Tech Briefs: Lionsgate Elevates Thomas Hughes to EVP Worldwide Digital Distribution; Dates Set For CES 2015; More

Lionsgate has promoted Thomas Hughes, a sign, the company says, of how much importance it places on emerging online and alternate video-delivery platforms. As EVP Worldwide Digital Distribution, Hughes will oversee sales and distribution efforts in on-demand and digital video, including more than 25 digital retailers, mobile platforms and multichannel video providers. He’ll be reporting to Jim Packer, Lionsgate’s President of Worldwide TV & Digital Distribution, and continue to work closely with international TV exec Peter Iacono on global digital and VOD markets. Hughes had been SVP Worldwide Digital, and previously served under Packer at MGM as VP Worldwide Digital. Among his notable projects at Lionsgate has been the pioneering day-and-date releases of Arbitrage and Margin Call on VOD and in theaters.  

Consumer Electronics Show Gets A 2015 Date

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 3.18.59 PMCES, the mammoth electronics confab that overruns the Las Vegas Convention Center and so much of the rest of that city each year, has set its dates for 2015. The Consumer Electronics Association, which puts on the show, says it will be run from JAnuary 6-9. For more info or to get signed up really, really, really early, go to The CES site for the event already has info for hotel rooms, registration, and so much else. No link to the site for orthopedic walking shoes you’ll need after hiking across a million square feet of electronic devices beeping at you from darned near everywhere during the show.

Report: ‘Watch Dogs’, ‘The Sims 3’, ‘Minecraft’ Are Most Pirated Games

A just-issued report looking at which video games were pirated most often suggests that two mass-audience games — Minecraft andThe Sims 3  — were targeted nearly as much as Watch Dogs, Ubisoft’s sci-fi action-adventure title for hard-core gamers. The gaming piracy report by consultant CEG TEK International looked at 60 popular titles and found they were being pirated daily by about 2.5 million users of BitTorrent file-sharing networks. Watch Dogs leads the list. Electronic Arts has the dubious honor of most pirated publisher, with 13 of its titles, which were shared more than 606,000 times. Rockstar Games, a unit of TakeTwo Interactive, has two of its franchise Grand Theft Auto titles on the Top 10. PriceWaterhouseCoopers estimated the U.S. video game market to be worth $14.2 billion in 2013, still down from its 2011 peak of about $15 billion but now recovering substantially from the recession.

“With most of these games being $20 to $50 or more to download, the loss of revenue from this amount of piracy is huge,” said Kyle Reed, the COO for CEG TEK. “There’s been a lot of debate about whether or not piracy is really an issue for the massively successful video game business, but if publishers like Electronic Arts are losing nearly $30M a day in potential revenue on 13 of their hottest titles, that’s something to be concerned about.”

‘Comedians’ Back In Cars, Getting Coffee Thursday On Crackle

Sony online video unit Crackle will be back in the driver’s seat Thursday with the Season 4 debut of Jerry Seinfeld‘s Emmy-nominated Comedians In Cars Getting CoffeeThe talking and driving online show started in 2012 with a simple premise: getting Seinfeld in a vehicle, and then a coffee shop, hanging out with a comedian pal, talking about whatever presents itself. Season 4 will feature another run of notables, including Aziz Ansari, Robert Klein, Sarah Jessica Parker, George Wallace and Jon Stewart (the line in the trailer below when Stewart sees the car they’ll be driving is pretty priceless). The series has been streamed more than 40 million times, and earned Seinfeld one of those long, twisty-named Emmy nominations along with two 2014 Webby Awards, among other recognition. Seinfeld is executive producer, and Sony Pictures TV’s Embassy Row unit produces the show. The 24-episode new season will be entirely sponsored by Acura. Here’s the Season 4 trailer:

YouTube Essential Platform For Gamer Crowd: Report

Speaking of Sony, one of the zillion announcements the company’s PlayStation unit made during its E3 dog-and-pony show this month concerned plans to make it easier for PS4 gamers to share videos of their accomplishments directly to YouTube, in addition to the current Twitch and uStream services. Sony execs said it would come aboard in the fall. Paired with the PS4’s new Share Factory video-editing tools, the spate of additional, and increasingly sophisticated, gamer video should skyrocket. A new report by the consulting firm Octoly suggests that the YouTube addition is a Very Good Idea for Sony. According to the report’s key findings:

  • 95% of gamers use YouTube online video for entertainment and information.
  • The YouTube viewership among gamers of user-generated content outstrips the owned (i.e., official company sites) and paid (i.e., advertising/marketing) media by a whopping 19 to 1. Basically, gamers love to watch other gamers play, and talk about playing games, on YouTube.
  • YouTube shows no signs of slowing down as a paid-media platform for video advertising. Platform revenues jumped 50 percent in 2013, to $5.6 billion.

Samsung Getting Out Of Mobile Music

Samsung has notified smartphone users that it will shut down its Samsung Hub Music mobile service on July 1. The service came as part of a group of online entertainment services and other tools that Samsung provides on its flagship Galaxy S4/S5 and other smartphones, but it’s not clear if it ever attracted much in the way of an audience in the face of stout competition from other online music and audio providers such as Spotify, along with services from Google and Apple with much broader reach beyond Samsung devices. What users the Hub service has had will have until month’s end to transfer their music purchases and redeem any vouchers for more music. The good news is the tunes aren’t locked into any copyright-protection scheme, so transferring the music shouldn’t be a huge headache. In the Hub’s place, Samsung is offering three free months of the Google Play Music service, or Milk Music, a free radio service from the online music site Slacker.

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