WalMart Video Downloads Shutters

wm video closedAnother casualty of restrictive formatting choices and a lack of portability, Wal-Mart has quietly shuttered its video download store a year after opening it.

A message on the site indicates the service was stopped December 21st.  There was no public death announcement.  HP had previously decided to discontinue the merchant service that powered the Wal-Mart store after determining that their video download merchant store services weren’t performing. Wal-Mart, apparently, drew the same conclusion.  Click to Read More

iTunes Video Rentals: Take Two

itunes movie rentalsIn the technology industry there are nearly as many rumors and reports speculating about Apple and their products as there are gossip headlines about Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton.   One of the most common iTunes related news grabbers has been movie rentals, or speculation thereabout.   Now, it’s grabbed the wires again.

The Financial Times is reporting Apple is close to announcing a deal with Fox that will give Apple the rights to offer movie rentals through the iTunes digital store at some time in 2008. 

Some are speculating the story underlies a renewed push for Apple’s “hobby project,” Apple TV.   Alternate theories push a video strategy as a means of supporting Apple’s now almost entirely video enabled consumer product line (only the iPod shuffle doesn’t support video).

Apple has not made any statements about such a video offering and this is not the first times the Financial Times has run with a story focused on the concept that proved premature.  Click to Read More

Warner Music drops DRM with Amazon

amazon warnerThe music industry’s iron-clad grip on digital rights management (DRM) encryption is starting to loosen.  Today, Warner Music Group announced they will follow the path blazed by EMI, and then adopted by Universal Music.  Effective immediately, they’ll sell their music DRM-Free through certain retailers (e.g. Amazon and not iTunes).

For the better part of the past few years, the Big 4 music labels, which represent the majority of music sold at retail, have embraced a digital encryption strategy for the sale of their music online.   Up until last year, Click to Read More

Looking back and looking ahead: Microsoft TV Group

microsoft tvAdvertising may be nearer the core of Microsoft’s future plans but that doesn’t mean they’re shying away from other software and entertainment endeavors. Television and PC convergence has been a focus in Redmond for more than a decade.   Many signs suggest that attention not only remains, but is growing.  Looking beyond the obvious Xbox 360 and Xbox Live related activities, a quietly executed recent reorganization, seems another hint.

According to a recent article from CNET’s, in October, Microsoft rolled several television focus areas in to a single group.   Named the Connected TV group, the newly formed organization houses HD DVD efforts, Media Center software and Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) efforts.   Under the larger umbrella of the Entertainment and Devices division, the group is led by the IPTV Group’s previous directors.

Combining groups theoretically increases efficiency and collaboration.  The timing suggests there is a high probability Microsoft will unveil product or make announcements relating to the group at the Consumer Electronics show this January in Las Vegas.

Click to Read More

Gaming Global: Retail data from UK, Canada, Australia and Japan

global gamingWhen NPD’s November retail stats came out the second week of December, records were shattered for domestic U.S. gaming sales.  From the Wii to the PS3 to the Xbox 360, consumer’s were snapping up consoles and games at record pace. Global data is showing similarly strong sales are occurring around the world.

Today, Media Create released their weekly report on Japanese sales.  All but the Microsoft Xbox 360 saw sizable week over week sales gains.  Sony’s PSP more than doubled the prior week sales. The Wii saw an increase of more than 55k units.  The PS3 increased by about 25k.

In England, Chart Track similarly reports strong sales.  Click to Read More

Music Business 2.0: Live Nation adds Ticketing to Service Portfolio

livenation ticketsConcert promoter Live Nation cut off contract renewal talks with Ticketmaster in August.  They’ve now found their replacement.  Beginning January 1, 2009, following the expiration of their current Ticketmaster deal, Live Nation will launch their own competing ticketing service.

The infrastructure for the new ticketing venture will be licensed from CTS Eventim, the world’s second largest ticket agency.   Live Nation will operate the platform in North America.  CTS Eventim will handle ticketing services via partnership in the UK and Europe.

Full details won’t be provided until a conference call in January.  Among the items likely to be discussed will be a secondary market (resale) ticket platform that Live Nation hopes to implement as well.

Since being spun off from Clear Channel in 2005, Live Nation has been in the process of transforming itself from a narrowly focused concert promotion business to a comprehensive music services company.  In their marketing materials, the company bills itself as “the future of the music business.”  It’s a vision defined by Click to Read More

Zell Takes Control of Tribune

trib soldAfter 8 months, Sam Zell is finally in control of the Chicago Tribune and the rest of the Tribune companies. The $8.2b buyout of the newspaper and media conglomerate that operates the LA Times, Chicago Tribune, and twenty three TV stations around the country closed Thursday without a hitch. Shares ceased trading at the close of market.

The second cash installment for the leveraged buyout was provided by JP Morgan Chase, Merrill Lynch, Citibank and Bank of America.

Including the assumption and repayment of existing debt, the LBO will have a value in excess of $14b.

In consideration of the substantial debt load, Standard and Poors and Fitch both lowered the corporate credit rating. Click to Read More

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