Sony DADC Eyeing U.K. Manufacturing Facility Closure

Citing ongoing global shifts in consumer demand for packaged media, disc replication company Sony DADC is considering shuttering its manufacturing/distribution facility in Enfield.

A company spokesperson confirmed the move, saying the possible closure was in the “proposal stage” and that management was consulting with affected employees and how it could mitigate the impact of possible layoffs.

Sony DADC facility in Enfield, U.K.

“Sony DADC will continue to remain a strong and reliable end-to-end services provider and partner for the home entertainment industry and beyond by utilizing the combination of its existing operations network in Austria, Czech Republic and Spain, plus partnerships with other providers,” Craig Carter, director PMO and transition management, Sony DADC, said in an email.

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Sony DADC operates 17 manufacturing facilities worldwide, including two units in the United States: Terre Haute, Ind., and Bolingbrook, Ill.

The company in January at CES in Las Vegas, showcased continued business ventures into video games with a line of table-top micro arcade machines under license with Bandai Namco Entertainment Products.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Study: Online TV Is Second-Most-Popular TV Viewing Choice in U.K., Sweden and Germany

A new survey of TV viewers in the United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany found that online TV is now the second most popular viewing source behind pay-TV, with usage ranging from just under 40% in Germany to more than 50% in the U.K. and Sweden.

Nielsen company Gracenote and digital media analyst firm nScreenMedia conducted the survey, “TV Universe — U.K., Sweden, Germany: How People Watch Television Today,” in the first quarter of 2019, focusing on pay TV, free-to-air and online TV viewership in the three European countries that account for 31% of the European Union’s total population, according to Statista.

The online TV viewership growth in the three countries “is a remarkable rise as online TV is a relatively new offering,” according to the research firms. In fact, Netflix launched in the United Kingdom in just 2012. Whereas 12 years ago most homes relied on a single-source for TV, today nearly half of viewers in all three of the countries studied are multi-source television households, the researchers noted.

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“Consumer behavior relating to TV viewing is changing rapidly in Europe as it is around the world,” said Simon Adams, chief product officer, Gracenote, in a statement.

Pay TV is currently the most popular television source in the U.K. and Sweden with nearly two in three consumers in each market using it, the survey found, but in Germany the most popular source is free-to-air TV, which accounts for the vast majority of viewers at nearly eight in 10.

In all three European markets surveyed, consumers pointed to on-screen program guides and user interfaces as being critical tools for finding content to watch. Six in 10 viewers indicated visual imagery and TV artwork displayed in guides exert important influence on their viewing choices. Among the 18-to-24-year-old demographic, the number jumped up to around 90%. In addition, respondents indicated TV show and movie descriptions that shed light on content are also factors in their tune-in decision-making, with 70% of U.K. viewers, 65% of Swedes and 57% of Germans saying the program descriptions were at least somewhat important.

The study also found free-to-air TV is gaining traction on mobile with more free-to-air viewers using broadcaster apps to supplement viewing than pay TV viewers use their operator “TV Everywhere” apps. In fact, more than half of free-to-air users in each country use broadcaster apps.

The smart TV is the preferred device to watch video content on in all three countries, according to the study. A significant 70% of total viewing time is on the TV screen in the United Kingdom and Germany, while in Sweden, it is 60%. Samsung is the most popular TV brand in all three countries.

Other insights include:

  • 17% of the U.K. study group use all three TV sources available to them, higher than in Sweden and Germany;
  • While the on-screen guide is the dominant way Swedes and Brits find content to watch, newspaper TV guides and channel flipping are the main ways for Germans; and
  • 31% of Swedes consider online TV to be their primary TV source, the highest of the three countries studied.

 

“The new TV Universe study shows that online TV has become the second most popular source of TV entertainment in a remarkably short period of time,” said Colin Dixon, founder and chief analyst at nScreenMedia in a statement. “Also telling is the fact that, though most online viewing takes place on the television, consumers don’t have the discovery tools they need to efficiently find something to watch there. Features such as voice and cross-service search are thinly used in each country. There is also plenty of room for improvement with content recommendations as a quarter or less think they accurately reflect their interests.”

The consumer research study conducted from February to March 2019 surveyed 1,500 adult TV viewers in the United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden. The data was weighted to represent the general population of each country. The full report is available for free download now at nScreenMedia.com.

‘BritBox’ Streaming Video Service Eyes Year-end U.K. Launch

BritBox, the British-themed subscription streaming video service operated by ITV and the BBC in the United States, is set to launch in the United Kingdom in the second half of the year.

ITV disclosed the release window in it financial results. The SVOD service aims to compete with Netflix, which has more than 10 million subscribers in the U.K.

BritBox, which is co-owned by AMC Networks, launched in the U.S. in 2017 priced at $6.99 monthly, taking on Acorn TV (which AMC also owns), Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu. It ended 2018 with about 250,000 subscribers.

Last July, the service bowed its first original series: “The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco.”

“BritBox will be the home for the best of British creativity – celebrating the best of the past, the best of today and investing in new British originated content in the future,” Carolyn McCall, CEO of ITV, said earlier this year.

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Britain Expels 23 Russian Diplomats, ‘Russia Today’ Remains on Air – For Now

British Prime Minister Theresa May March 14 expelled 23 Russian diplomats in retaliation for the alleged nerve gas attack earlier this month on a former Russian spy and his daughter at a cemetery in Salisbury. Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain hospitalized.

The status of RT (formerly “Russia Today”), the 24-hour Putin government-backed TV network broadcasting in the United Kingdom, remains unchanged. Several British politicians have called for banning the network, which features English-language programing on Russia and related cultural, political events.

In response, Russia has threatened to expel all British media should RT be stripped of its operating license in the United Kingdom.

“Not a single British media outlet will work in our country if they shut down ‘Russia Today,’” Russian Foreign Ministry’s Maria Zakharova told the state-run RIA, as reported by Reuters. “No one can go to a parliament of their country and say: I give Russia 24 hours.”

RT’s operating license is controlled by Ofcom, the broadcast regulator in the U.K., which is treating the matter with caution.

The agency said it has written to ANO TV Novosti, holder of RT’s UK broadcast licences, which is financed from the budget of the Russian Federation. It said the letter explained that, should the UK investigating authorities determine that there was an unlawful use of force by the Russian State against the UK, it would consider this relevant to its ongoing duty to be satisfied that RT is fit and proper.

The letter to RT said that Ofcom would carry out “our independent fit and proper assessment” on an expedited basis, and would write to RT again shortly setting out details of its process.

RT, in a statement, said its programing continues to adhere to all established standards and is simply a pawn in a war of words between Russia and the U.K.

“By linking RT to unrelated matters, Ofcom is conflating its role as a broadcasting regulator with matters of state,” RT said.

 

‘That’s Entertainment’ U.K. Retail Chain ‘Under Review’

The future of U.K. retail chain “That’s Entertainment,” which operates 29 stores selling DVD, Blu-ray Disc movies, music CDs and video games, reportedly is under review by corporate parent, Entertainment Magpie Ltd.

The chain was founded in 2007 and employs about 1,000 people with more than 4.5 million registered customers.

With the advent of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, in addition to ecommerce, entertainment retail globally continues to take it on the chin.

“As a result, [corporate] is conducting an immediate review on the long-term viability of its ‘That’s Entertainment’ retail stores across the UK, which in the worst-case scenario would lead to the closure of all 29 current outlets by the end of May,” the company said in a statement last month.

Magpie said it continues to focus on ecommerce, which includes operating Decluttr.com in the United States enabling users to buy and sell packaged media and portable media devices online.

“Whilst online sales and our wholesale sales channels into both the U.K. and across the world have continued to grow, media sales through the retail estate have declined by circa 20% in the last year meaning the sizeable fixed cost base that comes with running a retail estate is something that is becoming increasingly difficult for the business to absorb,” said the company.

Citing the “huge impact” a shutdown of retail operations would have on staff, Magpie said any decision would be taken after “a great deal of consideration.”

“So, we are immediately entering into a period of group consultation to discuss next steps,” said the company.