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CES 2018: old and new media guards fight for the future of television

Do not worry. If you lose the first "future of the TV" panel at CES next week, you can see the second one a day later.

For all the attention paid to avant-garde gadgets at CES every year, the convention often feels like a giant stage for showing televisions. From the incredible screen sizes to the amazing display technologies, televisions are one of the most viewed categories in the convention. But the interest in televisions has extended beyond the screen itself to what it is seeing in it as well.

Media companies, major brands and marketers drive a show-behind-the-show at CES, which has little to do with the next hot day. Crowds of media people at CES can never visit the exhibition hall, hidden in meetings of hotel suites, but their presence often arises in a series of panels, keynotes and conversations that try to pinpoint the future of the hotel. programming and television distribution.

This year's discussions will come at a time when the lines between technology and media are becoming increasingly blurred.

The technological giants are investing resources to become media heavyweights. That's true for hardcore fans like Netflix with its $ 6 billion content budget, as well as tech giants with relatively new television ambitions: Facebook is filling out its Watch tab with its own productions, YouTube launched live TV and Apple has a budget of a thousand. million to produce original video.




Meanwhile, the traditional media players are turning to defend their territory, a defensive maneuver against the growing competition of these digital rivals. At a media pump last month, Disney agreed to buy most of 21st Century Fox, the latest in a wave of consolidation in the media. AT & T is preparing to fight the Department of Justice for the right to buy Time Warner, a measure that follows the nearly $ 50 billion that the telecommunications giant invested in buying DirecTV. And Discovery and Scripps aim to turn their virtual reality empires into one.

CES 2017 brought the presentation of Hulu's live television broadcast subscription, and 2016 was marked by Netflix's keynote that reveals that was released worldwide except in China. What does CES 2018 have in store? Here is a look at the presence of media in Las Vegas this year.

The old guard

Disney and Fox are among the two most active traditional media companies at CES this year. Even if it did not have a gigantic fusion in the wings, Disney has a frantic year ahead of its own digital television ambitions. It plans to launch a sports broadcast service with the ESPN brand in 2018 and another broadcast service for the company's own films and shows the following year.


Disney, home of the "Star Wars" franchise and Marvel, agreed to buy most of 21st Century Fox last month.


Wait for Disney executives to ask questions about streaming services in their separate appearances. Ben Sherwood, president of Disney ABC Television Group, and Andrew Sugerman, vice president of Disney's arm that makes merchandise and interactive media, will appear at a summit organized by the Hollywood trade publication Variety Wednesday at the Aria hotel. Also in Aria that day in CES's C-Space series, Jimmy Pitaro, Sugerman's boss, will discuss how you contact Disney stories and characters on social media and other interactive experiences. Sugerman has an additional appearance at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the official center of CES, on Monday.

Meanwhile, Fox Innovation Lab will hold an event on Wednesday at the Mandarin Oriental hotel. The laboratory is an internal incubator that has driven advanced technology such as high dynamic range TV screens and virtual reality cinematic experiences such as its RV "The Martian". The company is not broadcasting the details of the event in advance, but is likely to focus on both virtual reality and visualization technologies.

Among other traditional media companies that take executives: Starz, Turner and Scripps will present on Tuesday at the Convention Center the executives of the first CES panel "The future of television." AMC will review Norman Reedus from "The Walking Dead" alongside the showrunner series and channel president at the Variety Summit on Wednesday, while later that day the CEOs of Discovery and A + E will be on stage at Monte Carlo & # 39; s Park Theater for the keynote of C-Space.

The upstarts

That other debate about the "Future of television"? It allows YouTube to talk a little.

While YouTube and Facebook of Google continue to face each other in a battle to be the central video center for the Internet, both companies will be active at CES this year, as will Hulu, the online home for traditional Disney television programmers, Fox, NBCUniversal-parent Comcast and Time Warner.


Robert Kyncl from YouTube, seen here presenting at CES 2012, will take part in an opening conference this year that will also include a Pepsi brand executive, one of the companies that pulled out YouTube advertising last year.

James Martin / CNET

YouTube has reigned for a long time about online video. With more than one billion monthly visitors, one third of the people connected to the Internet on the planet tune in to YouTube. But Facebook eclipses it with 2 billion monthly users, and in the last year and a half, the social giant has been doing an aggressive campaign to put the video first in its News Feed. He wants to eat part of the YouTube lunch as the advertising dollars flow online from the television.

This CES, Facebook is sending product executive Fidji Simo, who oversees the social giant's push video. Facebook's video strategy has shifted from initiative to initiative, starting with algorithmic adjustments that show more clips in your feed and a big boost behind live streaming.

Your latest focus is on a "Look" tab that Facebook is filling with live licensed sports and longer shows, similar to TV shows.

Simo, who will speak on Tuesday at the Aria hotel, is scheduled to discuss this video evolution on Facebook and share the latest on Watch.

While pitting Facebook, YouTube last year was marked by an unstable relationship with the advertisers it relies on for revenue and the video creator community that fills YouTube with video. A protest about commercials that run alongside offensive videos provoked a boycott of advertisers. Then, the response from YouTube, to get the ads out of the most aggressive clips more aggressively, ended up outraging users who lost the power to make money, an event they called "Adpocalypse".

YouTube Business Director Robert Kyncl will take the stage during the C-Space presentation on Wednesday at the Park Theater, a presentation that will also feature a Pepsi brand executive, one of the companies that got YouTube publicity last year. The product director, Neal Mohan, will also be among the panelists in the second "Future of television" panel, which will take place that same day at the Variety summit.


Hulu, which became the first broadcast service to win the best Emmy drama last year, will present its CEO at a keynote address at CES .


Finally, the streaming service Hulu will present its new CEO, Randy Freer, at a conference on "television reissue" on Wednesday, along with the head of Turner, the Time Warner programmer who operates CNN, TBS and other networks

His appearance comes in a foggy moment for Hulu. The service is flying high in some respects: his dystopic series "The Handmaid & # 39; s Tale" was the first program of a broadcast service to win a better Emmy drama, and began broadcasting live television channels last year. But your address could take some unexpected deviations in the next year. Comcast, which has been a silent partner in Hulu for the past seven years, begins to have a say in Hulu's strategy later this year. Soon after, Disney's agreement to buy Fox would give it the majority ownership over the broadcast service.

Oath, Verizon's media-focused arm that combines its acquisitions of Yahoo and AOL, is also sending an army of miniature executives to CES. Oath will have a representative in at least five official panels at CES, including a discussion with CEO Tim Armstrong at the Variety summit on Wednesday.

One of the most important names in online television, however, is leaving out this CES. Netflix is ​​not planning any event or putting any executive in the public eye. And without Netflix, we may have to wait until next year to have a complete idea of ​​the future of television.

Maybe the CES can schedule three of those panels next time.

CES 2018 : CNET's full coverage of the technology's biggest show.

The last word on CES 2017 : Our summary of last year's show.

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