Online CES Moves to Jan. 11-14

The 2021 CES event, which is going online and was scheduled to start Jan. 6, is moving back to Jan. 11-14, organizers announced.

The new schedule is:

  • Jan. 11: Exclusive media-only access
  • Jan. 12: Exhibitor showcase and conference programming
  • Jan. 13: Exhibitor showcase and conference programming
  • Jan. 14: Conference programming

 

Owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association, CES 2021 will be an all-digital experience connecting exhibitors, customers, thought leaders and media from around the world. CES 2021 will allow participants to hear from technology innovators, see cutting-edge technologies and the latest product launches, and engage with global brands and startups from around the world, according to organizers.

For more than 50 years, CES has spotlighted technology. Visit CES.tech for all CES 2021 updates.

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2021 CES Trade Show Moving Online Only Due to COVID-19 Resurgence

The annual in-person CES in Las Vegas — an industry mainstay for 50 years once known by its longer moniker of the Consumer Electronics Show — has been canceled due to surges in COVID-19 infections and will be replaced by an all-digital format, Jan. 6-9, 2021, organizer Consumer Technology Association announced July 28.

“Amid the pandemic and growing global health concerns about the spread of COVID-19, it’s just not possible to safely convene tens of thousands of people in Las Vegas in early January 2021 to meet and do business in person,” Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CTA, said in a statement. “By shifting to an all-digital platform for 2021, we can deliver a unique experience that helps our exhibitors connect with existing and new audiences.”

CTA said it plans to return to Las Vegas for CES 2022, combining elements of a physical and digital show.

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As recently as June, the CTA had vowed to proceed with at least a partially physical show. At the time, the trade association said in a statement, “We will showcase our exhibitors’ products, technology breakthroughs and ideas to the world, both physically in Las Vegas and digitally. “You can expect to see a wider selection of live-streamed CES content, along with many other engaging digital and virtual opportunities, enabling you to connect with the world’s leading technology innovators, thought leaders and policymakers.”

In January 2020, more than 175,000 industry professionals, including more than 61,000 from outside the United States, convened in Las Vegas for CES 2020.

At the time reports were just filtering in from China about a mysterious new illness centered around the city of Wuhan. It wasn’t until Jan. 11, a day after the 2020 CES ended, that the first death was reported. From the Wall Street Journal: “A new virus implicated in a pneumonia outbreak in central China killed a 61-year-old man there, Chinese health authorities said. … It was the first death of the outbreak in the city of Wuhan, where 59 people have been quarantined. Chinese scientists discovered a new strain of coronavirus there this week.”

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In last month’s statement, the CTA said it would enable social distancing at the January 2021 CES, including widening aisles in many exhibit areas and providing more space between seats in conference programs and other areas where attendees congregate. Attendees and exhibitors would be encouraged to wear masks and avoid shaking hands.

CTA also said it planned to limit touch points throughout the facilities, including through cashless systems for purchases and transactions. It also was considering employing contactless thermal scans at key venue entry points, in addition to providing enhanced on-site access to health service and medical aid.

CES 2020 Concludes Its Run With More Than 20,000 Product Debuts

LAS VEGAS — CES 2020 concluded its four-day run Jan. 10 after seeing more than 20,000 product debuts, most of them in the technology sector.

Over 4,400 exhibiting companies launched their latest products to 170,000 attendees across more than 2.9 million square feet of exhibit space. The focus, as it’s been in recent years, was on innovation, with large show floor areas devoted to smart cities, smart homes and automobiles, both connected and autonomous.

“CES 2020 inspired and connected every major industry across the globe,” Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), owner and producer of CES, said in a statement. “The innovation unveiled at CES 2020 will reshape industries, create jobs, fuel the global economy and improve lives around the world.”

The show’s legacy consumer electronics, meanwhile, dominated the huge central hall, where large CE manufacturers like Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, LG Electronics and TCL set up massive displays exhibiting their latest 8K TVs. TV makers are lining up behind either QLED or OLED. QLED stands for “Quantum Dot LED,” which uses a backlight. When light reflects on the quantum dots, they emit light. OLED, which stands for “Organic Light Emitting Diodes,” doesn’t require a back light. QLED TVs offer a greater range of colors and can reach higher levels of brightness without losing saturation, but due to their LCD chips, they cannot reach absolute black.

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) was dominant throughout the show floor and will be a “key ingredient technology” over the next decade, CTA says. Companies debuting their latest AI solutions included Brunswick, Doosan, John Deere and Kyocera.

5G, the next-generation wireless technology that began its global rollout in 2018, also generated a buzz at CES 2020. Delivering data 20 times faster than 4G, the technology also has lower latency — meaning much less of a delay when requesting data — and massive capacity that will allow it to handle not only current devices, but also emerging technologies such as autonomous cars and connected home products.

5G deployment and adoption is spreading more rapidly than expected, according to the June 2019 edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report. By 2024, 45% of the world’s population will have 5G coverage, according to the report, a number that could surge to 65% as spectrum sharing technology allows for 5G deployments on LTE frequency bands.

CES 2020 also saw the launch of innovative technologies not connected to entertainment or communications. Digital health technologies were a major theme, with advancements in digital therapeutics, wearables and remote patient monitoring as digital health addresses issues like opioid dependence, mental illness and chronic disease. The Health & Wellness category saw an increase of nearly 25% with more than 135 exhibiting companies at CES 2020.

The Smart Cities exhibit area expanded by nearly 25% over 2019, the CTA says, with companies and organizations including the Department of Transportation, Hitachi and Siemens highlighting products designed to bring cities fully into the digital age.

CES 2020 was also a key startup event, with more than 1,200 companies from 46 countries featured within Eureka Park, offering disruptive innovations, attracting investors and big-name brands. Technologies unveiled within Eureka Park include the Oval Home smart sensor that analyzes temperature, light, humidity and movement in the home; Yoganotch, which applies motion capture technology to help users improve poses; and Caregiver Smart Solutions with sensors that track movement and patterns to provide caregivers reassurance and patients with more independence at home.

CES 2020 also featured an expanded automotive section, split between connected cars and the latest advances in autonomous driving. The north hall featured exhibits from nine leading car manufacturers, including Audi, BMW, Daimler (Mercedes), FCA, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan and Toyota, and more than 150 vehicle tech exhibitors.

CES 2020 also brought together content creators, Hollywood, the advertising and music industries, media and leading CMOs to explore the future of brand marketing and entertainment, including streaming services, through the return of C Space. The 2020 program featured more than 60 exhibitors, including AT&T Services, Comcast, Google, HP , Hulu, iHeart, NBC Universal, Pandora, Reddit, Roku, Sirius XM, Snap, Twitch, Turner, Univision and WWE.

The CES stage featured more than 1,100 speakers representing major global industries, including keynotes from Samsung president and CEO of Consumer Electronics Division Hyun-Suk Kim; Daimler chairman Ola Källenius; Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian; NBCUniversal chairman of Advertising and Partnerships Linda Yaccarino; Quibi CEO Meg Whitman and founder Jeffrey Katzenberg; U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao; Salesforce chairman and co-CEO Marc Benioff; Unilever CEO Alan Jope; and presidential advisor Ivanka Trump.

Closing Thoughts — and Shots — on CES 2020

Moments after my obligatory Facebook posting of pictures from my visit to CES 2020, industry veteran Gary Khammar — who for 10 years, from 1980 to 1990, was EVP at RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Entertainment, the precursor to Sony Pictures Home Entertainment — commented, “How many CES shows have you attended in your career? The number must be pretty high by now.”

I responded, “27,” but it might be 28. All I know is I recently received my 25-year pin from the kind folks at the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), who produce the annual show. Looking back, I can still remember roaming the show floor and checking out the latest VCRs, and then this new disc-based technology called CD-I, which let you watch movies on disc. It was sort of the 8-track of home entertainment: you had to break up a movie onto two separate discs, and the blacks weren’t very, well, black.

Then came DVD, and a flurry of exciting home entertainment news at each year’s show — the initial battle with Divx, a pay-per-play variant, and Warren Lieberfarb, the father of DVD, following me in the hallway of the Las Vegas Convention Center to bemoan the format’s slow launch. Making the encounter all the more tragic was that Lieberfarb was hobbling about on a cane, due to a broken foot.

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A year later, it was a whole other story. Divx was gone, and Lieberfarb had ditched the cane and was all smiles — a rarity, colleagues of the former Warner Home Video chief will tell you. DVD had become the biggest consumer electronics launch in history, and the whole home entertainment industry was reveling in joy — and dollars.

Then came the big television revolution. We went from boxy TVs that maxed out at 27 inches to giant flat screens with a constantly improving picture quality. With the advent of high-definition, the DVD was no longer good enough, and I remember how the ensuing format war between HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc was played out at CES. Driving to Las Vegas in January 2007, I kept having to pull over and interview studio presidents who were lining up in one camp or the other, and I remember the flurry of press conferences at that year’s show that led to many a late-night writing session, trying to keep it all straight.

No sooner had the format war been settled than CES became the launching pad for yet another generation of new and improved TVs. But the 4K launch was spectacularly unspectacular — not because of the technology, but, rather, because the hardware was launched without anyone bothering to get the studios on board first.

A year or two later, the studios did jump in, but they decided “4K” wasn’t sexy enough so they rolled out a new acronym, UHD, for “ultra high-definition,” followed, later, by an additional acronym, “UHD with HDR,” HDR standing for high dynamic range. Not surprisingly, the expected excitement over yet another new format was tempered by consumer confusion over what, exactly, it was called.

After many meetings and discussions it was decided to restore the 4K name to the software, initially known as UHD Blu-ray Discs but subsequently rebranded as 4K Ultra HD.

Today, 4K UHD TVs remain on the upswing, accounting for 44% of all TVs shipped in 2019, according to the CTA. And 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs are selling remarkably well — still climbing, while the overall disc market remains in a state of decline.

But in the four years since the 4K Ultra HD discs were launched at CES 2016, the show itself has become increasingly irrelevant for those of us on the content side of the business, as the focus has shifted toward innovation and technology. One analyst even noted in an interview that CES was now one of the country’s biggest car shows, a showcase for connectivity and autonomous driving.

Last year’s CES once again saw the launch of a new and improved TV, 8K — again, with no software support.  The first 8K TVs went on sale later in 2019, and at the just-concluded CES 2020, the central hall  was dominated by massive 8K displays by huge CE concerns such as Panasonic, Sony, Samsung and TCL — as well as smaller players like Sharp and Hisense.

There were debates over which variant is better, QLED or OLED, while Samsung executives talked up Serto, a TV that flips from horizontal to vertical so viewers can watch portrait-mode content (presumably, commercials, and woe to any vase or bauble that might get in the way when the TV automatically rotates).

Samsung also touted how streaming-friendly its TVs are, thanks to Samsung TV Plus.

But there was not a peep from Hollywood about 8K content on disc — or digital, for that matter.

Whatever happened to the concept that content is “king?”

 

Quibi Execs Outline Programming and Strategy of Short-Form Content Network

LAS VEGAS — Quibi’s Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman at CES on Jan. 8 outlined the strategy, programming, partners, talent and technology for the short-form network, which is launching April 6 at $4.99 a month with ads and $7.99 a month without.

“Today we’re living through another revolution in entertainment, this time on our mobile phones,” said Katzenberg, noting that short-form content under 10 minutes in length is ideal for on-the-go viewing and the millennial audience.

Creators are working with tech experts to make a new form of entertainment designed specifically for mobile, they said.

One innovation is turnstile, a way of recording a story in both full-screen portrait and full-screen landscape so that as viewers turn their phones they get an equally compelling view of the story. Quibi delivers both edits to users’ phones so they can choose which to see by moving from portrait to landscape. Executives demonstrated how the story of “Nest,” one program coming on Quibi, is told through the two edits.

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Katzenberg said there will be three tiers of content: movies told in chapters, episodic and unscripted series and documentaries, and “Daily Essentials.”

Talent for the movie tier includes Bill Murray, Kiefer Sutherland, Sam Raimi (producing a horror anthology), Katherine Hardwick, Lorne Michaels, Kevin Hart and Steven Spielberg, among others.

In the 120 shows in the episodic and unscripted tier, talent includes Chrissy Teigen, Idris Elba and Tyra Banks, with rebooted versions of MTV’s “Punk’d” and “Singled Out” and cooking competitions part of the programming.

The “Daily Essentials” tier will feature the day’s news and info in partnership with NBC News, BBC, TMZ, Telemondo and The Weather Channel. It will also feature a meditation show, a talk show and a round up of late night show highlights.

Whitman noted that the Quibi format will also feature new advertising creative and that the inventory for the first year is sold out at $150 million.

Quibi is “bringing creators and technologists into the same conversation,” she said.

She added that the programming on the service will be 35% more than the prime time lineup of a traditional TV network.

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Tubi Execs See Bright Future in AVOD

LAS VEGAS — The ad-supported video-on-demand streaming service Tubi touts itself as having the largest library in the space, at about 20,000 titles, four times that of Netflix, and Tubi executives see a bright future in the free alternative to subscription VOD.

“I think 2020 is going to be the year of AVOD,” said Tubi CEO Farhad Massoudi in an interview with Media Play News at CES. “I think there are going to be a lot of new players in the space, and I very much welcome it.”

Mark Rotblat

Tubi logged 20 million monthly active users as of June 2019, and 132 million hours a month as of September, noted chief revenue officer Mark Rotblat.

The service is on more than two dozen platforms, including Vizio, Samsung, Sony and Google; at CES, Tubi announced the addition of its service to Hisense’s Vidaa platform in spring 2020.

AVOD is gaining ground as cord cutting accelerates. In the third quarter of 2019, 2 million households cut the cord, up from a half million in the previous-year quarter, Massoudi noted.

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Also, the consumer is being inundated with existing and new SVOD platforms, with longtime players Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu joined by recent entrants Disney+ and Apple TV+ and upcoming services, such as WarnerMedia’s HBO Max.

“Subscription fatigue is a real problem,” Massoudi said. “The idea of subscribing to all these services is just crazy.”

SVOD services will increasingly focus on original content, he noted.

“The role of SVOD will be providing original content to justify the expense on your bill,” he said.

Meanwhile, AVOD services such as Tubi are mining catalog, and deep catalog at that.

“By definition AVOD is not a content forward property,” Massoudi said. “We will never get a shiny title like ‘Friends’ [for which WarnerMedia paid nearly half a billion dollars for streaming rights].”

In contrast, Tubi is judicious about spending on content.

“If I have $1, I can put it on one title or I can aggregate five titles for that dollar and have more viewership,” Massoudi said.

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While Tubi welcomes competitors, Massoudi said the service has a technological jump on new entrants.

“We’re well ahead of the market,” he said, adding studios or other companies looking to enter the AVOD space “would have to do a massive tech investment,” such as the investment Tubi has made in its recommendation engine.

“Content isn’t enough,” he said.

Tubi’s machine learning helps viewers personalize their content and wade through the thousands of available titles.

Massoudi and Rotblat would not reveal any revenue numbers for the independent company. They noted that over the past nine years, the company has raised a mere $35 million, meaning ad revenues are a key driver of the business.

“We are doing financially very well,” said the CEO, noting the staff has doubled to more than 220 in the past year.

While Viacom snapped up AVOD player Pluto TV, Massoudi said Tubi isn’t interested in being acquired.

“We’re focused on being independent,” he said. “We want to take this public.”

CES 2020 Opens With Spotlight on Innovation

LAS VEGAS — CES 2020 opened Jan.7 with innovation and concepts once again overshadowing the show’s legacy consumer electronics.

This year’s CES features more than 4,400 exhibiting companies, including 1,200 startups.

A press release from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which produces the annual event, touts the show’s focus on “the latest transformative technologies, including 5G, artificial intelligence, vehicle technology, digital health and more.”

CES 2020 runs through Jan. 10.

“The innovation on display this week at CES embodies the drive and passion that fuels our industry and furthers economic growth on a global scale,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CTA, in a statement. “The products and technologies launching this week will inspire, connect and change lives for the better.”

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Prior to the CES exhibit show floor opening, there were a number of pre-show events Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, including Media Days, CTA’s 2020 Tech Trends to Watch presentation, CES Unveiled Las Vegas, conference programming at the ARIA and keynotes from Samsung and Daimler.

Samsung Consumer Electronics President and CEO H.S. Kim, delivering the first CES 2020 keynote, focused on the “Age of Experience,” a decade of human-centric innovation that combines hardware and software to create personalized experiences to make life more convenient, enjoyable and meaningful. His talk highlighted the company’s latest advances in intelligent robotics, AI, 5G and edge computing. “In the Age of Experience, we need to re-think the space we have to accommodate our diverse and evolving lifestyles,” said Kim.

CTA’s Steve Koenig and Lesley Rohrbaugh presented 2020 Tech Trends to Watch on Jan. 5 and provided some sales projections. The soaring popularity of streaming services along with 5G connectivity and artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled devices will drive revenue growth for the U.S. consumer tech industry to a record $422 billion in retail revenues in 2020 — nearly 4% growth over last year, according to CTA estimates.

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Also on Jan. 5, the annual CES Unveiled events featured more than 220 exhibiting companies, including 98 startups from Eureka Park, the startup hub at CES 2020.

CES Media Days featured two days of preshow press events from CES exhibitors, including major brands and emerging startups. Twenty-nine companies announced products, including several that showed off home entertainment-related products.

  • HDMI announced its Ultra High Speed HDMI certification program that assures support for all HDMI 2.1 features, including 8K.
  • Hisense talked up a dual-cell XD9G LCD TV that layers two liquid crystal modules,  one on top of the other, inside a single cabinet.
  • LG Electronics unveiled new OLED (LG Signature OLED 8K) and LCD (LG 8K NanoCell) TV models.
  • Panasonic previewed  its flagship HZ2000 OLED TV with support for the UHD Alliance’s Filmmaker Mode.
  • And the UHD Alliance announced two additional television partners for its Filmmaker Mode initiative, Samsung and Phillips, along with further support from Hollywood guilds and others (see related story).

Sony Unveils Electric Car at CES

LAS VEGAS — So much for hype. Sony Electronics went to its 49th CES and unveiled an electric car — dubbed Sony Vision-S. It also showcased myriad CE products.

The car is meant to showcase the CE giant’s myriad technological features, including 33 different sensors inside and outside of the car, multiple widescreen displays, 360 audio, and connectivity. The display is Sony’s attempt to join the autonomous driving market.

Meanwhile, Sony also unveiled a series of new TVs, including the Z8H 8K LED, A8H and Master Series A9S OLED, and X950H and X900H 4K LED televisions. The new televisions claim to deliver the most immersive viewing experience in their class, with evolving technologies and premium large screens, created to deliver content the way creators intended.

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“Delivering a personalized, immersive and true-to-life viewing experience is a core focus when developing our next generation TVs,” Mike Fasulo, COO of Sony Electronics North America, said in a statement. “This lineup offers incredible new features to optimize the consumer experience and continue to deliver the creator’s intent in both 4K and 8K resolution.”

The new models feature Sound-from-Picture Reality, which aligns the position of the sound with the images on the screen to offer a lifelike experience. The new models will continue to deliver the creator’s intent with Netflix Calibrated Mode, offering studio-quality Netflix content, and Imax Enhanced, which brings The Imax Experience into the home by offering a new level of sight, sound and scale.

This lineup also introduces Ambient Optimization, a new technology that optimizes picture and sound quality in any customer environment. To bring this new concept to life, Acoustic Auto Calibration detects where the customer views their TV from during initial setup and calibrates sound quality based on the environment. This new feature brings the television’s full sound potential to any environment.

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In addition the lineup will feature a new Immersive Edge design concept. In order to maximize the immersive experience, a noiseless stand is now located at the edge of the screen. The minimalist stand is less noticeable, offering customers an improved and unobstructed viewing experience.

For the upcoming next-generation gaming consoles, select new models will support 8K HDR (7,680 x 4,320) resolution, 4K (3,840 x 2,160) 120fps high frame rate and fast response time via HDMI inputs to deliver their maximum performance for a cutting-edge gaming experience.

 

UHD Alliance Media Event for Filmmaker Mode

The UHD Alliance held a press conference Jan. 6 on the eve of CES, announcing that three Hollywood guilds, the Film Foundation, consumer electronics companies Samsung and Philips (TP Vision, Europe), and Kaleidescape have joined a growing number of organizations supporting  Filmmaker Mode, which  triggers specific video settings recommended by a host of Hollywood’s most influential directors as ideal for maintaining the creative intent behind films when they’re viewed at home.

See also ‘UHD Alliance’s Filmmaker Mode Picks Up Support From Hollywood Guilds, Samsung, Philips’

Ivanka Trump Named CES Keynote Speaker

Just before Christmas, Ivanka Trump, advisor to her father, President Donald Trump, was quietly named one of several keynote speakers at the upcoming CES Jan. 7-12, 2020, in Las Vegas.

Ms. Trump will take the keynote stage with Gary Shapiro, CEO of CTA, on Jan. 7 at 2 p.m. PT in the Venetian’s Palazzo Ballroom. They will discuss employer-led strategies to reskill workers, create apprenticeships and develop K-12 STEM education programs.

Ivanka Trump

“CES has consistently proven to be one of the most influential technology events in the world and I am excited to join this year for a substantive discussion on the how the government is working with private sector leaders to ensure American students and workers are equipped to thrive in the modern, digital economy,” Trump said in a statement.

In her White House role, Trump reportedly focuses on the economic empowerment of women and their families, skills-training and workforce development. Her work includes serving as co-chair of the National Council for the American Worker with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, which helps shape administration efforts to develop a competitive workforce for the future, according to a PR statement.

“As a business leader and entrepreneur, Ivanka Trump is an advocate for creating family-sustaining jobs through workforce development, education and skills training,” said Shapiro.

Trump joins other CES keynote speakers, including Samsung CEO of Consumer Electronics Division Hyun-Suk Kim; Daimler Chairman Ola Källenius; Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian; NBC Universal Chairman of Advertising and Partnerships Linda Yaccarino, Quibi CEO Meg Whitman and founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, Salesforce Chairman and co-CEO Marc Benioff and Unilever CEO Alan Jope.

Befitting her father’s tumultuous presidency, Ivanka has been criticized for myriad — often partisan issues — not the least of which is her limited tech background.

“It would be better if the background of the keynote speaker actually fit the industry it is serving and inspirational rather than talking heads and political,” Cindy Chin, CEO of the consultancy CLC Advisors, told The Guardian. 

Regardless, Shapiro said Trump was more than welcome at the world’s largest consumer electronics show to share “her vision for technology’s role in creating and enabling the workforce of the future.”