Distribution infrastructure patterns in Europe are beginning to emerge. This year, Arqiva signed deals with Arts Alliance Media and Dolby to provide satellite distribution infrastructure and services for digital cinema. This month Kinepolis joined Europalace in agreeing to install Central Library Servers from TDF-owned SmartJog. Unlike most other infrastructure providers, SmartJog delivers content on both satellite and terrestrial networks.
Unlike their US brethren, European exhibitors have gotten away with infrastructure deals with a single supplier, at least so far. In the US, exhibitors tend to place as many satellite dishes as possible on roofs, duplicating the hardware required to receive such signals. Coupling the multiplicity of receiver hardware to exhibitor-provided library servers can be a costly challenge.
This harkens back to the infrastructure challenge that has been danced around by studios for years. Studios do not want to be locked into distribution over a single network. But they also want efficient distribution. The best efficiency in hardware and maintenance costs is achieved when a one-to-one relationship of exhibition site and infrastructure provider exists. Presumably, the US will eventually pare down to 2 or 3 such infrastructure providers per site. Eventually, similar chaos could come to Europe.