Video Expected to Be Biggest Star at CES

Annual consumer electronics gathering continues UHD, online video push
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LAS VEGAS—Big screens will again proliferate at the 2015 International CES, Jan. 6–9, but not with the “mine-is-bigger” frenzy of recent years, according to analysts who expect that the 4K ultra high definition TV juggernaut will be the most visible display technology on the floor.

Many exhibitors at the annual consumer electronics extravaganza—including Sharp, LG and Samsung—are expected to showcase their early-stage 8K display technologies, although they will temper expectations for the format, which is still at least four to six years away from the marketplace. The biggest-screen, most futuristic technology displays and discussions may take place in private suites, as vendors and high-ranking decisionmakers scope out futuristic technologies for room-size video displays, according to one expert who declined to share details about such projects.

For the rest of us at CES (at least 150,000), the focus will be on 4K, with TV makers also featuring updated versions of curved TV screens and organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays. A major emphasis is expected to drift toward Internet-connected (“smart”) TVs, while the underlying context at CES will turn to the integration of content for technology platforms, second screen developments, diverse interfaces, the “Internet of Things” (IoT) and the role of cloud distribution.

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Karen Chupka, senior vice president-International CES and corporate business strategy, and CEA
President Gary Shapiro unveiled plans for the 2015 International CES during a presentation in New
York last month.

MORE CONTENT FOR MORE SCREENS
About a quarter of the 36 conference tracks and programs (each with multiple sessions) will deal with video, media and communications topics, including the 2nd Screen Summit, Digital Hollywood and the annual IEEE International Conference on Consumer Electronics, plus conferences on smart homes, broadband and wireless technology.

CES’s roster of CEO keynoters includes CBS’s Les Moonves, Comcast Cable’s Neil Smit, Cisco’s John Chambers, Intel’s Brian Krzanich, and Samsung Consumer Electronics’ Boo-Keun Yoon, in addition to CEOs from Ford and Daimler AG (Mercedes-Benz).

The 3,500 exhibitors (about the same number as last year) can expect “more than 150,000 attendees,” according to Karen Chupka, senior vice president-International CES and corporate business strategy, who oversees the event for the Consumer Electronics Association, which produces the show. She says that the 2014 audited turnout of 160,498 was an unexpected “big surprise,” but she declined to predict whether the rebounding economy and the proliferation of new electronics categories would push attendance at the 2015 show even higher.

Keeping her eye on 4K, Chupka said, “We expect to see more playback devices for UHD,” including “backbone technologies.” She cited the growing role of 4K in content streaming services.

In that vein, Sony is also expected to offer more details about its “PlayStation Vue” online TV service, scheduled to debut next spring with about 75 channels of TV shows, movies and other video content. Vue, which will initially use Sony’s PS3 and PS4 game consoles as a broadband receiver, has so far identified its program line-up to include broadcast and cable channels such as CBS, Fox, NBC, Discovery, National Geographic, Oxygen, Sprout, Syfy, HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel, Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon.

The Sony booth may also offer harbingers of other industry directions. With the company’s November announcement that it will slash its TV and mobile phone product lineup, Sony’s booth is expected to offer hints about how it will pursue other categories, including its PlayStation and image sensor lines of business as well as movie and TV production.

Veteran CES attendees will encounter several logistic and linguistic revisions, starting with the names of the two major venues: “Tech East” is the new name for the Las Vegas Convention Center, which was expanded less than a decade ago to handle supersized trade shows such as CES. Now that CES has outgrown that expansion, it is formally setting up “Tech West” on the combined turf at the Venetian Hotel/Sands Expo Center. Although CES has been using that venue for several years, the “Tech West” location is now officially the site for about 20 percent of CES’s total exhibit floor space plus major keynote addresses and other events. In addition, a new conference track about advertising-related technologies is being held at the Aria Hotel, a bit farther down the Strip.

Meanwhile, CES has also adopted new names for clusters of exhibits previously called “TechZones” or pavilions. In 2015, these collections of small exhibits will be labeled “MarketPlaces.” About 20 such MarketPlace areas will focus on products in such categories as sports tech, high resolution audio, drones, 3D printing, streaming content and vehicle intelligence.

WASHINGTON IN VEGAS
CES is accelerating its focus on public policy and entertainment/advertising issues that affect TV’s future. As part of the “innovation” mantra that CEA promotes, many exhibits and conference sessions will deal with new creative ventures, including the “Eureka Park” start-up showcase plus auditions for ABC-TV’s “Shark Tank” investment show.

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Samsung and other major consumer electronics exhibitors are expected to debut new 4K/UHD products as well as explore the future viability of 8K.

For the first time ever, the chairmen and all commissioners from the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission will be on CES’s rostrums. CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro calls the line-up “a hotbed for the policy discussions that will set the agenda and impact the industry for the coming year and beyond.”

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will sit down for the annual on-stage chat with Shapiro on Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 7. They are expected to discuss spectrum issues, broadband and open Internet developments (including net neutrality), competition and other critical issues.

FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez will offer opening remarks on Tuesday prior to a session on “Privacy and the IoT: Navigating Policy Issues,” part of the show’s Innovation Policy conference track. CEA officials said they expect her remarks to “tee up a conversation exploring steps that manufacturers and policymakers can take to build consumer trust in devices and applications while preserving creativity and flexibility.”

Also participating in the Innovation Policy session will be FCC Commissioners Mignon Clyburn, Jessica Rosenworcel, Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly plus their FTC counterparts, Commissioners Julie Brill, Maureen Ohlhausen, Joshua Wright and Terrel McSweeny. They will hold an on-stage roundtable discussion about spectrum allocation, privacy, accessibility, the IoT and regulatory reform. They’ll also discuss how the FCC and FTC work together and separately to move policies forward.

There may be some ATSC 3.0 demonstrations and briefings conducted by firms that are members of the Advanced Television Systems Committee, according to ATSC President Mark Richer, but no details were available at press time.

The Pearl Mobile DTV Group, a partnership of major broadcasting group owners promoting the ATSC-M/H mobile DTV format, expects that many of its members will attend CES “to see the latest trends and developments in consumer TV technology, such as the growth of ‘smart TV.’” according to a Pearl spokesman, who called CES “a good prelude to the NAB Show” for broadcasters. He reiterated Pearl’s goal to find “innovative ways of promoting local broadcast TV content and developing digital media and wireless platforms for the broadcast industry,” with the acknowledgement that CES should offer plenty of fodder for such plans.

Neither Pearl, ONE Media (the Sinclair Broadcasting crossplatform initiative) nor ATSC are planning any formal gatherings during CES, according to leaders of each group contacted by TV Technology, although all the executives indicated that they will attend the event with their colleagues.

“Eureka Park,” the MarketPlace section at TechWest, will feature nearly 400 start-up companies—a number that is almost equal to the total number of entrepreneurial booths in that zone during its first three years. Many of the hopefuls will feature video technology, seeking to emulate the experience of Syncbak, the Internet TV technology that debuted in Eureka Park in 2012 and which recently scored a major deal with CBS.

THE ‘C SPACE’
With its growing effort to recruit Hollywood and Madison Avenue executives to attend CES, Chupka said she expects at least 29,000 attendees from studios, production and distribution firms (including TV networks) and advertising/marketing organizations to join the throngs in Las Vegas.

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The free 2015 international CES
mobile app is available from Google
Play (Android) or iTunes (iOS).

Catering to the interplay of digital and traditional marketing/advertising, CES is introducing a “C Space” program, with conferences and small exhibits at the Aria Hotel. C Space is intended “to elevate how content, creativity, technology and the consumer come together,” Chupka said.

CBS Corporation President and CEO Leslie Moonves will examine the evolution of hardware and software and how they enable dynamic content creation and distribution in his keynote for the “Brand Matters” conference on Jan. 7. Moonves will explore the impact that technological innovation has on today’s business paradigms; his presentation will be followed by a panel discussion among media and marketing executives about operating in a multiplatform ecosystem.

Bob Pittman, chairman and CEO of iHeartMedia Inc., will interview entertainment personality Ryan Seacrest at C Space on Wednesday. Among other “headline” presenters at C Space will be Neil Mohan, vice president of display and video advertising at Google, Scott Burke, senior vice president of advertising at Yahoo, and Paul Marobella, president of Havas Worldwide Chicago Group and head of data.

“Shark Tank,” the ABC-TV investment/ reality program, will run an “open call for entrepreneurs” on Tuesday. Entrepreneurs, including CES exhibitors and start-ups, will be able to present their products and ideas to “Shark Tank” producers, who will decide which pitches may appear on the TV show. The auditions will begin with walk-up registration from 8–10 a.m. at the Venetian Hotel, then pitches/interviews will be heard all day.

Chupka called the “Shark Tank” collaboration “a thrilling business and networking opportunity for our startup exhibitors at CES,” demonstrating “our commitment to support and promote innovation across the consumer technologies industry.”

FINDING THE RIGHT CONFERENCES
Digital Hollywood and the 2nd Screen Summit Conference will explore topics ranging from sports technology and broadband to high dynamic range and content and technology. There are also sessions focused on emerging distribution categories, such as “Multichannel Networks and the You- Tube Phenomenon” and “Viral Experiences: Creativity Challenge.”

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CBS President Leslie Moonves will keynote the CES “Brand Matters” conference Jan. 7.

The IEEE 33rd International Conference on Consumer Electronics, which starts on the final day of CES, will offer four days of technical presentations on topics such as image processing, augmented reality, interactive TV and HEVC-based video communications, 8K, and video over wireless networks. Shuji Nakamura, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize in physics, will deliver the keynote address.

At Team Lightbulb’s fifth annual Broadband conference during CES, one session will focus on 8K over fiber and another will delve into 5G and the mobile future.

As always, scores of technologies and early-stage developments will be on the show floor or in private hotel suites.

For example, Giraffic, an Israeli technology developer working on over-the-top throughput, will show the latest versions of its Adaptive Video Acceleration for MPEGDASH. The company says its new AVA will enable true HD and UHD 4K across a wider array of content and devices and will let device manufacturers support various adaptive streaming protocols. MPEG-DASH (Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP) is the industry’s emerging adaptive bitrate streaming standard.

Broadcasters may be interested in the “Unmanned Systems Marketplace,” populated by more than a dozen makers of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) aka “drones.” Despite regulatory obstacles (particularly in the United States), CEA predicts that the global consumer drone market will approach $130 million in revenue in 2015, up 55 percent from this year. Chupka foresees growth in categories such as “aerial coverage for sports and real estate... [plus] in search and rescue and disaster relief missions.”

More information on the 2015 International CES is available at www.cesweb.org.