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Digital Living Room Discussion Hits Home at Streaming Media West

9 Nov, 2011 By: Ashley Ratcliff

LOS ANGELES — As consumers increasingly have more options with which to engage their content of choice, the concept of the “digital living room,” or the “connected living room,” is becoming the norm, panelists at the Streaming Media West conference said Nov. 8.

Paul Sweeting, principal with Concurrent Media Strategies, highlighted three distinct ways the digital living room is being addressed: a device-centric view, wherein a particular Internet-connected device is the hub of the living room; a content-centric view, wherein users take content they normally would consume in the living room (movies, TV shows, video games) and migrate it onto other types of screens, aside from the television; and a service-centric view, which sees the main challenge as bringing new types of interactive services into the living room.

“The question that has surrounded long-form Internet-delivered video is how you get that content to the TV,” said Jason Spivak, SVP of worldwide digital distribution with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. “… Clearly now with the game consoles, connected televisions, connected Blu-ray players, that’s been solved.”

Russ Schafer, senior director with Yahoo Connected TV, said the platform is in 10 million homes, after launching 36 months ago, and is projected to be in 16 million homes by early 2012.

“We added support in January … that enabled tablets to connect as well,” he said. “So no matter what device a consumer chooses, they can experience the content and actually push content back and forth within the device. For us, it’s whatever happens to be the next technology that emerges device-wise, we want to enable that as well.”

Chris Young, CEO of Digital Broadcasting Group, on the other hand, offered insight from the perspective of a content provider.

“We’re very much screen-agnostic,” he said. “So we’re providing content that can be consumed by consumers however they want. If it’s on a tablet, on a connected TV, on the Internet, it’s our responsibility to deliver across that.”

DBG produced a show “The Confession,” which aired in March on Hulu, starring Kiefer Sutherland as a New York hit man and John Hurt as a priest. The program, Young said, introduced a new trend.

“The idea there was to prove that the digital living room had arrived and that broadcast-quality programming with ‘A’ production value, ‘A’ talent could originate online, and reverse its way back to TV,” Young said. “That’s what we’ve done.”

Jeff Shultz, SVP of business development with Clicker.com, said ultimately the success of the digital living room lies in “robust” business models.

“We can figure out the perfect device, and we can figure out the means of getting content into the living room, and engaging with it in different ways and discovering content that was previously unavailable, but only robust business models — which exist today in the form of multichannel programming offerings — are getting mainstream content to consumers,” he said.

“Technology has gotten to the point now where I think we’re really close to delivering on the compelling digital living room experience, but there has to be a business model to support the delivery of content,” Shultz added.

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