NDS buys online video specialist

9 08 2007

In a development which demonstrates that a growing number of broadcast pay TV platforms will be adding online video services, NewsCorp.-controlled interactive TV and conditional access specialist NDS is to acquire the rich media distribution technology company CastUp for US $11.3 million.

Founded in 1999, the Israeli developer of IP streaming media products counts HP, IBM, Microsoft and Orange among its customers





Of minnows, big ponds and wonky economics

3 08 2007

More consolidation among U.K. ISPs… Three weeks ago it was Tiscali’s £210 million acquisition of Pipex which turned heads in the City. While at the beginning of July and less likely to register as a big money deal, but noteworthy given who one of the players is, BT bagged small ISP Brightview Group for £15.8 million.

So if the Tiscali / Pipex deal was about extending reach (to 55% of the U.K. population) and unbundling more local exchanges, then what’s the motive behind the BT / Brightview deal? If both were based on subscriber numbers alone, Tiscali values 1.8 million Pipex customers at less than a penny each, while BT thinks Brightview’s 62,000 customers are worth a whopping £254 each.

Arguably, BT has purchased a relatively upmarket subscriber base: Brightview is a white label ISP for retailers Waitrose and John Lewis, alongside its own brands, Madasafish and Global Internet.

Reuters quotes Bridgewell analyst Dan Gardiner, who said the deal highlighted BT’s consolidation strategy within the ISP market of focusing on small, bolt on acquisitions of high quality customer bases rather than mass market players.

Expect lots more of this over the coming months as smaller, independent operators struggle to maintain margins for a product which has been reduced to mere commodity.





Disney bags kids social network

2 08 2007

club_penguin.pngThe Walt Disney Company has paid US $350 million, potentially rising by the same amount again based on performance over the next two years, for pre-teens social network Club Penguin.

Launched in late 2005, the service provides an ad-free, snow-covered virtual world for six to 14-year-olds to interact with eachother. Following the takeover, Club Penguin will be re-named Disney Club Penguin and be used to cross-promote other Disney properties.

Last reported figures state 700,000 subscribers (each paying $5.95 / month) and 12 million active users, mainly based in North America; though post-acquisition Disney has big plans for expanding the property in Asia and Japan. Competitors include Webkinz, Stardoll, Gaia, Habbo Hotel and Viacom-owned Neopets.





Amstrad: “You’re hired!”

31 07 2007

amstrad.jpg 

The consumer electronics manufacturer used to be a byword for cheap and cheerful hi-fi tower systems, the company even introduced the concept of mass market PCs to the U.K., but now Amstrad (shortform for the Alan Michael Sugar Trading Company, after its no-nonsense founder Sir Alan Sugar, and sometime frontman of The Apprentice) has been sold to BSkyB.

For the last few years Amstrad has been churning out set-top boxes for the U.K. satellite platform, including Sky+ DVRs. The deal is to be worth £125 million, or £1.50 per Amstrad share.

A briefing note from industry analysts Ovum can be found here.

Edited 2 Aug 07 to add comment from coverage in the Financial Times yesterday: “Sky said the Amstrad acquisition would give it more control over the design of new products and help it accelerate development. Analysts expect Sky to use Amstrad’s expertise to create high-margin products such as high-definition set-top boxes and personal video recorders.”





Nokia swoops on Twango

24 07 2007

Consolidation in the social networks and video sharing space continues with news that start-up Twango has been acquired by Nokia, just nine months after its launch.

Nokia was said to be drawn by the ease-of-use of Twango’s mobile interface.

“The Twango acquisition is a concrete step towards our consumer Internet services vision of providing seamless access to information, entertainment, and social networks – at any time, anywhere, from any connected device, in any way that you choose. We have the most complete suite of connected multimedia experiences including music, navigation, games, and – with the Twango acquisition – photos, videos, and a variety of document types,” said Anssi Vanjoki, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Multimedia, Nokia.

“When you combine a Nokia N-series multimedia computer that is always on, always connected, and always with you together with a rich media sharing destination like Twango, people will have exciting new ways to create and enjoy rich media experiences in real time.”

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, though the Seattle Post-Intelligencer points to a Wall Street Journal report suggesting that the price tag was “less than [US] $96 million”.





Deal watch: Lionsgate buys in to Break.com

12 07 2007

Lionsgate has taken a stake of $21 million (= 42% of equity) in blokey-targeted video aggregator Break.com, reports Bloomberg.

Break.com attracts around 1.3 million daily unique users, each consuming around 12 videos per day. The company already has content deals with NBC Universal, Endemol USA and Twisted Pictures.