DEG Announces Board for 2019-20

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group on Aug. 9 announced its incoming board of directors at the start of its 23rd year as one of the home entertainment industry’s leading trade associations.

DEG’s voting member companies elected the new board to serve for the 2019-20 fiscal year (Aug. 1 – July 31). New board members include Pedro Gutierrez of Microsoft Corp., Cheryl Goodman of Sony Electronics and Erol Kalafat of Amazon Studios.

Amazon Studios is a new member company represented on the
DEG board for the first time.

The DEG also has added two additional companies to its membership: Row8, a transactional digital movie service that allows viewers to stop a movie they don’t like and choose a new one at no additional charge, and Snap Inc., parent company of social networking app Snapchat.

The Officers of the DEG board were elected to a two-year term in 2018 and will continue to serve through July 2020. Officers include Chair Matt Strauss of Comcast Cable; Vice Chair Sofia Chang of WarnerMedia Distribution (HBO); CFO Bob Buchi of Paramount Home Entertainment; Secretary Jim Wuthrich of Warner Bros. Worldwide Home Entertainment & Games, and Chair Emeritus Mike Dunn, formerly of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

“At a time when our industry is rapidly changing, the board of directors strives to produce deliverables that meet the needs of the industry at this dynamic time, such as DEG’s D2C Alliance, formed at the start of the year,” said Amy Jo Smith, president and CEO of the DEG.

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Samsung Halting Blu-ray Disc Player Production

Samsung is stopping production of 1080p and 4K Blu-ray Disc players for the United States market — leaving Sony, Panasonic and LG as the last CE manufacturers supporting the next-generation packaged media format.

The South Korean company had been working on a follow-up to the UBD-M9500 4K BD player, which has now been scrapped. Samsung last bowed a new BD player in 2017.

Though speculated after Samsung didn’t showcase any new BD players at CES in Las Vegas in January, the company confirmed the move in a media statement.

“Samsung will no longer introduce new Blu-ray or 4K Blu-ray player models in the U.S. market,” a spokesperson told CNET.

Samsung’s decision follows the exit of Oppo Electronics Corp., the Chinese company known as Oppo, which ceased production of a 4K BD player last year.

While observers contend the move could be due to Samsung backing its proprietary HDR10 and HDR10+ high dynamic range formats versus Dolby Vision, a more realistic reason is market forces.

For the week ended Feb. 9, 4K Blu-ray accounted for just 5% of sales of the top 50 titles, according to VideoScan. That compared with nearly 40% for Blu-ray and 55% for standard DVD.

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Indeed, pending Oscar-nominated new release  The Favourite (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment) and Stan & Ollie (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment), reportedly are not getting 4K UHD releases, while Oscar nominee Bohemian Rhapsody and Widows (Fox) are.

Regardless, home entertainment studios remain bullish on 4K UHD.

Format sales surged nearly 70% in the third quarter last year, according to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group. There were 392 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc titles available in Q3 representing more than $162 million in consumer spend for the period, and 595 4K titles available digitally.

“4K UHD discs already account for almost one in 10 new release discs sold in the U.S,” Eddie Cunningham, president of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, told Media Play News.

Paramount Home Media Distribution boss Bob Buchi in January said the studio would offer most of its theatrical releases on 4K UHD Blu-ray, as well as select catalog titles.

“The response to our catalog 4K releases has been very promising, so we expect to see increased interest in owning treasured classics in the very best format available,” he said.

 

DEG Honoring Dolby Vision, Sony Electronics and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment at CES

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group is set to honor Dolby Vision, Sony Electronics and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Jan. 8 at its annual industry event at CES in Las Vegas.

The trade group will use the reception to showcase its Achievement Awards honoring the best 4K UHD hardware and software products released during calendar 2018. Dolby Vision will also be honored by DEG leadership with the DEG Emiel N. Petrone Innovation in Entertainment Technology Award.

Named in memory of DEG’s founding chairman Emiel N. Petrone, DEG recognizes Dolby Vision, Dolby Labs’ imaging innovation developed in collaboration with a wide range of studios, creatives, and post-production partners. The technology has created new opportunities for the home entertainment industry.

Selected by a panel of product reviewers from the industry’s home theater enthusiast and business publications, the DEG: Excellence in 4K UHD Awards include Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc from Warner with the DEG: Excellence in 4K UHD Content Award.

DEG cited the title’s demonstrated excellence in 4K image capturing/transferring; HDR encoding; wide color rendering; and immersive audio.

The DEG: Excellence in 4K Product Award honored Sony Electronics for its Sony Master Series A9F OLED TV. For the Product Award, DEG cited Sony’s consistent delivery of “outstanding” audio/video performance, convenience and versatility.

“DEG member companies move quickly to meet consumers’ desire for more immersive home and mobile viewing experiences, and they regularly introduce consumers to new possibilities,” DEG CEO Amy Jo Smith said in a statement. “DEG is delighted to recognize Sony Electronics, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and Dolby Laboratories as purveyors of best-in-class viewing experiences.”

Sony Announces 20 Games Pre-Loaded on PlayStation Classic Due Dec. 3

Sony has revealed the lineup of the 20 games that come pre-loaded on the PlayStation Classic  console when it launches in the United States and Canada Dec. 3.

In addition to the previously announced Final Fantasy VII, Jumping Flash, Ridge Racer Type 4, Tekken 3 and Wild Arms, the rest of the games are:

  • Battle Arena Toshinden
  • Cool Boarders 2
  • Destruction Derby
  • Grand Theft Auto
  • Intelligent Qube
  • Metal Gear Solid
  • Mr Driller
  • Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
  • Rayman
  • Resident Evil Director’s Cut
  • Revelations: Persona
  • Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
  • Syphon Filter
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six
  • Twisted Metal

Sony Brings E-commerce to TVs and Blu-ray Disc Players

Sony Electronics Oct. 2 announced a collaboration with software company Connekt to enable owners of select Sony Smart TVs and Blu-ray Disc players the ability to buy products directly through the television – dubbed “T-Commerce”.

Through a special embedded app, consumers with select Sony smart TV models will be able to securely purchase products directly from the retailers and brands. Fully optimized for ecommerce, “ShopTV” offers consumers the ability to purchase products from hundreds of brands and retailers, including Macy’s, Best Buy and Fanatics.

“TV remains the most prolific way for brands to reach consumers, and smarter TVs mean smarter advertising where brands can move consumers from awareness to a transaction without ever leaving their TVs,” Tripp Boyle, SVP of Connekt, said in a statement last year.

In the initial phase of the collaboration, consumers will be able to shop directly from the ShopTV app available in Sony’s smart TV app store. Sony and Connekt will work together to extend this capability to in-program purchasing, as well as to enable voice-driven commerce when that capability is deployed.

“Sony is committed to bringing value added features to our consumers,” Nick Colsey, VP, business development at Sony, said in a statement. “Our collaboration with Connekt allows us to offer owners of select Sony Smart TVs the ability to engage and shop directly from the biggest screen in their home.”

In a recent report, Connekt’s research demonstrated that over 75% of consumers would buy products directly from their TV if given the opportunity, while over 70% expressed an intent to use their voice to purchase products through the television.

“For decades, Sony has been a technology innovator,” said Mike Fitzsimmons, CEO of Connekt. “We are proud be partnering on this initiative to drive the convergence of television and commerce.”

 

 

Imax and DTS Form Home Entertainment Partnership

Imax Corp. and DTS, a wholly owned subsidiary of Xperi Corp., have announced a new home entertainment partnership with the launch of the Imax Enhanced program.

The new certification and licensing program combines the high-end consumer electronics products with Imax digitally re-mastered 4K HDR content and DTS audio technologies to offer consumers a new level of quality in immersive sight and sound experiences for the home, according to a press release from Xperi.

The companies also announced that a number of global consumer electronics and entertainment market leaders have joined the program as launch partners, including Sony Electronics, Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures, and Sound United – parent company to Denon and Marantz.

To be accepted into the program, which launches this fall, consumer electronics manufacturers must design top-of-the-line 4K HDR televisions, A/V receivers, sound systems and other home theater equipment to meet a carefully prescribed set of the highest audio and video performance standards, set by a certification committee of Imax and DTS engineers and Hollywood’s leading technical specialists, according to the release.

Imax and DTS developed the program “to make it easier for consumers to select the products and content that will deliver the highest-quality, sharpest 4K HDR images and powerful, immersive sound at home,” according to the release.

“The companies are designing an Imax Mode for the enhanced devices that will be meticulously optimized to play digitally re-mastered content as the filmmaker intended in the home,” the release stated.

Consumers can access content from Hollywood studios as well as select Imax documentaries through the Imax Home Entertainment division. The company will also work with its global studio and other content partners to make available enhanced versions of blockbuster movies and additional programming, according to the release.

“While the Imax theatrical experience continues to be the gold standard in blockbuster movie-going, today we are launching an exciting new program that applies components of Imax’s and DTS’ technology and expertise to deliver consumers a level of quality never before experienced at home,” said Imax CEO Richard L. Gelfond in a statement. “This is a natural extension of our core business in experiential entertainment. By partnering with a well-established consumer electronics licensing leader, we can leverage both our brand and key technology innovations through DTS’ global licensing platform, without having to make the direct investments often necessary to build a new revenue stream. DTS will build that new business and we will share in the benefits from the program. We’re encouraged by the strong interest from our launch partner companies and look forward to working with DTS to grow the program further over time.”

“DTS has a rich history in delivering premium entertainment experiences to the theater and at home, and the Imax Enhanced program is an exciting opportunity to stay at the forefront of home entertainment,” said Xperi CEO Jon Kirchner in a statement. “Through the combined engineering and licensing efforts of the DTS and Imax teams, as well as support from a number of the world’s leading device and content partners, the Imax Enhanced program will bring a completely new, enhanced experience to the home while also supporting the continued penetration of DTS decoders, bringing premium sound to consumers’ devices.”

The program will use a proprietary post-production process developed by Imax to digitally re-master content to produce more vibrant colors, greater contrast and sharper clarity, according to the release. The companies will also partner with Hollywood sound mixers to use a special variant of the DTS:X codec technology integrated in home audio equipment to deliver an Imax signature sound experience.