NAB Show to Bow ‘Streaming Experience’ Content Showcase

The NAB Show is introducing The Streaming Experience, a new content showcase curated by streaming and online video expert Dan Rayburn that will feature more than 50 OTT platforms and streaming devices.

The showcase, which will give NAB Show attendees a first-hand look at the latest streaming video services, according to organizers, will be located in the Central Lobby of the Las Vegas Convention Center and is open to all registered attendees during exhibit hours starting April 19.

The NAB Show takes place in Las Vegas April 18-22.

A living-room setting will allow attendees the opportunity to test OTT services side-by-side to compare content, video quality, ad formats, playback features and delivery methods. The Streaming Experience will feature hardware from Amazon, Apple, Roku, Xbox, PlayStation, LG, TCL and Samsung. Streaming services on display will include Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video, CBS All Access, Disney+, Hulu, NBC Sports, Netflix and YouTube TV, among others. New services from HBO Max, Peacock and Quibi may also be showcased, dependent on their launch dates, according to organizers.

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“Streaming is a major focus of the 2020 NAB Show, and the new Streaming Experience is the largest showcase of its kind in the industry,” said NAB EVP of conventions and business operations Chris Brown in a statement. “We are excited for attendees to join their industry peers in this living room environment and experience nearly every live and on-demand streaming service on the market today.”

Additional details of the Streaming Experience, including renderings of the new space, can be found here.

 

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.

Roku Announces TV Brand Expansion, ‘Roku TV Ready’ Program

Roku announced that 15 TV brands will launch Roku TV models in Canada, Mexico, the United States and the United Kingdom in 2020.

Roku TV brands in 2020 include ATVIO, Element, Hisense, Hitachi, InFocus, JVC, Magnavox, onn., Philips, Polaroid, RCA, Sanyo, TCL and Westinghouse.

In Mexico, new partner brands InFocus, Polaroid and Walmart’s ATVIO will sell Roku TV models, while existing partner brand Westinghouse and others will extend their Roku TV offerings to Mexico. In addition, TCL and Hisense will expand their Roku TV offerings with new Roku TV models launching later in the year.

“2019 was a tremendous year for Roku TV, with more brands, retailers and consumers choosing the platform than ever before,” said Mustafa Ozgen, SVP and GM of account acquisition at Roku in a statement. “We believe that Roku TV represented more than one in three smart TVs sold in the U.S. during the first nine months of 2019, and the number of our licensees keeps growing.”

Roku also announced “Roku TV Ready,” a new program that allows consumer electronics companies to partner with Roku to help their products work seamlessly with Roku TV. The first partners under the program are TCL North America and Sound United, parent company to Denon, Polk Audio, Marantz, Definitive Technology and Classé, which will feature Roku TV Ready products for select brands later this year. Products under the program will display a Roku TV Ready badge on marketing materials to identify that they have been tested and certified to work with the Roku TV. Consumer electronics companies can add Roku TV Ready functionality at no additional cost to their products, according to Roku.

“Our goal is to make the TV experience incredibly simple, accessible and fun. Roku devices continue to delight millions of consumers for these reasons. And now with this new program we hope to make it super easy to setup and control soundbars and audio/video receivers using just a Roku TV remote,” said Mark Ely, VP, retail product strategy at Roku in a statement. “Meanwhile, consumer electronics brands benefit by offering their products in a more appealing way to our large and engaged audience of millions of active accounts.”

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“Denon is consistently at the forefront of technology trends and services. Our joining the Roku TV Ready program demonstrates a continued dedication to this ethos while offering consumers an incredible value, endless entertainment and new features delivered over time,” said Brendon Stead, SVP, product development at Sound United, parent company to Denon, in a statement. “The Roku TV Ready program enables Denon users to easily access Denon product features via the Roku TV Remote, among other features. In the name of seamless entertainment, this is a boon for watchers everywhere.”

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“TCL and Roku have been working to deliver incredible home entertainment innovation to consumers for many years and we’re thrilled to be extending our partnership to home audio compatibility,” said Chris Larson, SVP, TCL, in a statement. “As America’s fastest-growing TV brand, we’re focused on providing a first-class home theater experience and a big part of that is ensuring consumers know their TCL television will work well with other products throughout the home.”

Roku Manufacturing Walmart-Branded Streaming Video Devices

Lost in Roku’s recent impressive financial results was disclosure that the streaming media device manufacturer and operating software platform is working with Walmart to roll out branded hardware.

“We recently agreed with Walmart to offer several new Roku devices, including audio [speaker] products to their customers under their Onn brand,” CEO Andy Wood and CFO Steve Louden wrote in the shareholder letter. “This is in addition to Roku TVs and Roku players already sold through Walmart.”

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Roku manufactures OEM streaming hardware and sticks for Comcast/Sky-owned Now TV, among other European customers. The OS platform will be at the heart of NBC Universal’s pending streaming service.

Roku also remains one of the largest smart TV  brands due to its embedded OS platform in myriad third-party TVs, including Philips, RCA, JVC, Hitachi, Sharp, TCL and other Chinese-made units — many sold in Walmart.

The Roku platform revenue continues to drive the company’s growth at the expense of loss-leading hardware sales.

Platform (ad-supported) revenue in the second quarter (ended June 30) skyrocketed 89% to $167.7 million, while streaming device (hardware) revenue increased 24% to $82.4 million from $66.5 million last year.

Indeed, The Roku Channel has become one of the largest AVOD platforms delivering free, largely third-party catalog content.

With Walmart reportedly killing efforts to produce original content and a branded streaming video service around Vudu, partnering with Roku could help the world’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer remain relevant in the digital age.

It could also help Roku grow its 30 million active monthly accounts.

 

IHS: China’s TCL Brand Tops North American TV Market

With just about everything made in China, it’s little surprise a Chinese television manufacturer has unseated South Korea’s Samsung for top unit sales in North America.

With China and the United States embroiled in a trade dispute, the rush to import Chinese TVs ahead of proposed tariffs is at a fevered pitch.

China’s TCL unit shipments climbed to 26.2% in the first quarter (ended March 31), up from 16% during the previous-year period, according to new data from IHS Markit.

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Perennial market leader Samsung saw shipments drop to 21.8% from 28%. No. 3 Vizio shipments nearly reached 14%, according to the data first reported by Advanced-Television.

TCL, which markets TVs featuring the Roku operating system, helped drive North American unit shipments up 30% to a record 9.3 million units.

Samsung still dominates the market in revenue (36.9%) due to its larger screens across its product line and higher price points.

“As uncertainty mounts around a possible tariff-driven rise in costs, these brands have been bolstering shipments to protect against any potential disruption,” Paul Gagnon, research executive director at IHS Markit, said in a statement. “Given that margins for TVs are relatively low compared to other consumer-electronics categories, any tariff increase would have a major impact on sales.”

 

TCL, Roku Partnering for Branded 8K Televisions

Roku and TCL Corp. Jan. 7 announced that they plan to release branded 8K TCL Roku TVs in late 2019. TCL will incorporate its latest Gen 11 LCD panel factory with Roku’s 8K hardware reference design. Additionally, Roku is expanding its 4K and HDR hardware reference design to include far-field microphones for voice search and control.

The 8K units pledge to deliver more than 33 million pixels compared to 8.3 million in today’s UHD 4K TVs. More pixels mean more clarity and detail, especially in the largest TV screen sizes. As more consumers adopt 65”, 75” and even larger screens for their homes, TCL and Roku believe consumers will choose the greater screen resolution of 8K for those displays, as evidenced by the prior trend in 4K TV purchases.

China-based TCL was one of the first TV manufacturers to incorporate Roku and produce a line of branded TVs. It claims to be the No. 2 smart TV in the U.S.

“We are thrilled to continue to break boundaries as we plan to build televisions that push the limits of picture quality and offer TV models with built-in voice control,” Chris Larson, SVP, TCL, said in a statement.

Since launching in 2014, the Roku TV licensing program has grown to be the No. 1 licensed TV OS in the U.S. The program provides OEMs with hardware reference designs and the Roku OS to build smart TVs. Roku manages the software updates, including delivering new features, regular channel updates and more. During the first nine months of 2018, more than one in four smart TVs sold in the U.S. were Roku TVs.

“In designing and delivering 8K TCL Roku TVs we will reach new heights by offering beautiful picture quality combined with America’s No. 1 TV streaming platform,” said Chas Smith, GM, Roku TV & Players.