also announced a partnership with Visible World, enabling advertisers to customize and target TV ads in real time for the A&E Network and The History Channel. A&E will use Visible World's technology and services to provide advertisers with a more Web-like ad environment.
Autobahn Accelerator speeds delivery of MySpaceTV videos
Startup Swarmcast has introduced a free product called Autobahn Accelerator, which the company claims boosts download speeds for online videos and music embedded on MySpaceTV pages.
The company said its multi-source streaming approach uses bandwidth from multiple servers and aggregates packets of information from each of them in realtime. Autobahn loads fast, ensures reliable streaming and minimizes rebuffering, even over a wireless network, the company said.
The first version of Autobahn Accelerator was designed for Apple's iTunes. The latest version is now available for MySpaceTV.
Snap, Crackle . . . Pop
Crackle, a Sony Pictures Entertainment Co. formerly known as Grouper, has launched its streaming entertainment network.
Crackle collaborates with Sony Pictures, Columbia Pictures, IMPROV Comedy Lab and others, and the site provides videos in a widescreen, 16x9 format with continuous viewing capabilities, even while users are surfing through different branded channels on the site.
In the coming months, Crackle's channels will be paired with advertising sponsors, as well as with distinctive 'skins.' Ads will appear on each channel's homepage, in addition to airing within the video player.
TVN signs 100th affiliate
TVN Entertainment Corp. has signed its one-hundredth affiliate partner—Alaskan broadband operator GCI.
TVN is a privately held digital content aggregation, management, distribution and service company that delivers on-demand content via its cable, telco and broadband partners.
The company recently launched VOD Complete, an end-to-end VOD solution for small market systems.
• Google-owned sites account for 64% of company's revenue
Google reported $3.9 billion in revenue for the second quarter ended June 30, an increase of 58 percent year-on-year and an increase of 6 percent from the previous quarter.
Google-owned Web sites generated $2.5 billion in revenue, which constitutes 64 percent of the company's total revenue. The sites' revenue marked a 74 percent increase from the previous year's quarter and a 9 percent increase from the previous quarter.
• Verizon bringing Veoh content to all 3 screens
Verizon Wireless has launched a Veoh Networks channel on its V CAST service. Veoh distributes content from more than 85,000 video publishers.
The companies' relationship will also enable Verizon to bring Veoh content to Verizon's consumer broadband service and FiOS TV, marking the first time Veoh content will be available on three screens. A Veoh channel is expected on VerizonSurround this fall, and FiOS TV is slated to carry Veoh content later this year.
• MediaFLO adds Omneon server system to mobile platform
MediaFLO USA Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Qualcomm, has deployed Omneon Video Networks' Spectrum media server system to support FLO TV, MediaFLO's mobile entertainment service.
FLO TV aggregates and delivers TV-quality entertainment and information services to mobile phones. Omneon's system supports delays, ingest and playout for originated programming and interstitial material for the live playout channels.
• Synacor distributing celebrity news, videos
Synacor and CelebTV.com are partnering for an online video channel offering Hollywood news, feature stories and video clips. The service can be offered by ISPs and cable operators through a partnership with Synacor, which is now a distribution partner of CelebTV.com.
• Synergy in the university domain
Synergetic Technologies Inc., a provider of digital video ad-insertion solutions, said that its wholly owned subsidiary, Ad Systems Inc., has deployed Synergetic's technology in completed university installations and is running commercial spots on cable TV channels.
Ad Systems sells TV ads for cable homes, hotel rooms and university dorms. Revenue is generated by selling 30- and 60-second spots on the most popular cable TV networks, which include Discovery Channel, CNN and ESPN.
• Congress to examine the Google-DoubleClick deal, according to The New York Times.
• Nielsen goes 'solo,' rolls out new personal video meters, reported by MediaPost.
• Search engines race to update privacy policies, according to CNET.
Company: IMAKE Software & Services Inc.
Headquarters: Bethesda, Md.
President: Mark Schaszberger
Claim to fame: IMAKE is a provider of open solutions and integration services that enable the delivery of broadband digital media, VOD and IPTV to cable operators, telecoms and content providers.
Recent news of note: Announced in May, IMAKE's OpenVision Content Creator creates, manages and distributes on-demand digital content. Also, the company's OpenVision Session Resource Manager (SRM) is integrated with Cisco, Motorola and Sun Microsystems' OEM players.