Posts Tagged ‘Pharus Advisors’

Devoncroft Digest for the w/e May 21, 2010 – Echolab Liquidates, Earnings Season Continues, Bankers on Broadcast, Google Gets into TV

broadcast industry technology trends, broadcast industry trends, broadcast technology market research, Broadcast technology vendor financials | Posted by Joe Zaller
May 23 2010

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

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.”

 

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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.”

 

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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.”

 

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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

 

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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.

 

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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. 

 

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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…

 

 

3D news

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…

Two Investment Banks Offer Post-NAB Thoughts, Insight on Broadcast Industry

broadcast industry trends, broadcast technology market research, Broadcast technology vendor financials | Posted by Joe Zaller
May 18 2010

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 including Blackmagic / DaVinci and Avid / Euphonix. Prior to the 2010 NAB show the company published a 40 page report about the broadcast industry for their investment banking clients, 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 Audio / DTS 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.

 

 

Silverwood NAB Perspectives:

Revenue Flow versus Work Flow.  Broadcast and media customers are principally focused on sustaining advertising revenue from traditional outlets and driving incremental revenue over emerging outlets. The focus over recent years on cost containment through automation and technology efficiencies has been eclipsed by the need to adapt technology infrastructure to a changing business model.  The Newspaper industry provides an instructive lesson on the need to be responsive to external challenges to traditional business norms.  Technology vendors are faced with customers that have shifting purchasing priorities and that are scrutinizing expenditures on conventional broadcast infrastructure.

 

3D will not Reverse Industry Revenue Decline.  While 3D may drive some additional short term revenue, widespread adoption is still in question because certain content will never lend itself to the 3D medium.  Furthermore, with the exception of large screen environments showing purpose produced content (Avatar, Alice in Wonderland), the current 3D experience requires additional improvement.  There are no clear standards for end user devices (TVs and glasses) so mass end-consumer device adoption – if it is to occur – will take time.  Consider that the ongoing HD transition began with the first HDTV broadcast in 1998 and is still only 40% complete in the US market.  Lastly, production methods themselves must also adapt to the creation of 3D content – there is no consistency in the content acquisition process, much of which is based on trial and error and research.  3D requires a new approach in the creative production process as fast switching and cuts can prove to be nauseating to the viewer.  There are also concerns that poorly produced 3D will lead to negative customer perceptions in the near term which will slow adoption and the long term success of the medium.

 

Pricing is Collapsing.  Years of substantial profitability for media and broadcast customers masked poor cost discipline in the sourcing of technology.   Recent weakness in the advertising market and the broader economic disruption has caused customers to focus on capital budgets and look for more cost effective solutions.  Compounding this challenge, inexpensive general purpose IT infrastructure continues to replace purpose built hardware solutions, creating good enough solutions at attractive prices for many use cases.  This is putting pressure on margins for many traditional Broadcast technology vendors who organized their cost structures for the high price, ‘boom’ years and cannot adapt quickly enough to the changed industry circumstances.

 

Value Separation: Software, Hardware, Connectivity.  Historically, broadcast and post-production customers purchased purpose built solutions where the discrete software, hardware and connectivity components were blended within a hardware solution.  As the hardware portion becomes increasingly standardized, vendors will need to focus on defensible segments of the value chain, particularly within the software layer.  In many cases specialized hardware vendors are effectively software companies burdened with a legacy hardware orientation.  It is expected that vendors will need transformative change rather than evolutionary adaptation to address the fundamental changes in the media technology industry. 

 

Growing Software Opportunity.  It is expected that software companies will continue to be a growing presence in the media technology industry.  Differentiation from IT solutions for incumbent vendors resides in the software layer.  Well-positioned companies have software solutions that extend and leverage basic IT functionality, which will continue to improve in speed and capability.  From a product perspective, technology vendors should examine their product portfolios to identify and extract the unique software functionality that is truly differentiating their offerings.  In addition, the increasing use of standardized IT platform technology is creating a growing market for software vendors that can use the standardization to scale efficiently. 

 

Commercial Opportunity: Customer Diversification.  Well-positioned companies are diversifying and selling to a broader customer base, particularly customers outside the traditional broadcast market.   Targeting other industry verticals is not feasible with a customized hardware solution and an industry focused direct sales model.  In contrast, software solutions that extend standardized hardware and that are deployed through VARs and channel partners can be more easily adapted to large, adjacent industry verticals (Medical, Military, Enterprise).

 

Business Model Disruption.   For NAB exhibitors there remains fundamental weakness in the traditional broadcast technology industry.  The reduction in industry revenues will highlight one of the principal difficulties for many NAB exhibitors: sales and marketing expense is too high for revenue levels.  With pricing pressure, many vendors will need to change to a distribution model or become part of a larger solution that can support the fixed sales expense.   Well-positioned, well-capitalized vendors will have a unique opportunity to acquire established, respected brands with large user bases over the coming year.

 

Service Opportunity – Revenue Flow.  Broadcasters and media companies are faced with a proliferation of technologies and monetization possibilities, and an accelerating rate of technology change.  Historically, broadcasting challenges were solved by buying incremental technologies to plug into an existing well-understood technology infrastructure.  Current business challenges require business model innovation coupled with technology platform innovation to drive revenues across a growing range of end-point devices and outlets.  Given the lack of clarity on the optimal revenue model and the rapid pace of technology change, broadcasters and media customers are reluctant to invest in standalone technology purchases.  This is creating an attractive service opportunity driven by the ability to provide incremental revenue growth with a low barrier to entry, a receptive customer and an attractive ROI.

 

 

 

 

PHARUS ADVISORS

PUBLIC MARKET AND M&A UPDATE ON MEDIA AND BROADCAST TECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY

NAB OVERVIEW

We recently attended the NAB 2010 conference in Las Vegas. We came out of the conference feeling the media and broadcast technology market is experiencing a healthy recovery from 2009. The recurring comment echoed by many industry players was that the deals in the customer pipeline that were stalled in 2009 are now morphing into real opportunities. The RFP activity is showing decent improvement, however, the sales‐cycle continues to be long and spending not completely flowing.

Even though the network spending in North America, which was driven by conversion to HDTV over last few years, is slowing, other factors like changes in customer preferences, and pressure to generate new sources of revenues and reduce costs are expected to continue to drive technology capital expenditure for networks. These new developments are adding new dynamism to the sector, which can be witnessed by the plethora of vendors and solutions.

Here are some of prominent themes that we witnessed at the NAB show this year.

  • Emergence of 3D television broadcasting: As expected, this was the major theme at NAB similar to what was the case at CES earlier this year. TV manufacturers continue to be enthusiastic about this trend. CES expects 4.3 million 3D TV sets to be sold in 2010, with about 25% of total TVs sold in 2013 to be 3D‐enabled. Even though some major players (like DIRECTV, Discovery, IMAX, and etc.) have made announcements over last few months about launching 3D content, a lot of the content producers and broadcasters are still not sure about how quickly this market opportunity will grow in the near term. As a result, they tend to be reticent to make investment in this area at this point.

 

  • Development of multi‐platform content distribution (broadcast, web and mobile) capability: The spending on TV advertising is gradually declining. According to Yankee Group, the TV ad market declined 21.2%, from $52 billion to $41 billion, between 2008 and 2009. During this same period spending on Internet advertising grew as a result of consumers spending more time online and less time watching TV. With more and more eyeballs consuming video content on Web and mobile devices, broadcasters are investing in technologies which enable delivery of content over multitude of platforms.

 

  • Adoption of file‐based workflows: One of the important areas of investment for broadcasters remains implementation of file‐based workflow infrastructure. This is viewed as important by broadcasters to augment flexibility in day‐to‐day operations, facilitate reduction in operational costs, and enable efficient multi‐platform content distribution.

 

Emergence of Over‐the‐Top (OTT) Video and convergence of TV and Internet: The other recurring trend at the show was the focus on growing convergence between broadcast TV and Web video. Internet users are increasingly interested in streaming full length video directly onto their TVs and as a result variety of models are appearing to provide consumers with this capability. According to report by Tender Research from October 2009, about 7% of households will forgo Pay TV subscriptions by 2012 in favor of OTT services and free over‐the‐air television. OTT market is moving very fast with proliferation of enabling devices like Roku, Xbox, and a range of new HDTV models and growth of online video sites such as Hulu, Netflix,

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