CES is a time for whacky new concept televisions, robots that play ping pong, self-driving tractors and other attention-grabbing innovations. But for cord cutters, it’s increasingly become a road map for where the world of streaming is headed.
Historically, the show has leaned heavily on physical devices like televisions or, over the last few years, cars. But the digital media industry has carved out an increasingly large portion of the show for itself, taking up a big chunk of the Aria Resort in Vegas as ground zero for the discussions and deal-making around streaming.
There is, after all, a lot to discuss. There’s the rise of free, ad-supported streaming services like Tubi and Pluto TV, paired with the expansion of ad-based tiers on subscription services like Netflix and Disney+. Or the continued proliferation of ATSC 3.0, known as NextGen TV. Artificial intelligence looms big over everything, including the world of streaming and digital media. And get ready to hear even more about super bundles.
It likely won’t match streaming’s high point at CES – Netflix’s announcement in 2016 that it would go global in a simultaneous launch in more than 130 countries – but there’s plenty to talk about.
Here are some key topics that might interest a cord cutter. If you’re worried about missing anything – we’ve got you covered. Cord Cutters News will be on the ground in Las Vegas bringing you updates and insights from the show.
Televisions are part of the legacy of CES and the Consumer Technology Association, which puts on the show. Expect bigger, more powerful TVs with smarter capabilities.
CES’s media day, which kicks off on Monday, January 8, will be loaded with a number of companies expected to show off their newest TVs, including Samsung, LG, Hisense, and TCL.
NextGen TV’s Future
More stations across the country are rolling out NextGen TV. But there remain some questions about the technology, including how digital rights management will be handled by broadcasters and whether the underlying standard actually infringes on an outside party’s technology.
Beyond that, CES will be a chance for the Advanced Television Systems Committee to show off the capabilities of NextGen TV, giving folks a reason to get excited about the technology.
The Future of Streaming
Subscription streaming services took a beating in 2023, whether it was the continued massive losses that they posted or the backlash they got for the umpteenth price hike (there were a lot). But 2024 could be a better year, with spending on video services expected to be at $48 billion, up 4% over 2023, according to Richard Kowalski, senior director of business intelligence at CTA.
Executives from companies like Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, Philo, and Tubi, among others, are expected to converge at the Aria to talk about where things are headed.
A big factor will be how advertising plays into streaming. There’s already been a rise of free, ad-supported services, but expect subscription services to lean hard into this area, potentially driving people into those cheaper ad tiers. Amazon is scheduled to turn on ads for its Prime Video service later this month.
AI’s Role in Media
AI is everywhere, and the media and streaming worlds are no exception. Whether it’s using AI to more intelligently deliver ads or to optimize the picture quality of your television, discussions about it will be all over CES.
Like something out of Black Mirror, the concept of a “digital twin solution” run by AI will likely be a key theme for the show and 2024, according to Brian Comiskey, director of thematic programs at the CTA. That goes beyond the existing generative AI we saw last year with OpenAI, and is something that’s even more personalized.
Weird and Wacky
Every year, something steals the show at CES, whether it’s a smart, auto-tightening belt called “Belty,” a concept electronic sensor from Charmin that alerts you on how smelly a bathroom is, or a robot capable of pulling off creepy human-like facial expressions.
It’s why LG sticks a transparent OLED display over a vacuum tube audio system and announces it just days before the show.
It’s these kinds of surprises that make CES so unpredictable and wild. This is going to be a crazy week.
Image credit: CTA