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CinemaNow Launches DTS-HD Content

Calabasas, Calif. – Advanced home theater technologies developer DTS, CE maker Samsung Electronics and the Best Buy-owned media streaming service CinemaNow have partnered to deliver the first multi-channel DTS-HD audio soundtracks to accompany streaming HD media titles, company executives said Tuesday.

Under the plan Best Buy’s CinemaNow, which is enabled by Rovi’s cloud streaming technology, will begin offering the DTS-Express encoded movies in its menu system along with the versions available today for other equipment brands and capabilities.

CinemaNow will launch with approximately 4,000 such titles encoded for titles from virtually every studio now available on CinemaNow. The number of titles is planned to continue growing over time.

The HD video quality of the content that runs along with the DTS-Express soundtracks will remain the same as the HD video available through the service today.

“This is really about allowing consumers to upgrade and differentiate their audio service as surround becomes more important,” said Brian Towne, DTS executive VP and COO.

The DTS-enhanced media offerings are not expected to cost any more than those available now in other formats, Towne said, but CinemaNow will have the leverage to adjust that.

The first products enabled to carry the new media will be Samsung smart TVs, which will receive software updates. The first [on-board] products will start coming out of the factories in May, he added.

The first Samsung Blu-ray Disc players carrying the enhanced CinemaNow DTS-Express movies and programs will arrive later this year.

Towne said “team executives said that the chief task at CinemaNow and its cloud services technology provider Rovi over the last two years was to prove the [CinemaNow HD streaming] system could work. Now the mission has shifted to differentiating the service.

“That’s really [DTS’s] opportunity,” Towne continued. “Our long history has been about being the premium alternative and the high-end brand. We had that place in DVD and leveraged it from DVD into Blu-ray.”

The DTS-HD moniker covers a number of encoding technologies, including DTS Express, which will launch as the coded for the new service.

DTS Express is a low-bit-rate multichannel audio codec that can be efficiently streamed over the internet. It is also used as a secondary audio channel on Blu-ray Discs.

“It’s a well-proven codec in the marketplace,” Towne explained. “We do have interest from people to over time provide full lossless [encoding – like DTS-HD Master Audio], but it is certainly possible.”

DTS said it is aggressively working with Rovi to expand its partnerships for other streaming service storefronts.  

Regarding hardware, Towne said he expects other brands to join Samsung in making the new offering available on their hardware devices.

“We are working with all major CE vendors,” Towne said. “We license to virtually everyone in the PC/TV/CE/automotive spaces.”

DTS audio soundtracks are currently available as the primary soundtrack on 80 percent of Blu-ray Disc titles in the marketplace, DTS said.

“DTS is the leading audio provider for what is the high definition entertainment reference benchmark today – Blu-ray,” Towne said. “The team feels that as things transition over time – and we think it will be a long tail from optical disc to in-the-cloud – consumers are going to come to expect the same quality as what is found today on Blu-ray Discs.”