VOD just part of Motorola's Broadbus picture
Motorola Inc.'s decision to buy Broadbus Technologies caused some to wonder privately just what Motorola is actually getting for the price it's paying—reportedly in the neighborhood of $186 million.
That reported figure could serve other VOD vendors, particularly those that could be on the block.
Concurrent Computer Corp. President & CEO Gary Trimm, on a call Friday morning (8/11) with analysts and reporters to discuss quarterly earnings, noted that the price Motorola reportedly paid provides a "good marker" on the value of VOD technologies and products that are in other company portfolios.
Motorola has not disclosed the exact price, but if that's in the ballpark, some think it's a bit steep, considering there are other server vendors out there with a much deeper base of deployments. If you look at our list of VOD deployments (updates are coming soon, by the way), you'll see many more markets with SeaChange International, Concurrent Computer Corp. and C-COR Inc. alongside them than you'll see with Broadbus.
But, according to Motorola Corporate Vice President Geoff Roman, that's quite alright, because the acquisition is not just about existing deployments so much as it is about how Broadbus' technology fits Motorola's longer-term vision for cross platform content and so-called "seamless mobility"—a term that generally describes how consumers will be able to access all kinds of content via all kinds of devices and via all kinds of wired and wireless access networks.
He said Broadbus and its technology will play a key role in Motorola's next generation content delivery core, as well as more traditional VOD, targeted ad insertion and network-based DVRs.
Once those things start to get sorted out, "cross platform video content and network storage have a lot of advantages," he said, noting that the "vast majority" of Broadbus' current employees will join Motorola at the closing of the acquisition.
Roman said Broadbus' approach with DRAM and its massive ingest capabilities also have some built-in advantages with the transcoding of content for various outlets and devices.
Patti Reali, the research director, carrier network infrastructure, for Gartner Dataquest Research, echoed some of that, noting that DRAM isn't as vulnerable to the wear and tear and other mechanical limitations of disk-based systems. That will grow in importance in a multi-format, multi-screen environment that requires massive amounts of content ingest and storage.
She also recalled that DRAM was dismissed by Broadbus rivals in the early going, but are starting to change their tune, as most have introduced or are about to launch systems based in DRAM.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Editor in Chief, CED magazine and xOD Capsule
Howard takes helm of Imagine Communications
Jamie Howard has been appointed president & CEO of Imagine Communications, an emerging company that specializes in bandwidth-saving, variable bit rate technologies for video-on-demand (VOD).
Howard, most recently
the COO of BigBand,
will now guide the ship at
Howard also marks the latest former executive from BigBand Networks to join the San Diego-based startup. Imagine co-founders Ron Gutman, who is the chief technology officer, and Doron Segev, Imagine's VP of engineering, hailed from BigBand.
Howard most recently served as COO of BigBand, and is a founding executive of the @Home Network. He also served as president & CEO of @Home Benelux of the Netherlands, and headed up VoIP startup Bazillion Corp.
Imagine's flagship is the Quality On Demand (QOD) Gateway, a device that can cram up to 15 variable bit rate (VBR) video streams into a 256 QAM channel. The company claims that represents a bandwidth savings of 50 percent over more traditional constant bit rate (CBR) VOD, which clamps streams at a specified 3.75 Mbps.
But the company believes its benefits will be appreciated more so as MSOs add more high-definition fare to their VOD libraries. Imagine said three HD-VOD VBR streams can occupy a 256 QAM channel versus a maximum of two such streams in CBR mode.
Imagine is also working to apply its VBR techniques to switched digital broadcast (SDB) systems, as well.
Concurrent revenues dip sequentially
Concurrent Computer Corp. said fiscal Q4 revenues tied to its on-demand product line dropped 23.4 percent, to $8.9 million versus $11.6 million in the previous period.
Overall company revenues dropped 22.9 percent in sequential quarters - from $20.6 million Q3, to $15.9 million in Q4.
The expected revenue slide contributed to a wider net loss. Concurrent said it lost $4.5 million (6 cents per diluted share) in Q4, versus a loss of $1 million (1 cent per diluted share) in Q3. The Q4 loss was in line with Reuters consensus estimates.
For the year, Concurrent revenues totaled $71.6 million, versus $78.7 million in fiscal 2005. Fiscal 2006 on-demand revenues, meanwhile, dropped 5.9 percent to $37.6 million.
Concurrent President & CEO Gary Trimm remarked disappointment over the quarterly and fiscal year results, but said he was encouraged by software sales of the company's real-time operating system products and the potential of Everstream's VOD data analyses and tracking products. Concurrent acquired Everstream Holdings Inc. in 2005 for about $15 million.
Trimm, during a call with reporters and analysts, did not provide much in response to rampant rumors that Concurrent could seek a suitor. ARRIS has been named as one of the most likely candidates.
"We have to continually evaluate what's best for the shareholders, and we will do that. But we can't comment on specific situations," Trimm said.
On the product front, Concurrent is gearing up for the commercial launch of its RAM-based MediaHawk 4500, expecting to begin shipments sometime in the next two to three months.
Trimm called for a "judicious" use of RAM for VOD, and added that new architectures will be able to handle in the area of 200,000 streams.
But offering a RAM-based product alongside its disk-based counterparts marks "a very important thing for us to do from a competitive standpoint," Trimm said.
TWC pitches 'Dodgers On Demand'
Time Warner Cable is playing ball with the Los Angeles Dodgers while, at the same time, deepening its connection to customers in the region.
TWC, which expanded its presence in southern California via its acquisition of properties from Adelphia Communications, has launched a new VOD "channel" that features a library of content from the team, including game highlights, post-game interviews, player profiles, press conference coverage, weekly Dodger "vignettes"," and some original fare tied produced exclusively for the new service. A number of library titles will also be presented in Spanish.
will return to
reprise his role
Lee 'Apollo' Adama.
Photo courtesy NBCUC
VOD to prep fans for new
season of 'Battlestar'
Video-on-demand will take center stage in the way SCI FI Channel and several of its cable affiliates will get fans geared up for the new season of "Battlestar Galactica."
To get existing viewers (and maybe a few new ones) prepped for the third season, SCI FI and NBC Universal Cable will premiere a 44-minute recap of the series (dubbed "Battlestar Galactica: The Story So Far") via VOD and on the Internet.
Several MSOs have agreed to offer the recap special "free" to digital customers in markets with VOD access. Those already on board include Bresnan Communications, Charter Communications, Comcast Corp., Cox Communications, Mediacom Communications, Patriot Media, Time Warner Cable and Verizon. To help promote the effort, affiliates will also have access to a marketing campaign with TV and radio spots, and print and online ads.
In addition to the recap, NBCUC will also offer some "best of" full-length episodes from seasons one and two, and sweeten it with a two-minute weekly peek an upcoming episodes from the new season of the edgy, "re-imagined" version of a franchise that got under way in the late 1970s.
Japan VOD aggregator nets Sony deal
Jupiter VOD Co. Ltd., a video-on-demand content supplier for the Japanese cable TV sector, has inked a licensing deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but the agreement will provide Jupiter VOD with content from six studios: Buena Vista International Television, Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Warner Bros. Television, Paramount Pictures, 20th Century-Fox Film Company, and Sony Pictures.
The agreement goes into effect Sept. 1, 2006, and will initially benefit J:COM, Japan's largest cable MSO, which launched VOD in January 2005.
SaskTel gets NBCUC content
SaskTel of Canada has signed a multi-year deal with NBC Universal Cable (NBCUC) that gives the Canadian telco access to the CNBC MSNBC networks, and on-demand access to films from Universal Pictures, including "King Kong," "Munich," "Nanny McPhee" and "The Producers."
SaskTel has more than 45,000 customers with access to VOD, which the provider markets under the "Max Front Row" brand.
Heard On The Net
Reviewer not beaming about MovieBeam
Cliff Edwards of BusinessWeek isn't very wild about the resurrected version of MovieBeam, awarding it a score of two stars (out of a possible five).
After the initial effort was mothballed temporarily, MovieBeam was relaunched in February. The service uses datacasting technology and is expected to tap the box's new Ethernet port to deliver more content. Another new feature is a library of HD titles.
Though high on MovieBeam's overall simplicity, the review notes that the new services "misses the mark" again.
The biggest drawback? The service falls short of claims of leaping ahead of other home video options—such as offering titles that could be out of stock at the local rental outlet.
"But in the few months I've been testing the service, many of the most popular movies were not downloaded to the box until a week or two after they became available at retail outlets or at competing rental sites such as Netflix," Edwards wrote.
The reviewer also lamented a "scarce" number of titles offered in HD format, but wasn't "ready to write off Moviebeam as a total failure," citing the potential of its ability to ingest and serve up older titles via its high-speed port.
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