LG Set To End The Era Of Plasma TV

The era of the plasma TV is set to come to a close, with the last major new unit of the flat-but-not-completely-flat screen viewing platform set to roll off the production line on 30 November.

lg_plasma_tvThe company responsible will be South Korean technology giants LG, who are the last big-name company to be involved in this market, but not for much longer, as they look to cease operations on plasma screens, ending a 15-year stay in that subsector.

LG are now reportedly planning to focus their TV-producing operations on LED and higher-quality OLED TV machines in a bid to better compete with local rival Samsung, and whilst they have been doing that for years, it now appears to be an official concentrated focus, with the staff tasked with plasma production presumably now freed up to help build and sell the newer methods.

The company had put their plasma TV operations into suspension in August in order to come up with an ‘exit strategy’, and they now have one that they are putting into practice, leaving Chinese company Changhong Electric Co. as the sole remaining plasma TV makers in the world, though industry experts explain that people wanting to buy will not have good luck in doing so outside of China, and that Changhong too are likely to move on completely from the plasma age by 2017.

Having existed in plasma TV production since 1999, after Japanese company Fujitsu’s first commercial effort in the industry in 1995, LG’s tenure in the once-premium industry will now be consigned to the history books like the product type, so an old high mark for TV quality disappears, how long will it be before a new technology pushes LED to a similar fate?

Netflix Release First Marco Polo Trailer

Netflix‘s newest original TV series coming to ‘air’ is one that will be at the top end of its expenses list, with $90m reportedly invested in making the first season of historical drama Marco Polo, and ahead of a full season release in mid-December, the streaming service have released the first little display of how that production budget was spent.

marco_polo_bannerYesterday (29 October) saw Netflix reveal an official first trailer for their newest show, which has already been compared to HBO hit Game of Thrones purely on its vast medieval landscapes and themes introduced in the clip, though Netflix’s show will have firm origins within a true story.

The Marco Polo series is based around the famed 13th-century explorer of the same name, who will be played by Italian actor Lorenzo Richelmy, as he makes his well-known expedition down the ‘Silk Road’ to travel between what is modern-day Italy and China. Whilst on the path, he ends up in the court of Kublai Khan (played by Benedict Wong), adding to the adventure and intrigue of his trip.

The series was a creation of John Fusco (who will be a writer on the upcoming Netflix-exclusive movie sequel Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend), supported by directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg (both Kon-Tiki) directing over the first two episodes and being executive producers for the season as a whole. Further behind-the-scenes support comes from executive producers Dan Minahan (Game of Thrones) and Harvey Weinstein of The Weinstein Co., whilst the cast is completed with Joan Chen, Olivia Cheng, Remy Hii, Claudia Kim, Uli Latukefu, Tom Wu, and Zhu Zhu (Cloud Atlas).

The official blurb of the show notes: “Intrigue. Deception. Bloodshed. These are just some of the obstacles awaiting legendary explorer Marco Polo as he navigates the inner court of 13th century ruler, Kublai Khan. From the back alleys of Venice to the perilous Silk Road, from the opulence of the Imperial City to the battlefields of China, Marco Polo is an epic action-adventure, where cultures clash, blood is spilled, and lies are told…”

Set to be premiered on Netflix at one minute past midnight (PT) on Friday 12 December, will Marco Polo travel quickly to the top of the list of most talked-about current TV shows? Critics have called the trailer a promising sign:

YouTube Music Service Closer To Launch

The proposed music streaming service from YouTube looks to be a little closer to realisation, after reassurance from the video hosting site’s CEO that the idea has not been forgotten about.

youtube_music_playSusan Wojcicki confirmed this week that a YouTube-branded subscription music streaming platform, designed to compete with the likes of Spotify, will arrive ‘in the near future’.

Previously planned for a release at some point this summer, the intended service has not yet arrived as YouTube may have liked just yet, but their executive insists that it is very much a reality for the Google-owned company.

Speaking to Re/Code, Wojcicki claimed that YouTube are currently developing ideas on the best ways “…to give people options” if they become members of the new service, with ideas such as subscription packages and pricing tiers believed to be on the table.

Additional plans hinted at in recent times are said to include access for users to more video-based content such as concert clips and music videos, though whether they tie that into their more famous brand or the website is in turn affected by the arrival of music streaming remains to be seen.

It also remains to be seen what the service will be called, with informal reports suggesting the title ‘Music Key’, but whatever the name, will YouTube’s music streamer be able to play well against its rivals when it launches?

HBO Downsizing Despite Growth

With a major new expansion on the way, it would be thought that HBO would be on the lookout for new staff members to help develop their existing service into an additional online-only streaming option, but even if they do that it appears as though premium cable channel HBO will be making staff cuts in the near future, according to a leaked email from the company’s CEO.

hbogoRichard Pleper, reacting to a number of other recent redundancies made within parent company Time Warner, Pleper issued a circular e-mail to his staff in order to inform them that some of them will soon be without a job. Naturally, someone not-so-delighted with that news has revealed it to the press.

Variety re-published the e-mail soon after receiving the information and copy of source material, with an extract reading: “We have a long history of tightly managing our overhead so that we’re able to maximise investment in the creation, distribution and marketing of content. We also shift resources when necessary toward areas with the greatest potential to drive revenue growth and to enhance our brand.

“We reviewed 2015 budgets and staffing plans with this in mind and reduced cost and redundancy wherever possible to preserve our ability to invest in our future. This will unfortunately include the elimination of some positions. Where relevant, your department head will share details with you in the weeks ahead. I understand that the news of staff reductions is unsettling. Rest assured that we will manage this difficult process with the fairness and respect you would expect from our company.”

Since launching in 1972, HBO has been one of the biggest names in premium subscription entertainment in the USA, and as of next year will look to have a similar status in the developing market of subscription internet streaming, but it appears as though some of their current staff won’t be along for that journey…

ABC Target ITV’s Wire in the Blood For Adaptation

The trend towards appropriating British content for American networks to create their own adaptations is a practice that has long been in place, with one of the latest attempts being critically-acclaimed former ITV crime drama Wire in the Blood.

wire_in_the_blood_itvThe show, created from the vision of Scottish crime writer Val McDermid and starring Robson Green, will have an attempted ABC remake, running alongside the network’s attempts to adapt BBC crime drama Silk.

Deadline reports that the American show is set to be written by A.M. Holmes, a crime novelist and former producer of Showtime series The L Word, and will be joined by David Hoberman and his company Mandeville Films & Television, though little further details have currently been revealed on the planned copy of the format.

The original Wire in the Blood series on ITV covered 6 seasons and 24 episodes between 2002-2008, eventually cancelled due to high production costs and a full schedule, but remains one of the channel’s highest-rated shows of recent years amongst critics.

It featured Green in the lead as ‘troubled psychologist’ “Dr. Tony Hill”, supported by Hermione Norris as his partner “DCI Carol Jordan” and later Simone Lahbib as replacement “DI Alex Fielding”, as they attempt to solve crimes with Hill’s ability to ‘tap into his dark side’ and think like a serial killer.

Hoberman said of the deal to potentially bring Wire in the Blood to ABC screens: “Bringing the iconic character Tony Hill to American audiences has been a passion of ours for a number of years.”

Whether the series will take off a second time is unclear for now, but for American audiences a taster of what might be to come on ABC can be seen below:

Verizon Put a Year of Netflix Into Cable Deal

The dominance of Netflix in the online streaming industry is now spilling over a little, as whilst names such as CBS, HBO and ESPN prepare to enter that market with their own dedicated streaming services, Netflix themselves are making a high-profile expansion to cable TV… or at least a streaming part of it.

verizon_logoTelecommunications giants Verizon (pictured), looking to enhance their overall entertainment package, have revealed their intention to roll out a service that incorporates Netflix with an eye towards enticing users to sign on for the overall package.

Verizon FiOS’s newest marketing ploy will see them bundle a year’s worth of free Netflix into their newest package, a ‘triple play’ of Internet, TV, and phone, according to BTIG Research. It is noted, though, that the deal is currently limited to the New York area, with residents able to sign up for this test run over the next 11 days, though presumably anyone signing up in this period will receive all the advertised benefits of it.

It is by far the biggest third-party streaming deal to appear on such a contract, and BTIG note that it is also the first time Netflix has been offered at all in such a capacity in the USA, though Netflix themselves claim that they have sold rights to their service for a number of European telecommunications providers.

BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield said of what could be a mutually beneficial deal between Netflix and Verizon: “Investor confidence in Netflix’s subscriber growth prospects is clearly shaken after Q3 2014 results, yet as we see aggressive promotion from ISPs such as Verizon, we are increasingly confident in Netflix’s ability to achieve our 2017 100 mm worldwide subscribers target.”

Though the background to the deal might not be the most harmonious, with this year witnessing the first-ever drop in American pay TV subscription figures and cable companies now carrying greater numbers of broadband subscribers than for cable TV, not to mention Verizon’s dispute with Netflix over the latter causing Internet traffic jams, this latest deal appears to be one that each party could gain from in their subscriber counts should the trial go to plan, so could it end up paving the way for similar combinations to flood the cable and streaming markets?