AUDIO VIDEO NEWS

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Barry Willis Posted: Sep 26, 1998 0 comments

Early indications don't look promising for <A HREF="http://www.circuitcity.com/">Circuit City</A>'s pay-per-view alternative as the DVD/Divx war begins to heat up in earnest. Recently, a neutral, informative <A HREF="http:www.abcnews.com/sections/tech/dailynews/divx980917.html">introducti... to Divx by Chris Stamper appeared on the ABC News website. Stamper's story included an opportunity for readers---who, presumably, had read the piece and were now reasonably well-informed about Divx---to vote on whether or not they would spend $449.99 for a Divx player.

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Jon Iverson Posted: Sep 20, 1998 0 comments

It's hard enough to transform one facet of the consumer-electronics industry, let alone three or four. But if Motorola's recent gamble with their new set-top box technology (code-named "<A HREF="http://www.motorola.com/semi/blackbird">Blackbird</A>") pays off, they could accomplish just that.

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Posted: Sep 20, 1998 0 comments

Less than four years old, <A HREF="http://www.directv.com">DirecTV</A> announced last week that it has hit the four million subscriber mark, a number that the company says puts it in one of every 25 TV households in the US. Other interesting statistics about DirecTV: 120 million pay-per-view movies and special event purchases have been made; A total of approximately 200,000 hours of professional and collegiate sporting events have been broadcast; Maintained a monthly churn rate (percentage of subscribers who disconnect) of 1 percent (DirecTV claims that this is the lowest in the multichannel video industry. )

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Posted: Sep 20, 1998 0 comments

Less than four years old, <A HREF="http://www.directv.com">DirecTV</A> announced last week that its subscriber base has hit the four-million mark, which puts it in one of every 25 TV households in the US. Other interesting statistics about DirecTV: 120 million pay-per-view movies and special-event purchases have been made; a total of approximately 200,000 hours of professional and collegiate sporting events have been broadcast; and a monthly churn rate of 1% has been maintained. (This is the percentage of subscribers who disconnect; DirecTV claims its churn rate is the lowest in the multichannel-video industry.)

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Robert Deutsch Posted: Sep 20, 1998 0 comments

B<I>ill Murray, Joanne Whalley, Richard Wilson, Alfred Molina, Peter Gallagher. Directed by Jon Amiel. Aspect ratios: 1.85:1 (anamorphic), side one; pan&scan, side 2. Dolby Digital 5.1. 94 minutes. 1997. Warner Bros. 15626. Rated PG. $24.95.</I>

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Barry Willis Posted: Sep 19, 1998 0 comments

As applied to Hollywood's profits and losses, creative writing could soon become a much more difficult craft. On September 18, a new set of strict accounting guidelines for film studios was taken under consideration by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, a movie-industry panel that establishes rules for accountants. The new standards are designed to bring Hollywood accounting more into line with standard business practices, or "to make the balance sheet tighter, more representationally faithful," as Standards Board project manager Frank Scheuerell puts it.

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Barry Willis Posted: Sep 19, 1998 0 comments

DVD will be getting a big boost this fall. <A HREF="http://www.sel.sony.com/">Sony</A> has announced a multipronged promotion with Internet film distributor <A HREF="http://www.netflix.com/">NetFlix</A> and several major video retailers that will expose thousands of movie lovers to the new format. The program will run simultaneously with one <A HREF="http://www.guidetohometheater.com/shownews.cgi?242">announced</A> recently by <A HREF="http://www.blockbuster.com/video/">Blockbuster Video</A> and <A HREF="http://www.philips.com/">Philips Electronics</A>. The Sony/NetFlix and Blockbuster/Philips promotionals were announced in the wake of <A HREF="http://www.circuitcity.com/">Circuit City</A>'s <A HREF="http://www.guidetohometheater.com/shownews.cgi?243">admission</A> that, without outside funding, it will have to cut back on its Divx marketing effort.

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Posted: Sep 19, 1998 0 comments

Evolution, not revolution. That's how Fujio Nishida, president of <A HREF="http://www.sel.sony.com/">Sony Electronics</A> Consumer Products Marketing Group, characterizes the coming debut of high-definition television. "This is just the beginning," Nishida said at a press conference on September 16 at which Sony's first direct-view HDTV, the KW-HD1, was unveiled.

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Jon Iverson Posted: Sep 13, 1998 0 comments

The annual Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) show has just vacated New Orleans, leaving several interesting announcements for home-theater fans in its wake. Custom-installation products and home-automation technologies usually cram the aisles, but among the in-wall speakers and specialized wiring systems were plenty of new consumer-electronics products.

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Barry Willis Posted: Sep 12, 1998 0 comments

An otherwise good year for <A HREF="http://www.circuitcity.com/">Circuit City</A> could be marred by the debut of Divx. On August 31, the Richmond, VA-based company announced that earnings for the most recent quarter of their fiscal year would increase from 44 to 46 cents per share, up primarily on the sales strength of DSS, computers, wireless and mobile electronics, and major appliances. However, investments in Divx could reduce earnings substantially for the second half, during which the pay-per-view DVD alternative will get its official launch.

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Barry Willis Posted: Sep 12, 1998 0 comments

Later this month, more than 500 of <A HREF="http://www.blockbuster.com/video">Blockbuster Video</A>'s approximately 6000 stores will install rental kiosks stocked with DVD players from <A HREF="http://www.philips.com/">Philips Consumer Electronics</A>. Participating stores will also expand their selection of DVDs to more than 350 titles for rent and 150 for sale.

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Barry Willis Posted: Sep 12, 1998 0 comments

Akira Kurosawa is gone, but his legacy lives on in repertory cinema houses around the world and on video. The man whom Steven Spielberg called "the pictorial Shakespeare of our time" died of a stroke at his home in Tokyo on September 6. He was 88.

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Jon Iverson Posted: Sep 06, 1998 0 comments

Video-on-demand (VOD) got another boost last week when <A HREF="http://www.mediahawk.com">Concurrent Computer Corporation</A> and <A HREF="http://www.sciatl.com">Scientific-Atlanta, Inc.</A> announced that they have sealed their agreement to jointly develop and supply "full-function true VOD systems." The agreement finalizes a letter of intent announced in May and follows an April 1998 VOD agreement between Scientific-Atlanta and SeaChange International (profiled in a <A HREF="http://www.guidetohometheater.com/shownews.cgi?138">previous story</A>).

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Jon Iverson Posted: Sep 06, 1998 0 comments

Most folks in the US take it for granted that they can easily watch broadcasts from networks like CBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox. But let's say you live in the Oregon hills, about 45 miles from the nearest major city. You've never been able to receive a decent television signal with an antenna, and cable hasn't come within miles of your house. If you want to watch network TV, that new direct broadcast satellite (DBS) dish on your roof is the only option you've got. Due to a recent injunction, however, that option might soon expire.

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Barry Willis Posted: Sep 05, 1998 0 comments

Video stores decked out like ships, replicas of the doomed ocean liner carved from huge blocks of ice, memorabilia priced off the chart---it was all part of the seemingly endless hysteria surrounding James Cameron's <I>Titanic</I> as the first video copies hit the street last week. Stores remained open late to serve eager fans, who waited in long lines to buy the film when it went on sale at 12:01 am, Tuesday, September 1. According to Bruce Apar, editor of <I>Video Business</I> magazine, "Inarguably, <I>Titanic</I> is the biggest video event in years. This is the kind of marquee title that gets people into the stores to buy other titles as well."

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