The Consumer Electronics Show can only do so much for traditional TV/entertainment content players looking to extend their businesses. In the next few days, at the CES annual get-together, maybe we'll
find out how much. One end of the TV spectrum
-- the home video business -- isn't complaining too much,
as 2008 looks to be down "just" some 3% to 4% from 2007's $15.38 billion in sales. Those fancy new Blu-ray units and discs aren't enough to compensate for the downturn of the standard definition DVD
Compared to numbers for other TV-related businesses
, all these declines aren't all that bad --
not when there are "double digit percentage" declines in network TV viewership, in local advertising TV sales, and in most media companies' stock prices.
For a couple of years now --
ever since Disney/ABC made that historic iTunes deal -- CES
has been seen as a savior for
some TV companies looking for new distribution streams of revenue. But this year the number of media and entertainment content companies taking floor space has been stagnant, if not in decline. NBC
Universal, Discovery Networks, Sony Entertainment, and Comcast's G4 Network will have a presence at the event.
The CES poster child has been Sony Entertainment -- one of those perfectly
positioned TV producer/consumer device companies -- which now seems to be having a rough go of it, according to reports. Recently, the Times
of London suggested Sony will undergo a massive
restructuring soon -- some $1.1 billion in cuts, and 16,000 jobs.
Who can blame the company if this happens? Sony has been hit squarely like any other consumer products company -- with
consumers pulling back on new high-end consumer media products, such as Sony PlayStation 3 game console and Bravia flat screen TVs.
So, in retrospect, those home video executives are
feeling pretty good, in these economically troubled times, with comments like "down is the new flat" or "flat is the new up."
What, then, should we make of media businesses that gained in
2008 -- like Netflix or Marvel Entertainment, both of whose stock prices grew? Is "up' the new "hit," the new "Idol," the new Google"? Or is the new "up," the new poster child looking for
eventual trouble, just like everyone else