Archive for the ‘Home Entertainment’ Category

Star Wars Phantom Menace 3D Trailer

With Recent Deals, OTT Distributors’ Content Strategies Are Crystallizing

Amid the drama and headlines surrounding OTT distributors (e.g. Netflix price increases and Qwikster decision, on-again/off-again Hulu sale, etc.), these companies’ content strategies actually seem to be crystallizing, with each trying to stake out a somewhat distinct value proposition for their users. True, there is still plenty of blurriness between them, and each appears reluctant to be pigeon-holed, but recent deals suggest how each OTT distributor is positioning itself.

Below is a summary of the content strategies of most of the major OTT distributors (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, YouTube, Walmart/VUDU, iTunes and Blockbuster) with a catchphrase that best describes their approach:

Netflix - “Rerun-TV, but please don’t call us that” – Earlier this year, when Comcast CEO Brian Roberts was asked if he felt pressured by Netflix’s growing array of content deals, he half-jokingly replied, “What used to be called ‘reruns’ on television is now called Netflix.” At the time the comment seemed like it diminished Netflix, but eight months later it is quite accurate (in fact on last week’s earnings call Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said it wasn’t an unfair characterization, though he wouldn’t want to labeled this way). Netflix is increasingly about catalog serialized programs, picking up where traditional syndication left off; recently it obtained the rights to CW programs and today renewed Disney-ABC programs.  When the Starz deal expires in a few months the movies available on Netflix streaming will look even older and more obscure, the Dreamworks’ movies don’t appear until 2013 and originals like “House of Cards” are still a question mark. All that means Netflix’s deep catalog is increasingly going to define the streaming service.

Hulu - “Catch up on broadcast TV programs, no DVR required” – Just when you thought you mastered your DVR’s controls, Hulu is essentially saying “don’t bother.” After obtaining the rights to CW’s current season episodes last Friday, Hulu now has all the broadcast networks except CBS available. And if you want quicker/deeper access, Hulu Plus offers that too. Beyond broadcast, Hulu has also snagged some cable programs (most notably “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report”), independent content (with surprising success in anime), and is also showcasing some of its own originals (e.g. Morgan Spurlock’s “A Day in the Life”). Hulu’s owners have decided to hang onto their stakes, rather than bank a short-term gain. Now the question is will Hulu get further resources to break out of its broadcast catch-up positioning?

Amazon - “Fired up to beat Netflix in streaming” – Amazon seems more serious than ever about being a streaming contender, and is employing a Netflix-like strategy for content acquisitions, recently signing up Fox, and today Disney-ABC, in a remarkably similar deal to one Netflix itself announced (so much for exclusivity!). I was critical of Amazon’s decision to include video in its Amazon Prime shipping service which reduced its visibility, but more recently the company’s decision to introduce the Kindle Fire “iPad killer” means that having great content is now a lot more important. Amazon has very deep pockets and could broaden its content acquisitions driving up prices for other OTT players.

YouTube - “Indies-R-Us” – Last Friday, YouTube finally announced the first batch of independently-created original programs, as part of its $100 million investment in higher-quality content. Under Google’s ownership, YouTube had already moved a long way from its UGC roots, but despite incessant rumors that it would become a bidder for Hollywood shows and movies, YouTube is instead trying to nurture its own content that it hopes will be appealing to major advertisers, as well as audiences. That’s not to say Google won’t be opportunistic; it reportedly dangled a $4 billion offer in front of Hulu’s owners in the recent auction, but was rebuffed due to aggressive demands. With more resources than anyone, Google can pursue any strategy it chooses to.

iTunes - “King of the non-subscription world” – Outside of subscriptions, the electronic sell-through (EST) and rental market has remained relatively small (my estimates here), but iTunes is clearly the king. iTunes benefits from its integration and branding with hundreds of millions of Apple devices, and so for the foreseeable future its dominance should remain unchallenged, with Microsoft Zune Video Marketplace and VUDU well behind it. With rumors of an Apple television circulating, it remains an open question whether Apple will at last pursue a subscription model to support this new device.

Walmart/VUDU - “Best access to HD movies and TV shows” – Under Walmart’s ownership, VUDU has stayed consistent, emphasizing 1080p HD movies concurrent with their DVD release and more recently TV shows, through a growing array of connected devices. Just like iTunes, VUDU is exclusively rent or own, with no subscriptions available. VUDU has begun to get leverage from Walmart through promotions like $.99 specials, which broadens its user base. With the subscription field so crowded, it’s hard to see VUDU going beyond its roots; rather it will benefit as DVDs diminish.

Blockbuster - “DVDs and streaming for DISH subscribers” – DISH cautiously introduced its new Blockbuster Movie Pass service, emphasizing DVD availability and some streaming, but making it available solely for DISH subscribers. No doubt it will be untethered soon enough, colliding with Netflix and Amazon, but only if DISH is willing to spend aggressively to gain more content.

Beyond these OTT distributors, it’s also worth noting what’s happening in the traditional pay-TV ecosystem. The premium networks, HBO, Showtime and Starz all seem committed to their pay-TV partners, not allowing their content to leak out onto OTT streaming services (though DVD is OK). HBO has taken the lead with its HBO GO app, which Showtime and Starz are expected to mimic shortly. EPIX, with limited pay-TV distribution has been the only premium network to make an OTT deal, with Netflix. Movie output deals are still important in the premium category, but original series increasingly define their brands.

Last but not least, pay-TV operators themselves continue to roll out VOD services and more recently TV Everywhere. Lacking a robust ad insertion capability, VOD viewing remains strongest for content from premium networks. TV Everywhere continues to be deployed, but faces 5 big challenges as I recently wrote. More broadly, the question remains whether pay-TV services might eventually spend more aggressively and/or demand under their retransmission consent agreements exclusive streaming rights to both broadcast and cable programming, putting the squeeze on all the OTT distributors.

Although the landscape remains very fluid, when you cut through the noise, each OTT distributor appears to be settling on its own content direction.

article by Will Richmond videonuze.com

Apple iCloud vs. UltraViolet

Apple is working on a cloud service for movies that is set to launch late this year or in 2012, the LA Times reported.

Apple has been meeting with studio executives and is looking to finalize agreements that would allow consumers to  buy films via Apple’s iTunes and access them on any Apple device via its iCloud online locker, it said.

The news comes after Tuesday’s launch of the UltraViolet cloud service, for which Wall Street has a mixed outlook, with the home entertainment release of Warner Bros.’ Horrible Bosses.

Since Apple is not currently part of the consortium of studios, electronics makers and online distributors that launched UltraViolet, the company is considering allowing consumers who buy UltraViolet-enabled film to watch them more easily on Apple devices via apps, the Times said. BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield has said Apple’s lack of participation is a key hurdle for UltraViolet’s success.

Importantly though, movies bought on iTunes would continue to only work on Apple devices as Apple wants to keep encouraging consumers to buy its devices, the Times highlighted.

source: hollywoodreporter.com

Top 50 Channels on Youtube revealed

ComScore Inc., which measures Web traffic, gave a sneak peek of its rankings of the biggest players on Google’s YouTube several weeks ago.

Today the firm released the full ranking of video-content “channels” on the world’s No. 1 video site. Some highlights: No fewer than 997 YouTube video creators get at least 100,000 viewers per month on their channels, comScore said. (Click here to see the top 50 channels.)

Some well-known names were among the top 50 in terms of number of viewers, including theAssociated Press (5.7 million), Discovery Communications (2.8 million), the BBC (2.2 million), and MovieClips.com (1.8 million). Also on the list: pioneers of original Internet video such asRevision3 (6.6 million) and comedians including Andy Samberg’s The Lonely Island (3.3 million).

The biggest name you may not have heard of: Machinima, which creates 24 shows about video games and other content of interest to young men. It also produces live-action series with high production values, including sci-fi mystery show “RCVR” and zombie thriller “Bite Me.” The Machinima channel recently feature Warner Bros.’ Mortal Kombat: Legacy, the first episode of which has gotten 14.3 million views.

Machinima’s channel, started in 2006, ranked third in August with 17.7 million viewers, comScore said. More importantly, it kept the average viewer watching videos for more than 70 minutes.

ComScore’s rankings “help with the advertising world,” said Allen Debevoise, chief executive of Machinima, which has 120 employees and is based in West Hollywood. “When advertisers look at numbers that are superior to those of cable TV, it starts to bring attention to it,” he said.

As previously reported in the Wall Street Journal, YouTube is looking to spawn dozens of Machinimas for different interest areas, such as Hollywood gossip or sports, and it’s willing to pay multimillion-dollar advances to content creators to do so, people familiar with the matter have said.

Some of the other YouTube channels in the top 1,000 include singer Rebecca Black, of “Friday” fame, who checks in at no. 70 with 1.3 million visitors last month. At no. 880 is Let’s Make it Up!, which gives tips to girls on makeup and hair styles, garnering 119,000 viewers, nearly as many as alternative rock band Radiohead’s channel (146,000 viewers, ranked 742th).

What about Google’s own channel, where it hosts promotional videos for its services? That channel got 606,000 viewers last month, earning a ranking of 157, just above the channel for PBS, which came in at no. 175 with 553,000 viewers.

source: Wall Street Journal

Netflix’s DVD Split Is Yet Another Self-Inflicted Wound

Update: 10-10-11 from the New York Times, Brian Stelter reports:

Abandoning a break-up plan it announced last month, Netflix said Monday morning that it had decided to keep its DVD-by-mail and online streaming services together under one name and one Web site.

The company admitted that it had moved too fast when it tried to spin-off the old-fashioned DVD service into a new company called Qwikster.

“We underestimated the appeal of the single web site and a single service,” Steve Swasey, a Netflix spokesman, said in a telephone interview. He quickly added: “We greatly underestimated it.”

*******************************************

How many self-inflicted wounds can a company take before its mortality is threatened? When it comes to Netflix, the question is taking on increasing relevance. The company that could do no wrong for the past two years first shot itself by announcing an onerous price increase without any real attempt to explain itself or soften the blow. The initial consequences of that decision came last week in the form of a 1 million subscriber downward revision and a 50 point drop in its stock price. Now Netflix has followed up with another bewildering move, announcing a re-branding and separation of its DVD by mail business as “Qwikster” complete with an independent web site. In my view this is another self-inflicted wound with even more serious implications.

When Netflix announced the price increase and discussed its intent to charge separately for DVDs, it offered a nonsensical and incomplete explanation for why it was doing so, and why now. In a new and contrite blog post from CEO Reed Hastings (and accompanying video), the more explicit explanation is “We realized that streaming and DVD by mail are becoming two quite different businesses, with very different cost structures, different benefits that need to be marketed differently and we need to let each grow and operate independently.”

Of course there are different economics and operational facets to streaming vs. DVD by mail. But guess what – subscribers don’t care. Netflix’s business is delivering entertainment as easily as possible, over any viable means and at the most attractive price. Rather than separating streaming and DVD, Netflix should be doing the exact opposite – integrating them as tightly as possible. Netflix has given a “we can’t walk and chew gum at the same time” explanation that is irrelevant to most subscribers, and only ends up forcing them to make unappealing decisions such as paying more, getting less or doing without.

For a team that made so many smart moves, it’s hard to pin down what’s going on here. Hastings offers a hint though in his post, saying that “Companies rarely die from moving too fast, and they frequently die from moving too slowly.” My sense is that Netflix has too quickly fallen in love with streaming, and forgotten how critical DVDs still are to their current and future success. I’ve been a broken record in pointing out that Netflix’s key competitive advantage relative to other pure streaming services (e.g. Hulu, Amazon, Vudu, etc.) is the CHOICE that the deep DVD catalog offers plus the complimentary CONVENIENCE that streaming has introduced. Without DVDs Netflix is going to going up against far bigger competitors without much of an advantage. As to Qwikster’s prospects, marketing a DVD only service in the digital media era? Good luck with that.

Worse still is that Netflix’s access to high-quality streaming content has never been more challenging. The Starz situation is illustrative of the conflicts and reluctance big media companies have in dealing with Netflix. The awakening of Amazon, Google, Walmart and Dish to the streaming businesses means far more vigorous bidding for streaming content going forward (and by the way these Netflix blunders are only going to drive up Hulu’s value given its exclusive lock on broadcast TV programs). Meanwhile pay-TV operators’ focus on TV Everywhere, and their willingness to pay retransmission consent fees, puts a further squeeze on Netflix acquiring streaming content out of the cable ecosystem. That Netflix didn’t understand these near-term content acquisition dynamics and therefore feel the need to keep DVDs well-integrated with streaming is an epic failure of strategic thinking.

Beyond the churn in the existing subscriber base that the price change and now the Qwikster introduction will bring, the other big issue is how they will affect new streaming subscriber acquisitions. As I pointed out last week, a thin streaming content offering will make it tougher for Netflix to acquire streaming subscribers at the same rate it has. That in turn could cause a material hiccup in Netflix’s financials that could frighten away prospective content partners concerned about Netflix’s ongoing viability, especially as the company shoulders huge payments for licensed content from Epix, Relativity and other current partners. A serious downward spiral could ensue.

Long-time Netflix skeptics are no doubt feeling some sense of vindication these days. But the reality is that Netflix’s current woes have less to do with external forces than with its own executive decision-making. Netflix increasingly looks like a company that has completely lost its focus and is lurching from one ill-considered decision to the next.

by Will Richmond

http://www.videonuze.com

Sony again delivers with 3D Head-Mounted display

Technology giant Sony has unveiled a head-mounted display that takes the wearer into a 3D cinema of videos, music and games.
Future vision? The HMZ personal 3D viewer is being targetted at people who prefer solitary entertainment rather than sitting in front of a television with family or friends

Resembling a futuristic visor, the £480 ($800) device is worn like a pair of chunky goggles and earphones in one.

Officially unveiled in Tokyo today, the HMZ – which stands for head-mounted display – is equipped with two 0.7in high definition organic light emitting diode (OLED) panels and 5.1 channel dynamic audio headphone

Nintendo’s Virtual Boy, a 3-D wearable gaming machine that went on sale in the 1990s, bombed, partly because of the bulky headgear required as well as the image being all red.

Sony’s latest product is far more sophisticated, delivering an experience that is as immersive as sitting in one of the best seats in a cinema.

It is not recommended for people 15 years old and younger because some experts believe overly stimulating imagery is not good for teenagers whose brains are still developing, according to Shigeru Kato, a Sony vice president.

On the plus side, consumers are growing more accustomed to 3D these days, with the arrival of 3D TVs and game machines.

The HMZ uses Sony’s own OLED screen, a relatively new kind of display that relays superb image quality and colour, compared to the more prevalent liquid crystal and plasma displays used in laptops and flat-panel TVs.

Mr Kato said the major challenge had been making a very small display without compromising image quality.

The HMZ is set to go on sale in Japan on November 11; a U.S. and European release could come as early as Christmas.

The HMZ – which stands for head-mounted display – displays footage that is crystal clear.

It is equipped with two 0.7in high definition organic light emitting diode (OLED) panels and 5.1 channel dynamic audio headphone.

The gadget enables the wearer to experience cinema-like viewing, equivalent to watching a 750-inch screen from 20 metres away,

The music video on display at a Sony showcase for reporters in Tokyo was of a Japanese singer and was so clear that it felt like peering into a dolls house in which a real-life tiny singer is moving.

It seems unlikely that most people – or even technology enthusiasts – will want to buy a product that involves sitting alone and wearing a little helmet.

For this reason, the HMZ might not be Sony’s long-awaited answer to Apple’s iPod or iPad, but just another quirky device packed with cutting-edge technology that is headed for a limited niche following.

Nintendo’s Virtual Boy, a 3-D wearable gaming machine that went on sale in the 1990s, bombed, partly because of the bulky headgear required as well as the image being all red.

Sony’s latest product is far more sophisticated, delivering an experience that is as immersive as sitting in one of the best seats in a cinema.

It is not recommended for people 15 years old and younger because some experts believe overly stimulating imagery is not good for teenagers whose brains are still developing, according to Shigeru Kato, a Sony vice president.

On the plus side, consumers are growing more accustomed to 3D these days, with the arrival of 3D TVs and game machines.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2032130/HMZ-T1-Sony-unveils-worlds-3D-head-mounted-display-immersive-sitting-cinema.html#ixzz1WflkevM6

MasterImage 3D and Rightware present glasses free environment for 3D stereo displays

MasterImage 3D’s Cell-Matrix Parallax Barrier display provides Rightware the ultimate environment to showcase their ground-breaking Kanzi UI Solution for Autostereoscopic 3D

Computex, Taipei, Taiwan – June 2, 2011 – Rightware Oy, the leader in 3D user-interface (UI) technology, and MasterImage 3D, Inc. the leader in autostereoscopic 3D (AS3D) display announce a strategic partnership to offer the best out-of-the-box AS3D solution for immediate deployment. The combination provides device manufacturers a fast lane for creation of the most intuitive autostereoscopic 3D design for mobile, consumer and automotive devices. A demonstration is available at MasterImage 3D’s booth at Computex 2011 (Hall 3, G0766).

Both companies have leadership positions shaping cutting-edge glasses-free 3D experiences and providing ready-for-business solutions for their customers. In this alliance, MasterImage 3D’s patented Cell-Matrix Parallax Barrier uses a “cell gap” approach enabling the brightest, sharpest glasses-free 3D experience with the widest viewing angle. This barrier was recently announced in their latest 3D CELL reference tablet based on Texas Instrument’s OMAP™ 4 platform technology. Rightware focuses on the software aspects and has released the world’s first commercial AS3D user-interface software solution for embedded devices, using their celebrated Kanzi UI Solution.

“This partnership means device manufacturers can have access to the latest autostereoscopic 3D software and hardware from one partnership. We’ve been working closely with MasterImage 3D and we’re extremely excited about the quality of their cell-parallax implementation,” said Tero Sarkkinen, CEO of Rightware. “Device manufacturers are aggressively including AS3D in their new offerings, seeking ways to provide real consumer value and differentiate through enhanced 3D design.”

For device manufacturers, this partnership means faster time to market with the most compelling hardware and 3D user interface solution. This consumer-friendly 3D navigation can intuitively showcase the variety of 3D applications that will spark the growth of a next-generation mobile 3D ecosystem—from 3D movies, games, apps, video and user-generated content.

“One of the most thrilling contributions to the 3D content ecosystem is dynamic and interactive visual navigation,” said Roy Taylor, Executive Vice President and General Manager at MasterImage 3D. “Rightware is an inspired pioneer in introducing new consumer experiences and their Kanzi 3D UI running on barrier really showcases the beginning of an incredible industry.”

About Masterimage 3D Inc.
Masterimage 3D Inc. is a 3D technology company that provides pioneering solutions for theaters, mobile devices and gaming. With digital 3D cinema systems installed over 60 countries, Masterimage 3D is a fast-growing digital 3D system supplier, offering audiences the clearest, sharpest 3D experience while providing exhibitors with a compelling ownership-based pricing model. The company invented, patented and mass-produced the cell-matrix parallax barrier, the leading 3D technology for auto-stereoscopic mobile display. It enabled one of the world’s first glasses-free 3D mobile phones and is in development for devices in 2011. Its 3D camera ASIC empowers users to create 3D content. Founded in 2004, the company is privately held and headquartered in Hollywood, with offices in the UK, Tokyo and Seoul. More information: http://www.masterimage3D.com.

About Rightware
Rightware® is the market leader in 3D User Interface technology, serving mobile, automotive and other embedded industries with its Kanzi® solution for rapid 3D user interface design and deployment. Rightware has introduced the world’s first stereoscopic 3D (S3D) user interface solution. Rightware also develops industry leading system performance analysis tools. Rightware’s renowned product portfolio includes the Basemark® product family for various benchmarking purposes, plus 3DMark® Mobile for OpenGL ES 1.x and OpenGL ES 2.0, VGMark® for OpenVG 1.x, and SPMark® platform benchmark for Android, MeeGo, Symbian, Windows Mobile, Linux and mobile Java. Rightware is headquartered in Espoo, Finland and has offices in Shanghai, Beijing, and Palo Alto. More information: www.rightware.com.

Despite all the hype 3D at home stumbles

TV and film industries treated 3-D like any other premium tech, pumping it full of marketing dollars. Everyone lost money. Now they await a new generation of film directors to save them using the one thing money can’t rush: talent.

You could forgive them for thinking that selling 3-D movies and TV would be easy. Manufacturers and retailers banked on 3-D’s famous novelty; allegedly “good” films like Avatar; and gleaming new HD infrastructure to carry it all into homes. Instead, most of them lost money in Q1, prompting The Financial Times to declare 3-D content would be doomed to niches like gaming and sports.

Samsung has responded tepidly to the 3-D slump by bundling their TVs with a second pair of 3-D glasses for free. If the problem were solvable by marketing, retail price, or technology, the industry might have corrected its path already. But what’s missing isn’t so easy to conjure: good film-making.

Asked about mediocre 3-D TV sales, and Panasonic’s CTO Eisuke Tsuyuzaki echoes a common sentiment in the industry: the barrier is content. “What makes good 3-D TV is new 3-D services,” he says, “and we need to work with the content industry to do this.”

He’s talking about breadth. Panasonic has partnered with DirecTV to produce and manage content for a new 24-hour 3-D channel that will feature all genres of stuff, from sports to documentaries. Partners like DirecTV need a lot of “support,” says Tsuyuzaki, because producing video in 3-D is difficult. “You need a second crew, a second director, and new hardware,” he says.

But that’s not the real holdup, according to sources in Hollywood. Whatever 3-D bottlenecks once existed in the film and TV industry, they’re all but gone now, says Ted Schilowitz of RED Digital Cinema Company, whose menacing-looking Epic 3-D camera rigs are being used to shoot new blockbusters by directors like Peter Jackson, Ridley Scott, and Bryan Singer. “We’ve basically solved all the issues, and the cost wouldn’t even discourage a film with a tiny budget.” Schilowitz says one such film, an indie horror flick named Hellbenders, is being shot in 3-D in suburban New York this spring.

Intel, which makes most of the processors inside today’s 3-D TVs, says that another obstacle is distribution. “The only thing that’s standardized about 3-D is Blu-ray,” says Lance Koenders, the director of marketing for Intel’s digital home group. “What definitely isn’t standardized is how broadcast content and Web content is displayed in 3-D.”

So while TV-makers are bickering over technology standards, Koenders says, many are also hedging their bets, loading TVs with cheap 3-D systems that offload most of the cost onto battery-powered glasses with active shutters in the lenses. (This little strategy is also the reason today’s home 3-D glasses cost $180 instead of $10, like the 3-D glasses you get in the theater.) “These are the well-calculated risks of breaking a chicken-and-egg problem,” he says.

Consumers haven’t been impressed with OEMs half-assed 3-D systems, which has put the burden on Hollywood to make 3-D appealing. But Schilowitz says that the move to 3-D isn’t like the move to HD. High-definition TV was about improving infrastructure and picture quality. Three-D, by contrast, is an artistic tool. ”When you get right down to brass tacks,” says Schilowitz, “it’s an education issue.” He says most directors of photography in Hollywood haven’t internalized 3-D in their creative process, and it will take time before movie-goers begin discovering films that have innovated with it. “We’re starting to see some guys who are really talented with 3-D,” he says, naming directors of photography like Darius Walsky, responsible for Pirates of the Carribbean 4, and John Schwartzman, who is rumored to be using RED 3-D cameras on the next Spiderman film in 2012. “John [Schwartzman] has taken to it like a duck to water,” says Schilowitz.

Unfortunately for companies like Panasonic and Best Buy, Americans only invest in a new TV an average of once every 8.6 years. By comparison, making a new TV show or movie takes a few months or a year. So retailers and manufacturers will continue to get hung out to dry while Hollywood finds its way.

Manufacturers like LG and Vizio are hoping to speed things by produce “passive” 3-D TVs that forgo geeky, expensive battery-powered glasses in favor of more traditional-looking 3-D eye glasses. As more 3-D blockbusters hit Blu-ray and more TVs come bundled with passive 3-D, consumers might get around to trying it. But the real panacea–and it’s not a quick one–may be the proliferation of consumer 3-D cameras. “There is a huge appetite for people to make their own content in 3-D,” says Tsuyuzaki, whose company has produced one of the first consumer-grade high-def 3-D video cameras. At $800, Panasonic’s 3-D video camera could be cheap enough to get people experimenting.

“Most people that buy those consumer cameras will have no idea how to use 3-D,” says Schilowitz, “but then again, some people will. And one of them will become the next Steven Soderbergh.” Until 3-D’s savior is united with his film-making destiny, a billion-dollar chicken and egg problem rolls on.

source: fastcompany.com

Young People worldwide are addicted to media

COLLEGE PARK, Md., April 10 (UPI) — It doesn’t matter if a college student lives in the United States, Chile, China, Slovakia, Mexico or Lebanon — many are addicted to media, researchers say.

Susan D. Moeller of the University of Maryland and the director of International Center for Media & the Public Agenda says whether in developing countries or developed countries the findings are strikingly similar in how teens and young adults use media and how “addicted” they are to their cellphone, laptop or mp3 player.

The researchers and colleagues at the Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change asked about 1,000 students in 10 countries on five continents to give up all media for 24 hours and record their experiences.

The study found the students reacted almost identically to being unplugged from media and used virtually the same words to describe their reactions, including: fretful, confused, anxious, irritable, insecure, nervous, restless, crazy, addicted, panicked, jealous, angry, lonely, dependent, depressed, jittery and paranoid.

“Perhaps naively, we assumed that we would find substantial differences among the students who took part in this study,” Moeller says in a statement.

“After all, our partner universities come from very different regions and from countries with great disparities in economic development, culture and political governance.”

In short, the students were blind-sided by how much media have come to dominate their lives and their identity, Moeller says.

The study is at: http://theworldunplugged.wordpress.com/

WB is the leader in digital distribution

Warner Bros. Digital Distribution (WBDD), a market leader in video-on-demand and electronic sell-through, announced it will expand its test offering of movies for rental through Warner Bros. Entertainment’s Facebook Movie Pages. Starting today at 10:00 pm Pacific Time / 1:00 am Eastern Time, consumers will be able to rent five additional titles directly through each film’s official Facebook Page using Facebook Credits. The films include “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” “Inception,” “Life as We Know It” and “Yogi Bear.”

To rent a film, consumers simply click on the “watch now” icon to apply their Facebook Credits, and within seconds they will begin enjoying the film. This offering is presently available only to consumers in the United States.

“We’re pleased to expand our test with a variety of titles that will appeal to a broad audience,” said Thomas Gewecke, President of Warner Bros. Digital Distribution. “These titles have substantial followings on Facebook. The Fan Pages for ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Inception’ alone are two of the most popular and active communities on the site.”

Fans will have full control over the film while watching it through their Facebook account for up to 48 hours from purchase. They can choose to watch it in full screen, pause the movie, and resume playing it when they log back into Facebook. Consumers will also have full Facebook functionality including the ability to post comments on the movie, interact with friends and update their status.

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If you are a tech head, cinema-phile, movie geek or digital imaging consultant, then we'd like to hear from you. Join us in our quest to explore all things digital and beyond. Of particular interest is how a product or new technology can be deployed and impacts storytelling. It may be something that effects how we download and enjoy filmed entertainment. It may pertain to how primary and secondary color grading will enhance a certain tale. The most important thing is that you are in the driver's seat as far as what you watch and how you choose to consume it.