The Consumer Electronics Show might as well be called the Connected Everything Show, with autos, smart appliances, health monitors, home-security systems and, yes, the good old TV all playing parts in enabling a digital lifestyle. “The Internet of everything” was how Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs put it, envisioning a chip-ubiquitous future.
The topic was supposed to be “The Future of Television” at a Thursday panel, but if this discussion is any indication, the future of TV is all about the second screen.
The FCC wants to do it in 2014 and some involved say that’s possible, but others claim there are too many complications and details that must be worked out to make sure the very complicated process goes smoothly. FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell told a CES audience: “So, while I hope it’s 2014 … folks just need to realistically understand that history tells us that these things can take longer than you hope or expect, especially when you have literally the most complicated spectrum auction in world history.”
According to Verizon’s Eric Bruno, bundling, rather than a la carte channel purchasing, works because consumers like it. “People know what they don’t want,” he said, “they don’t necessarily know what they do.” For cable and satellite providers facing rising programming fees, there’s also a growing threat from online distributors.
Trouble getting a good wifi connection? Hang in there. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said the agency will open up a new proceeding next month to free up more spectrum for WiFi. The initiative is expected to increase the amount of spectrum available for WiFi by 35% in places like airports and conferences when large numbers of people are accessing mobile networks at the same time.
It looks like networks may have some new, unexpected inventory to sell: their Twitter feeds. The Associated Press and Samsung appear to have established a template this week, where a network could place ads atop their own pages as well as feeds for individual shows, which would seem to be more coveted by advertisers.
The idea is to make TV watching easier and more pleasant as viewers are confronted with more and more choices — from the hundreds of live TV channels from the cable or satellite provider to online video services such as Netflix Inc., Hulu and Apple’s iTunes. A traditional remote control that lets you flip through channels one at a time suddenly seems inadequate.
The Consumer Electronics Show officially kicked off this morning and already pay TV and content providers have announced some new toys, services and tactics.
Roku today struck its first deals with a U.S. multichannel distributor and broadcast network. Time Warner Cable will make live simulcasts of as many as 300 linear channels to those who subscribe to both its video and data plans in addition to owning Roku boxes. Separately, Fox will make next-day access to episodes of its primetime series available on the streaming device to users who can authenticate their subscriptions with participating pay TV providers.
The transition of the smartphone from a phone to a device hub, more sensors in devices and the increasing importance of personal data are just some of what’s on tap in Las Vegas.
As the annual Consumer Electronics Show gets underway in Las Vegas, the focus is on big screens with ultra-high resolution as well as the growing adoption of tablets as viewing options.