Devices could aid in kudos tracking, protection

Will box boom spell biz bust?

The emerging array of set-top boxes has attracted the interest of some orgs that aren’t normally associated with so-called over-the-top video.

One company, Aurora, has been making the rounds in Hollywood, pitching its CineStreem Pro box to studios, the guilds and even the Motion Picture Academy.

Such orgs may seem like unlikely buyers for set-top boxes, but studios have to send out vast amounts of dailies, and might be happy to do that via the kind of streaming video such set-tops enable — if the quality and security are good enough.

Likewise, any org that hands out awards typically finds its members inundated with screeners. Streaming video would reduce clutter, shipping costs and even piracy. It would let members vote even when they live or work in a location that doesn’t allow easy access to Academy screenings.

Aurora’s box also could provide a way to track viewing by org voters. That would streamline voting for the Oscars, for example, on ballots that require proof the member has seen certain pics.

“It’s probably inevitable that in a year, two years, that screeners won’t be delivered on DVDs but by some other means, the Acad’s Ric Robertson tells Variety.

“Encouraging our members to see the films theatrically is of prime importance to us,” adds Robertson, who nonetheless allows that screeners — on disc or some other form — “are here to stay.”

Robertson says the Acad is talking to several set-top box makers, but hasn’t settled on any one. “The studios and the other film companies are the ones that are really going to have to embrace it,” he says.

SAG declined to discuss the issue, since it’s in the midst of labor negotiations. AFTRA, which doesn’t have awards, hasn’t pursued the topic.

The CineStreem Pro is touting its simple setup and even simpler security features, one of which relates to the fact that there is no storage in the box; since nothing is downloaded, there’s no file on the box to steal.

With screener piracy already a problem, that’s a red-carpet inducement to switch to screener delivery via set-top box.

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