CES

2015 - Day 1

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80 | 2015 INTERNATIONAL CES DAILY | JANUARY 6-9, 2015 CESWEB.ORG #CES2015 BY GEORGE WINSLOW W ith media companies struggling to keep up with rapidly changing consumer electronics trends and dramatic increas- es in the viewing of video on Internet-connected de- vices, the International CES show has morphed into a must-attend event for top TV technologists and dig- ital executives, who will be eyeing an every widen- ing array of products on display January 6-9 in Las Vegas. Some obvious areas of interest are new TVs, streaming media devices, 4K production technolo- gies and developments in the mobile world. But the two dozen executives interviewed by B&C also say they'll be paying close attention to things like wear- ables, which probably won't have much of an impact on their businesses for several years. "The thing I'm most interested in looking for is the expansion of video on alternative devices, whether its phones, watches or what have you," said Vito For- lenza, senior director of TV Everywhere content and product strategy at Comcast Cable. "So we're always watching for new ways for people to consume video at home or on the go." Matthew Strauss, senior VP and GM of video ser- vices for Comcast Cable agrees. "You could say that a TV is now a piece of glass and any device that can securely render TV," he said. "When you approach it that way, a computer, a laptop, a mobile device, a tab- let becomes a TV where we can deliver the full cable TV experience." As competition for online and mobile audienc- es heats up, new features on these connected devic- es are particularly important, others say. "We be- lieve we have the most innovative shows on TV so we want to provide the most innovative experience of consuming that content," said David Wertheimer, president of digital at Fox Broadcasting Company, which has seen over 16 million downloads of its Fox Now app. "The hardest part is deciding which platforms we have to say no to," he adds. "There are a lot of them that look amazing but the audience potential is pret- ty low. So you have to be strategic about it." In those device strategies, connected TVs are get- ting more attention. "We were an early partner of Watching Gadgets For Now & Tomorrow Google TV," said Jimshade Chaudhari, Dish director of product management. "It seems like Android TV will be their next attempt and we'll be looking close- ly at the Android TV platform." Others agree. "Google TV was a botched attempt by Google to get into the TV business but I think the latest version is really fascinating," said Josh Cogswell senior VP of multiplatform product at Viacom, who said he'll also be looking closely at streaming media devices and gaming consoles. Future Stock Widespread adoption of 4K by broadcasters and cable networks is probably years away, but Chaud- hari said Dish will be closely monitoring UltraHD developments, particularly in declining set prices that might boost penetration. A number of programmers say they'll be looking at 4K production technologies. "We will be taking a close look at cameras and acquisition technologies," particularly smaller 4K cameras, said John Honeyc- utt, chief technology off cer at Discovery Communi- cations, who said he will also be paying attention to technologies that simplify multiplatform distribu- tion, big data tools, recommendation engines and software for tracking eye movements so they can bet- ter understand how users consume media. Tools to improve recommendation engines and the user interface will be particularly important for the TV industry as it battles competition from over- the-top providers, said Matt Murphy, senior VP, dig- ital video distribution at Disney and ESPN Media Networks. "Today, the experience of the apps on Roku and Apple TV are also very compelling," he said "It is im- perative for the MVPDs that they continue to im- prove their offers so they are offering the same if not better experiences than the ones consumers are al- ready getting on these over-the-top apps." Still More Mobile Connected devices of all types will be a major fo- cus for CBS, which has recently launched two new over-the-top products. "It seems like every year for the past seven has been the year of mobile," quips Marc DeBevoise, executive VP and GM of entertain- ment, news and sports at CBS Interactive, who adds that that devices are now "really ubiquitous." Beyond mobile, DeBevoise said the next big trend is in the area of streaming media devices, where pric- es have been falling and a number of new devices such as Amazon Fire have been launched. "You have a real battle for the living room," he said. "There has been a lot more competition there in the last 12 months," said Julia Veale senior VP of business and product development and management for the Showtime Anytime offerings at Showtime. "I have a feeling that will continue until there are some winners and losers." These devices also open up some opportunities for improving search capabilities, said Dish's Chaud- hari. "Amazon Fire does a great job of integrating voice capabilities so that searching isn't as diff cult," he said. To help streamline the process of delivering this content, a number of tech f rms, operators and pro- grammers, including Comcast, Charter and the Fox Networks Group launched the Streaming Video Alli- ance in November, say Chris Knowlton, VP of Wow- za Media Systems, which is a founding member of the group. As much as possible, the group would like to make the processes for delivering content to multi- ple platforms much more eff cient and standardized. "If traff c doubles or triples over the next f ve years as many are predicting, the infrastructure needs to be optimized to handle that," Knowlton said. "The hardest part is deciding which platforms we have to say no to. There are a lot of them that look amazing but the audience potential is pretty low. So you have to be strategic about it." — DAVID WERTHEIMER, FOX BROADCASTING COMPANY

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