@CES: Economics, connectivity changing the nature of TV

Fri, 01/07/2011 - 7:50am
Craig Kuhl, Contributing Editor

LAS VEGAS – After Sony's CES announcement that its Bravia HDTVs will enable direct access to Time Warner Cable VOD – minus the set-top box – it was only appropriate that the session immediately following was "In search of TV's next big thing."

Panelists future-casted about emerging technologies and platforms that will have an impact both technologically and economically on service providers and customers.

"We're all looking at what is the next big thing. Clearly its higher value content and functionality in the screen. We're also seeing lots of opportunities for new TV set designs to bring value," said Peter Bocko, CTO for Corning Glass Technologies at Corning Inc.

Not surprisingly, panelists also looked to connected TVs as a source of increased revenues and value.

"Connected TVs continue to trend up. Fifty percent of TV product lines are connected, and enhancing broadcast TV and interactive advertising with connectivity is key, with the enhancements being done through the TV," said Ron Jacoby, senior director and chief architect for connected TV at Yahoo.

There were some questions from panelists about just what TV is. Or is it even TV at all?

"We learned TV isn't TV anymore. It's much bigger. It's not one device, but all the screens for the experience. Connectivity is actually happening," said Brian David Johnson, consumer experience architect for Intel.

What's also happening, says Edgar Villalpando, senior vice president of marketing at ActiveVideo, is cloud-based TV sets.

"It's like an iPad and TV. We took the brains out of the set-top box and put it into the cloud. We made the screen dumber, but the experience is smarter."

And smarter was the operative word during the panel "Video anytime, anywhere: Video across platforms – television, Internet and mobile – understanding the value proposition."

"Multi-platform growth allows us to understand our consumers. We see platforms as a potential to drive customers back to linear products. We're getting clear on how to monetize those platforms," said Melody Tan, senior vice president of strategy and business operations for MTV Networks.

There's still some clarity needed, however, according to Louisa Shipnuck, managing principal of the media and entertainment industry for Verizon Business.

"We have very tech-savvy groups of consumers, and the complications are scalability and cost-efficiencies," she said.

Reducing those complications and easing the shift to Internet services and connected TVs was the top of mind issue at "It's a TV. It's a computer. No, it's a ... panel."

Among the complications is search and discovery. "A portal is far more important than a grid. It's far more relevant than an old guide, and TV manufacturers as yet have not put them into TVs. People want to find content of interest to them," said Richard Bullwinkle, corporate strategy at Rovi Corp.

They're also finding value in smartphones and the dizzying number of applications available to them. And TV is next, concluded Vincent Dureau, head of TV technology for Google.

"Today, with smartphones getting better every day, people are thinking of more things to do with them. Innovation with TVs will be the same."


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