Dispatch From CES: Video, Devices, And The New Content Economy

Another CES is now behind us, and while this remains first a show about new devices, a closer look at the capabilities these devices are touting forecasts a need for a multi-device content (and advertising) strategy for the coming years.

“Smart” devices they’re called, referring to Internet-connected devices that can access content from virtually anywhere to make life more fun, productive, or informative. These include the obvious (think tablets, phones, TVs) to the innovative (think automobiles and watches) to the borderline ridiculous (such as refrigerators and dishwashers). 

So in a world where all devices are connected and have access to universe of content, how should video content providers prepare for distribution to this expanding landscape beyond the TV or the computer?

A good stage-setter is the following research released by Nielsen’s U.S. Consumer Usage Report 2012,  which shows that while the majority of consumers’ media consumption is done via TV (144+ hours a month), other devices are emerging as notable alternatives, including:

-       Internet video: 5+ hours a month

-       Mobile video: 5+ hours a month

And we can expect this number to increase, given the diverse number of new hardware these users now own:

-       16 % of television homes own a tablet

-       Of those w/ mobile phones, 56% own a smartphone

-       17% own an e-reader

So what type of content will be the driver of content consumption on all these devices? Based on the news and chatter at CES, few can argue that video — particularly multi-device video distribution — emerged as the biggest theme of the conference.

For instance, Comcast and Intel announced a deal that they’re teaming up to allow users to watch on-demand TV content on Intel-based devices (tablets, PCs, etc.), Dish Network, DirecTV, Verizon and AT&T were all at CES talking up Web TV more than they were their traditional cable infrastructure. And a little drama emerged when gadget news/review site CNET booted the Dish Network’s Hopper service -- which lets uses record content on one device and watch it on another — from its “Best of CES” contest because of parent company CBS’ lawsuit against the product.

The upshot is that they’re scrambling to access all these new devices as additional screens for their content, service and brand (depending on the company). This is raising interesting questions that don’t yet have a standard answer, such as what is a fair revenue split between app developers and content producers; who owns the user data generated by this traffic; and plenty of user interface discussions.

But in the short term, we can expect to see much more new “smart” TV announcements, new tablets unveiled, and so on as the year moves on. Take a close look at them all and you’ll see how the thrust of these product announcements won’t be the hardware specs (like pixels, screen size, or storage space) – but on what these devices can access.

The takeaway is that smart content strategies can no longer be focused just on the content being created, but on how it’s distributed — and monetized — to an increasingly expanding device ecosystem.

 

 

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