Devoncroft Digest – Recap of the week ending May 21 2010
It was a busy week in the broadcast & digital media world. Echolab was forced to liquidate, multiple companies reported their quarterly earnings (which were mainly positive), two investment banking houses published notes on the broadcast industry, and Google made a little announcement about their plans to transform the TV viewing experience.
Here’s a recap of some of the things that caught my attention this week
Echolab goes into liquidation
Long-established broadcast production switcher vendor Echolab announced via email this week that the company has been put into liquidation by its owner. Echolab, which has been in business since 1974, had been on the ascendance recently under the leadership of company CEO Nigel Spratling.
Spratling revamped the company’s product line-up, which culminated in the launch of the Atem production switcher family. At NAB 2010 Echolab announced that it had signed an OEM deal for the Atem line with the broadcast communications division of Harris (who has now removed the press release about the deal from their website).
The email from Spratling said the company’s primary investor was no longer prepared to fund the company, and that the news was a great show to everyone.
Read the full text of Spratling’s email.
Viewcast losses narrow
Streaming technology provider Viewcast announced their results for the first quarter of FY’10. The company’s reported that their losses narrowed. Revenue for the quarter was up slightly versus the previous quarter, but down 13% versus the same period a year ago. The company also filed an 8K with the SEC this week, detailing the compensation plans of their CEO and CFO.
More Broadcast M&A — Tektronix acquires Mixed Signals
Test & measurement leader Tektronix announced this week that it is acquiring Mixed Signals, a provider of digital content monitoring including digital services, transport streams, ad insertion, switched digital video and interactive content.
According to said Eben Jenkins, General Manager of the Tektronix Video Business, “The acquisition of Mixed Signals, Inc. brings to Tektronix a strong team that has delivered leading innovation to the video monitoring market. The combination of Mixed Signals and Tektronix accelerates our ability to provide unmatched next-generation video test and monitoring solutions to our customers.”
Continued growth for Ross Video
Privately held Ross Video said in a press release Ross Video that the company had achieved 7% growth in the first half of its fiscal year. Although private, Ross has been vocal about their success in the face of the economic downturn of the past 18 months. During the IBC show last September, company CEO David Ross told the IBC Daily News that the company had continued to grow during the recession. In the most recent press release, Ross says “We continue to buck the downward trend and have enjoyed some record months.”
Vizrt posts operating profit on big revenue gains
Broadcast graphics and asset management vendor Vizrt reported that their revenue grew by 38% in the first quarter of 2010 versus the same period, but fell 9% versus the previous quarter. The company made an operating profit of $200K during the quarter, versus a loss of 2.4m during the same period a year ago. Company CEO Martin Burkhalter issued an upbeat statement saying that “broadcast markets are slowly recovering and … that CAPEX budgets and discretionary spending are being restored.” Burkhalter, who recently stepped into the role of CEO after the death of Bjarne Berg concluded by saying “In terms of revenues, we believe that we are heading back towards the levels we achieved prior to the global downturn and anticipate to reach these levels in the coming nine to twelve months. With this recovery, we expect our profitability to improve as well.”
Autodesk M&E revenue declines by 4%
3D animation leader Autodesk (the parent company of Discreet and others) posted strong revenues for the first quarter of 2010. In the earnings press release, which breaks out financials by industry segment, the company revealed that revenue for its Media & Entertainment group was $46m in the quarter. This is basically flat with the previous quarter and represents a 4% decline versus same period a year ago
Trouble at JVC Kenwood
The Wall Street Journal also reported that JVC Kenwood Holdings fell 21% to Y38 on heavy volume after the company’s Friday announcement of its plan to submit a resolution for 1-for-10 reverse stock split at its upcoming shareholders meeting. One brokerage manager, citing past reverse stock split scenarios, said that without fundamental business improvements, it would be hard to expect the company’s stock to show long-term appreciation.
DG FastChannel added to S&P SmallCap 600 index
Standard & Poor’s announced this week that it is adding DG FastChannel to its S&P SmallCap 600 Index. DG FastChannel, who recently raised $100m in a secondary public offering, has been on a tear recently. The company’s stock has more than doubled in the last eight months, and it recently reported record results for its first quarter based on increased advertising revenue.
Ascent Media CEO dies at age 44
Ascent Media this week announced the sad news that Jose Royo, the CEO of the company’s AMG subsidiary had died at age 44. “José was a thoughtful and caring business leader, mentor, partner, and friend,” said William Fitzgerald, Chief Executive Officer of Ascent Media Corporation. “José played a significant role in the media services industry, where he left an indelible mark. He was truly passionate about Ascent, its customers, and its people. José was a wonderfully devoted husband to his beloved wife, and father to his two young children. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this difficult time. José will be missed.”
Google, coming to a TV near you soon?
As covered extensively this week, Google has unveiled a strategy which it believes will transform the TV viewing experience by combining it with the web. The company has partnered with Sony, Intel and Logitech to create a new type of TV experience. Watch this space.
TiVo and Technicolor Team Up to Offer Integrated PVR Solution
I have been a big fan of Tivo since buying their very first PVR in 1999 (which still works great, and in my opinion provides a significantly better experience than the alternative from my pay TV provider), so I was interested to see that the company has teamed up with Technicolor (formerly Thomson) for a new set-top box solution. You can read the details here…
Two Investment bankers weight in on NAB 2010 and the broadcast space
Two boutique investment banks, Silverwood Partners and Pharus Advisors have recently published notes to clients detailing their impressions of the NAB 2010 show. Both companies gave me permission to re-publish them here.
Silverwood has been involved in a number of broadcast M&A deals includingBlackmagic / DaVinci and Avid / Euphonix. Prior to the 2010 NAB show the company published, which is worth reading to get their full perspective on the broadcast market.
Pharus has also been involved in a number of industry transactions including Neural and Virgin Media / Two Way Media. The company published their post-NAB thoughts in their industry newsletter, which also includes a summary of recent M&A transactions in the digital media space, and a comparison of publicly traded companies.
More info on this here…
Broadband TV News reports that UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB is bullish on 3D. An article on the website says that Sky says there could be up to 1m 3D screens in UK by
Speaking of 3D, the Schubin Café website posted a link to an article which says that watching 3D can make you sick.
Market Research Note of the Week:
What factors most influence the purchase of broadcast technology products?
Regardless of “how” broadcast technology products are purchased, what many in the industry want to know is “why” they are bought — i.e. what are the most important factors that influence the decision to buy one product over another.
When it comes to selling broadcast technology, there are several strategies that vendors have adopted. This includes positioning their offerings as having the best technology, the best feature set, the lowest cost, the best value, the best service, the most recommended etc.
But which factor is the most important to the most buyers?
To find out we asked several thousand broadcast professionals around the world what is most important to them when buying broadcast technology products.
You can see the results, including a chart that ranks 10 different factors that influence the purchase of broadcast technology products here…