TiVo has a special relationship with the International CES. In 1999, the company helped to popularize the reputation of what was then known as the Consumer Electronics Show as a showcase for cutting-edge technology when it introduced visitors to the DVR. The device promised to revolutionize television by divorcing TV viewing from the network-dictated timetable, and empowering people to skip over ads. Now about half of all homes have a DVR, and TiVo CEO Tom Rogers is navigating his company through new changes in technology and business that will even more dramatically change where and how people watch TV. Deadline caught up with him at the Las Vegas confab this week to see what forecasts about the medium are real — and which ones are just hype. Here are his thoughts, edited for length and clarity.
DEADLINE: People at CES always sound enthusiastic about the state of TV. You have a different view.
ROGERS: If you walk out on the floor of the Consumer Electronics Show you’re hit by everything that’s cool about the future of television. The reality is that television is still playing total catch-up and is behind the eight-ball compared to where music is to the consumer. What happened to music is that the industry got crushed. But what came out of that was a consumer model where you can get anything out there and get it in streaming form or downloadable form, to any device in an aggragated form, a la carte, personalized. Really, it’s a wonderful model for the consumer. And television is not there. Read More »
“We’re ending contracts forever, for everybody,” T-Mobile CEO John Legere said today in one of the most widely watched — as well as funniest — announcements at the International CES confab. The No. 4 mobile phone provider says it will pay early-termination fees of up to $350 per line for up to five lines, and offer as much as $300 credit for the customer’s phone. This is Legere’s latest effort to rock the mobile industry which, he says, “blows. It’s just broken.” Earlier this week AT&T had security escort Legere out of a company party at CES where rapper Macklemore was performing. (“I’m not sh*tting you. I just love Macklemore,” Legere says.) The T-Mobile chief has targeted AT&T, whose plan to buy the smaller company was thwarted in 2011 when the Justice Department raised antitrust objections. Last week AT&T pre-emptively said it will offer T-Mobile customers up to $450 to switch. Legere says he’s unfazed: “AT&T is a total source of amusement for me… . AT&T takes my bullsh*t.” Read More »
The names of the new investors are at least as important as the dollar amount, which Aereo says it will use to finance its expansion. Gordon Crawford has a gold-plated reputation among media investors: In his 41 years at Capital Research and Management, prior to his retirement in 2012, he helped to propel the growth of the pay TV industry with investments in companies including Time Warner, Liberty Media, News Corp, Comcast and DirecTV. He also played a major role in the development of Disney and Lionsgate — and, to his regret, the combination of AOL and Time Warner, which he helped to unwind when the merger soured. In the Series C funding, Crawford will be joined by China’s Himalaya Capital Management founded by Li Lu, a leader in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. (Michael Apted made a documentary of Lu’s memoir Moving The Mountain: My Life In China.) “Aereo experienced tremendous growth in 2013, and we expect 2014 to be another blockbuster year,” says Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia, who will discuss his company’s progress tomorrow at the International CES confab. The new investors join existing backers led by Barry Diller’s IAC, Highland Capital Partners, and FirstMark Capital. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide this month whether to rule on a claim by major broadcasters that Aereo infringes on their copyrights by streaming their over-the-air signals without compensation. The company says that it simply … Read More »
Katie Couric, Summly founder Nick D’Aloisio, former New York Times tech writer David Pogue, SNL‘s Cecily Strong and Kenan Thompson, and musician John Legend joined the Yahoo CEO at her International CES keynote to tout the company’s info and entertainment offerings. “Media has long been one of Yahoo’s key strengths,” Marissa Mayer says. Couric — the recently named Global Anchor, who’s celebrating her birthday — lamented that in the digital age “at times accuracy has been a casualty of immediacy.” She vowed to uphold “core values of old-fashioned journalism” in her interviews with “anyone who we believe has an important and interesting story to tell.” D’Aloisio charted a slightly different course as he announced the Yahoo News Digest. The iPhone and iPod Touch app will provide users with two daily news summaries created from multiple sources that will be “comprehensive, effortless and complete.” Mayer also introduced Yahoo Digital Magazines, beginning with Yahoo Food promising ”immersive, bite-sized content” (was her word play intentional?) and Pogue’s Yahoo Tech. The gadget critic shouted through his presentation, during which he vowed to present tech news for ordinary people. The magazine will cover subjects that concern 85% of the population. “We have a language we’re going to speak and it’s called English” — he intends to dispense with jargon terms such as “form factor,” “price point,” and “content.” Read More »
Kazuo Hirai‘s keynote presentation at the International CES started slow but finished with a passionate call to arms that should resonate loudest at his own company. The CEO acknowledged that Sony has had a string of technological misfires — including its Betamax video recorder — in addition to successes such as the Walkman, compact disc, and PlayStation game consoles. “In an enterprise that makes things, we first must make that connection with people,” he says. And while “we’ve started to deliver that ‘wow’ again,” he added that Sony and the consumer electronics industry “can and must do better” by eschewing “just good enough products…These products must be fantastic objects of engagement.” He touted the advent of 4K television sets, and audio devices that deliver more nuanced reproductions than people typically hear when they listen to MP3s. “An entire generation missed that experience of listening to uncompressed audio…what the artist intended,” he says. Hirai also likes his company’s new cameras. Sensors are so sensitive that users can change the focus and depth enhancement of a photograph after it’s taken. Medical professionals also can use the sensors to evaluate someone’s skin, or determine the amount of oxygen and sugar pulsing through a blood vessel.
Related: CES: Sony To Introduce Cloud-Based Live And VOD TV Service
This would appear to be the potentially revolutionary virtual pay TV service that’s been widely anticipated by the media elite. Sony Computer Entertainment Group CEO Andrew House told the International CES confab that the Sony Entertainment Network will be introduced as a “new cloud based service in U.S. this year” and it will include the “most popular live TV programs combined with a large library of VOD content” — although he offered no specifics. It will have “an intuitive and dynamic interface that gets to know you.” Users won’t need multiple boxes, and can view across devices. They also can harness social media connections and their own viewing history to help discover new shows. House — given a segment to talk during Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai’s keynote — says that Sony “will make TV a more personalized and dynamic service” adding that “no other company is better poised to lead the TV revolution than Sony.” The big question is whether Sony will be able to offer pay TV channels apart from the conventional cable and satellite bundles. If it can, then the service might promote cord-cutting — which could upend economic assumptions for traditional media companies.
Related: CES: Sony CEO Calls For An End To “Just Good Enough” Tech Products
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Will television become more friend than foe for movie theaters? This announcement from Fandango at the International CES confab could help. The NBCUniversal-owned ticketing service says that by the end of March it will begin to offer movie trailers and what it calls “fully-embedded ticketing capabilities” for Samsung‘s Smart TVs. Consumers will be able to scroll through options and make their transactions on the Movies & TV Shows panel. “Fandango will be aggregating high definition movie trailers so that consumers can gain instant access to the content they love while offering a simple way to purchase movie tickets in advance,” says Fandango President Paul Yanover. The companies have experience together: In September Samsung included Fandango’s movie preview show Weekend Ticket in the content recommendation service for its Galaxy Note 3 devices. Also, yesterday NBCU parent Comcast said that it will feed 4K content to Samsung’s new Ultra HD TV sets.
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich made the most of his first appearance as International CES‘ lead keynote speaker — the gee-whiz presentation. Saying that we’re entering “a new era of computing,” he introduced several intriguing devices that he promised will all be available this year. He also brought up DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg to talk up the value of enhanced computing power for moviemaking. But most significantly, he announced that Intel’s new processors will no longer include minerals from mines in the Congo that have been at the center of fighting there that has resulted in millions of deaths, making it the deadliest war since World War II. “Every microprocessor will be conflict-free,” he says. Read More »
UPDATE, 4:25 PM: Michael Bay has taken to his blog to talk about walking offstage during a Samsung presentation at the CES confab today in Las Vegas. “Wow! I just embarrassed myself at CES – I was about to speak for Samsung for this awesome Curved 105-inch UHD TV. I rarely lend my name to any products, but this one is just stellar. I got so excited to talk, that I skipped over the Exec VP’s intro line and then the teleprompter got lost. Then the prompter went up and down – then I walked off. I guess live shows aren’t my thing. But I’m doing a special curved screen experience with Samsung and Transformers 4 footage that will be traveling around the world,” he wrote.
PREVIOUS, 2:40 PM: An embarrassing moment for the Transformers director at Samsung’s packed-house presentation at the International CES confab. Brought on stage by EVP Joe Stinziano to discuss 4K TV, Michael Bay said that his job as a director is to create environments where viewers can escape reality. But after a few moments of pauses he said that the script on teleprompter was out of sync. Encouraged by Stinziano, he tried to wing it. But shortly after, Bay apologized and walked off the stage. “Welcome to Vegas, it’s live shows, folks,” the exec said as he continued the presentation.
The satellite company’s Hopper DVR ”has evolved from a plain old set top box to….the hub of the electronic home” — and soon will monitor and automate household functions — Dish Network CEO Joseph Clayton said today at the International CES confab. Dish used the platform to unveil several enhancements including an ability to record eight shows at once (if as many as four are major broadcasters), and watch four simultaneously. Users also can download programming to mobile devices, and integrate Hopper services with Sony’s PlayStation 3 and 4 models as well as with certain LG TV sets and Amazon’s Kindle Fires. Hopper apps already work with Android and Apple devices. The beefed up Hoppers likely will further infuriate broadcasters who are suing Dish, alleging that the DVRs breach copyrights with their ability to automatically skip over ads in recorded programs. (Dish says consumers already can zap ads with their remote controls.) The company says that improvements in the Hopper’s Sling technology will enable users to stream live and recorded shows, including with the ad skipping capability, both inside and outside the home. Many programmers want distributors to pay extra for those TV Everywhere capabilities. The Sony game consoles and LG TVs will be able to integrate with the Hopper wirelessly via an app as long as they’re on the same wifi network. The iPad app also now will be able to respond to voice commands to find … Read More »
Beginning this fall you won’t need a Roku box to watch the company’s video streams on your TV set the company said today at the International CES confab. It introduced Roku TV, which will embed the company’s software into TV sets made by China’s TCL and Hisense. The development means that “the content community will gain additional distribution and revenues through an already popular and trusted streaming platform — now in the TV,” Roku CEO Anthony Wood says. Users will have a Roku home screen that, it says, “unifies all content sources in one place making it easy to watch live programming, stream a movie or listen to a song in just seconds.” The Roku Channel Store has more than 1,200 channels with 31,000 movies and TV shows as well as live programming which the company says includes “more options than all the other Smart TVs on the market.” Although Roku’s a consumer service, it’s pitching Roku TV to additional manufacturers. It will provide them with “software and support to build and maintain the best TV experience” and will “manage the entire software ecosystem” including software updates. The company also says that pricing for set with Roku TV “will be determined by the manufacturers.” Roku will continue to offer its box which competes with a slew of Web-connected devices including Google’s Chromecast and Apple TV.
In this week’s podcast, Deadline’s executive editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom preview the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show, which David L. will be covering in Las Vegas.
Among the big trends the Davids say we can expect from the mammoth show: big, big TVs showing ultra-high-definition “4K” images; new technology from Google to help transmit that high-bandwidth video to screens of all sizes; and what this all will mean for cable TV companies, telcos, satellite TV providers, theatrical exhibition and Hollywood itself.
They also look at other likely areas of focus at the show, and preview appearances by the CEOs of Sony, Yahoo! and Twitter, and possibly even a new CEO for Microsoft, which is back on the show floor after last year’s surprising absence.
Deadline Big Media podcast 66 (.MP3 version)
Deadline Big Media podcast 66 (.M4A version)
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The President and CEO of Sony Corp has had a busy year, so he’s ringing in 2014 in Las Vegas — by delivering the opening speech at CES on January 7, that is. Kazuo Hirai has spoken recently about plans to revitalize his company’s electronics business, so he’ll have plenty to talk about at the annual consumer tech show. Expect to hear more about Sony’s new 4K Ultra HD video download service and its recent deal to carry Viacom’s channels on the Internet-based TV service the Japanese conglomerate is working on. Hirai will speak in the Venetian’s Palazzo Ballroom after Consumer Electronics Association CEO Gary Shapiro’s State of the Industry Address. International CES runs through January 10.
Sony Introduces 4K Ultra HD Video Download Service
Sony Plans Investor Meeting To Discuss Entertainment Businesses
Could A Viacom-Sony Deal Lead Cablers To Raise Prices For Streaming?
Aereo is a mouse of a company, but it’s frightening a lot of Big Media elephants. After launching in New York nearly a year ago, the service — which streams broadcasters’ over-the-air signals to subscribers who typically pay $8 a month — just announced an ambitious plan to expand to 22 additional cities this year with $38M in Series B funding led by Barry Diller’s IAC and Highland Capital Partners. It’s also beginning to move beyond broadcast: Founder and CEO Chet Kanojia is talking to pay TV channels and Hollywood studios about contributing to Aereo’s programming.
That worries virtually every major broadcaster: Networks and stations don’t receive a dime from Aereo and have sued, alleging that it violates their copyrights. If Aereo wins, then pay TV providers may be emboldened to reject broadcasters’ demands for rising retransmission consent fees — one of the fastest growing sources of revenues for station owners including ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. Aereo says that it’s perfectly legal to lease over-the-air antennas and add DVR-like capabilities to record shows, fast-forward and rewind.
I caught up with Kanojia last week at the International CES show in Las Vegas. Here’s our conversation, edited for length and clarity:
DEADLINE: You’re adding 22 cities this year. Is that it for now?
CHET KANOJIA: That’s Phase 1. That’ll hopefully keep us busy through the summer.
DEADLINE: And then?
KANOJIA: Then we’ll do more. We hope to do all the major markets as soon as we can. I think of 2013 and 2014 as build years for us. A lot of infrastructure build-out, get the customer adoption going, get the message right. That gives us a base to move to the next level. The next level may include digital programming, new channels, and who knows what.
DEADLINE: New channels, such as what? Read More »
UPDATE, 11:53 AM: CBS has a response of sorts to the charge by former CNET media writer Greg Sandoval that it compromised the site’s integrity by refusing to let editors present a “Best of CES” award to Dish Network’s ad-zapping Hopper with Sling DVR. The company distinguishes the award from “covering actual news” where, it says, “CNET maintains 100% editorial independence, and always will.” As for the Dish matter: CBS says it “has been consistent on this situation from the beginning.” It considers this ”an isolated and unique incident” involving “a product that has been challenged as illegal” by CBS “and nearly every other major media company as well.” The company says it “has nothing but the highest regard for the editors and writers at CNET” and looks forward “to the site building on its reputation of good journalism in the years to come.”
PREVIOUS, 10:27 AM: Respected media and digital entertainment writer Greg Sandoval tweets this morning that he left because he’s no longer confident that CBS “is committed to editorial independence” and he wants “to be known as an honest reporter.” At issue is the … Read More »
“While unsettling, this is sometimes necessary,” Dish Network‘s Joe Clayton said at an International CES presentation to unveil his company’s new DVR and mobile viewing technology. With his company’s programming costs growing at double-digit rates, “we as an industry are rapidly approaching a tipping point. How many customers are willing to pay over $100 a month for video content? I don’t know. But we’ll soon see.” Clayton also chided broadcasters who sued his company last year after it introduced its Hopper DVR with a feature that automatically jumps past ads in recorded shows. If it’s a crime to jump past ads then “I guess we’re just a nation of outlaws,” he says. But his address was primarily designed to introduce an updated DVR: Hopper with Sling. It likely will also irk programmers by transmitting their shows — both live and recorded on the DVR — to users’ mobile devices. It also can transfer shows to iPads. The company plans what it calls a “massive” marketing campaign that says Hopper with Sling redefines the in-home and out-of-home viewing experience.
This surprised me. Samsung said at the International CES confab today that its new OLED TV sets make it possible for two people to watch different shows on the same screen at the same time. The company pulls off that trick when viewers wear special glasses, with earbuds, that isolate the program that the viewer wants. It seems the OLED models can handle all of those moving images because the screens refresh 1,000 times faster than conventional HDTV screens. The company says it will show that off in addition to a voice command feature it calls S-Recommendation: Users can use natural language to ask for different programming characteristics, for example an actor they like, and the TV set will offer suggestions based on what’s available on conventional TV, online, and on the DVR. Recommendations will adapt to a user’s tastes over time. Read More »
That’s good news for makers of multi-function devices led by computers, smartphones, tablets, and HDTVs — but potentially worrisome for makers of, say, Blu-ray players — consulting firm Accenture says this morning based on its latest annual Global Consumer Electronics Products and Services Usage Report. The study, released in conjunction with the International CES confab getting underway in Las Vegas, is based on a September 2012 survey of 11,000 consumers in 11 countries. It found sharp increases in plans to buy the four leading multi-function devices while buyer enthusiasm cooled slightly for disc players, and was unchanged for digital photo and video cameras, and game consoles. “This development amounts to a call to action for electronics manufacturers,” says Mattias Lewren, managing director for Accenture’s Electronics and High-Tech industry group. “They need to focus squarely on innovative devices with multiple applications, from browsing to media consumption to communications in various settings. Consumers want ‘do-it-all’ capabilities in various sizes and user experiences that fit their different lifestyle needs.” But people don’t appear to be especially loyal to operating systems that tie devices together. About two-thirds of the people surveyed said that they would buy mobile or computing devices that use different systems; they’re more interested in whether a device is innovative or easy to use. “The platforms that offer a more intuitive user experience, and diverse and sticky applications with compatibility across devices, will be key to creating consumer loyalty in this four-horse race,” Lewren says. Read More »
The PGA today confirmed the dates for its annual Produced By Conference — June 8-10, 2012 on Sony Pictures’ Culver City studio lot — and announced a new presenting sponsor: the International CES convention, which is produced by the Consumer Electronics Association. That partnership replaces a previous tie-up between the PGA and the Association of Film Commissioners’ International Locations Trade Show; back in June, the PGA conference and trade show were held simultaneously at Walt Disney Studios. The sponsorship deal is part of push for CES’ “Entertainment Matters” program, which aims to bring together content and tech companies at the annual Las Vegas mega-gathering, which is set for January 10-13.
The Produced By Conference is an industry forum that spans film, TV and new media and features panels with top producers, filmmakers and actors. Proceeds from the event, which drew more than 2,200 attendees this past year, are reinvested into guild member services.