Sony and Cablevision Form Interactive Video Alliance

An ambitious plan to bring high-speed interactive video services to cable subscribers in the New York area has been announced by <A HREF="http://www.sony.com/">Sony Corporation</A> and <A HREF="http://www.cablevision.com/">Cablevision Systems Corporation</A>. Sony will supply approximately 3 million set-top converter boxes to Cablevision customers.

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CEMA: Home Theater on the Rise

People love to watch movies at home, a fact verified by a recent report from the <A HREF="http://www.cemacity.org/">Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association</A>. Almost 20 million American households now have home-theater systems, according to CEMA. Statistics show that during the first half of 1999 sales to dealers of home-theater products rose 6%, to $3.9 billion, up from $3.6 billion during the same period last year.

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85,000 Times Faster than a Speeding Modem

Researchers at Stanford University and the University of Washington in Seattle reported last week that digital high-definition TV signals (HDTV) had been successfully transmitted across the so-called "<A HREF="http://www.Internet2.org/">Internet2</A>" network. The group says that the transmission has proved the capability of Internet technology to transmit broadcast-quality video, in stark contrast to the poor-quality video loaded onto today's commercial Internet systems.

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A DVD for Every Home?

The recently released "World DVD Planning Report" is predicting that US sales of DVD software this year will reach 57 million discs (worth $1.5 billion), and that by 2005 more than 1.3 billion discs will be shipped annually (worth $36 billion). Annual sales of DVD players are predicted to reach 9.1 million units in 1999, a growth rate of 128%, and will continue to soar, reaching 52 million by 2005. More forecasts: Video titles currently account for over 90% of the software market, but by 2005 their share will have fallen to 43%, while DVD-ROM will account for 28% and games formats 24%.

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Digital Set-Top Box Market Ready to Roll

According to a report issued last week by <A HREF="http://www.alliedworld.com">Allied Business Intelligence</A>, a worldwide conversion from traditional analog broadcasts to digital images is creating a windfall for those producing consumer set-top boxes. Findings in the report, "Digital Set-Top Boxes: World Markets, Architectures, and Vendors," also indicate that the global installed base of digital set-top boxes will reach 252 million units by the end of 2004. The report states that two key factors driving the demand will be the use of digital set-top boxes by both DBS and cable subscribers. Growth in terrestrial digital TV decoder boxes is likely to be significantly slower, according to the research.

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Sony Inks Deal with TiVo

Competition in the personal video recorder market heated up considerably on September 8, when <A HREF="http://www.sony.com/">Sony Corporation of America</A> announced that it had made an equity investment in <A HREF="http://www.tivo.com/">TiVo, Inc</A>. TiVo is a Sunnyvale, California-based maker of personal video recorders (PVRs), a new category of product using hard-disk technology for time-shifting television viewing.

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Film Industry Alive and Well, Summer Stats Prove

Network television may be on the decline, but the film industry is stronger than ever. American movie fans bought almost $3 billion worth of movie tickets over the summer of 1999, exceeding the all-time high of $2.6 billion, set the previous year. This year, 11 movies pulled in more than $100 million each, and ticket sales for the year to date are up 6%.

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Coming Soon: Virtual Aquarium as "Video Wallpaper"

Years ago, Brian Eno pushed the artistic envelope with "sonic wallpaper," or background music as art. Artists working in film and video have exploited the concept too, using their cameras to record campfires, roaring surf, sleeping people and animals, stationary buildings, and other excruciatingly boring subjects. In playback, such fare tests viewers' patience and challenges their assumptions about art.

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Gods and Monsters on DVD

I<I>an McKellen, Brendan Fraser, Lynn Redgrave. Directed by Bill Condon. Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (anamorphic). Dolby Digital. 106 minutes. 1999. Universal Collectors Edition 20584. R. $34.90.</I>

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Season of the Witch

Because they missed their opportunity to distribute the original film the first time around, <A HREF="http://www.cinemanow.com/">CinemaNow</A> and <A HREF="http://www.trimarkpictures.com/">Trimark Pictures</A> announced last week that they have acquired all rights to several spoofs of <I><A HREF="http://www.blairwitch.com/">The Blair Witch Project</A></I>, with negotiations already underway to acquire several more. The original <I>Blair Witch</I> film has been put on a fast-track schedule for release on DVD in time for Halloween, including the requisite "Newly Discovered" footage, Internet links, and other special features.

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