What are the key products and trends shaping broadcast media today and across the next decade?
RBR+TVBR‘s Weekly Tech Roundup is pleased to present to you the answers from a journalist who is well-versed in bringing key highlights and takeaways from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to consumers.
FOX Business anchor and FOX News Radio podcast host Liz Claman participated in an exclusive RBR+TVBR post-CES 2020 interview with Editor-in-Chief Adam R Jacobson, conducted via e-mail as Claman returned to New York from Las Vegas.
Claman is a familiar face at the Consumer Electronics Show, which she has covered for more than a decade, interviewing industry leaders in business and technology including LG Electronics President Dr. I.P. Park, GoPro CEO Nick Woodman, and Samsung North America CEO Tim Baxter, among others.
This year, she interviewed Impossible Foods CEO Dr. Patrick O. Brown at the Leaders in Technology Dinner, in addition to covering important CES news for FOX Business.
RBR+TVBR: Throughout the week, you provided live reports across the FOX Business Network and conducted interviews with key business leaders on your daily program The Claman Countdown. This included a sit-down with Discovery CEO David Zaslav. What are some of the key highlights of that discussion as it pertains to the television industry?
LIZ CLAMAN: It would have been so easy for David Zaslav to revert to what a lot of cable and broadcast television executives are doing these days: They all try to understate the actual stress level of the industry and attempt to slap a coat of glitter on the situation. But, he did the opposite. He very candidly told me the business is in a secular decline that threatens the industry’s entire business model.
If you’re going to survive and win, you’ve got to figure out how to get your content to people outside of the traditional cable bundle. Viewers are literally fleeing the old model. Discovery is overflowing with content: HGTV, Food Network, TLC, Oprah … the list goes on. How do you sculpt it all differently? They’ve just launched “Food Network Kitchen,” a $6.99 per month streaming service which he describes as “Peloton for Food.” You can join live cooking classes taught by Discovery stars from Giada to Martha Stewart, or you can watch them on-demand. They’re partnering with Amazon Echo and he told me they’re working to give people the option to buy groceries and kitchen tools right through the Echo as they watch the cooking classes.
Zaslav’s mission is to shoe-horn all of Discovery Inc.’s content into every device all over the world. If you’re a broadcast exec and you’re not thinking like he is, you might find yourself out of the game.
RBR+TVBR: As a longtime business reporter with a career in television and knowledge of audio content thanks to your podcast, we are curious as to the level of excitement for all things audio at CES. First, is there one development on the tech front for consumers that’s hot?
LIZ CLAMAN: I can remember my very first CES in the early 1990s. The place was filled with speakers and headphones. The word “earbud” didn’t even exist. Look, you can have the most tricked-out television in the world but without pristine, quality audio, you’ve got tinny sound that ruins the entire experience.
We’ve watched headphones go from gigantic elephant ears to tiny buds and then back to big, chunky cans again. I saw JBL Quantum headphones at CES 2020. They’re made specifically for gamers, by gamers, that not only give you the feeling of totally immersive sound but are built with integrated sensors that can detect even the slightest head movements. These are not your rocker uncle’s headphones anymore.
RBR+TVBR: Now, let’s think of the tech of use by the podcaster, or the companies developing ear buds, smart speakers, and AI, such as Veritone – a big player in the radio industry. What’s the buzz there from CES?
LIZ CLAMAN: I was blown away by AKG‘s Podcaster Essentials. Talk about democratizing the ability to launch a podcast — this is basically a podcast-in-a-box. It enables you to set up the ability to record a studio-quality podcast anywhere you want: your kitchen, your car, the beach. It comes with an AKG Lyra USB microphone, headphones, production software, a free introductory recording course and interconnecting cables. I’m heading to the Super Bowl in Miami to do my show live and I’m going to bring one if possible so I can knock out some “Everyone Talks to Liz” podcast episodes right then and there.
RBR+TVBR: Let’s talk about visual media, from OTT to CTV to broadcast and cable networks like FOX Business. What did CES bring in terms of trends for the ‘20s? Are apps and “everywhere access” tools where it’s at for the TV industry?
LIZ CLAMAN: My show is the window beyond CES that focuses on the horse race that involves cable, streaming, telecom, content and the business of it all. Entertainment programming is now migrating to apps, from Netflix to HBO Max to Amazon, Disney+, and Apple+. You’re seeing mobile as an increasingly pinpointed location, and some big names are pouring millions of dollars into all-mobile opportunities. Quibi was all over CES this year. They’re launching in a few months and they promise incredible storytelling and breakout shows delivered right to your phone.
Where does that leave traditional television? Samsung showed it’s working hard to be fleet of foot. I tested Samsung’s new Sero, which brings together what you can do when you pair your mobile device paired a full screen TV. It’s a 4K QLED TV that connects to your phone and rotates automatically to match the orientation of your screen, from landscape to portrait. It’s being marketed directly to the Instagram and TikTok generation because it flips vertically to portrait if you want to view YouTube videos or Insta-stories or any short form video intended for mobile. Ultimately it’ll will transfer to the big screen.
RBR+TVBR: With NATPE Miami later this month and CES now concluded, it is a big month for TV. Where does ‘VR’ fit in? What about TV as a display vehicle for what’s on a smartphone?
LIZ CLAMAN: VR did not get a whole lot of play at CES this year. It was the talk of the town four years ago, then three years ago we heard a lot of promise, and today the pounding on the table about VR has lost some of its excitement.
Look, it’s clearly been an investment focus for Facebook and Google. It’ll have a role in the gaming world, and will probably come back to the forefront considering 8K TVs have more clarity of pixels. We’re seeing smaller goggles and a more natural way to experience it but, near term, VR does not look as sizzling hot as it did a few years ago.
RBR+TVBR: We wanted to conclude with a conversation on eSports, as radio companies such as Beasley Media Group are diversifying into this space. Any buzz or takeaways for radio/TV on the growth of eSports as it pertains to CES tools and trends?
LIZ CLAMAN: I can’t believe the velocity with which eSports has moved. There are something like 450 million people in the world who either participate in eSports or watch eSports through various viewing platforms, whether that’s YouTube, Facebook, twitch or Microsoft Mixer.
It’s gotten to the point where many colleges are now awarding eSports scholarships now. A whole generation that grew up on competitive gaming is now hitting university age. NBA has an eSports league. It sort of feels like cable in the ’80s when cable was getting massive viewership ahead of revenue.
Beasley is now offering the only internationally syndicated eSports gaming lifestyle radio show. Cheddar does a one-hour show on the business of gaming.
The question for every aspect of eSports is how can companies turn it into a serious revenue generator.
A lot of it is free, so how do you develop direct-to-consumer revenue? I’m seeing companies working to let the gamers pay to enter contests and predict outcomes, put money down that will develop as a revenue stream. Think of it as paid entry vs. gambling. Torque esports, Frankly and Winview just announced a three-way combination. You’ve got Frankly managing the content and digital revenue for 1200 broadcast stations, connecting with Torque which is building a major gaming arena in Florida and mobile gaming company Winview capitalizing on games of skill.
It’s an exciting time for gaming but again, the crown will go to the one that can figure out the answer to the biggest question of all: How to rake in the revenue.