This year's CES conference was big - very big. With over 1.8 million square feet of exhibits, there is so much to see that any attempt to abstract all the trends and their impact to the Media and Entertainment industry is bound to be incomplete. With that disclaimer out of the way, I plan to highlight some of the announcements that I believe have the most potential to be disruptive to our industry.
Online content distribution was very popular this year. A couple of the more popular announcements are summarized below.
The Roku Stick: Today, it is estimated that there are 17M TVs that have access to web-based content. Roku, having sold 3M units which enable this technology, is a popular choice for those who want to connect to NetFlix, Hulu Plus and other services available on the Roku platform. Announced at CES this year was the Roku Stick - which is a simpler, lower cost Roku product likely to lead more consumers into the streaming on your TV experience. View a quick commentary here:
Ubuntu TV: Open source competition for Apple and Google TV. While free to use, Ubuntu's parent plans to license this platform to consumer device manufacturers. You can see the demo here:
GoogleTV v2: LG, Vizio, and Samsung all announced plans to build sets with GoogleTV pre-integrated. While the first version of GoogleTV was considered by many to be dead on arrival, the newest version is receiving much improved accolades by the press and device manufacturers. Google also announced that it plans to integrate with OnLive, which is an online gaming service. Google has an interactive demonstration of the service available here: http://www.google.com/tv/
Mobile Apps from Content Producers and 'Channelization': In a separate category from the online distribution platforms, many content producers announced apps which complement the traditional distribution experience provided by MSOs (cable, telco, and satellite providers). Showtime announced a new app, which follows a path previously cut by HBO with their HBO Go app available on the Apple and Google app marketplaces. I was lucky to catch Jon Miller, our COO, speak about the channelization of content online. The Showtime app is a premium content example of this trend. The LA Times did a good job summarizing his speech and what channelization means:
"Clearly, YouTube is trying to drive that in a big way.... Essentially, it means programming that is sequential that you can keep viewing. You have a passive viewing experience". "You turn it on and it runs. It has continuity, as opposed to watching a three-minute video. It stops, and you sit there."
This is certainly an accurate observation, though it is playing out slightly different in the independent space (eg. Revision 3) than it is with traditional content producers (eg. ShowTime) who must consider their MSO relationships. More thoughts on that distinction and specific opportunities can be found in a seperate blog post here.
To briefly summarize this post, there are many opportunities for content producers. Examples include:
1. Traditional distribution (via MSOs) where content producers can increase the consumer value proposition and reduce churn of existing premium/pay customers. The ShowTime and HBO apps are excellent examples.
2. Over the top distribution opportunities via platforms such as Roku, Google TV, proprietary Smart TVs (see Smart TV picture below), and other connected platforms. The shortage of premium content on these services opens the door for the development of new types content tailored to the online experience (see WSJ Live picture below) as well as monetization of existing content (rights permitting). Some market trends and statistics detailing the opportunity can be found in this Nielsen infographic.
Smart TV (directly integrated in Samsung TV):
WSJ Live (available as app):