Last week’s CES demonstrated that the Las Vegas-based convention, which now boasts 175K+ attendees, is much more than a venue for showcasing the latest gadgets. (Although it was the perfect place to personally observe the latest in VR, self-driving cars, and yes, personal computers.)
Each year the digital media contingent grows larger, as evidenced by the slate of attendees, social gatherings, and the success of the Digital Hollywood and Variety tracks, where panels addressed issues of content, technology, and platforms ranging from Netflix to Facebook.
Here are the Paladin team’s top takeaways from the CES 2017 experience:
1. VR technology had a powerful presence, but isn’t yet ready for consumer prime-time.
Samsung and HTC wowed with demonstrations of their technology, but others (Facebook’s Oculus) didn’t have a presence. As some commentators have noted, VR still appears far from being a widespread consumer phenomenon. There are hopes that VR content offerings will improve in the coming year. All signs point to the theory that virtual reality’s heyday will come, but not in the immediate future.
That said, 360° video offerings are more accessible and popular already, with YouTube and other platforms investing significantly in the format (including live options). The Verge and JetBlue even partnered to give passengers on CES-bound flights a curated playlist experience using Google Cardboard.
2. CES is a must-attend for the online video and social platform community.
Even though CES gets bigger every year, it’s still a key opportunity to connect in-person with those in digital media, tech journalists, and social media platform representatives. At Paladin, we believe strongly that building relationships in-person is important. With over 55K attendees from outside the U.S. this year, and guests from New York to LA, no conference is as diverse or filled with valuable networking as this one.
The online video industry is still maturing but is slowly developing an even greater sense of community, and CES networking events supported this trend. Industry media outlets like Tubefilter and VideoInk participated along with MCNs and digital media publishers–too many to name. As for social platforms, Facebook reinforced its presence with a classy soiree (decorations included Reactions throw pillows)!
3. The future of online video networks is bright.
The Digital Hollywood track at CES is a home for thought-provoking discussions. Paladin’s CEO James Creech participated in the Programming the New Online Video Networks conversation, with Steve Bradbury of Deep Sports, Jennifer Dorian of TCM/Filmstruck, MCN CEOs Amanda Taylor of izo and Michael Wayne of Kin Community, DailyMotion’s Anthony Layser, and Michael Alexander of IBM.
Panelists hotly debated whether television is in decline and which content formats will survive in ten years. Consensus among panelists was that digital diversification is crucial, with digital delivery showing two and three-fold growth. Kin Community’s Michael Wayne compared the future of the TV industry to food scarcity in the Pixar film Wall-E, describing early MCNs as accustomed to “farming for themselves” in the digital ecosystem and suggesting that TV will be forced to adapt.
Paladin’s James Creech advocated for the role of the superfan in helping niche SVOD offerings to succeed going forward, and he argued that in the future TV content will be viewed on multiple screens and likely aggregated by Google, Amazon, and Apple.
Watch a video clip from the panel here.
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