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Showing posts from April, 2006

U.S. Products Struggle to Catch Up with Asia

Reuters reports that big media companies must keep finding ways to reach on-the-go users and make money doing it to stay relevant in an online marketplace that values convenience and novelty, the leaders of three of the largest U.S. media and tech companies said. In a wide-ranging discussion on tech trends at the Milken Institute's Ninth Annual Global Conference, Walt Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger, News Corp. President and Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin and AOL Chairman and Chief Executive Jonathan Miller agreed; standing still while users find ways -- legal or not -- to obtain the content they want is not an option. "I think anyone who loses is anyone who tries to protect their traditional business. I think you've got a bad 10 to 15 years ahead of you if you try to do that," Chernin told conference-goers. Chernin said the U.S. government should help facilitate the spread of broadband technology to bring "very backward" U.S. broadband adoption

Winners of the BBC 'Content 360' Competition

The BBC has announced the winners of Content 360, the international digital media commissioning competition it held at the recent MIPTV/MILIA tradeshow. Among other benefits, the winning projects will receive a share of a 75,000-Euro development fund. The contest, which the BBC organized in partnership with the Korean Broadcasting Commission and the National Film Board of Canada, was designed to discover and to facilitate the commissioning of innovative content and interactive applications for Internet and mobiles, and attracted 181 entries from 120 companies in 23 countries. Winners were in four categories. "Content 360 was a great success in helping the BBC to engage with the wealth of talent from the international new media industry," said Ashley Highfield, the director of BBC New Media and Technology. "Congratulations to all those who took part. The winners were those proposals which were innovative in a way that can help the BBC deliver the very best quality servi

Discovery Channel User-Generated Content

Discovery Communications has launched its first broadband TV channels: Discovery Channel Beyond and Travel Channel Beyond. The company, which provided a sneak preview of the new ad-supported channels to advertisers and media buyers at its upfront sales presentation in New York earlier this month, says that in the coming months it also plans to launch broadband channels in association with its TLC, Animal Planet and Discovery Health channels. The new broadband channels, which are powered by broadband video distribution company, Brightcove, feature original and exclusive short-form programs and user-generated documentaries. Content available on the channels at launch includes: video extensions of popular shows such as Discovery Channel's "Dirty Jobs" and "Deadliest Catch," and Travel Channel's "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations" and "5 Takes"; behind-the-scenes and making-of footage, bloopers, outtakes and talent vlogs; and a user-generate

Place-Shift Your TiVo DVR Content, for Free

Orb Networks has launched DVR place-shifting software, dubbed "DVR Everywhere," that allows users of TiVo's Series2 DVRs to both schedule and play recordings remotely via the Internet from a range of networked devices, including PCs, WiFi-enabled laptops, and mobile phones connected to any broadband provider's network. The software can be downloaded for free from www.dvreverywhere.com. "A lot of times, my TiVo DVR records my favorite TV shows while I'm at the office or flying to another country," said Orb Networks' VP of product marketing, Ian McCarthy. "Now I have options for enjoying them whenever I want. I can play them at work, stream them to my Nokia phone on Cingular here in the U.S., or remotely initiate a TiVoToGo transfer to my laptop's TiVo Desktop to watch them on the flight back from Japan." According to Orb Networks, DVR Everywhere is an add-on to the company's existing Orb software for Windows XP, which allows users

MotherLoad Wants Your Unique Video Pilot

Comedy Central has announced plans for a contest revolving around user-generated video. Dubbed "Comedy Central's Test Pilots" and scheduled to run between May 22nd and August 24th, the contest will seek to find "the next big broadband show," by inviting viewers to submit one- to five-minute pilots to comedycentral.com. The winner will receive a development deal to produce a series, based on his or her pilot, on Comedy Central's recently launched broadband TV channel, MotherLoad. Comedy Central says that any format is eligible for the contest, including live action, animation, sketch-comedy or hidden-camera shows. The broadcaster is partnering with IFILM on the contest, taking advantage of the latter's user-generated content submission platform, which will be made accessible on Comedy Central's Web site. Entries will be judged by Comedy Central staff and by visitors to the broadcaster's Web site: the Comedy Central team will choose three "s

TV Guide Will Feature Downloads Column

Recognizing that multiplatform TV has hit the mainstream, Gemstar-TV Guide's program listings and recommendations magazine, TV Guide, will launch a new weekly column called "Downloads" in its May 1st issue. The column will provide recommendations of TV programs that are newly available for download or online viewing each week, alongside information on where to find those programs (e.g. on broadcasters' Web sites, on video portals such as Google Video or AOL's In2TV, on Apple's iTunes Store, or on various mobile phone platforms). "The digital age has sparked a time-shift/place-shift phenomenon in television program viewing choices," said TV Guide's editor-in-chief, Ian Birch. "Today, we all have the ability to watch many of our favorite programs on our video iPods, or our personal computers. Since television programs are increasingly available and delivered to viewers in many different ways, we wanted to take the lead in providing our reade

Without U-verse: AT&T Launches Alternatives

Even though its U-verse IPTV service won't be broadly available until the end of the year, AT&T Inc. and Starz Entertainment Group LLC (SEG) have announced an agreement to offer SEG's Vongo Internet-based movie delivery service to AT&T High Speed Internet customers. Vongo, unveiled earlier this year, delivers movies and other video content over the Internet for playback on Windows-based PCs, laptops and select portable media devices as well as on a TV. The agreement � the first distribution deal for Vongo with a broadband provider � will feature a co-branded AT&T and Vongo Web site, with a special 14-day free trial offer to AT&T High Speed Internet subscribers. The companies will also market the Vongo service on the AT&T Worldnet portal. Seperately, AT&T and Akimbo Systems announced an agreement to offer the Internet-based Akimbo video-on-demand service to subscribers of AT&T's Homezone TV service, scheduled to launch later this summer. AT&

Digital Media: a New Space, with New Players

AlwaysOn introduces the first annual 'OnHollywood 100' list, which features the top private companies in the developing digital media entertainment sector. These organizations are redefining the way entertainment is created, distributed, and experienced. Digital entertainment, information, and communication are shifting from a provider- to a consumer-driven paradigm, and the digital media entertainment space is teeming with opportunity and innovation. Consumer demand for new products and services like digital video recorders (DVRs) has taken off, as have new trends like podcasting, videoblogging, and mobile and user-generated content. Digital media in the home was just the beginning. Consumers now expect to control all aspects of their experience, by gaining anywhere, anytime access to all their digital media. The composition of the inaugural OnHollywood 100 includes all major segments of digital media and offers a glimpse of future trends. Content Delivery Platforms, which

Telcos Will Pay More for Their Video Content

According to Multichannel News, a new report from Citigroup Research indicated that cable-TV-content owners, including Time Warner Inc. and Cablevision Systems Corp., could actually benefit to the tune of $3.8 billion in incremental value from the entry of major telcos into the television space. That benefit stems from the cable operators� network-content holdings and the fact that telcos entering with smaller subscriber counts will be paying more in programming fees, according to the report. The big winners will include The Walt Disney Co., Time Warner, Cablevision and Viacom Inc., with lesser benefits to players including Comcast Corp., News Corp. and Scripps Networks. Citigroup estimated that most cable-network owners will see gains of 0.5-1.7 percent in their overall equity values because of the telcos� entry into video. In the near term, incumbent cable operators will have the better position in programming fees, particularly as players consolidate -- such as the melding of Adel

U.S. Broadcasters Discover the Consumer

Broadcasters must go on the offensive and turn new technology to their advantage, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) new President and CEO David Rehr said at the opening session of the NAB's annual convention in Las Vegas. It was one point of a five-point plan to 'reenergize' the local broadcasting industry and its efforts in Washington. "There are breathtaking changes taking place in broadcasting � and across all electronic media," Rehr said. "This is the day of consumer convenience and consumer choice. For the first time in the history of media, the consumer is completely in charge." So, put simply, as consumers turn-off or pay less attention to their radio and TV sets in record numbers, they have finally caught the attention of the broadcast moguls. But, he cautioned, it is up to broadcasters � radio and TV � to capitalize on the opportunities. "The future is always on offense and those who play defense will be left behind," Re

Carrier Triple Play is About Self-Preservation

Service providers around the globe see triple play services not merely as a means of increasing top-line revenue, but as a means of self-preservation, says a new study by Infonetics Research. Network operators are redefining and realigning themselves to be the one-stop shop for all things digital for residential and enterprise subscribers, and they believe triple play services will give them the competitive edge they need to succeed. Take as evidence the fact that North American, European, and Asia Pacific service providers participating in the study report that on average nearly 40 percent of their capital expenditures were spent on triple play network equipment in 2005. The majority of service providers in the study plan to further increase capex spending in the next 12 months on IPTV equipment, broadband CPE, broadband aggregation equipment, and voice over broadband equipment, and they expect revenue growth in all areas of triple play services in the next 12 months. And a big chu

Online Console Gaming Growth Estimates

The most recent research from Point Topic shows that online console gaming is gaining ground on the traditional masters of the virtual universe, the PC-based Massively Multi-player Online Role-playing Games (MMPORGs). Online console numbers are still fairly small when you compare to the installed bases of the big players, like World of Warcraft (WoW) and the Lineage family but they are closing the gap. Current estimates show around 6 million WoW subscribers against 750,000 Xbox360 Live subscribers. The latest figures show that almost 50 percent of those who have purchased an Xbox360 have Xbox Live subscriptions, compared to under 10 percent of original Xbox customers, and those subscribers play online 4 or 5 times more often per week than on the first generation machines. If the Xbox 360 meets its sales targets then we estimate that Xbox Live could add more than 2 million subscribers by the end of the second quarter of 2006. With next generation consoles coming from Sony and Nintend

Worldwide Handheld Device Market Decline

Following a holiday quarter in which worldwide shipments of handheld devices topped two million units, the worldwide market for handheld devices began 2006 with its ninth consecutive quarter of year-over-year decline. According to IDC's Worldwide Handheld QView, worldwide shipments of handheld devices totaled 1.5 million units, down 22.3 percent from the same quarter a year ago. Despite the incorporation of features like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, expandable memory, and integrated GPS solutions, the handheld market continues to shrink. Many of these same features can be found on mobile phones, and the inclusion of telephony extends the usability of mobile phones beyond that of handheld devices. Still, vendors continue to search for ways to keep their products viable within this space by appealing to first-time and core users, or even joining the converged mobile device (i.e. smartphone) space altogether. "A decline in shipments following the holiday quarter is expected of mature mar

Disintermediation: Direct to Consumer Video

LA Times report asks the loaded question, are portals passe? When the CBS network geared up to show the annual NCAA basketball tournament online for the first time in 2003, the television network didn't have the technological know-how to stream games itself. So it partnered with Web giant Yahoo Inc. This spring, though, CBS went solo and delivered more than 19 million streams of live and archived games. Viacom Inc.'s CBS isn't alone in bypassing the so-called portals as it moves programming online. In the last month, ABC Television Group and Fox Broadcasting announced plans to make some shows available free on their websites. Cable networks including MTV and Bravo also have "broadband channels" featuring TV and Web-only shows. Providing e-mail and search services and aggregating news, the portals "built huge audiences on the Web first," said Larry Kramer, president of CBS Digital Media. "Now we're in the process of building huge audiences on t

Content Providers Shift Distribution Strategy

Vendors of digital rights management (DRM) systems have spent several years directing their marketing efforts at the telcos and other service providers that have been pushing their way into the video distribution market. At one time, that seemed smart: after all, in many regions "Telco TV" was posing stiff competition to the traditional dominance of cable and satellite operators as distributors of video entertainment. Now, according to ABI Research, the situation has changed to a potential bypass of these distribution channels. Vamsi Sistla, the firm's Director of broadband and multimedia research, says that the "next frontier" for video distribution is broadband and converged media distribution over the Internet -- including, direct to the consumer. What has happened? The content owners � Hollywood studios and television networks � are flocking to online distribution channels. ESPN is offering a broad swath of content through online and mobile platforms; CBS

Fixed-Mobile Convergence Subs Forecast

Fixed telecoms operators will be the driving force behind fixed mobile convergence (FMC) over the next five years, according to a report released by Informa Telecoms & Media. The study predicts 92 million subscribers by 2011 generating $28 billion in revenues and comprising 3 percent of overall subscriptions. Fixed operators will aggressively roll out FMC services in order to target the ongoing threat of 'fixed mobile substitution' - where people are using mobiles rather than landlines. This is already presenting a significant challenge in certain territories and fixed operators are expected to respond by targeting FMC to gain share of mobile voice revenues through Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) agreements. Mobile operators, on the other hand, will take a cautious approach to FMC deployment over this period, and are expected to offer services where competition is highest to combat fixed operator activity. In addition, they will continue to leverage the higher retu

Yahoo! Free DVR Software Sure to Upset

CNET reports that Yahoo has released a beta version of software that turns a PC into a digital video recorder (DVR). The software, Yahoo Go for TV, is free to download. After the software is installed, people plug their computer into their television's video and audio input connections. The computer can then record and play back shows on the TV just like with a standalone DVR. Consumers can also play DVDs, music, photos or other downloaded content. The cost of a few cables and TV tuner card, in comparison with the hundreds of dollars being shelled out for DVD players or DVRs, could lure consumers away from DVR competitors like TiVo. And many industry leaders see TV-computer combinations as the portal for reaching consumers. Put simply, this latest announcement will surely upset the already fragile current status quo for existing players. Microsoft said recently that its Windows XP Media Center software is outselling the standard edition of the software, and Hewlett-Packard annou

Advertising Growth Varies by Media Segment

Advertising outlets are expanding as emerging Internet, interactive and satellite radio line up alongside old media. But Kagan Research finds total advertising revenue � a measure of upward movement � lackluster, which indicates a divide between the haves and have-nots. Some old-media segments are stagnating, which pulls down the total revenue average. The new-media segments � Internet and satellite radio, for example � are fast growing, but remain small or medium-size slices of the $240 billion U.S. advertising pie (gross billings in 2005 for both national and local). There's another divide along the same line. The ability to measure audiences in new media is superior, given digital data is in computer-like binary code that is easy to capture and sort. Analog media such as magazines and newspapers don't directly generate such digital data. "Advertisers are skittish about old media for which it is difficult to measure audience size and track consumer activities,"

Forecast of Online Gamer Growth in China

The ranks of online gamers in China will grow from 25.5 million in 2005 to 61 million in 2010, reports In-Stat. Government policy is generally in favor of the online gaming industry and several drivers will provide numerous business opportunities. For now, however, profits are elusive for many firms. Less than 15 percent of Chinese online gaming companies were profitable in 2005. "As of 2005, there were 16 million paid online game players," says Anty Zheng, In-Stat analyst. "The increased rate of online gamers is bigger than that of Chinese netizens since online gaming, as one of the most widely used online services, will become more and more popular in the coming years." In-Stat found the following: - Key first-tier players such as ShanDa, NetEase, The9, and KingSoft, account for a combined 80 percent of the market. - In 2005, there were more than 300 online gaming companies in China. 50 percent of the games are home-made, and that share will increase in the com

Viral Video Becomes TV Development Tool

Variety.com reports that after years of the Internet and videogames siphoning young men from television, networks are employing the tactics and services of sites like YouTube to win them back. With viral videos and user-generated content populating the Web, the new philosophy among TV execs is this: Let the audience dictate what's hot. With the explosion of guy-oriented Web sites like YouTube, Break.com and Heavy.com -- a mix of amateur video and clips ripped from other media -- it's no wonder that programming execs have begun treating the viral video portals as "development tools." The trend is significant because men in the 18-34 bracket are notoriously difficult to attract. Even guy-oriented shows like "The Office" and "My Name Is Earl" can't crack this season's top 10 shows in the demo. That's why scrappy cablers are eagerly trying to tap into the even scrappier sensibilities of the online world. The one cloud hanging over the phe

Theater Turnaround Based on Digital Cinema

Hollywood Reporter -- Boxoffice king James Cameron issued a call to arm theaters with digital cinema and digital 3-D in response to declining cinema receipts and rampant movie piracy during his keynote address at the National Association of Broadcasters' Digital Cinema Summit. "We're in a fight for survival here," Cameron told the overflow crowd in the Las Vegas Convention Center. "Maybe we just need to fight back harder, come out blazing, not wither away and die. D-cinema can do it, for a number of reasons, but because d-cinema is an enabling technology for 3-D. Digital 3-D is a revolutionary form of showmanship that is within our grasp. It can get people off their butts and away from their portable devices and get people back in the theaters where they belong." With filmmakers and exhibitors united behind the idea of enhanced cinema experiences, Cameron predicted that studios would become even more focused on both releasing new titles and rereleasing cla

Behavioral Targeting of Ads Double by 2008

Online Media Daily reports that advertisers will spend $1.2 billion on behavioral targeting this year, up from $925 million in 2005, according to a report released by eMarketer. By 2008, the amount spent on behavioral targeting will double to $2.1 billion, predicts the report. Calling behavioral targeting -- sending ads to consumers based on their Web-surfing behavior -- "the most ballyhooed form of online advertising," report author David Hallerman wrote that it also offers publishers the promise of "monetizing pages that would otherwise get few ads or only low-value ones." But, Hallerman added, behavioral targeting also threatens to narrow a campaign's reach. "Targeting's key drawback is reach, or the lack of it," he wrote. "The more you slice and dice your potential audience, the more likely your campaign's reach will become, as one network ad executive told eMarketer, 'pathetic.'" Consumers surveyed by eMarketer indicat

Advertisers Demanding Multiplatform Strategy

New York Times reports that the expression "think outside the box" has been overused enough to become jargon. But for a few hours it was appropriate, as local television stations were urged to diversify beyond their 'TV set' boxes, to remain relevant � and profitable � in the new digital age. "Conventional wisdom, it's an enemy at a time like this," said Beth Comstock, president for digital media and market development at NBC Universal. "In media today, I don't think there is a single rule that can't � and frankly, probably shouldn't � be broken. "This isn't just about driving growth," she added. "It's about staying in business." Her call to action came at the annual marketing conference sponsored by the Television Bureau of Advertising, an organization that promotes broadcast TV as a medium. For the first time, the conference was devoted to a single topic: the importance of the "multiplatform" � t

AT&T Upgrades Consumer DSL Speeds

Dow Jones reports that AT&T is preparing to double the speed of its consumer broadband Internet service to 6 million bits per second this week in some markets, said Rick Lindner, AT&T's chief financial officer. The 6 Mbps service was previously available only to business customers. AT&T's move to raise the speed of its digital subscriber line (DSL) service comes after other telephone companies such as BellSouth raised speeds to 6 Mbps. Facing competition from cable companies, which generally offer high-speed Internet service, carriers have made their product more appealing by slashing prices and, more recently, raising speeds. Lindner said that about 35 percent of new retail customers and 50 percent of business customers are initially opting to sign up for faster service. Customers are also migrating to higher speeds, he said. AT&T currently offers broadband service for as low as $12.99 a month for 1.5 Mbps. Service for higher speeds was $39.95 a month for one

Broadband TV to Quickly Rival Broadcast TV

Disney's plans to test free internet distribution of ABC shows like "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost" will help connect the company to the 22 million U.S. homes that regularly stream video, predicts a new report from the Strategy Analytics. The report says that the fast-growing broadband audience will soon rival that of traditional TV. Over 44 million U.S. households now subscribe to high-speed Internet access from cable and telephone companies. A recent Strategy Analytics survey of broadband homes found that half of all respondents said that they use broadband to stream video of news, sports or entertainment content on a monthly, weekly or even daily basis. In addition to these residential users, millions of consumers could also stream ABC's shows to their PCs at work. But ABC's plan to offer shows like "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost" over the Internet also strains the company's relationship with key partners and potentiall

Cisco and MTV Partner on Digital Incubator

CNET reports that through a relationship with mtvU, MTV's 24-hour college network, Cisco unveiled the mtvU "Digital Incubator" program, an annual contest that selects 10 student groups that will each get $25,000 in cash to fund projects aimed at developing content for broadband users. This year's winners combine elements of short-form programming, gaming, social networking, blogging, instant messaging, podcasting and mobile phone interactivity. The first Digital Incubator projects will premiere in May as part of mtvU's on-air, online, on-campus and wireless programming for the next six months. "My biggest regret is that I haven't found the next Google of online content," said Dan Scheinman, senior vice president of corporate development for Cisco. "The media business is in a disruptive era and consumers are being empowered to create and share their own content. It's important for (Cisco) to see where the trends are going so we can build ca

Multiplatform Local Advertising is the Present

Perhaps one of the most underperforming sectors in today's media universe is local Internet advertising. Consumers make 80 percent of their purchases near their homes, yet locally focused Websites and search engines are surprisingly underdeveloped. That's because TV stations and newspapers � which are best positioned to build local Web businesses with their stockpiles of local content and advertiser relationships � have so far been half hearted about Websites. But this is changing fast, which has big implications for ad spend forecasts. A day-long Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB) marketing conference in New York City hammered the message to 1,000 assembled TV executives that stations need to develop new media platforms � particularly city-focused Websites � because advertisers that make local TV ad buys (a slow-growing $21.5 billion business in 2005 according to Kagan Research) are demanding interlocking new-media ads. "Multiplatform is not the future," TVB pr

Google and Yahoo! Outpace Overall Search

Nielsen//NetRatings announced that year over year, searches on Google and Yahoo! grew 41 percent and 47 percent, respectively, outpacing the overall search growth rate of 36 percent. Google's searches increased from 2.1 billion in March 2005 to 2.9 billion in March 2006, while in the same time period Yahoo's searches increased from 907.8 million to 1.3 billion. The No. 3 search provider, MSN, saw a 9 percent year-over-year growth in searches, from 592.2 million to 643.8 million. In March, Google and Yahoo! also gained search market share, increasing two percentage points and one percentage point year over year, respectively. Google now accounts for 49 percent of all searches, Yahoo! 22 percent. MSN's share dropped slightly, from 14 to 11 percent. Buzz is increasing about the Internet-television connection, with online offerings of popular TV shows from ABC, CBS and other distributors, and the replacement of family television sets by so-called �media centers,� which are r

NAB2006: Revolution in Television Distribution

Informitv News reports that the world of broadcasting is rapidly opening up to new technologies. With the transition to digital and high-definition television no longer making the headlines, it is new forms of distribution that are attracting attention, and the talk is not of interactive television -- but of IPTV. Broadband is now high on the agenda, with super sessions from Kevin Corbett of Intel on �Winning in the internet broadcast era� and Jeremy Allaire, founder of Brightcove on �Internet TV � What the new world of ubiquitous home broadband means for broadcasters�. Phil Corman of Microsoft is talking about �Next generation television�. Show sponsor Accenture is promoting its work in the field, talking about �IPTV: realizing the potential of television over the internet�. The first day of the conference featured a full-day event bringing together the MPEG Industry Forum and the Internet Streaming Media Alliance to look at the issues around interoperability of open standards for a

UK Record Labels Investing Heavily in R&D

Hollywood Reporter -- British record labels invest more in research and development proportionally than such major industries as aerospace, defense, automotive and computers, according to new research released Wednesday by trade body the British Phonographic Industry. The BPI said that U.K. record companies invested �207 million, or 17 percent of revenues, on artists and repertoire in 2004, the latest figure available, which it said meant only the pharmaceuticals and biotechnology industry spent more, 39.6 percent, on its equivalent R&D. Government figures for 2004 show that aerospace and defense spent 12.3 percent of their revenues on R&D followed by automobiles and parts (7.7 percent), food producers (5.5 percent), and software and computer services (5.2 percent).

Chinese Telecom Sector Still in Growth Mode

China Telecom announced its first quarter 2006 financial results. At the end of the first quarter, China Telecom's un-audited net profit was 5.91 billion Yuan on revenue of 43.01 billion Yuan. In the first quarter, China Telecom added 5.09 million new telecom subscribers for a total of 215.2 million subscribers. China Telecom's broadband users increased by 2.14 million in the first quarter for a total of 23.16 million users. In other news, China Mobile released its first quarter 2006 financial results. At the end of the first quarter, China Mobile's revenue was 65.02 billion Yuan, up 19 percent from year on year. The company's net profit was 14.36 billion Yuan, up 28 percent year on year. At the end of March, China Mobile had 260.65 million registered users. First quarter monthly ARPU (average revenue per user) was 0.86 Yuan, according to the report.

US Study of Broadband Ethnic Segmentation

English-speaking minority groups are the leading adopters of broadband and IP communications such as VoIP, says a new study from the U.S. Internet Industry Association (USIIA). The study found that more than 90 percent of English-speaking Asian-Americans and 80 percent of English-speaking Hispanics use IP and broadband services, a higher rate than the 74 percent of white Americans, who use those services. The survey found that "Internet penetration is significantly higher among Asian-Americans than it is for all other ethnic groups. Many Asian-American Internet users are comfortable with tools that keep them in touch; Email, instant messaging (IM), and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP)." It also found that ethnic minorities are leading the charge to VoIP, and that they "were early adopters to VoIP technologies because of the low prices available for international calling." It added that ethnic minorities" have embraced data/VoIP/video bundling more quickly

British TV Programming Exports Increase

Annual UK TV export statistics released in April show that total revenue from the exploitation of TV programmes internationally reached �632m ($1.12 billion) in 2005, representing a whopping increase of 21 percent, up from �524m in 2004. The figures were collated independently for Pact by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). 2005 saw positive growth in sales to all territories, with particularly encouraging figures coming from Germany, Spain and the USA, which all posted decreases in 2004. Germany, a difficult, yet key country to sell to showed an increase in sales of 31 percent, following a decrease of 14 percent in 2004. Spain and the USA showed increases of 4 percent and 10 percent respectively, having shown decreases of 24 percent and 5 percent in 2004. The largest rise came from sales to the rest of Western Europe, which showed an 85 percent increase in sales last year, largely due to a rise in pan-European deals. The growth in the sale of TV formats and local p

Opportunities for Emerging Digital Media

In their latest report, Research and Markets predicts that Video on Demand (VoD) services will reach 350 million homes across the world by 2010. Citing the convergence of telecoms, media and IT, the research firm says in a statement that "broadband TV (IPTV), Digital and Personal Video Recorders (DVR or PVR) and Video-on-Demand (VoD), are a few of the prominent services which promise fresh opportunities for emerging digital media companies." The report also predicts that by 2015, 90 percent of "all households in the developed market will have a home media center." "Despite some governments mandating broadcast digital TV in its various forms, there is little evidence of a rush by consumers to buy it," the statement from the firm reads. "Instead they are more interested in new services such as provided by Internet, online services, pay-per-view and on-demand services."

Radio Ads Drive Affluent Listeners to NPR

USA Today reports that when National Public Radio (NPR) started offering a free podcast of its popular quiz show Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! it did so with little fanfare. That didn't stop hundreds � and perhaps thousands � of people from downloading the satirical look at the week's news on a Sunday afternoon back in February. By Monday morning, the show had joined Apple Computer's list of the day's five most popular podcasts. It was good news for NPR, which has become a major player in the podcast world. Not so for the 350 NPR member stations that broadcast Wait Wait. They're worried that making the program available to iPods could mean a loss of listeners � and consequently the donations and sponsor dollars that keep the stations afloat. "Anytime customers can find your product in another place, it's going to cause some concern," says John Decker of San Diego's KPBS-FM. He says the podcast trend makes some public radio programmers nervous.

London, England: East End Film Festival 2006

The East End Film Festival (EEFF) brings a week long series of unique film-inspired experiences to venues across east London, challenging our perceptions not only of cinema, but of the East End itself. Expect to see the best of the UK�s hot young talent, plus some of the most established and skilled filmmakers in the industry today all coming together at the festival to promote independent cinema and the East End. The festival screenings will take place at several local cinemas during April 27 through May 4. The EEFF welcomes first-time director and acclaimed stage and screen actor Richard E. Grant as their Director in Residence. The festival opens with Grant�s semi-autobiographical drama Wah-Wah, the story of a disintegrating family set against the background of Swaziland�s approach to Independence at the tail end of the Sixties � a �coming of age at the end of an age� story. Other highlights of the festival include: Rockumentary Britannica, a short documentary program showcasing

Web Search is More Local and More Diverse

The Times (UK) reports that Google's emergence as the dominant internet company in the past five years would seem to provide an easy answer to a basic philosophical question about how people use the net: mostly they are looking for something in particular, and the easiest way to find whatever it might be is to type some words into a search engine. That simple Google box provides a front door to the web itself. Yet a number of recent developments indicate that this question is not so settled after all. For one thing, Google itself is quickly evolving into much more than a pure search service. It rolled out an online calendar, which follows on the heels of Google Finance and the Google video store. Google is becoming a portal � an internet site that offers a broad menu of products and services, rather than one that helps you find things elsewhere on the net and sends you on your way. And nowhere is the continuing flux more apparent than in the large but amorphous arena known as loc

U.S. Fox Network Joins the Online TV Trend

No doubt in an attempt to stay relevant as consumers view more TV programming online, Reuters reports that the Fox network has signed a six-year agreement with its 187 affiliated stations that will let it show reruns of its television programs on the Internet. The revenue-sharing agreement allows Fox to make 60 percent of its prime-time schedule available online the morning after the shows air. The formula is complex, but stations essentially will get a 12.5 percent cut after costs. Fox is the home of hit programs such as "American Idol" and "The Simpsons," and is the latest television network to take a shot at making its programming available online as more people turn to the Internet for entertainment. Walt Disney-ABC television network announcement earlier that it will offer some of its most popular shows, including "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost," for free on an advertising-supported Web service. It also comes after CBS made the "Mar

Teens' Growing Appetite for CE Products

Households with teens own a total of 35 non-discrete consumer electronics (CE) products, compared to 24 in non-teen households, according to a research study released by the Consumer Electronics Association. The 8th Annual Household and Teen CE Ownership Study makes clear the considerable influence and persuasion teens have on CE ownership in their homes. "It's no surprise that teens today are tech-savvy and knowledgeable about consumer electronics," said CEA Director of Industry Analysis Sean Wargo. "It's interesting to note, however, the extent to which teens are beginning to use that information to influence household (e.g. Adult parents) purchases." A review of the top 10 CE products owned by teens shows a heavy emphasis on entertainment. According to research results, the top three planned CE purchases over the next year by teens are an MP3 player (21 percent), wireless handset (14 percent) and a video game console (11 percent). In these product areas

Online Ads will Surpass Outdoor Ads in 2007

New York Post reports that spending on Internet ads will overtake billboards and other outdoor advertising next year, and close the gap on radio in 2008, a new report said. The Internet will account for 6.5 percent of all advertising by the year after next, up from an earlier forecast of 6 percent in December, according to global media firm Zenith Optimedia. Online ad spending accounted for 4.5 percent of the global market last year. "We have revised our Internet forecasts upwards once again, as it has continued to exceed expectations," Zenith said. Radio's market share will fall to 7.9 percent in 2008, from 8.5 percent last year. "The Internet is now firmly established as a mainstream advertising medium in developed markets, and in many developing markets too," Zenith said. The firm predicts overall ad growth will increase to 6 percent in 2006, up from 4.5 percent last year, in part because of the promotional frenzy surrounding World Cup soccer.

Advertisers Flock to Social Networking Sites

Business Week reports that social networking sites are attracting a rising number of major advertisers. Most of them come from the entertainment sector, although consumer products companies are active. Target, NBC, and Procter & Gamble have run ad campaigns on MySpace. Interscope Geffen A&M Records has launched new albums from Beck and other artists there. Social networking sites have some natural advantages for advertisers. Even if the environment can be a bit wild, it creates an opportunity to develop powerful affinity groups and to collect a mother lode of demographic data about its members. That can be used to create carefully targeted promotions that go way beyond the common text and display ads found on the Web. "It's a challenging environment to get your message across, because there is a lot going on, like in a teenager's bedroom," says Troy Young, executive vice-president of Organic. "But there's an upside, because people reveal a lot about

Consumers Adopting Streaming Digital Media

Streaming video and music distributed across the Internet or directly to a mobile handset is fast becoming a mainstream entertainment delivery vehicle that will generate more than $27 billion in network-derived and content-derived revenue into the U.S. markets by 2011, according to The Insight Research Corporation. Streaming media refers to the transmission of digital audio and video files over an IP network or wireless network in real time or on-demand, while prohibiting users from storing the files locally. The streaming market is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of nearly 32 percent over the next five years, driven by on-demand audio, on-demand video, as well as the accompanying advertising revenue. �The US streaming media market has entered a growth phase, meaning it is experiencing realistic and sustainable growth,� says Robert Rosenberg, Insight Research president. �The forecasts that we present are conservative and in line with current performance. If, however, pe

Nielsen Will Dominate New Media Ratings

Broadcasting and Cable reports that at a posh Florida resort where Nielsen Media Research hosted its 2006 client meetings, President Susan Whiting told a crowd that, while ad agencies shift money from TV to new-media platforms, �no one has quite figured out how to really make money.� No one, that is, except Nielsen. For years, the TV-ratings giant has withstood criticism that it is a monopoly with a substandard system that governs how $70 billion in TV advertising is spent annually. Lately, many executives, from national advertisers to network bosses, claim that Nielsen has been slow to respond to the quicksilver migration of video to cellphones, iPods and computers, as well as to the shifting of viewing times for hot shows. But as difficult as the splintering of the video marketplace has been for TV, the changes have become a bonanza for Nielsen. Nielsen's new offerings will include: * New ways to measure out-of-home TV consumption via cellphones and iPods, which could include

UK Broadband-Delivered Video Opportunity

"Download-to-Own," a new mode of movie ownership, made history in the UK last week, when Universal Pictures and LOVEFiLM released the classic movie King Kong on the same day they made the DVD available for sale. Responding to this event, Strategy Analytics highlights the wider implications for the industry in the new Broadband Media and Communications report, "Universal Brings Kong to Broadband: Ape Smashes UK Release Window-But Slips on Pricing." This report shows that a significant part of the UK broadband audience is ready to try video download services, which could complement - or even replace - popular video rentals, as well as DVD/videocassette purchases. In a recent survey of 250 broadband homes in the UK, Strategy Analytics found that nearly a quarter of respondents expressed interest in this new type of video download opportunity. "With more than 10 million UK households now using broadband Internet access, these findings suggest great potential fo

Internet Ad Sales to Surpass Yellow Pages

U.S. online advertising revenues grew for a third consecutive year as keyword ads targeted to specific search queries continued to dominate. Online advertising set a record of $12.5 billion last year, a 30 percent increase from the previous high of $9.63 billion in 2004, the Interactive Advertising Bureau said. Search remained the largest generator of revenues, accounting for $5.1 billion, or 41 percent, of the 2005 figures. That's slightly higher than the 39 percent share in 2004. Internet ads also set a record for the fourth quarter, with revenues totaling $3.6 billion, a 34 percent jump from the same period in 2004 and 15 percent more than the previous record of $3.1 billion, set in the third quarter of 2005. "Interactive advertising continues to experience tremendous growth as marketers experience its overall effectiveness in building brands and delivering online and offline sales," Greg Stuart, chief executive of the IAB, said in a statement. Stuart said he expects

NBC's National Broadband Joint Venture Co.

Associated Press reports that NBC Universal and its 213 affiliate stations have formed a joint venture to sell news, lifestyle, sports, weather and other video generated by local stations. The new company, tentatively called National Broadband Co., is intended to give NBC stations access to millions of dollars in advertising migrating from traditional TV to the Internet. The joint venture "will allow us to serve the market that seems to have an insatiable appetite for video," said Terry Mackin, chairman of the NBC Affiliates Board. The company will be majority owned by NBC and offer behind-the-scenes and other video from the NBC Universal library along with footage produced by affiliates. The new company is still developing a strategy to profit from the hundreds of hours of video produced daily. Some scenarios discussed during a conference call included selling video to Web portals such as Yahoo as well as creating a new site where viewers could watch segments produced by

Mobile Phone Shipments Will Reach 1 Billion

Global mobile phone shipments grew an impressive 31 percent year-over-year, to reach 229 million units during Q1 2006, according to the latest research from Strategy Analytics. Neil Mawston, Associate Director at Strategy Analytics said, "Total global handset shipment growth, driven largely by emerging markets such as India, is at its highest rate for almost two years. We expect strong demand to continue throughout the coming months and we forecast that full-year sales will reach a record 1.00 billion units worldwide by the end of 2006 - this represents 22 percent growth from 817 million in 2005." Other findings from thier study include: - The share gap between Nokia (33 percent) and Motorola (20 percent) stands now at 13 points, down from 19 points in Q1 2002; - LG opened up a 1 point share gap over Sony Ericsson at the cost of profitability, struggling to balance growth with carrier-customization demands.

Home and Mobile Network Convergence

While much new technology for the connected home in recent years was intended to connect consumer entertainment devices to the home network, ABI Research believes the next frontier is the merger of the digital home network with mobile devices. Today consumer product vendors, content providers and mobile operators are developing solutions to allow consumers to access their personal content over the home network locally through Wi-Fi, or through the mobile network. "In recent months we have seen a number of announcements and proof of concept demonstrations from major players in the mobile and consumer electronics markets that tie the consumer's mobile devices to the home network," observes Michael Wolf, principal analyst of broadband and multimedia for ABI Research. "Whether they are more basic 'cache and carry' solutions such as Motorola's Follow Me TV, or more evolved products such as systems from Sling Media and Orb Networks for transferring live TV, c

Questioning Exclusive Content Price Premium

TelecomTV reports that in recent months there has been much discussion within the mobile industry about content; it�s importance, where it comes from, how to bundle it and how to charge for it. Various models have been proposed and tested and if evidence from the UK is anything to go by, it looks as though one notion � that of exclusivity of content � is now destined to go the way of the dodo. Back in 2003, two mobile operators, Vodafone and 3 UK, (along with satellite broadcaster BSkyB) paid �300 million for exclusive rights to provide content from Premier League football matches. That agreement will expire at the end of summer 2007 and there are now signs that next time around the mobile operators will be in no rush to pay big money to secure a repeat fixture. The fact is that since 2003 things have changed. For example, there are many more mobile devices on the market capable of displaying the plethora of mobile data services that are now routinely available, and for the diehard

Global PC Shipments Double-Digit Expansion

The worldwide PC market continued its solid expansion in the first quarter of 2006 with year-on-year growth of 12.9 percent despite an expected decline from growth of 15.9 percent in 2005, according to IDC. Nearly all regions were inline or slightly ahead of forecasts for the first quarter, helping boost worldwide shipment growth for 1Q06 to 12.9 percent, slightly higher than IDC's March forecast of 11.8 percent. Portable adoption remained a key trend in all regions and consumer growth appeared relatively strong following the holiday season. HP and Gateway saw notable surges in growth in the first quarter while growth for Dell and Fujitsu Siemens slowed considerably � particularly in their core markets. HP appears to have benefited from channel efforts and aggressive pursuit of consumers while Gateway made gains in the public sector in addition to the consumer market. The field of leading vendors performed fairly well in the quarter with market performance inline or ahead of exp

Decline at Newspaper Chains is Systemic

NY Times reports that the newspaper industry continues to flag financially, with three companies � The New York Times, Tribune and McClatchy � reporting sharply lower first-quarter earnings. Executives of all of the newspaper companies said they were hurt by stagnant advertising, particularly in the automotive and entertainment categories, and a continuing rise in the cost of newsprint. The Times Company and Tribune also cited the cost of severance packages after cutting hundreds of jobs. At the same time, the companies said that their Internet activities were thriving. Those activities still account for only a small share of total revenue and are not big enough to offset the losses from traditional advertisers. But revenue from the Internet is clearly a growth area where the newspapers are shifting their focus. So far this year, shares in the newspaper industry over all are down about 6 percent.

Ofcom to Deregulate UK Pay TV Restriction

Dow Jones reports that U.K. telecommunications regulator Ofcom said that it intends to deregulate the current rules restricting pay TV channels from being broadcast on Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT), commonly known as Freeview. DTT is transmitted on television multiplexes which are licensed by Ofcom under the Broadcasting Act 1996. Three of the six multiplex licences (multiplexes B, C and D) contain a requirement that all the channels they carry must be free-to-air, Ofcom said. Since 2002, DTT has developed rapidly and over six million households now receive a wide choice of programming, on both free-to-air and pay channels. Digital television has also developed significantly on other platforms such as satellite, cable and broadband and almost 18 million U.K. households now watch digital television, Ofcom said.

Portable Media Storage Device Forecast

Although there has been much hype about multimedia home networks, low-cost portable storage devices that can move content throughout the home via sneakernet may win the favor of consumers because luggable media provides low-cost, high availability, and convenience, reports In-Stat. A variety of popular, low-cost interfaces such as Secure Digital, Memory Stick, Universal Serial Bus (USB), and MicroDisk, can serve as luggable media. According to In-Stat the worldwide retail value of luggable media is forecast to rise from about $441 million during 2006 to more than $25 Billion during 2010. "There will be opportunities for movie studios and other professional content companies to get extra revenues by licensing portable versions of their content, as well as by cross-promoting their content," says Gerry Kaufhold, In-Stat analyst. "The portable versions can be used to drive consumers to the packaged goods versions such as DVDs. We expect to see luggable media solutions bein

High Definition DVD Format Fight Escalates

Toshiba's HD DVD player started shipping to U.S. retailers this week, four months ahead of Sony's scheduled release of its Blu-ray format players. North America represents by far the most important market for the new high-definition formats, accounting for more than 60 percent of all HDTVs that ABI Research expects will be shipped during 2006. What does this mean for the prospects of the rival formats? Will HD DVD's earlier entry to the market and substantially lower price tag give it the edge over Blu-ray? The answer is "yes" in the short term, but as time passes, complicating factors may shift the balance. By the end of 2006, according to the latest update to the firm's Consumer Electronics Research Service, Blu-ray players alone will account for only about 30 percent of the global high-definition DVD player market, but there is a catch: PlayStation 3. Sony's next-generation game console will play Blu-ray discs, and when it is launched, its large expe

Yahoo! Entertainment Leading Growth Cycle

According to Nielsen//NetRatings, Yahoo! has seen the future trend within its recent unique visitor growth statistics, and it's all about entertainment-related traffic. The fastest growing Yahoo! channel in Q1 2006 vs. Q1 2005 was Yahoo! Entertainment, increasing 76 percent from a three-month average monthly unique audience of 3.3 million to 5.8 million. Yahoo! Entertainment was followed by Yahoo! Photos and Yahoo! Education, which grew 40 percent and 36 percent, respectively. Overall Web traffic to the Yahoo! parent company grew eight percent Q1 over Q1, from a three-month average monthly unique audience of 96.5 million to 104.7 million.

Mobile Phone Morphs into a Mobile Wallet

As many as 25 million wireless phone subscribers in North America could be using their mobile phones as mobile wallets by 2011, reports In-Stat. Unlike M-commerce, the mobile transaction concept touted in the 1990s that never took hold, the mobile wallet is a much more versatile application that includes elements of mobile transactions, as well as other items one may find in a wallet, such as membership cards, loyalty cards, and other forms of identification. "In-Stat believes that the market can grow only by adopting a technology that offers the most versatility by providing both transaction capability and content discovery," says David Chamberlain, In-Stat analyst. "There are several technologies that could enable mobile wallet operations of handsets, including Near Field Communications (NFC), Radio Frequency (RFID), bar codes, and visual recognition. Standardization efforts around NFC may give that system the edge." In-Stat found the following: - Attitudes of

Creative Marketers Seeding Viral Video Sites

USA Today reports that yet another reason for traditional TV outlets to worry about their relevance: YouTube.com, the hot new outlet for people to post and share homemade videos, has caught the attention of big-name marketers. Nike, Warner Brothers, MTV2 and Dimension Films are among the firms seeding the site with 'commercial' clips. Now, along with consumer-made videos of newborn babies, weddings and teens pulling pranks, is a short of soccer star Ronaldinho in his new Nike sneakers. Part of YouTube's lure is its ease of use. Consumers � and advertisers � can upload clips quickly. As broadband penetration grows, and consumer appetite for on-demand entertainment swells, video-sharing sites such as YouTube are taking off. In December, when it formally launched, users watched 3 million videos daily. Now, it's about 40 million. Creative marketers embrace this model for two very simple reasons -- consumers gladly view the content, and like-minded viral interest drives

Mobile Phones to Rival PC for Internet Access

Today, the personal computer remains the dominant platform to access the Internet globally. However, Internet access via the mobile phone actually outpaces wireless access from a notebook PC in many of areas of the world � a statistic driven largely by the massive install base of mobile phones throughout the world as well as more developed wireless networks, according to Ipsos Insight. Indeed, Internet browsing via a wireless device is showing robust growth in many global markets. France and the U.K are exhibiting the strongest growth in this trend, while Internet usage via mobile phone in Japan also continues to grow rapidly. Today, four in 10 adults browse the Internet on their wireless handset in Japan, double the rate from 2003. However, growth in Internet browsing on a mobile phone is flattening in other leading markets, such as the U.S. and Canada, where wireless Internet access via notebook PC appears to be emerging as the stronger out-of-home Internet platform. Globally, jus

ITU Launches IPTV Focus Group for Standards

ITU will take the lead in international standardization for IPTV with the announcement that it is to form a Focus Group on IPTV (IPTV FG). The announcement, while acknowledging that standards work is ongoing in many different places, including ITU, is a reaction to an industry call for ITU to push forward and coordinate global standardization effort in the field. IPTV is a system where a digital television service is delivered to consumers using the Internet protocol over a broadband connection. It will help pave the way for players, many of whom are already moving to IP-based NGN infrastructure, to offer a triple-play of video, voice and data. Standards are necessary in order to give service providers, whether traditional broadcasters, ISPs or telecoms service providers, control over their platforms and their offerings. Standards here will encourage innovation, help mask the complexity of services, guarantee QoS, ensure interoperability and ultimately help players remain competit

Advertisers to Invest in Targeting TV Viewers

Forrester and the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) surveyed 133 national advertisers representing almost $20 billion in ad spending. More than three out of four told the researcher that traditional television commercials have become less effective in the past two years. As a result, advertisers are formulating strategies to coexist with DVD recorders (DVRs) and are both shifting their spending online and experimenting with new TV ad formats and placements. Respondents also cited measurement as a particular problem with TV. Advertisers need to invest more in measurement and targeting to make television work again, while networks need to support change by reconsidering long-standing processes, improving measurement platforms, and refocusing on their content.

Global Broadband Subscribers to Double

With the increasing penetration of established broadband technologies like Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) service and cable modem service, in addition to improvements in fixed wireless broadband and satellite broadband services, the number of worldwide broadband subscribers will double over the next five years, reports In-Stat. By year-end 2010, worldwide broadband subscribers will reach 413 million. "There are several reasons behind the rapid growth in worldwide broadband subscribers, but the most important are the increasing availability of broadband services and the proliferation of new applications that rely on high-speed connections," says Mike Paxton, In-Stat analyst. "Other drivers fueling subscriber growth include a gradual, but consistent, reduction in monthly service prices, and the beginnings of effective bundling strategies that link high-speed Internet service with video and telephony services." In-Stat found the following: - DSL remains the leading b

Circuit City Plans Digital Home Install Service

According to TWICE, Circuit City said it will unveil later this year a strategy for offering affordably priced home theater installation services that will launch during the second half. �We will aggressively grow our home theater capabilities,� president/CEO Phil Schoonover said in a conference call, describing the high-margin category as �critical to our long-term strategy� and �a critical competency to build.� The plan would feature a mix of Circuit City installers and third-party vendors, he said, with employees deployed in primary markets and outsourced providers serving secondary and tertiary markets. The company will also introduce a new brand name for its service offering, which will debut in new and remodeled stores later this year. The No. 2 CE chain is currently offering custom installation services in-house in 13 markets, and contracts with third-party providers outside those areas, Schoonover noted. He said the company is also honing its home installation skills and lab

Consumers Resist Paying for Wi-Fi Hotspots

TechWeb reports that a growing number of people are using public Wi-Fi, but the majority are unwilling to pay for the wireless Internet service, a market researcher said. By the end of last year, adoption of public Wi-Fi by the online population in the United States rose to 20 percent from 14 percent the previous year, JupiterResearch said in a report. However, 58 percent of the people accessing the Internet over wireless hotspots said they only used the service when it's free. "While the adoption of public hotspots is growing rapidly, willingness of consumers to pay for access is not keeping pace," JupiterResearch analyst Ina Sebastian said in a statement. "Business users are most likely to pay for use, but there isn't enough frequent use to drive adoption of subscription models yet." Regardless, to boost paid services, the researcher recommends service providers focus on hotspots for business travelers -- particularly in locations where there's capt

AOL is Changing its Name, Model, and Results

New York Times reports that AOL, which recently changed its name from America Online, is in the midst of transforming itself from a proprietary Internet service provider, with a large but dwindling number of dial-up subscribers, to an entertainment portal that makes money through online advertising. The company has announced a flurry of deals this year. AOL has also reached an agreement with Katalyst Films, the California company founded by the actor Ashton Kutcher and the producer Jason Goldman that created the TV show "Beauty and the Geek." Katalyst will develop five comedy series for AOL, each with at least 20 episodes. AOL already has a children's cartoon, "Princess Natasha," about a student who is also a secret agent, that has crossed from the Web to television, where it is shown on the Cartoon Network. And AOL has started In2TV, a free Web site showing old TV shows. But the shift has not come without some pain. Among top entertainment portals, AOL was t

UK Digital Music Download Sales Accelerate

Retail sales of artist albums in the U.K. were up 1.5 percent year to year to 27.9 million units in the first quarter of 2006, according to latest industry figures. Trade body the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) said in a statement that the switch to digital purchase of music had occurred faster than expected with digital download sales up 152 percent on the same period in 2005. Digital sales of single recordings totaled 11.5 million units in the three-month period, making up 78 percent of all singles purchased compared to 44 percent in the same period in 2005 and a mere 4 percent in 2004. Two weeks ago, R&B act Gnarls Barkley scored the first U.K. No. 1 for a single, "Crazy," from digital sales alone. BPI said that music DVD sales were up by 33 percent in the quarter with more than 1.5 units sold. It said the DVD market is now larger than singles, generating �63.3 million in trade value in 2005 compared with �55.5 million from singles.

Iceland Tops the Broadband Penetration List

Iceland now leads the world in broadband penetration, with 26.7 percent of those accessing the Internet in the country via a high-speed connection, according to a report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Iceland edged out long-time leader Korea (25.4 percent), as well as the Netherlands and Denmark, all of whom now claim greater than 25 percent broadband penetration. The U.S. ranked twelfth, with 16.8 percent, just behind Japan (17.6 percent). Overall, the OECD reports that the number of broadband subscriptions among its 30 member countries grew from 136 million in June 2005 to 158 million by December 2005. The U.S. has the largest total number of broadband subscribers in the OECD, with 49 million, accounting for 31 percent of all OECD broadband connections.

Call for Scrapping Mobile Phone 'Vice' Tax

The CTIA President and CEO Steve Largent used the impending tax-filing deadline to reiterate the wireless industry's support for repealing the antiquated Federal Excise Tax (FET). The tax, first instituted in 1898 to finance the Spanish-American War, adds 3 percent to the monthly bill of every wireline and wireless user in America. Today, there are more than 212 million wireless subscribers in the nation. "Today's wireless user is buried under a heap of taxes and fees," said Largent. "The average wireless subscriber in America pays more than 17 percent (wireline is more than 20 percent) of his or her monthly bill in taxes and fees. That's nothing short of outrageous." The Federal Excise Tax has been the target of numerous legal challenges over the past several years, and no fewer than three U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals have found the levy to be illegal. A report in today's Wall Street Journal suggests that federal government officials have deci

Ad Supported TV Enhanced by Personalization

Telephony reports that advertising-supported television isn�t going away anytime soon, but it will be dramatically changing, executives at the National Cable & Telecommunications show. The spread of video to the Internet and mobile phones, the proliferation of digital video recorders and the shift of ad dollars from TV to the Internet are all having an impact on traditional thirty-second and one-minute advertising slots which have paid for TV programming to date. Content providers can�t fight these trends because they are consumer-driven, said David Zaslav, president of NBC Universal Studios, but they will have to adjust. One of the expected changes is increased focus or targeting of ads. Cable companies already do digital ad insertion that puts local ads onto their digital networks at the local hub. Later this year, Terayon, the leading provider of digital ad insertion equipment, will trial adding local content to national ads, said Kanaiya Vasani, vice president of marketing.