Every year the CES conference showcases new technologies and campaigns from the biggest names in technology. Video, TV and transmedia integration were high on everyone’s minds this year, spanning two-screen advertising to smart TVS to cloud-driven video recording. With thousands of attendees, three expo halls (plus tents and a few food trucks), the CES was, at times, overwhelming, so we’ve broken down a selection of important media innovation developments from this major tech gathering as part of ZoomTilt’s 2013 CES recap:
1. Cisco: Videoscape Unity
Videoscape Unity is a new and expanded video services delivery platform which will allow companies to provide a synchronized multiscreen video experiences. It will also provide unified search, discovery, and viewing functions to allow consumers to watch premium live and on-demand content on any (service provider managed or unmanaged) connected device regardless of location.
2. Audible Magic: Content Recognition
Audible Magic will bring an advanced television advertising solutions including interactive and addressable advertising across smart televisions, set-top boxes and second screen devices. This will provide an interactive advertising solution which will use the company’s SmartID ACR technology to identify ads in real-time watched by users and will then display supplemental, promotional and additional informational options.
3. Google TV: 3rd Generation Streamers
In its race to reverse second-screen the TV into the “new monitor,” Google TV debuted its latest generation streaming device, the ASUS Qube with Google TV media streamer, alongside OEM partner Marvell. The team watched a few ZoomTilt web series episodes at the Marvell both, and, needless to say, Google TV’s new boxes are hands-down the most convenient and enjoyable way to watch ZoomTilt shows in big-screen HD.
4. Accedo: TV Everywhere
Accedo’s T.V.E Solution will provide an integrated solution, which connects content distribution and management platforms with attractive Pay TV applications on any connected device. Additionally, social networking integration through TVE app will allow for an enhanced user experience.
5. YuMe: Click-to-Ngage
The Click-to-Ngage icon located on an advertisement will allow users to see more information and options from that brand. Although it remains to be seen if this type of feature will catch on (clearly the quality of the content alongside it will be of critical importance), YuMe’s approach is clearly looking to combines the big screen, couch-based TV viewing experience with the interactivity and measurability of online video.
6. AT&T Enters Online Video Streaming Fray
A telecom heavyweight is wading into the streaming TV space? It would certainly seem so. The phone company’s upcoming U-Verse television service will start offering an online video streaming service called “U-Verse Screen Pack” for an $5 a month, available to U-Verse television subscribers. The bundled offering appears likely to offer a content library similar to Netflix at a slightly lower price point, although it remains to be seen if AT&T intends to win customers based on a differentiated experience (and/or content), or simply hopes to entice its existing telecom subscriber base to pick up streamed TV at a slight discount.
See anything else new and noteworthy at the 2013 CES? If so drop us a note in the comments section.
Year after year, independent film is spurred forward by the vision, hope and hard work of thousands of creative artists. And, unlike the music and publishing industries, where indie content creators have embraced digital distribution avenues like iTunes, Amazon, BandCamp and SoundCloud, non-digital discovery still reigns supreme in the festival-centric world of independent film. Or does it?
A revolution (or, dare we say, web-olution) is steadily building momentum, one with the potential to spread financial sustainability to a much larger population of indie video and TV creators. The internet, long the domain of social networking, file-sharing and cute animal videos, is increasingly providing structured opportunities for filmmakers, screenwriters, actors/actresses and other content producers to capture legitimate money and exposure for their talents, particularly with shorts and made-for-web series.
One reason more aspiring filmmakers are focusing their energies on the web are the current economics of indie filmmaking. Although the motion picture industry is a $10 billion annual market, nine out of every ten of those dollars goes to Hollywood, leaving about $1 billion for the indies. Although this seems pretty positive on the surface, the reality is that typically 20-25% of that $1 billion yearly opportunity goes to projects like “Black Swan” and “Little Miss Sunshine” – perfectly legitimate indie films, but ones backed by big-name stars and multi-million dollar marketing budgets. Take what’s left over and if you divide that $800,000 by the number of submissions received by only Sundance, Tribeca and the Nashville, New York and Seattle film festivals, it amounts to less than $25,000 per film. In fact, statistically, the odds of an indie filmmaker breaking even on a feature investment through conventional distribution channels is roughly 0.1%. Despite the prestige a film festival short-listing can bring, it’s hard to like those odds no matter how visionary your work is.
Plus, if you compare 1.3 billion annual box office movie ticket sales against 10 billion yearly, unique YouTube views and 30 million Netflix subscribers, the web starts looking like an appealing Plan B – particularly when distribution barriers to entry are so much lower. Not only that, but while traditional TV viewing has flat-lined, watching digital entertainment through smart TV’s, video game consoles, computers, tablets and mobile phones is currently seeing circa-50% year-over-year growth rates.
So why hasn’t the vaunted Web-olution come even further? In part, it’s because old habits die hard. A second factor is the fact that the financial landscape for indie entertainment creators is still highly immature. If you’ve got a viral hit show or short on your hands, you might be able to cover your production budget solely on ad placements over your work. However, for most film professionals looking to transition into web shorts, it takes time and effort to build the fan-base and brand-relationships that enable filmmakers to earn a consistent living, a roadmap our company, ZoomTilt, has been working hard to lay groundwork for. There are already some great partnership networks out there for established YouTube video blog superstars with big followings, like Maker Studios and Fullscreen, but there are a lot less options for original web TV shows and aspiring indie entertainment creators. Third, the web is a different entertainment medium, one where audiences are fragmented, attention spans are typically shorter, it takes more differentiation to stand-out and the format biases certain genres and viewer demographics.
But that doesn’t mean the change isn’t coming. Mark Suster, a prominent California-based VC at GRP Partners, has famously proclaimed “the future of the internet is television.” Although ZoomTilt is only in its first year, based on the traction, momentum, feedback and market-research we’ve already been a part of, we couldn’t agree more, and are excited to be helping to lead the charge.