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Mark Schubins Monday Memo – June 10

Twang’s Tuesday Tribune (Mark’s Monday Memo) 2003 June 10

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From Mark Schubin

Date Tue, 10 Jun 2003 22:31:18 -0400

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– Follow-ups:

– Cable and HDTV – As might be expected during the National Cable

and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) convention, there is a lot of

news this week:

– According to NCTA, as of June 1, 18 of the top-20 U.S.

markets, 78 out of the top-100, and another 34 markets beyond the

top-100 all have at least one cable operator providing HDTV, which

reportedly comes to 55 million U.S. TV households (more than half) able

to get HD via cable if they want to. That reportedly represents almost

50% growth in five months:

– A Leichtman Research Group survey of 1250 U.S. homes found:

– Purchase of HDTV displays goes up as prices fall,

– HDTV owners have a household income 73% above average,

– Versus those with lower incomes, those with annual

incomes above $75,000 are about 30% more likely to have heard of HDTV,

and 500% more likely to own a set,

– DBS viewers where cable is available are 63% more

likely to be “very familiar” with HDTV and 125% more likely to own an

HDTV display:

– Today’s HDTV panel had some interesting comments. HDNet’s

Mark Cuban noted that, while black-&-white shows were valuable on color

stations, NTSC programming won’t “work” on HD. Showtime’s Matthew

Blank, on the other hand, noted that HD is “a bit of a bandwidth hog”

and that cable capacity might better be used for other purposes (FYI,

Showtime is increasing its HD output). Scroll down through this URL for

more HD/cable stories:

– Multichannel News says the cable industry is concerned that

the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) delay in dealing with the

cable/consumer-electronics agreement might delay digital-cable-ready HD

sets beyond the 2004 holiday buying season. The full story requires a

paid subscription:

– Comcast is delivering its typical HD package (ABC, HBO, NBC,

PBS, and Showtime but not CBS) in the San Francisco Bay area to some

800,000 homes; overbuilder RCN is offering its package (ABC, Discovery,

ESPN, HBO, HDNet, PBS, Showtime, and widescreen digital Fox but not CBS)

in Washington:

– Time Warner Cable continues to offer its HD package (WITH

CBS) free to its digital cable subscribers and is adding Discovery HD

Theater and (newly announced HD) Fox Sports Net. The full story

requires a paid subscription:

– Starz! announced a multichannel HD package including

“Sharper Movies HD” and east- and west-coast HD feeds. They will also

offer “Starz! Hi Rez” [I’ve also seen it spelled “Res”] with widescreen

non-HD signals for cable systems without the necessary bandwidth:

The HD channels will reportedly use 17.6 Mbps, the “Hi Rez” 5.6

(which is substantially more than is usually devoted to 4:3 SDTV

programming). The full story requires a paid subscription:

– DirecTV is putting together a $10.99-per-month HD package to

be available July 1. It will include Discovery, ESPN, HDNet, and HDNet

Movies:

– TWICE (This Week In Consumer Electronics) has a story

(actually two) on HDTV cable boxes:

– Following up on Walt Ciciora’s comments that HDTV makes

ordinary cable channels look bad, a correspondent reports, “The manager

at my favorite video store in suburban Washington, DC volunteered

(without prompting) that customers who bought HDTV’s and subscribed to

Comcast’s HDTV service were beginning to complain about ‘poor’ reception

of analog cable on their new HDTV’s. He made some visits to customers’

homes to check this out. He said that he found the analog cable

reception on the complaining purchasers’ sets to be quite acceptable;

the picture was poor only in comparison to HDTV!”

I would add one anecdotal tidbit from a producer with whom I

frequently work who recently got Time Warner Cable HD service. She is

happy with the HD (when it works, a problem here on what seems to be all

of the Scientific-Atlanta digital boxes, HD or SD), and she is also

happy with her non-HD cable signals. What she is NOT happy with is the

quality of the non-HD channels coming from the HD set-top box. It’s

another data point.

– Canoe.ca’s report of 6,000 HD displays in Canada – A

correspondent disputes the report, saying, “There are more than 6,000 HD

customers on one cable system in Canada alone, so there are certainly

many more than 6,000 HD capable TV sets. This information is accurate,

but my source doesn’t want to be named.”

– ABC HD – A viewer saw resolution-loss problems when watching a

game on the Philadelphia station, regardless of whether he got it

off-air or via cable, but the Baltimore station looked fine, indicating

there was no problem with the network feed:

– May 1 –

– Neither the FCC nor the National Association of Broadcasters

(NAB) updated its lists. It has now been several weeks.

– The Association of Public Television Stations added two to

its list, for a total of 168 non-commercial DTT stations on the air in

the U.S.:

– The latest Doug Lung report, using figures from the FCC

database as of June 6, lists just 355 licenses:

– In the latest Screen Digest E-Cinema Alert, Patrick von Sychowski

speculates on viruses affecting digital cinema and causing ads to appear

on theater screens. For more information on Screen Digest, go here:

– International DTT news:

– Nine Network in Australia is reportedly devoting just 12 Mbps to

HD:

Nine Network carries the vast majority of Australia’s HD

programming, which is not yet a lot:

– Finland plans to increase from 11 DTT transmitter sites (with

three multiplexes each) to 23 by August 2004, representing an increase

in coverage from about 70% of the population to 94%. It is said that a

shortage of MHP-equipped set-top boxes is holding back the system:

– Norway’s only candidate for DTT licensing is proposing a

UK-Freeview-like model. Analog TV is to be switched off,

region-by-region, a few months after digital launch:

– Spain, too, is now promoting a Freeview-like service:

– The Catalonia region of Spain will test MHP (interactive) service

in 100 homes in the Barcelona area:

– A telephone survey of 1,000 homes conducted by the BBC and UK

retailer Dixons found 40% of Freeview-decoder buyers are over 55 and 90%

have had no other digital TV. The BBC believes improvements will get

signals to 82% of UK homes by next year but plans to use satellite

transmissions to reach “gaps” in rural areas. Freeview DTT set-top

receivers have been selling to consumers at more than 100,000 per month

since January:

– According to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), 170,296 “DTV

products” (mostly HDTV displays incapable of receiving DTT) were sold to

U.S. dealers in April. Compare to the Freeview figure above:

– CEA’s industry-breakfast “HDTV Update” programs, already conducted in

15 of the top-20 U.S. TV markets, are being expanded to another six

locations:

– Denver – September 16

– St. Louis – September 17

– Orlando – September 30

– Cleveland – October 1

– San Diego – October 15

– Sacramento – October 16:

– Based on CEA figures, sales to U.S. dealers of (supposedly) non-H/DTV

projection TVs were down 47.5% for the first 21 weeks of 2003 relative

to the same period in 2002. My ten-week running average is down 55.9%.

It’s possible that weekly factory sales will drop to three digits

sometime later this year. Direct-view was down 8.7%. My ten-week

running average was down 9.2%.

So-called “DTV product” sales to U.S. dealers for the 21st week

were 69,037 units, and the total for the 21-week period was 1,073,503.

“DTV products” (most of which are HDTV displays) have accounted for

about 10.8% of the total TVs sold to U.S. dealers this year. As of the

21st week, the number of “DTV products” sold to dealers exceeded the

number of TV/VCR combos (1,062,481).

– I saw two ads for ATSC set-top DTT receivers this week, both at J&R.

– The ads – The same-store, same-brand, same-size, same-shape premium

for integrated DTT reception was $360 again at Audio King for the

Mitsubishi WS55511 over the WS55411. At Best Buy it was $600 for the

Mitsubishi WS-B55 over the WS-A55.

Audio King had an RCA F27442 27-inch TV for $199.95 [Note 2] and a

Sharp 36US60 36-inch TV for $548.95 [Note 3].

Best Buy had DVD players starting at $44.99 and DVDs at five for

$30. They also had a KLH KT2006 20-inch TV for $99.99 [Note 1], an RCA

F25441 25-inch TV for $189.99 [Note 2], and a Panasonic PV-C2023 20-inch

TV/VCR combo for $199.99 [Note 4].

Circuit City had DVD players starting at $39.99 after mail-in

rebate. They also had an Apex AT1302 13-inch TV for $64.99 [Note 1], an

Apex AT2002 20-inch TV for $89.99 [Note 1], and an RCA F36650 36-inch TV

with $50 gift card for $649.99 [Note 3].

J&R had a Philips 19PS45S 19-inch TV for $99.99 [Note 1]. Lord &

Taylor had a 5-inch TV/lantern/flashlight/compass/AM-&-FM radio for

$29.99. Sears had a Sylvania 13-inch TV for $79.99 [Note 1] and a

Sylvania 19-inch TV/VCR combo for $159.99 [Note 4].

Note 1 – would require DTT-reception circuitry by July 1, 2007

Note 2 – would require DTT-reception circuitry starting July 1,

2005

Note 3 – would require DTT-reception circuitry starting July 1,

2004

Note 4 – would require dual DTT-reception circuitry by July 1, 2007

– Audio King (Minneapolis Star Tribune, appropriate disclaimers):

– Hitachi 51F500 51-inch 16:9 CRT projection TV $1799.96**

– JVC AV32P903 32-inch 4:3 direct-view CRT TV $999.95

– JVC AV48WP74 48-inch 16:9 projection TV $1529.96**

– Mitsubishi PD5010 50-inch 16:9 plasma display $8999.96**

– Mitsubishi VS50111 50-inch 4:3 projection TV $1599.95**

– Mitsubishi WS48311 48-inch 16:9 projection TV $1799.96**

– Mitsubishi WS55311 55-inch 16:9 projection TV $1979.96**

– Mitsubishi WS55411 55-inch 16:9 CRT projection TV $2159.96**

– Mitsubishi WS55511 55-inch 16:9 integrated projection DTV

$2519.96**

– Mitsubishi WS55711 55-inch 16:9 integrated projection DTV

$4049.96**

– Mitsubishi WS65311 65-inch 16:9 projection TV $2519.96**

– Mitsubishi WS65411 65-inch 16:9 projection TV $2699.96**

– Mitsubishi WT42311 42-inch 16:9 CRT projection TV $1439.96**

– Panasonic CT32HX42 32-inch 4:3 direct-view CRT TV $1199.95**

– Panasonic CT34WX52 34-inch 16:9 direct-view CRT TV $1999.95**

– Panasonic PT42PD3 42-inch 16:9 plasma panel $4499.96**

– Panasonic PT42PHD4P 42-inch 16:9 plasma panel $6299.96**

– Panasonic PT45LC12 45-inch LCD projection TV $2519.96**

– Panasonic PT53WX42 53-inch 16:9 CRT projection TV $1498.95

– Panasonic TC22LT1 22-inch 16:9 LCD TV $2499.95**

– Pioneer PRO530 53-inch 16:9 projection TV $3149.96**

– Pioneer PRO630 58-inch 16:9 projection TV $4049.96**

– Pioneer PRO1000 50-inch 16:9 plasma panel $9899.96**

– Samsung LTM1755 17-inch 4:3 direct-view LCD monitor $999.95

– Samsung SPL4225K 42-inch 16:9 plasma panel $2999.95

– Samsung TXN3245FP 32-inch 4:3 direct-view CRT TV $629.96**

– Sharp LC37HV4U 37-inch 16:9 LCD direct-view monitor $6299.96**

– Sharp XVZ9000 front 16:9 DLP projector $6999.95**

– Sharp XVZ10000 front 16:9 DLP projector $10,999.95**

– Sony KE42XBR900 42-inch 16:9 plasma display $8099.96**

– Sony KP57WS500 57-inch 16:9 projection TV $2069.96**

– Sony KP57WV600 57-inch 16:9 projection TV $2339.96**

– Sony KP65WV700 65-inch 16:9 CRT projection TV $3239.96**

– Sony KV32HS500 32-inch 4:3 direct-view CRT TV $1169.96**

– Sony KV34HS510 34-inch 16:9 direct-view CRT TV $1799.96**

– Sony KV36HS500 36-inch 4:3 direct-view CRT TV $1499.95

– Sony KV36XBR800 36-inch 4:3 direct-view CRT TV $1799.96**

– Sony KV40XBR800 40-inch 4:3 direct-view CRT TV $2249.96**

– Zenith P42W22B 42-inch 16:9 plasma display $3599.96**

** price includes cooler

– Best Buy (appropriate disclaimers):

– JVC AV56WP74 56-inch 16:9 projection TV $1999.99

– Mitsubishi WS-A55 55-inch 16:9 CRT projection TV $2199.99

– Mitsubishi WS-A65 65-inch 16:9 CRT projection TV $2799.99

– Mitsubishi WS-B55 55-inch 16:9 CRT integrated proj. DTV $2799.99

– Mystery-brand 42-inch 16:9 plasma display $2899.99***

– Samsung HLN-4365W 43-inch 16:9 DLP projection TV $3499.99

– Samsung HLN-5065W 50-inch 16:9 DLP projection TV $3999.99

– Sharp LC-22SV2U 22-inch 16:9 LCD direct-view TV $1999.99

– Sharp LC30HV4U 30-inch 16:9 LCD direct-view monitor $3999.99

– Sony KE-32TS2 32-inch 16:9 plasma display $4999.99***

– Sony KE42TS2 42-inch 16:9 plasma display $6999.99***

– Sony KP46WT500 46-inch 16:9 projection TV $1699.99

– Sony KP57WS500 57-inch 16:9 projection TV $2299.95

– Sony KV32HS510 32-inch 4:3 direct-view CRT TV $1299.99

– Sony KV34HS510 34-inch 16:9 direct-view CRT TV $1999.99

– Toshiba 51H83 51-inch 16:9 projection TV $1899.99

*** price includes basic installation after mail-in rebate

– Circuit City (appropriate disclaimers):

– Hitachi 42HDT20A 42-inch 16:9 plasma display $6999.99****

– Hitachi 53FDX20B 53-inch 4:3 projection TV $1799.99*****

– Hitachi 57F500 57-inch 16:9 CRT projection TV $2299.99****

– Panasonic PT47WX42 47-inch 16:9 projection TV $1399.99*****

– Samsung TXN3275HF 32-inch 4:3 direct-view CRT TV $999.99*****

– Sony KP46WT500 46-inch 16:9 projection TV $1699.99*****

– Sony KP57WS500 57-inch 16:9 projection TV $1999.99*****

– Zenith C27V22 27-inch 4:3 direct-view CRT TV $649.99

**** price includes $200 gift card

***** price includes $100 gift card

– Gateway (New York Times, no disclaimer):

– 42-inch 16:9 plasma display $2999

– Harvey (New York Times, no disclaimer):

– Fujitsu P42HHA10WS 42-inch 16:9 plasma display $7999

– Fujitsu P50XHA10US 50-inch 16:9 plasma display $9999

– Fujitsu PDS6101WS 61-inch 16:9 plasma display $24,999

– Loewe Aventos 30-inch 16:9 direct-view CRT TV $1999

– Loewe Aconda 38-inch 16:9 direct-view CRT TV $3999

– Pioneer PRO 1000 HD 50-inch 16:9 plasma panel $10,999

– Runco VX1000ci DLP projector $16,995

– Runco VX5000ci DLP projector $26,995

– Samsung HLN567W 56-inch 16:9 DLP projection TV $4499

– Samsung HLN617W 61-inch 16:9 DLP projection TV $4999

– Samsung HPL5025K 50-inch 16:9 plasma display $5999

– Samsung LTM225W 32-inch 16:9 direct-view LCD TV $2199

– Samsung LTN325W 32-inch 16:9 direct-view LCD TV $3999

– SharpVision LC22SV2U 22-inch 16:9 LCD direct-view TV $1999

– SharpVision LC30HV2U 30-inch 16:9 LCD direct-view monitor $3999

– SharpVision LC37HV4U 37-inch 16:9 LCD direct-view monitor $6999

– SharpVision XVZ10000U DLP projector $10,999

– SIM2 RTX45 45-inch DLP projection TV $10,995

– SIM2 RTX55 55-inch DLP projection TV $12,995

– Sony KE42TS2 42-inch 16:9 plasma display $6999

– Sony KE42XBR900 42-inch 16:9 plasma display $8999

– Sony KE50XBR900 50-inch 16:9 plasma display $12,999

– Sony KF60XBR800 60-inch 16:9 LCD projection TV $4999

– Sony KLV23HR1 23-inch 16:9 direct-view LCD TV $2699

– Sony KLV30XBR900 30-inch 16:9 direct-view LCD TV $5499

– Sony KV34XBR800 34-inch 16:9 direct-view CRT TV $2299

– J&R (New York Times, no disclaimer):

– Panasonic CT32HX42 32-inch 4:3 direct-view CRT TV $1299.99

– Panasonic PT-37PD4-P 37-inch 16:9 plasma panel

– Philips 60PP9502 60-inch 16:9 projection TV $1899.99

– Philips DSHD800R ATSC/NTSC/DirecTV set-top receiver $649.99

– Samsung HCM422W 42-inch 16:9 CRT projection TV $999.00

– Samsung LTM1525 15-inch 4:3 direct-view LCD monitor $449.99

– Samsung SIR-T165 ATSC receiver/decoder

– Samsung TXN3298HF 32-inch 4:3 direct-view CRT TV

– Zenith L15V26 15-inch 4:3 LCD TV

– Zenith P42W22 42-inch 16:9 plasma display

– Zenith P50W28B 50-inch 16:9 plasma display

– Sears (Minneapolis Star Tribune, no disclaimer):

– Hitachi 43-inch 4:3 projection TV, Sears #54703 $1399.99##

– Hitachi 51-inch 16:9 projection TV, Sears #54723 $1999.99##

– Hitachi 57-inch 16:9 projection TV, Sears #54733 $2299.99##

– Mitsubishi 55-inch 16:9 projection TV, Sears #54182 $2199.99##

– Philips 32-inch 16:9 plasma TV, Sears #75333 $3999.99###

– Philips 55-inch 16:9 projection TV, Sears #54333 $1999.99###

– Samsung 15-inch 4:3 direct-view LCD TV, Sears #71012 $699.88

– Samsung 30-inch 16:9 direct-view CRT TV, Sears #42083 $999.99

– Samsung 43-inch 16:9 projection TV, Sears #54073 $3499.99##

– Sharp 22-inch 16:9 direct-view LCD TV, Sears #71153 $1999.99

– Sony 32-inch plasma TV, Sears #75633 $4999.99##

– Sony 42-inch plasma TV, Sears #75643 $6999.99##

## price includes “progressive-scan” DVD player

### price includes portable DVD player and 8-disk 007 DVD box set

after mail-in rebate

– A new column called “HD Muse” is appearing on the HDTV Etc. site:

– In case you’re interested in NHK’s UHDTV (“U” as in “ultra”), click

here:

– Satellite news: Allbritton Communications refused permission to

EchoStar to carry its ABC affiliates in Washington, Birmingham,

Harrisburg, and Tulsa because they wanted to be the only ABC affiliates

carried in those markets. EchoStar filed a complaint with the FCC. The

full story requires a paid subscription:

Then they settled their dispute (paid subscription required for the

full story):

– DVD news: According to CEA, sales of DVD players to U.S. dealers for

the first 21 weeks of 2003 were up 21.8% over the same period in 2002.

My ten-week running average is up 25.8%. I continue to be amazed!

– PVR news:

– As they said they might, ReplayTV decided to drop its

commercial-skipping and Internet-transmitting features from its newest

models:

– Sony’s new VAIO PCF-GRT190G is a combination

notebook-computer/PVR. It’s to ship in July at $2500:

– Like Allbritton and EchoStar, TiVo and Gemstar-TV Guide have

decided to settle their dispute. TiVo will reportedly get a patent

license from Gemstar, and Gemstar will provide some content to TiVo:

– Non-HD cable news:

– According to NCTA, as of March 31, U.S. cable systems had 20

million digital subscribers, 12 million cable-modem subscribers, and 2.5

million cable-telephone customers:

– A Kinetic Strategies report put the cable-modem figure at more

than 15 million in Canada and the U.S. as of May, with the following

breakdown:

– U.S. –

– Comcast ———- 4 million

– Time Warner —— 2.68 million

– Cox ————– 1.56 million

– Charter ———- 1.27 million

– Cablevision —— 0.85 million

– Adelphia ——— 0.71 million

– Advance/Newhouse – 0.55 million

– Canada –

– Shaw ————- 0.85 million

– Rogers ———– 0.69 million

– Videotron ——– 0.33 million

– Cogeco ———– 0.19 million:

In a related story, the FCC today released its

high-speed-Internet-connection figures (they don’t differentiate between

homes and small businesses). As of December 31:

– 17.4 million U.S. homes and small-businesses had over 200

kbps downloading (up 24% from June 30, 2002),

– Of those, 10.8 million had high-speed bidirectional service,

and

– Cable modems represented 57% of the total:

– Microsoft has signed a CableLabs OpenCable agreement:

They’ve introduced software at the show this week.

– Upcoming Dates (DTV and non-DTV):

– Through June 11, McCormick Place, Chicago, The National Show

(cable) .

– June 15-19, Marriott LAX, Los Angeles, International Conference

on Consumer Electronics .

– *June 18, All Mobile Video Chelsea Studios, New York, SMPTE

Section meeting on the Thomson Viper camera

.

– June 19-20, Wyndham Belage Hotel, Los Angeles, Digital Studio

Summit .

– June 26-28, Banff Centre, Banff, Alberta, Canada, AES conference

on multichannel sound .

– June 30 – July 4, Sydney Convention Centre, SMPTE Australia

convention .

– July 17-18, Beverly Hilton, Beverly Hills, DisplayLA

.

– July 21-25, MPEG meetings, Trondheim, Norway

.

– August 20-21, Hilton Universal City, DVD Entertainment Conference

.

– August 24-26, Beijing, International Symposium on Broadcasting

Technology

– August 27-30, Beijing, Beijing International Radio & Television

Exhibition

.

– September 11-16, RAI, Amsterdam, IBC .

– September 15-18, Library and Archives of Canada, Ottawa,

Preservation of Electronic Records

.

– October 20-24, MPEG meetings, Brisbane, Australia

.

– *October 29-30, Bryant Park Hotel, New York, ETA Expo

.

– November 12-15, New York Hilton, 145th SMPTE Technical Conference

.

– December 2-5, Anaheim Convention Center, BroadbandPlus

.

– December 3 & 4, 2003, Washington DC Convention Center, Government

Video Technology Expo .

– December 8-12, MPEG meetings, Waikaloa, Hawaii.

– January 8-11, Las Vegas, Consumer Electronics Show

.

– March 15-19, MPEG meetings, Munich.

* – new or revised listing

TTFN,

Mark

PS Permission is granted to forward this or any other Monday Memo.

Next week’s memo might be late.

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