Audio News for November 17, 2006

Media Synchronization – No, we’re not talking about the increasingly frustrating lack of lip sync in broadcast television, due to the increasing amount of digital processing of the image which causes it to be way behind the audio.  No, this synchronization is a growing concern due to the variety of video content becoming easily available – not just standard broadcast and DVDs. TiVo’s CEO Tom Rogers spoke of this at a recent press conference in NYC. He said there are now “television options that people haven’t thought of as TV before.”  Consumers want to integrate their cable and broadcast TV, broadband video content, home videos, online radio and podcasts into a format centered on their main home TV display. New TiVo features allow subscribers to send home videos to their friends and family member’s TVs – if they are also TiVo subscribers – to load unprotect broadband content to their TVS, and to conduct unified searches of all media recorded on their TiVos. Rogers’ goal is to have TiVo become a bridge between the different forms of media.

Wal-Mart Not Happy About Apple’s Movie Downloads
– Wal-Mart currently owns about 40% of the $17 billion DVD sales business in the U.S. Therefore they are not happy about Apple’s renamed iTunes Store now selling movies at $10 and $15 each. Plus studios are also setting up download deals with Amazon and Comcast, but they are concerned that iTunes’ terms of service allow downloaded movies to be playing on up to five different digital devices. But they are beginning to accept some consumer “burning” of movies to DVD-Rs. Wal-Mart is exploring its own download business model.  DVD sales are turning down and Wal-Mart wouldn’t want to have to cut their prices to compete with Apple at such a time.

Compatibility Is Foremost – Last year a study was carried out by the Blu-ray Disc Association on the views and perceptions of 1202 consumers age 18 to 64 about a possible successor to the standard DVD. About 40% of the respondents already owned an HDTV setup. The most important thing with those surveyed was compatibility. A whopping 70% wanted backward compatibility – being able to play their old DVDs. And 62% wanted cross-compatibility – to use the next-generation discs on other devices such as their PCs and game consoles. 60% wanted the new disc to contain both widescreen and full-screen versions of the same movie, and 57% wanted a dual-sided disc which would play in current DVD players at standard resolution and in the next-generation player at high res. (Some HD DVDs allow that but Blu-ray discs so far do not – though it is part of the specs. That seems as odd an omission as all of the Sony SACDs for the first several years lacking a compatible standard CD layer – which was one of the prime selling points of the SACD format!)

Possibly the most interesting finding of the survey – though predictable – was asking the respondents which format they would choose if two different non-compatible ones were launched (as they have been). 67% said they would be undecided. Well?  Why haven’t these findings been followed?

 

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