Entertainment Industry

Category: 2012 Consumer Electronics Show

YouTube's Robert Kyncl charts Internet video's meteoric rise

Robert Kyncl YouTube's head of global content
YouTube executive Robert Kyncl took the consumer electronics industry on a trip through a time machine -- just five years ago -- when subscription service Netflix didn't stream movies online, Internet television service Hulu didn't exist and YouTube was still in its infancy.

The times, and the way viewers consume entertainment, are a changin', as Kyncl underscored in his Thursday keynote address at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that charted the rapid rise of the Internet as a distribution platform. 

Netflix, which got its start in 1998 mailing DVDs to subscribers in its trademark red envelopes, streamed 2 billion videos in the fourth quarter of 2011. Hulu now boasts 30 million monthly users. And YouTube attracts about 800 million viewers a month.

"The speed with which we're running is incredible," said Kyncl, YouTube's global head of content partnerships. He predicted that Internet video would soon account for 90% of the traffic on the Internet.

Kyncl said YouTube is a platform where someone like Michelle Phan could follow her own passion -- and not her mother's desire that she become a doctor -- to create instructional makeup and beauty videos. Her YouTube channel now attracts twice as many regular viewers as a program on cable's Style network, he said. And that audience led to a sponsorship from a mainstream advertiser, Lancome. 

"It's a wonderful, magical story that wouldn't have been possible five years ago," Kyncl said. "But it's possible today."

Kyncl portrayed Internet video as the next major step in the evolution of media, once dominated by three broadcast networks that together commanded 100% of television viewership in the U.S. The emergence of cable and satellite distributors made possible the fragmentation of the audience around niche programming.

By 2020, Kyncl predicted, about 75% of channels will be transmitted by the Internet. The global reach of sites like YouTube will allow for even more specialized channels to draw together sizable audiences of passionate enthusiasts, he said.

Machinima, a YouTube channel for video game fans, now attracts more than 1 billion views every month from about 116 million people around the world, said Chief Executive Allen DeBevoise, who participated in a panel discussion after Kyncl's presentation.  

YouTube's initiative to bring established TV producers and stars to its platform has attracted such entertainment notables as  "CSI" creator Anthony Zuiker, actor Rainn Wilson, best known for portraying Dwight Schrute in NBC's "The Office," and Felicia Day, creator of the Internet series "The Guild."

"I'm here because of what I've learned from the user-generated content ... on YouTube that has inspired me," Zuiker said.


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Photo: Robert Kyncl, YouTube's head of global content, in the company's Santa Monica offices. Credit: Christina House / For The Times

News Corp.'s Jon Miller talks about 'channelization' of the Web

News Corp. digital chief Jon Miller

We've seen the future of the Web at the Consumer Electronics Show -- and it looks remarkably like TV.

Jon Miller, chief digital officer for News Corp., predicted that a major trend of 2012 will be what he called the "channelization" of the Web.

Online video has been characterized by short bursts of entertainment, lasting just a few minutes. Miller said Google Inc.'s YouTube site is pushing a more programmed approach that more closely resembles TV channels.

"Clearly, YouTube is trying to drive that in a big way.... Essentially, it means programming that is sequential that you can keep viewing. You have a passive viewing experience," Miller said Wednesday at Variety's Entertainment Summit at CES. "You turn it on and it runs. It has continuity, as opposed to watching a three-minute video. It stops, and you sit there."

YouTube has begun bolstering its video offerings with 100 channels of original programming created by established TV production companies, as well as celebrities such as Madonna and former NBA star Shaquille O'Neal. 

Robert Kyncl, vice president of global head of content partnerships at YouTube, will deliver a keynote Thursday, in which he is expected to talk about the opportunity of the Web as a distribution vehicle.

Kyncl's expected remarks come as consumer electronics manufacturers introduced a new generation of Internet-connected TVs powered by Google TV, software that allows viewers to search for and watch Web video on the big screen in the living room. 


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-- Dawn C. Chmielewski in Las Vegas

Photo: News Corp. chief digital officer Jon Miller. Credit: Jamie Rector / Bloomberg News


Sony outlines strategy to revitalize TV group

Sony 3-D TV glasses
Sony used the backdrop of the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to talk about the company's plans to revitalize its struggling television division.

Executive Deputy President Kazuo Hirai said new technologies, such as the Crystal LED prototype the company showcased Monday in its news conference, will factor in plans to return the TV group to profitability by March 2014.

Hirai reiterated the cost-cutting measures Sony announced last fall, as the television division plunged to a loss. Those include dissolving a joint venture with Samsung, closing plants, and reducing the number of televisions it ships by eliminating "overlap," he said.

Sony executives continued to voice support for 3-D television technology, which has not caught on with consumers as quickly as many manufacturers had hoped.

"As with any new technology, it's going to take a while," said Hirai, noting that demand would be fueled by the increasing availability of new movies and games in 3-D.

Phil Molyneux, president of Sony Electronics, said the company introduced a new line of 3-D glasses Monday to address consumer complaints about the weight. "I could wear them on the ski slope, they're so sexy," he said.

Sony Corp.'s chief executive, chairman and president, Sir Howard Stringer, sought to draw parallels in adoption of 3-D in the home to the introduction of the first color TV sets.

"It's becoming a feature of television. It's built in," Stringer said, noting that in the future TV viewers will be watching sitcoms in 3-D — not just "smash bang" action series. "It's an inevitability, so be patient. There has never been a tech like this for which you didn't have to be patient."

Investors also will have to be patient in learning about Sony's succession plans.

Asked about reports that Sony would elevate Hirai to president in the spring, Stringer said he never intended to keep the title as president. He offered no concrete details about succession planning, other than it is a process that ends "with the approval of the board."

"I've been planning succession for a long time. Many of you have written about it,"  Stringer said, adding that the Nikkei report last week that Hirai would be elevated in April "came as as a surprise to me."


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Photo of Toshino Yuhaku of Sony Pictures watching 3-D TV at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Credit: Don Kelsen / Los Angeles Times


Warner Bros. launches photo sharing service Out My Window

Hollywood's biggest film and television studio is getting into the online photo business with a new service called Out My Window.

Set to be unveiled by Warner Bros. at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week and to be available to consumers in the spring, Out My Window stores photos online and allows users to share them with carefully curated lists of friends and family members.

Targeted primarily at young parents, it's designed as a new alternative for people who frequently upload and email pictures but don't want to use social networks or Web photo services that can allow pictures to be seen by outsiders.

It's an unexpected offering from the company better known for "Harry Potter" and "Two and a Half Men," but also an example of how blurry the lines are becoming between technology and entertainment companies.

"Photos are a big part of people's media and entertainment life," said Warner Bros. President of Technical Operations Darcy Antonellis. "We are a studio that makes and creates film and television as a part of that media and entertainment system, so we thought of this as a complementary way to engage with the consumer."

Out My Window will initially launch on the Web, Apple tablets and phones, and Google TV, and will be packaged into digital photo frames from Kodak and Technicolor. Other digital devices will be added in the future, as will the ability to share videos.

Antonellis said a business model has not yet been decided upon, but could include subscriptions or one-time fees.

Users can immediately share pictures taken on a smartphone or upload snapshots saved on a computer. They can then select individuals or previously defined groups of contacts who can see the pictures almost instantly. The studio hopes it will be an appealing alternative to people who don't like to email large attachments but aren't comfortable posting photos on Facebook or photo-specific Websites like Flickr and Picasa.

"Our No. 1 target audience is young women and moms who want to stay connected but keep intimate moments within an intimate environment," said Antonellis.

Out My Window came out of a contest held among teams of Warner Bros. technology-focused employees in June to create a new application focused on photos. Three teams of about 10 people came up with applications that were ultimately merged and built upon to create the new service.

"The point was just to take a basic idea and see where it could go," said Antonellis, who oversees technology strategy for Warner. "I didn't have a preconceived notion that it could become a commercial product."


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Photo: Screenshots from Out My Window. Credit: Warner Bros.

News Corp. to add content to Microsoft's Xbox Live

Microsoft announced that News Corp. will be offering a series of apps for the Xbox Live service, featuring content from Fox Broadcasting, Fox News Channel, the Wall Street Journal and IGN Entertainment
Microsoft Corp. plans to bring Homer Simpson, Bill O'Reilly and Zooey Deschanel to its Xbox Live service.

Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, in what could mark his final keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, announced Monday that media conglomerate News Corp. will be offering a series of apps featuring content from Fox Broadcasting, Fox News Channel, the Wall Street Journal and IGN Entertainment.

News Corp. said the content would be made available this year to Xbox Live Gold members who also are paying subscribers of as-yet-unidentified cable and satellite TV services.

The company said the Fox Broadcasting app would allow Xbox users to watch episodes of "Fringe," "The Simpsons," "New Girl" and "Family Guy." The Fox News app is to offer on-demand videos from such well-known personalities as Megyn Kelly and Bill O'Reilly.

The Wall Street Journal and WSJ Live are set to provide four hours of live video each business day, drawn from the Journal, Dow Jones News Wires, Barron's, Market Watch, Smart Money and AllThingsD.com.

Game site IGN Entertainment is to offer previews, game reviews, game-play videos and instant access to game help. 


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Consumer Electronics Show kicks off in Las Vegas

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-- Dawn C. Chmielewski

Photo: Zooey Deschanel stars in "New Girl." Credit: Greg Gayne / Fox

Myspace announces Myspace TV

Myspace is getting social on a whole new platform.

The embattled social network, which has seen the continued erosion of its user base, announced at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that it will attempt to find new audiences with the launch this year of Myspace TV.

Consumers who buy the next generation of Panasonic Viera Internet-connected television sets will be able to use a new Myspace TV application to chat about a basketball game or any other show they're watching, and to invite friends to join them in a virtual viewing party.

"It's a traditional TV service. What we've done is added a social layer on top," Myspace CEO Tim Vanderhook said.

Myspace seeks to take advantage of a situation Nielsen documented in its Consumer Usage Report: that 70% of women and 60% of men are distracted multi-taskers, checking their email or surfing the Web while they watch TV.

Myspace seeks to harness the second screen in the living room -- be it laptop, tablet or smartphone -- to create a conversation around the TV program.

"We're not trying to change TV, we're trying to make TV better," Myspace Executive Vice President Marcus Liassides said. "TV has always been social. We're making a simple way of doing that in a connected world."

The bigger question is whether Myspace will be able to draw a crowd to its new social TV application. The most recent figures from online measurement firm comScore show that Myspace has lost some 9.4 million users since June, when online ad firm Specific Media acquired the site from News Corp.  It now has approximately 24 million monthly users, according to comScore.

Vanderhook said he's focused not on audience numbers, but rather on building compelling user experiences. "This is a great product," he said. "I think it is big enough to drive new consumer adoption and a lot of interest in Myspace."


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-- Dawn C. Chmielewski

Photo: Justin Timberlake is an investor in Myspace. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times


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