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.”

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.

Nominations Open for 2023 DEG EnTech Awards to Be Held Oct. 12

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group is accepting nominations for the third annual EnTech Awards, formerly known as the TechOps Awards. The awards will be presented live and in person in Los Angeles Oct. 12 at the newly renamed Helpful Honda Sound Space.

Nominations must be received by the DEG on or before August 2.

The DEG EnTech Awards and Recognition event will honor exceptional technology accomplishments in the digital supply chain and digital distribution achieved by both companies and individuals, according to the DEG. The event will also encourage and promote excellence in all areas recognized by the DEG and showcase the importance of the Technology and Operations teams supporting digital distribution, according to the DEG.

There will be two new award categories added this year: The Rising Star Award and Emerging Tech Award. The new awards will join last year’s award categories of Technology Leadership, Technology Achievement, Technology Innovation, Localization Trailblazer, and Multi-Company Team Collaboration. This year, the Lifetime Achievement Award is being renamed The Hall of Fame Award.

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At the awards event, the DEG will also recognize those companies and individuals who participants believe are deserving of recognition with live voting for a People’s Choice Award.

The DEG’s inaugural TechOps Awards was held in April 2021 as a virtual event. The first in-person presentation was in 2022 at the DTS Sound Space.

EnTech Fest 2023

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group held its second annual EnTech Fest at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles on March 29. The one-day event included exhibits, an expanded conference program and the digital entertainment trade association’s annual reception.  (All photos by Media Play News staff)

Get Ready for More Streaming Ads, Say Speakers at EnTech Fest

The future of television is much like its past — advertising.

That’s according to speakers at the EnTech Fest 2023, held March 29 in Los Angeles and presented by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

“Online video advertising is the fastest growing market,” noted Marija Masalskis, senior principal analyst, media and entertainment, at Omdia.

“There’s no question that AVOD and FAST are on the rise,” said Briana Larsen, VP of content strategy and business development at TiVo. She noted that 74% of those in a survey were in favor of ads or ad tolerant. More specifically, 60.3% were ad-tolerant, 13.6% were in favor of ads and 26.1% were ad-averse.

Consumers are tolerant of advertising, but the ad dollars aren’t necessarily finding those consumers in the connected space.

An Omdia consumer survey asked, “What device do you think of first when you want to watch something?” and found the majority of respondents said they think of connected TV devices (smart TVs, Apple TV, Roku, etc.)

“CTVs are still the first choice of device when consumers are looking for something to watch,” Masalskis said. “So CTV platforms is where the consumers already are, but that’s not where the advertisers are.”

The growth in the free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) market will be strong.

“We are projecting that this market will breach $12 billion [in revenue] globally in the next five years,” Masalskis said. “The U.S. will remain the largest territory in FAST, but it is growing in a number of regions globally as well.”

“Over the next two years, FAST will be bigger than broadcast and cable combined,” said Field Garthwaite, co-founder and CEO of Iris.TV, who hosted a panel on the FAST space.

“When you bring your TV home, one of the first things you probably do these days is connect it to the internet,” said Bill Condon, VP of enterprise sales at Xumo.

The connection is allowing content owners, advertisers and platforms (such as Vizio’s smart TVs) to pinpoint the usage patterns of streaming consumers and better target advertising.

“All this is data that you couldn’t get in the days of traditional linear,” said Tony Huidor, chief technology and product officer at Cinedigm.

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Vizio’s Nyma Quidawai noted that via its smart-TV app the company can see what content viewers are flocking to. When they see something that is resonating on a series basis through Vizio’s ACR data, they can recommend single series or curated channels on Vizio’s free streaming service WatchFree+. 

Data also allows for more targeted advertising, panelists noted, making ads more relevant to consumers.

Still, protecting consumer privacy is key, they said.

“How user data is shared with advertisers and content owners is going to be critical,” said Robby Barnett, senior director of business development for Viant.

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 EnTech 2023

The DEG’s second annual EnTech returns to the Skirball Cultural Center with a new one-day format including exhibits, an expanded conference program and DEG’s annual reception. Planning is underway with DEG staff working with an advisory group including executives from Amazon, Dolby, Intel, LG Electronics, Looper Insights, NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. Discovery, XL8 Inc., and Xperi. Attendee registration will open by the end of January. 

For sponsorship opportunities, email Andi Elliott at andi@degonline.org.