Fragmentation, Content Discovery Key Topics for Speakers at EnTech Fest

Fragmentation in the digital marketplace and strategies to make finding content easier were key topics for speakers at the Feb. 7 EnTech Fest in Los Angeles, presented by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

During the conference, which DEG president and CEO Amy Jo Smith said drew 750 attendees, panel moderator Mark Finer of Communication Research unveiled a study conducted with Screen Engine that found nearly half of consumers want to access all of their content in one place.

LG Electronics’ Matt Durgin (left) and Communication Research’s Mark Finer on an EnTech Fest panel Feb. 7.

Smart TV home pages are a key entry point to finding content.

“The home page is where we’re impacting changes to the entertainment space, so it’s a big responsibility to manage these home pages,” said Matt Durgin of LG Electronics. That entry point often looks similar among manufacturers, he said.

“Look at everyone’s home page,” he said. “It’s FAST. It’s everyone’s service, and probably an ad.”

Still, manufacturers are trying to group content so that consumers can more easily find what they want to watch, speakers said.

For instance, Roku’s Jason Weber pointed to his company’s “Sports Zone” category, which aggregates all live and upcoming sports.

“We work with our partners to leverage metadata that they provide,” said Google TV’s Tom Gorke. Google TV’s home page surfaces “continue watching” content for the consumer, no matter where that content resides. Google TV also has a “live” tab to show available live content.

“We understand what services a user subscribes to, and we can then provide them with recommendations from those services,” he said, noting that for instance a Max title can appear right next to one from Paramount+.

Evolving personalization is “a core goal of ours,” he said.

Vizio’s Madhu Somasundaram (left) and Roku’s Vicki Liao on an EnTech Fest panel Feb. 7.

Vizio’s Madhu Somasundaram noted his company leverages automatic content recognition (ACR) data, which collects viewing data on Vizio TVs, “to see what consumers want.”

Fandango’s Cameron Douglas noted that the company’s Vudu digital transactional service has 25,000 AVOD titles, mostly independent films — part of a vast library of more the 250,000 titles.

“It’s easy for stuff to get lost,” he said. “The industry needs to get better at personalization. It amazes me how much stuff is found just through search.”

Paramount Streaming’s Will Gurman said the company links brands to boost the overall business and drive consumers to content they might like. For instance, the company used viewings of the Paramount hit show “Yellowstone” as a “hook” to drive audiences to other Westerns on Pluto TV. He said Paramount Streaming uses a mix of human curation and data to match consumers with content.

“We’re trying to lean in to hyperfocus on categories where we think audiences will cluster,” he said.

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In helping consumers find content, “we’re really trying to emulate an experience similar to a rabbit hole” using “robust machine learning,” said Tubi’s Sam Harowitz. The AVOD company — which Harowitz said sees VOD (rather than linear FAST) as the future of streaming — last year mounted a Super Bowl ad in which a comedically aggressive rabbit pushes consumers down a “rabbit hole” of content, exhorting viewers to “find rabbit holes you didn’t know you were looking for.”

As FAST channels have exploded, Roku’s Vicki Liao said, “We have become more focused on selecting channels to fill where there’s an audience or genre need.”

She added, “We’re always looking at things that can be improved with product features or even human curation.”

DEG Hosts EnTech Fest 2024

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group held its third annual EnTech Fest at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 7. The one-day event, which includes exhibits, conference sessions, and the digital entertainment trade association’s annual reception, drew a record crowd. EnTech Fest is aimed at content distribution and marketing executives, platform partners, technology enablers, trend trackers, connected device and display developers, and innovators across the digital entertainment ecosystem.  (All photos by Media Play News staff) 

Panels on Indie Content and AVOD, Digital Supply Chain Slated for Feb. 7 EnTech Fest

Panels on indie content on AVOD platforms and the future of the digital supply chain are on tap at the upcoming EnTech Fest, to be presented Feb. 7 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

The “Role of Indie Content on Major AVOD Platforms” panel (10:05-10:40 a.m.) will discuss programming AVOD platforms, how certain content attracts advertisers, viewership versus SVOD, licensing, collaboration between platforms and rights holders, promotion, and growth. Speakers include Sam Harowitz, VP, content acquisitions and partnerships, at Tubi; Vicki Liao, director, content acquisition, at Roku; Julie Dansker, SVP, streaming and content strategy, at Shout! Studios; Will Gurman, VP, global partnerships and content strategy, at Paramount Streaming; and Madhu Somasundaram, director of programming and operations, at Vizio.

The “10 Principles of 2030 Vision for Distribution” panel (3:45-4:30 p.m.) will discuss use cases and practical applications of the 2030 vision for digital entertainment distribution supply chain strategy and operations. Panelists will discuss the opportunities and challenges from the content owners’, distribution partners’ and service providers’ perspectives. Speakers include Eric Iverson, director of product strategy at Amazon MGM Studios; Scott Levine, senior product manager at Skywalker Sound; Greg Geier, SPV, digital media supply chain strategy and operations, at Sony Pictures Entertainment; Craig Seidel, CTO at Pixelogic; and Mark Turner, project director, production technology, at MovieLabs.

Also among the planned presentations are research sessions from Circana, Bango and Omdia and keynotes from Matt Strauss, NBCUniversal chairman, direct-to-consumer and international, and Keith LeGoy, Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman, worldwide distribution and networks.

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EnTech Fest is an event for content distribution and marketing executives, platform partners, technology enablers, trend trackers, connected device and display developers, and all innovators across the digital entertainment ecosystem, including DEG member studios and platforms. The one-day event includes exhibits, conference programming, and the DEG’s annual reception.

Focus exhibit categories include Emerging Technology, Consumer Experience, Immersive Storytelling, Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Content Delivery.

EnTech Fest 2024 is free for DEG members. Register here.

Research Presentations From Circana, Bango and Omdia Among Sessions at Feb. 7 EnTech Fest

Research sessions from Circana, Bango and Omdia are among the presentations at the upcoming EnTech Fest, presented Feb. 7 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

Giles Tongue

Bango VP of marketing Giles Tongue will present “The Subscriber Strikes Back.” The presentation will explore the impact of content hubs, flexible tiered subscriptions, and the rising demand for transparent costs.

It will cover how content providers are leveraging super bundling to achieve better reach, increased acquisition and retention to remain competitive in the ever-changing media and entertainment landscape.

John Buffone

Circana VP and industry advisor John Buffone will present “Unbundling the Compete Consumer Trend.” The inflationary environment is driving pricing and product mix shifts, consumer trade-off decisions and a challenging retail environment.

This session will explore the risks and opportunities for streaming amidst consumer’s shifting $3.2 trillion retail spending.

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Sarah Henschel

Sarah Henschel, Omdia principal analyst, media and entertainment, will present “Media and Entertainment Trends Shaping 2024.” The presentation will examine key trends that will shape the global media and entertainment industry in 2024, analyzing the characteristics of each of the trends and their impacts on the market. Profitability looms on the horizon for D2C streaming services and sports, AI and bundling continue to adapt the online streaming experience.

As previously announced, Matt Strauss, NBCUniversal chairman, direct-to-consumer and international, and Keith LeGoy, Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman, worldwide distribution and networks, will keynote EnTech Fest.

EnTech Fest is an event for content distribution and marketing executives, platform partners, technology enablers, trend trackers, connected device and display developers, and all innovators across the digital entertainment ecosystem, including DEG member studios and platforms. The one-day event includes exhibits, conference programming, and the DEG’s annual reception.

Focus exhibit categories include Emerging Technology, Consumer Experience, Immersive Storytelling, Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Content Delivery.

EnTech Fest 2024 is free for DEG members. Register here.

Peacock’s Matt Strauss and Sony Pictures’ Keith LeGoy to Keynote DEG’s EnTech Fest Feb. 7

Matt Strauss, NBCUniversal chairman, direct-to-consumer and international, and Keith LeGoy, Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman, worldwide distribution and networks, will keynote EnTech Fest, taking place Feb. 7 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. 

The event is presented by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

Strauss oversees NBCUniversal’s direct-to-consumer and international portfolio, which includes streaming service Peacock, online movie ticketing service Fandango, movie review site Rotten Tomatoes, and the International Networks division that services 176 territories across the world. Strauss will cover the state of the streaming industry as it enters a new era and reflect on lessons learned from launching and growing Peacock.

LeGoy co-leads the studio’s combined television and home entertainment distribution and marketing businesses. Le Goy also oversees Sony Pictures Television’s international networks operations, programming and strategy group, as well as the Crunchyroll anime business. LeGoy will discuss Sony Pictures’ approach to the distribution of film and television content and the innovative ways it connects with consumers.

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EnTech Fest is an event for content distribution and marketing executives, platform partners, technology enablers, trend trackers, connected device and display developers, and all innovators across the digital entertainment ecosystem, including DEG member studios and platforms. The one-day event includes exhibits, conference programming, and the DEG’s annual reception.

Focus exhibit categories include: 
 
  • Emerging Technology
  • Consumer Experience
  • Immersive Storytelling 
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Advanced Content Delivery

 

EnTech Fest 2024 is free for DEG members. Register here.

8K Association Announces Event Plans at EnTech Fest and NAB

As part of its ongoing efforts to promote 8K content initiatives across the industry, the 8K Association March 15 announced that it will participate in a number of strategic events throughout the year, including both panel discussions and technical demonstrations at the upcoming EnTech Fest and NAB Show.

Under the theme “8K — Leading the Way,” the organization plans to highlight the wide range of 8K content projects currently being developed, along with the number of leading companies and creators who are driving the 8K content ecosystem.

“One of the goals of the 8K Association is to educate and excite the trade about the wide range of 8K content initiatives that are already underway,” said its newly installed executive director Mike Fidler. “Our participation in well-known events like EnTech Fest and NAB will enable us to bring more awareness to these projects, along with the leading executives and companies behind them.”

At EnTech Fest in Los Angeles on March 29, Fidler will be moderating a panel session featuring Jonathon Lee, head of media engineering and innovation at Amazon Studios; Greg Ciaccio, senior director of post production original content at Imax; and Uday Mathur, chief technology officer at RED Digital Cinema. The discussion will focus on the various ways that 8K technology is elevating the creative entertainment experience. Additionally the 8K Association will be conducting a series of demonstrations throughout the day to illustrate the key aspects of the 8K ecosystem. To learn more about a complimentary registration for EnTech Fest, go to About — Event Page | EnTech Fest 2023 (accelevents.com) and enter 8KGuest23.

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The 8K Association will also be visible at NAB 2023, which is scheduled for April 15-19 in Las Vegas. A number of the organization’s member companies will be joining to promote and demonstrate the latest video compression technologies for 8K content on the show floor. These demonstrations will be conducted on an ongoing basis in the West Hall at booth W4015. The 8K Association will also be sponsoring a special panel discussion titled “Next Generation Video Codecs for 8K.” It will highlight the most recent advances in video codecs for 8K content delivery and their key advantages over legacy video codecs. The panel, which will be held April 17 from 2:30 to 3:20 p.m. PT in the floor theater in the West Hall next to Future Park, will be moderated by Ravi Velhal of Intel and features Mauricio Alvarez Mesa, CEO and co-founder of Spin-Digital; Thomas Kramer, VP of strategy and business development at MainConcept; Thomas Burnichon, VP of innovation strategy for Ateme and Abdul Rehman, CEO at SIMMWAVE. To learn more about these 8K Association activities, contact Diana Oh care of press@8kassociation.com.

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.

EnTech Fest 2022

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group this year moved its annual reception from CES in January to the Skirball Center on May 3. The event, which attracted upwards of 600 attendees, kicked off the home entertainment trade association’s EnTech Fest, which showcases new content distribution and display technology. (All photos by Media Play News staff)

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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