Streaming Back to 80% of Home Entertainment Spending in Q1, DEG Says

Netflix may have taken a big hit as talk of “streaming fatigue” grow louder, but first-quarter consumer spending estimates from DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group show subscription streaming demand ticked back up after a slight dip during the 2021 holiday period.

The trade group estimated just slightly more than 80% of consumer spending in the first quarter of 2022 went to SVOD services, as the total amount of money spent on subscriptions rose nearly 17% to a record $6.93 billion, up from $5.93 billion in the first quarter of 2021.

The gain lifted total consumer spending on home entertainment 10.9% to $8.7 billion, DEG reported.

The SVOD share of total home entertainment spending almost matched its all time high of 80.2% from the third quarter of 2021, a tally that dropped to 77.2% in the fourth quarter.

On the transactional video-on-demand (TVOD) front, consumer spending was down less than 2% to $1.14 billion, from $1.16 billion. Digital sales of movies, TV shows and other filmed content rose 6.7% to $643.6 million from $603.1 million, but digital rental spending fell nearly 11% to $501 million, from $561.9 million in the year-ago quarter.

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Digital purchases of theatrical movie titles increased 17.3%, fueled by “renewed box office activity,” the DEG reported.

The DEG reported it is now tracking sales and rentals of premium-window digital releases, which typically fetch a higher price.

Consumer spending on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD purchases in the first quarter of 2022 fell nearly 19% to an estimated $388.5 million, from $479.3 million, while disc rentals were down nearly 17% to $196.1 million, from $236 million in the first quarter of 2021.

Among the first quarter’s best-performing titles across transactional formats were American Underdog, Dog, Dune, Encanto, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, House of Gucci, No Time to Die, Sing 2, Spider-Man: No Way Home, Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Yellowstone: Season 4.

DEG’s EnTech Fest Features New Tech — and the Traditional Industry Reception — in L.A.

The DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group’s new event EnTech Fest 2022, held May 3-4 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, combined the old and the new.

The event replaced, and expanded upon, the annual DEG reception at CES, which was not held this year for the first time in the group’s 25-year history. It also showcased new content distribution and display technology and an in-car entertainment gallery.

The DEG reception took place the evening of May 3 and was attended by a crowd of industry members eager to greet each other in person after pandemic restrictions.

The following day, May 4, EnTech featured an exhibitor space with new tech from piracy protection to data analytics to 3D imaging and translation solutions.

Among the exhibitors:

  • Intel showcased its groundbreaking 8K broadcast technology used for the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
  • Blu Digital Group showcased its cloud-based solutions for digital workflows as well as end-to-end services such as mastering, localization, quality control, packaging and delivery.
  • Ctrolmovie highlighted its choose-your-own-adventure interactive content technology. The company has a deal with Paramount for up to 10 films, according to a representative.
  • DeepMedia showcased its dubbing technology that is AI-powered and can make speakers sound like themselves despite being dubbed in different languages.
  • Looper Insights touted its service that helps content owners track how effectively their IP is getting to the consumer.
  • Premiere Digital showcased its capability in providing media services, distribution and SaaS tools to simplify supply chain and technical operations.
  • Whip Media showcased its suite of solutions that connect and scale data, processes and teams across licensing, content planning and financial operations. The company also highlighted CMV Insights, a content intelligence solution powered by a large panel of TV and film enthusiasts. CMV Insights continuously captures viewing intent, engagement and affinity data for content.
  • Synamedia touted its security offerings, as well as data analysis solutions.
  • EnTech Fest also featured an in-car demonstration area in which, among other exhibitors, Dolby demonstrated the extension of Dolby Atmos immersive audio to the car.

Streaming Facing Headwinds, Say Speakers at DEG’s EnTech Fest

The boom in streaming is hitting some headwinds, according to speakers at a May 4 research presentation during DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group’s EnTech Fest 2022 at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles.

“SVOD was really the winner of the pandemic period,” said the NPD’s Elizabeth Lafontaine. In-home entertainment “drove the entertainment industry over the past few years,” she noted.

“As we’ve gotten into 2022 many of these industries have started to soften, as experiences come back online,” she said.

Consumers are getting out and going to theme parks, traveling, seeing live shows, etc. — spending more on experiential entertainment. Experiential spending has returned to about 95% of what it was during the pre-pandemic period, she said.

“Experiential offerings are typically much more expensive, so it is going to eat into some of the other entertainment demand,” she noted.

As they get out, consumers are not engaging as much with SVOD, but “we’re still seeing engagement levels higher than the pre-pandemic period,” she said.

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Consumers reported spending on about four SVOD services (3.9 on average) in October 2021, which is down about one service from that time in 2020 (5.2). “But we’re still above that pre-pandemic period,” she said.

For streaming companies, the question is how to be one of those four services consumers choose.

In the past year, services increasingly turned to original programming, especially with licensed content being clawed back by studios’ direct-to-consumer services. In 2021, Netflix, Amazon and Hulu saw lower inventory throughout the year as this licensed content was pulled. But in response Netflix, for instance, by the end of 2021 grew original movie offerings by 22% and original series by 24%.

“Netflix has committed to spending about $17 billion annually on original content,” she said.

Also, with increased competition in the space for consumers’ time and money, “bundling and ad-supported is giving subscribers who may not have subscribed before a new point of entry to these services,” she said.

Another way consumers are economizing on subscriptions is through churn, noted Deloitte’s Kevin Downs. A recent Deloitte survey found the U.S. paid streaming service churn rate averaged 37%. “It’s high,” he said.

The churn rate was even higher among Gen Z and Millennials, with more than half of those respondents either canceling or canceling and adding paid services in the past six months. While access to original content (39%) and a broad range of content (38%) were the top two reasons U.S. consumers said they were subscribing to paid SVOD services, U.S. subscribers said they’re canceling paid SVOD services due to cost (41%), price increases (30%) and lack of new content (30%).

A majority (60%) of consumers would prefer to have reduced cost, ad-supported options, Downs noted.

Significant majorities of consumers also said they were frustrated with finding content and having to subscribe to so many services to find it.

In addition to cost and content concerns, services also have to compete with time spent on video games — a pursuit younger generations in particular may find more appealing than watching TV or movie content, he said.

Whip Media’s Vince Muscarella and Kortney Kesses noted that, aware of the appeal of games, streaming services are targeting gaming fans by creating content from game franchise IP.

They pointed out that “The Last of Us,” a series based on the game scheduled for HBO Max sometime in 2023, is already gaining some traction among fans, reaching 16,000 interested followers on their tracking service well ahead of other big titles this far ahead of release.

“It’s probably going to be HBO Max’s biggest release to date,” said Muscarella, who admitted he is one of those eager fans.

“Other companies are going to start paying attention to video game IP for content,” he said.

DEG: 25 Years of Digital Leadership

No celebration of the launch of DVD, and the quarter-century of digital entertainment it spawned, would be complete without a nod to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, the home entertainment trade organization that represents the world’s largest media and entertainment companies, consumer electronics manufacturers, platform providers and technology companies. 

What was originally known as the DVD Video Group was established in June 1997, four months after DVD’s U.S. launch, with the goal of being the “singular source” of information about the format, Billboard observed at the time. The new group had 17 charter member companies, represented by executives from the software and hardware sides of the business, including Paul Culberg of Columbia TriStar Home Video, Mike Fidler of Sony Electronics, John Powers of Warner Home Video, Rusty Osterstock of Panasonic and Jeff Fink of LIVE Entertainment. The initial executive committee included President David Bishop, then with MGM/UA Home Video, and VP Steve Nickerson, then with Toshiba America Consumer Products, along with VP David Garber of LIVE and chairman Emiel Petrone, EVP with Philips Electronics. Amy Jo Smith was its executive director, with Marc Finer as technical director.

The current DEG board consists of companies spanning content owners, consumer electronics manufacturers, distribution platforms and their technology partners. Each of these segments is represented among the group’s officers, who include Jim Wuthrich of WarnerMedia (chair), Dan Cohen of Paramount Global Distribution Group (vice chair), Andrea Downing of PBS Distribution (CFO), Rick Hack of Intel (secretary) and Matt Strauss of NBCUniversal Media/Peacock (chair emeritus). 

Charged with drumming up industry support as well as consumer awareness, the DVD Video Group played a key role in DVD becoming the fastest-growing product in consumer electronics history. When it first formed, only half the industry had gotten behind DVD. By 2001 every major studio and consumer electronics company was on board. At launch, consumer awareness of DVD was under 20%. By 2001 it was 90%. 

Since then, the group, which adopted its current name in 2003, has consistently worked to enhance and promote home entertainment as it evolved from DVD into Blu-ray Disc and digital distribution, including streaming. Bob Chapek, CEO of The Walt Disney Co., led the group as president and then chair from 2002 to 2009. He worked closely with Smith, now president and CEO, to refocus the group with a broader mission that he said at the time “reflects our organization’s forward-looking commitment to explore new issues and opportunities that relate to emerging technologies on the horizon.” 

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While the DEG has had many industry innovators at its helm — including Chapek, Strauss, Mike Fasulo of Sony Electronics, Mike Dunn of 20th Century Fox, and Ron Sanders of Warner Bros. — one leader has remained constant. Smith has led the organization since helping to establish it, with a mandate to regularly realign the group to meet the changing needs of the industry amid a stream of market disruptions. She is well known in the industry and is often the first call constituents make when looking to make a connection or find a new job.

Most recently, DEG’s “forward-looking commitment” to emerging technologies has focused on the heightened need for cross-industry collaboration as the volume of content created globally has exploded. During year two of the pandemic, the DEG created the Advanced Content Delivery Alliance (ACDA), a working community charged with addressing the advancements in technology to enable improved digital content delivery and a better consumer experience. It followed DEG’s Direct-to-Consumer Alliance (D2CA), which was established in 2019 to put a focus on companies with a direct-to-consumer offering. Both alliances have been beneficial in attracting new members to the DEG, which now counts 84 participating companies, the most in its 25-year history. 

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From the introduction of DVD through the current direct-to-consumer streaming boom, the DEG’s “proudest accomplishment is its ability to adjust to the changing dynamics of the industry to support member companies in their efforts to grow the industry and improve content delivery to fans,” says Smith. Looking ahead, Smith says this nimbleness in service to the industry will continue to be a priority that evolves along with new formats, platforms and technologies. 

Amy Jo Smith: Recollections From DVD to DEG

As the digital entertainment business celebrates 25 years, so does DEG.

DEG was there at the beginning, and I with it, when the DVD Video Group was formed in 1997 with the express purpose of promoting the first digital entertainment format — DVD — in collaboration with content owners and hardware makers. 

I have so many fond memories and proud moments. Among the proudest was the formation of DEG Japan, where senior Japanese executives met under the guise of the DEG brand for meaningful dialog and to see what worked in their market. They were so self-guided; it was really inspiring to see.  And, more recently, the creation of the Hedy Lamarr Awards to honor women making strides in entertainment and technology, an initiative championed by Marc Finer, who has worked side by side with me at DEG since day one. 

I share these thoughts and a few more of my personal touchstones in an effort to focus not so much on the business details as on the business “flavor.” And that flavor is pioneering, revolutionary, one of art pushed forward by technology, and of a team bonded by common goals and shared experience.

DVD

Warren Lieberfarb

Warren Lieberfarb, the Warner Home Video president known far and wide as the “Father of DVD,” had the vision of putting a movie on a CD, named it DVD and, with no small amount of chutzpah, assured everyone that consumers would buy and collect movies going forward.  I had been in many meetings with Warren, but it wasn’t until I heard him convince a room packed with naysayers at CES 1998 that I finally understood: Warren was a force of nature, and he was going to make it happen. DVD was the most significant disruption the entertainment industry had experienced, and it became the fastest selling consumer electronics product in history.

DVD-Audio

DEG helped launch DVD-Audio at the music industry trade show NARM in San Antonio in 2000. It was amazing to see the jaws of both music enthusiasts and experts drop when they heard classics like Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors or Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now.  It was music they had heard countless times, but now they were hearing it differently.  It came alive. DVD-Audio’s quality notwithstanding, digital won the race in the music business and DVD-Audio was a casualty as a mainstream format. 

You’ve Got Mail

Over the years, DEG helped promote many popular titles when they came out on DVD and Blu-ray Disc.  One of my favorites was a promotion we did for Warner Home Video’s launch of You’ve Got Mail in New York City, where we passed out daisies in Central Park. My now-husband Jeff walked by and got some flowers.  When we actually met two years later, we realized that our first encounter was me giving him daisies in the park!

DEG Bags

DEG quickly became known for its coveted bags we’d give away at events, particularly the DEG Annual Reception at CES.  The bags were stuffed with dozens of DVDs, then Blu-rays, plus lots of other fun branded items.  I have many memories of the bags, but my favorites are receiving counterfeit bag tickets from attendees trying to score extra bags; walking through Heathrow Airport and seeing an executive from Paramount using the bag (pictured); and visiting the old city in Jerusalem and spying an executive’s teenage son using the DEG backpack!

Emiel Petrone

Emiel Petrone

As DEG chair, Disney’s Bob Chapek asked the Board of Directors to attend CEDIA, the trade show where the coolest home entertainment technologies of the time were displayed. Everyone agreed and found it a meaningful visit, punctuated by a VIP tour of show of the floor by DEG’s technical director, Marc Finer (known to most as “Finer”). Our founding chair, Emiel Petrone of Philips, led an after-dinner run to White Castle for burgers, which became a DEG tradition at CEDIA, despite seeming like a better idea in the moment than it ever did the next morning.  After Emiel passed away in 2004, Bob picked up the mantle and rallied us all to continue the CEDIA midnight White Castle run in Emiel’s honor.

9/11

(Photo courtesy Wiki Commons)

DEG was holding a meeting at Giant Interactive in New York when the attacks of 9/11 happened. We watched in horror as we realized our colleague John Beug from Warner Music lost his wife and mother-in-law in one of the planes. They would turn out to be among 3,000 others who perished that day. Stranded in New York City, I spent the next few days with DEG colleagues. We were all there for each other, giving support. Every year since, Jeff Stabenau of Giant, Gene Kelsey (then of Panasonic), Leslie Cohen (then of Sony Music), Paul Bishow (then of Universal Music Group) and I connect on Sept. 11 to honor the memory of others.

4K

DEG established DEG Japan as a means of flowing more information of emerging technologies to the membership.  Attending DEG Japan’s annual meeting and Blu-ray Prize celebration was always a highlight. It’s been a pleasure to know and work with Tsukagoshi-san, formerly of Disney, and many others.  Each trip was punctuated with a visit to Sony worldwide headquarters to visit their lab. I’ll never forget the moment they showed me 4K in their state-of-the-art theater. Colors and images came alive in a way I’d never imagined.

Board leadership

Over these 25 years, one thing that always strikes me is how the Board leaders, all executives with demanding day jobs, took the time to guide the organization, knowing that doing so would help grow the industry and, in turn, grow their businesses. I’m blessed that they all took the time to mentor and lead me, and that I may call each a friend, not just a colleague.  DEG would not be marking 25 years in 2022 if it hadn’t been for their vision and leadership.

Amy Jo Smith is president and CEO of DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, the leading home entertainment trade association and the descendant of the DVD Video Group, formed in 1997 to promote DVD.

Sony Pictures, Disney, BBC Studios Join DEG International

The Digital Entertainment Group International (DEGI) Feb. 23 announced that BBC Studios, Sony Pictures Entertainment and The Walt Disney Company, EMEA, have become members of the global arm and sister body to the U.S. based DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group (DEG).

The companies join existing DEGI members Google, Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures.

Joe Braman, co-chair of the DEGI, said 2022 promises to be a global renaissance for home entertainment, with the DEGI and DEG supporting the missions of stakeholders and driving common agendas for category growth.

“The DEGI welcomes these three new members and their engaged membership at such an exciting time for the category,” Braman said. “As the surge in new content continues across the next six months, their experience and ambition will be a huge benefit to our collective goals.”

In the United Kingdom, more than 30.1 million VOD movie rentals were recorded from January through October 2021, as well as 17.7 million digital and physical transactions, despite ongoing supply chain issues. The final week of 2021 saw the biggest uptick in digital movie sales in the United Kingdom since records began.

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Laura Broadbent, project director, transactional digital acceleration program at Sony Pictures Entertainment, believes that the evolving consumer appetite for digital content is at the heart of movie and TV consumption going forward.

“This presents a phenomenal opportunity for growth across international territories,” Broadbent said in a statement.

Broadbent credited the DEGI with providing the studio with a strong platform for collaboration through the sharing of research, insight and knowledge, which, she says will enable Sony to help its audiences understand how and where they can rent or buy the wealth of content available to them.

Johnnie Thompson, director of digital stores for EMEA & Russia at The Walt Disney Company, said the consumer base is more than subscription VOD.

“With almost 18 million digital purchases in the U.K. alone in 2021, the category continues to thrive,” Thompson said. “So, it’s essential that we come together as an industry to share our knowledge and expertise to drive the digital category forward, and DEGI provides a great platform to do just that.”

DEG: Streaming Again Fuels Surge in Consumer Home Entertainment Spending in 2021

Consumer spending on home entertainment in 2021 rose nearly 8% from the prior year to a record $32.3 billion, fueled once again by a surge in subscription video-on-demand (SVOD), or streaming, according to estimates released Feb. 7 by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

The trade group says consumer spending on streaming climbed 20% to an estimated $25.3 billion, or more than 78% of the total.  

Consumer spending in all other segments declined in 2021, after rising significantly in 2020 due to movie theater closures and stay-at-home orders triggered by the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

DVD and Blu-ray Disc sales were down 19.5% to an estimated $1.97 billion, from $2.45 billion in 2020. Disc rentals fell 21.2% to $822.7 million, from $1.04 billion the prior year.

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Digital transactional sales were off 19.2% to an estimated $2.42 billion, from nearly $3 billion in 2020, while digital transactional rentals slipped 23.8% to $1.77 billion, from $2.32 billion the year before.

The DEG cautions, however, that digital spending totals do not include premium video-on-demand (PVOD) revenue. The trade group pegs PVOD revenue at about $525 million, not counting Disney+ Premier Access. (Media Play News stopped carrying the weekly Watched at Home chart because Disney does not provide revenue for disc and transactional digital titles that were initially released to home audiences at a premium VOD price.)

In the fourth quarter, the DEG reported, total consumer spending on home entertainment rose more than 11% to $8.6 billion, the highest growth rate of the year’s four quarters.

Streaming once again led the way, with spending up more than 19% to an estimated $6.64 billion.

Transactional spending fared significantly better in the fourth quarter than in any of the year’s previous three-month periods, with digital sales down less than 3% and rentals down 6.2%. The DEG notes that “purchases of TV product were particularly strong in Q4, rising to $258 million, an 11% increase above the same quarter in 2020, and 54% over the 2019 quarter.” Season four of Paramount’s “Yellowstone” was the top revenue generator of the year across all transactional formats, with the “Yellowstone” franchise bringing more than $61 million in fourth-quarter consumer spending.

Digital rentals of theatrical new releases through internet retailers such as Vudu, Google Play and Redbox On Demand in the fourth quarter rose about 3% from the same period in 2020, and 29% over spending in the pre-pandemic fourth quarter of 2019.

Physical media also did much better in the fourth quarter, with sales down just 14.2%. Consumer spending on 4K UHD Blu-ray Discs, the DEG reported, was up more than 6% in the quarter.

Top titles across both physical and digital transactional formats included The Croods: A New Age; F9: The Fast Saga; Free Guy; Godzilla vs Kong; Harry Potter Complete 8-Film Collection; Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard; Monster Hunter; No Time to Die; A Quiet Place Part II; Venom: Let There Be Carnage; Wonder Woman 1984; and all four seasons of “Yellowstone.”

Nominations for DEG’s Sixth Annual Hedy Lamarr Awards Now Open

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group on Jan. 28 announced that nominations for the 2022 Hedy Lamarr Awards are now open. 

The awards program, now in its sixth year, was created “to acknowledge and inspire pioneering work by the multi-faceted female leaders in entertainment technology today as well as those of the next generation, DEG says.
 
The Hedy Lamarr Award for Innovation in Entertainment Technology will honor a female executive who has advanced and impacted the industry in a unique manner that drove meaningful change. The 2021 award went to Poppy Crum, chief technology officer at Trimble and former chief scientist at Dolby Laboratories. Past honorees were Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media; Nonny de la Peña, CEO of the Emblematic Group; Dean Willow Bay of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism; and Sara DeWitt, VP of PBS Kids Digital.

The Hedy Lamarr Achievement Award for Emerging Leaders in Entertainment Technology, a financial award intended to further the recipient’s education, recognizes a female college student whose studies in the fields of entertainment and technology have shown exceptional promise.

Nomination forms are due Friday, April 1. The Hedy Lamarr Awards will be given out in November to coincide with the anniversary of Lamarr’s birth.

Nomination form for the Hedy Lamarr Award for Innovation in Entertainment Technology

Nomination form for the Hedy Lamarr Achievement Award for Emerging Leaders in Entertainment Technology

To determine the award winners, DEG enlists its Canon Club Advisory Board, comprised of a cross-section of leaders representing the entertainment, technology, IT and consumer electronics industries. Among other factors, the judging panel bases its decisions on the candidates’ embodiment of the following principles: innovation, engagement and excellence.

Q&A: DEG Chief Amy Jo Smith Reflects on the Trade Group’s Quarter Century

As president and CEO of DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, Amy Jo Smith heads the leading trade group for the home entertainment industry, representing the interests of the world’s largest media and entertainment companies, consumer electronics manufacturers, platform providers and technology companies.

A former White House communications advisor, Smith since 1997 has led the industry-funded group’s efforts to enhance and promote home entertainment during its evolution from videocassettes to DVDs, Blu-ray Discs and today’s digital age.

Under Smith’s leadership, the DEG is credited with helping to make DVD the fastest-growing consumer electronics product in industry history. In 2019, the DEG launched the D2C Alliance Council as a working community within the DEG to represent the global direct-to-consumer media industry and support its members to help create a robust marketplace to lead the new era of content consumption.

Media Play News asked Smith about the achievements, continuing work and aims of the DEG.

MPN: On the eve of the association’s 25th anniversary, tell us about DEG’s mission and how it has evolved with the industry.

Smith: The DEG’s first mission was to support the product launch of the DVD format. At the time, we were focused on attracting industry support and consumer adoption of the format. Many credit the DEG’s efforts with being a catalyst for DVD’s success as the fastest-growing product in consumer electronics history.   

As consumer interest for physical and digital entertainment has evolved, so has the DEG. We are here to serve the industry in helping to improve the consumer experience with the various ways they consume entertainment content in 2022 and beyond.   

MPN: What do you consider the group’s three major accomplishments? 

Smith: The DEG aims to create a unique, collaborative environment to enable leading content, delivery, device and technology companies to work together to grow the category. Our goal is to help leading media and entertainment companies make informed decisions to grow their businesses. Here are just a few of these:

  • The DEG spearheaded the industry’s efforts for a unified approach in designing and displaying new packaged media and consumer messaging, as witnessed by 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Digital Copy and Digital Download.
  • The DEG has led numerous consumer research projects to help demystify the benefits associated with new digital experiences. Some examples include the industry’s first research on the prospects for home 3D, digital collecting and, most recently, the study commissioned by the DEG’s D2C Alliance Targeted Services committee from SmithGeiger to inform on streaming user behavior related to targeted SVOD and AVOD services.
  • More than two decades ago, the DEG was established to support the launch of DVD. This helped to unify a number of fragmented marketing efforts into a single, powerful voice and was largely responsible for the format becoming arguably the most successful entertainment platform in history.

 

But the DEG’s proudest accomplishment is its ability to adjust to the changing dynamics of the industry to support member companies in their efforts to grow the industry and improve content delivery to fans. 
 
MPN: How has the pandemic changed the way DEG relates to and serves its members?   

Smith: With members unable to travel and commute to business meetings, we’ve been able to assemble executives more quickly. This has allowed us to move projects and activities faster. The DEG was quick to launch its virtual Expos, curated video sessions highlighting relevant topics. The Expos were received so favorably, attended by nearly 200 executives representing 50 companies on average in 2021, encouraging staff to produce these events about every six weeks. Our Expo on localization even resulted in the formation of our Advanced Content Delivery Alliance (ACDA) localization committee, which is now focusing on the need for a standard definition of quality across the localization industry.  

The DEG has always been a high-touch organization, providing customized customer care to meet varying needs. We brought this to the forefront of what we do during the pandemic. Members have told us how much this meant to them, to be able to count on us to bring pressing issues into committees, surging trends to Expos and to make introductions to enable networking in a WFH environment.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge Marcy Magiera, Andi Elliott and Jean Levicki on our team, who have been key to our success here. Everyone has worked tirelessly while navigating their own pandemic challenges.  

MPN: There are now two major “Alliances” within the DEG — the Direct-to-Consumer Alliance (D2CA) and the Advanced Content Delivery Alliance (ACDA). How are these different from one another? How do they serve the members differently than the core DEG? 

Smith: The D2C Alliance was established nearly three years ago to put a focus on companies with a direct-to-consumer offering. We wanted to shift the conversation away from the “streaming wars” and emphasize the burgeoning business opportunities available and exciting ways for consumers to get their TV, filmed, news, sports and specialty content. 

About a year ago, we analyzed our membership. Originally a content owner-based organization, we had a surge of member companies with products and services that help bring the content to market. We brought their voices to the forefront with the creation of the Advanced Content Delivery Alliance. In ACDA, members explore new ways to improve delivery of content. We are incredibly excited about the enthusiastic and worthwhile discussions and projects taking place in the Alliance. Through its Supply Chain Efficiency and Security committee, for example, the Alliance seeks to address obstructions within workflows due to the narrowing of windows, additional post work required for the home entertainment window, security challenges, and the threat landscape brought on by pirates.   

These Alliances allow the DEG to put a spotlight on pressing issues that members are focused on. We’re pleased with the support and participation we’ve received from members who are joining committees and giving input on agenda items we can tackle as an industry.

MPN: There was no annual DEG reception at CES in Las Vegas this year. When can the industry look forward to that event again? 

 Smith: There is going to be a DEG annual reception! Our annual reception will take place May 3 in Los Angeles at Skirball Cultural Center as part of our inaugural EnTech Fest. Members have been asking us for years to move the annual reception to Los Angeles so that it’s more accessible to L.A.-based folks.
  
Our EnTech Fest is a B2B event on May 3 and 4 built around what’s new and what’s next in content distribution and display technology. This forum will allow companies with products and services that enable distribution of content to showcase their latest offerings. EnTech will be different from other events in that we are focusing specifically on products for entertainment distribution.   

EnTech Fest will also have a special section dedicated to start-ups. Start Up Alley, as we’re calling it, will allow embryonic companies the chance to get in front of leading entertainment and technology companies.   

We’re excited that companies including Blu Digital Group, Dolby, DTS, Google TV, Intel, Looper Insights, NBCUniversal, NPD Group, Paramount, Synamedia and WarnerMedia are already supporting EnTech and, in some cases, Start Up Alley specifically. 

And, yes, EnTech will also be special because our annual reception will be held at that time!

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MPN: And now tell us the Amy Jo story — how did you get involved in the DEG, and why? 

Smith: Prior to DVD’s format launch, I was introduced to Warren Lieberfarb, the “father of DVD.” Warren tapped me to lead the consortium to support the global launch of the disc format for two to three years. As Warren described it, if we’re successful, there won’t be a need for the DEG any longer. And, if we’re not successful, there won’t be a need for the DEG, either.    

The way in which we’ve been able to constantly adjust our agenda to best meet the needs of the industry is what I’m most proud of. There are many DEG board leaders who have been instrumental in this. Our hats off to Bob Chapek, Ron Sanders, Mike Dunn, Mike Fasulo and Eddie Cunningham, to name a few. And our current board directors who have been instrumental in steering the DEG during the pandemic, including Jim Wuthrich, Dan Cohen, Matt Strauss, Andrea Downing, Rick Hack and Bob Buchi.  

The DEG is only as good as the people who participate in it to make it so. The organization is strong because of all the smart, forward-thinking executives who lean into the DEG. We are happy to know they rely on the DEG to be their organization to support the many emerging ways to deliver content.  I’m proud to be part of the DEG family. Our thanks to the many collaborative partnerships we have in the industry, including MPN.

DEG’s EnTech Fest Moves to May 3-4

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group’s new event EnTech Fest, previously scheduled to take place Feb. 15-16, has been moved to May 3-4 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

The event replaces, and expands upon, the annual DEG reception at CES, which was not held this year for the first time in the group’s 25-year history.

The EnTech event will showcase new content distribution and display technology. There will be an in-car entertainment gallery, and a “Startup Alley” will highlight new companies with products and services in entertainment technology.

The event is open to all DEG members.

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