Tempering the hype at CES for Internet-connected â€śsmartâ€ť TVs and app-based home entertainment, a panel of Hollywood digital gurus agreed that device manufacturers and digital content distributors have yet to earn mass-market appeal for such devices.
Todayâ€™s smart TVs are â€śclearly not ready for primetime,â€ť said Lionsgateâ€™s Curt Marvis (via paidContent). Marvis was critical in his review of one anonymous device: â€śOther than Netflix and Qriocity [Sonyâ€™s streaming video-on-demand service], there was nothing on there that worked very well at all. It reminded me of the old CD-ROM days.â€ť
Meanwhile, Fox Broadcastingâ€™s Hardie Tankersley dismissed Google TVâ€™s web-browsing as a â€ślameâ€ť experience that â€śnobody wants.â€ť
Other panelists saw promise beyond the first generation of â€śsmartâ€ť TVs and devices. â€śThe app environment,â€ť said Steve Canepa of IBMâ€™s media and entertainment unit, â€śallows for authentication, it allows for a business model that gets a much better share for the content creator.â€ť
â€śWe are finally at the tipping point where digital is becoming relevant,â€ť Lionsgateâ€™s digital head Curt Marvis tells the Los Angeles Times, â€śBut right now rental is dominant over sales.â€ť
In a state-of-the-industry report, the Times examines the issue of whether inchoate download-to-own services stand a chance of gaining market share alongside access-oriented digital services such as Netflix streaming and video-on-demand.
Some believe that studios are already living on rented time, as it were. â€śWeâ€™re almost inevitably moving toward a model in which download-to-own is a niche business,â€ť says Screen Digestâ€™s Arash Amel.
But with proponents of the Ultraviolet digital rights platform preparing for product launches next year, studios say the download-to-own business has only begun. Thomas Gewecke, Warner Bros.â€™ digital president, predicts that 2011 â€śmight be a watershed year in making download-to-own better for the consumer.â€ť