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Two men were arrested for their role in pirating the Expendables 3 movie, with officials from the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU). The US release date for the movie was August 15, but copies of Expendables 3 were found online as early as July 25.
The two suspects, 36 and 33 years of age, reportedly uploaded the high-quality film after stealing it from a cloud-based storage system. Lionsgate Films said there was severe financial impact by the movie being related so early online, saying it cost millions of dollars in potential lost revenue.
"Today's operation shows you the significant impact intellectual property crime has on our creative industries, with millions of pounds being lost as a result of criminal actions," said Detective Chief Inspector Danny Medlycott, Head of PIPCU. "The public need to be aware that piracy is not a victimless crime. By downloading illegal music, film, TV and books, not only are you exposing your own computer to the risk of viruses and malware, but you are also putting hardworking people's livelihoods at risk as piracy threatens the security of thousands of jobs in the UK's creative industries."
ESPN could begin to roll out online streaming video subscriptions for select programs and live sporting events, giving viewers the chance to watch its broadcasting without needing a cable or satellite TV subscription. The effort could begin as early as February, when ESPN will reportedly offer access to the Cricket World Cup, which is held every four years - and while not a major event in the United States, is one of the largest sporting events in the world.
Pricing information and other details about the streaming service remains unknown.
"We think about, are there sports events we could offer where the consumer would pay us directly - not the content on our current linear networks," said John Skipper, ESPN head, earlier this year. "This has to be new [content], and it would create third revenue stream for us. I do want to be clear: we are not looking to linear channels an the content that's on them now. We're going to acquire new content and new kinds of things to do direct-to-consumer."
The expansion of 4K content and high frame rate movies present graphically appealing content, but digital animation studios are struggling, a recent industry expert noted. Production schedules could be impacted due to high-resolution images, forcing studios to reconsider how they create films.
"They are both going to present a huge challenge," said Bruno Mahe, Illumination Mac Guff technical head recently told the BBC. Traditional animated films are viewed at 2K resolution with 24 frames per resolution, but 4K boosts the videos up to 4K resolution and 48fps - and it isn't an easy transition.
In addition to slowing down production, studios also need increasingly powerful render farms to produce images and send them to other animation facilities.
Rising electronics powerhouse Xiaomi plans to invest $1 billion in providing more online TV content to subscribers, which will complement Xiaomi TV and the company's set-top box.
China has more than 600 million Internet users, with a growing number watching online video via smartphones - and Xiaomi wants to compete against Alibaba, Tencent, and others in the growing market. The country was the second largest movie market in 2012, trailing the United States, with continued growth expected over the next several years, analysts predict.
Here is what Chen Tong, a recent Xiaomi hire and former Chinese Sina Internet company executive said: "We want to repeat the success of Xiaomi's hardware integration model in the television industry."
We've been hearing about a music subscription service from YouTube for a while now, but it looks like it could be more of a reality in the near future. Yahoo's CEO, Susan Wojcicki, revealed during a recent interview that they are working on it, and should be unveiled before the end of the year.
Wojcicki also talked about an ad-free experience with YouTube, noting that the ad-supported model has been fine up until now, as it has provided them with the mountain of one billion users, but there are people out there - like myself - who don't want ads, and are willing to pay for that privilege. Wojcicki mentioned apps where there are ads, or you can pay to remove those ads.
The current state of TV is evolving and has led to established companies testing out direct-to-consumer services away from costly cable and satellite bundles. Both HBO and CBS recently announced online video subscription services, providing viewers with another way to watch content. Other content broadcasters are expected to follow suit, despite pressure from cable and satellite providers that offer premium subscription packages - in a continually evolving market.
Beyond HBO and CBS, the WWE wrestling brand, UFC mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion, and other established brands now have their own online on-demand video services.
As more American consumers begin to watch programs online, the future of TV content appears to be online - at the expense of cable and satellite providers - which could be even more disruptive in the future. Consumers can also choose Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and other online video services that provide TV episodes, movies, and exclusive content for their subscribers.
HBO recently announced it plans to launch a standalone online streaming service in early 2015, but pricing details were not disclosed. CBS announced its online streaming offering will cost just $5.99 per month, but the HBO channel could end up costing upwards of $18 per month, according to analysts from Barclays.
Content providers creating their own online channels are turning the screws on cable and satellite TV service providers, and partners could pressure HBO to not cannibalize their subscriber base. HBO will have to try to appeal to consumers while not undercutting their partners - and if Barclays is accurate with an $18 per month service - it seems unlikely that most consumers will go for it.
There could be potential battle lines drawn between premium channels and their broadcast partners, but industry analysts believe they will have to wait and see how HBO GO proceeds in the future.
It's no surprise that the Internet is a major facilitator of intellectual property piracy and theft, but revelations that the United States hosts a majority of piracy websites might be a shock, according to the IP Crime Report released by the UK IP Crime Group. It's extremely difficult to shut down piracy groups that operate in other countries, which is what UK copyright enforcement groups have found over the past 12 months.
"Analysis has shown that the three key countries in which content is hosted are the UK, the USA and Canada," according to the report. "However, investigating servers located offshore can cause specific problems for FACT's law enforcement partners."
Trying to clamp down on piracy has evolved from individual lawsuits to increased effort to shut down those responsible for operating piracy rings and servers. However, Internet piracy will remain a problem for music labels, movie studios, and game makers, despite increased surveillance of distribution groups.
Just one day after HBO announced it has launched a standalone online streaming service, it looks like CBS is ready to join the online subscription fun. The CBS All Access offering costs $5.99 per month and provides access to live television programming along with current and past on demand content - with no TV subscription required.
Content providers and broadcasters have found many users are interested in watching content online - whenever they want to - without paying for pricey cable or satellite subscriptions. CBS also plans to launch a standalone digital news content service on October 28.
"Everybody is talking about it," said Leslie Moonves, CBS Corporation CEO, in an interview. "It is an important part of our future. Our job is to do the best content we can and let people enjoy it in whatever way they want. The world is heading in that direction."
HBO announced that a standalone, online streaming of its service would launch sometime in 2015, giving cord-cutters one more reason to consider ditching their cable or satellite service. The service will be designed more for the 10 million potential customers in the U.S. that don't currently have cable or TV service, as content providers look for new ways to expand.
The company will work with "current partners" and could expand to new content partners, but HBO CEO Richard Plepler didn't disclose additional details about what customers can expect.
This is a significant step forward for HBO, which traditionally was happy to work with pay-TV providers, but HBO and other providers have been under pressure to innovate.