While the players listed in this group have content delivery as their primary focus, other entities also deliver content, including Cinedigm, Dolby, Qube, and GDC.
Arqiva provides satellite delivery services in the UK and Ireland. Other than the usual long range plans for world domination, it is mentioned here for its unique business model. Most satellite providers couple uplink services to their downlink sites. In Arqiva’s model, the uplink is optional. They will allow any uplink service access to their downlink sites so long as it shares the same satellite and agrees to pay them a fee per active downlink. This gives them a piece of the action in return for their supply of downlink infrastructure. It also gives distributors a choice of uplink service providers. If they are successful, they are sure to attempt the model elsewhere in the world.
Digital Cinema Distribution Coalition is a joint venture of Warner Bros, Universal, and DCIP. The joint-venture’s goal is to build and operate an electronic distribution utility for digital cinema content. In 1st quarter 2008, it issued an RFP for satellite distribution services. While little has been heard from the JV since, it refuses to die inside Warner.
As interesting a concept as DCDC is, it is unlikely to get participation from multiple studios. With so many satellite providers vying for roof space at no cost to exhibitors, DCIP’s only motive to participate would be to get a cut of the action.
Deluxe has always been one to stick to its knitting and service its studio clients. At the request of its studio clients, the company has begun to build out a satellite distribution network to exhibition sites.
Deluxe Digital Media is a major mastering house for digital cinema content. It retains title as the largest film printer in the world. In 2004, Deluxe acquired Efilm. Deluxe itself was purchased by Ron Perelman in 2005, who recently divested from Panavision.
Microspace is a satellite communications provider for business communications, digital signage, and digital cinema. It is wholly owned by Capitol Broadcasting Company, a privately owned company that owns and operates radio and television stations. Its network operation center (NOC) and satellite uplink are located in Raleigh.
Private ownership by CBC has not allowed Microspace to take on equity partnerships in the industry, even though such partnerships could insure a successful entry into the cinema market. Instead, Microspace chose to invest its own capital in satellite receiver infrastructure in cinemas, with over 3500 screens in North America.
Microspace’s approach to digital cinema has been risky. It is in a price competitive market, and does not have the depth of business relationships that players such as Technicolor and Deluxe have. It has been forced to expand its services to include hard drive duplication and delivery as backup, which is outside of its core area. As competition grows, its margins will shrink. Worst of all, its strategy limits its ability to recoup costs through an exit plan. Sadly, Microspace is feeling pain.
Early in the game, Technicolor Digital Cinema wanted to be first in digital cinema, and has the arrows in its back and the holes in its pockets to prove it. Its list of failed ventures staggers. Its parent company, Thomson Multimedia, filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in December 2009. Shortly thereafter, Technicolor pulled out of all deployment operations, putting 300 digital cinema systems up for sale, and stopped development on its world class Theatre Management System, to the dismay of Regal.
Where Technicolor succeeds is in its core services to studios. It competes with Deluxe as a major player in content mastering. In satellite delivery of content, it competes with Cinedigm and Microspace. It operates these services not only in the US, but in Europe as well. These businesses were not affected by its pull-back of digital cinema operations.
As part of a rebranding effort, Thomson is now renamed Technicolor. Following the bankruptcy, it put certain businesses up for sale. In January, Technicolor sold its Convergent Media Systems digital signage business to Sony. Screenvision remains up for sale, with Technicolor selling its 50% stake in the company. Technicolor distributes Screenvision ad content over its network, although this business could change once Screenvision is sold.