CBS, Disney to Push Movies, TV at Electronics Show
CBS Corp. and Walt Disney Co. will use next week's Consumer Electronics Show to expand efforts to get more of their movies and television shows onto the Web and mobile devices.
Disney Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger will announce an overhaul of the company's Web site at the Las Vegas event, which kicks off Jan. 7. He joins CBS's Les Moonves as the first media company CEOs to give keynote speeches in the conference's 40- year history. Moonves plans to broaden the ways CBS offers its shows.
“We have our toe in the water of 100 different lakes,'' New York-based Moonves said in an interview yesterday. “Some will work out, some won't.''
The presence of Moonves and Iger underscores the entertainment industry's need to counter traditional advertising declines and lower DVD and box-office sales. Disney and CBS have forged partnerships with phone, cable and Internet providers as well as companies including Apple Computer Inc.
“Hollywood has a great opportunity for things like digital distribution and greater flexibility in how consumers use the content they've created,'' said Kurt Scherf, an analyst at Dallas-based Parks Associates, who plans to attend the show along with about 10 other researchers from the consulting firm who study the use of technology in the home.
The past year marked a détente between media and technology companies that typically attend the Consumer Electronics Association's annual convention. The two industries have sparred over copyright and fair-use issues, Gary Shapiro, chief executive officer of the association, said in an interview. In 2006, Apple's iTunes began selling Disney films, and New York- based CBS started providing TV programs to Google Inc.'s YouTube.
“The content community wants to keep exhibiting control,'' Shapiro said. “We want to make sure consumers have the right to do what they want in their home with content. That's something that's very important to us.''
Media companies are replacing several of the 2006 headliners at CES. Google Inc., which used last year's event to announce the introduction of free software programs and TV shows on its video service, won't have a booth at this year's event. While Intel Corp. and Yahoo Inc. plan to talk about new products at CES this year, their CEOs won't be giving speeches.
Iger, 55, will announce plans to add more social networking features such as personalized pages, games and chat rooms onto Disney's Web sites, spokeswoman Michelle Haworth said in an interview. The company will also sell merchandise, DVDs, travel packages and theme park tickets on the redesigned site, she said.
Disney, the second-largest U.S. media company, has been sending a contingency to CES for several years looking for new distribution opportunities, said Bob Chapek, head of the company's home entertainment unit.
“As technologies have become more developed, we have become more interested in employing them,'' Chapek said.
Disney's ABC was the first television network to allow viewers to watch ad-supported programs on the Web or buy ad-free copies on Apple's iTunes, the top Internet seller of digital music and films. CBS, General Electric Co.'s NBC and News Corp.'s Fox followed ABC onto iTunes.
Shares of Burbank, California-based Disney, up 40 percent in the past 12 months, declined 28 cents to $34.19 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. CBS shares fell 44 cents to $30.89 and have gained 17 percent in the past year.
CES, launched in 1967 in New York, expects 140,000 attendees, including 2,700 exhibitors, according to the conference Web site. Products that have debuted at the show include the compact disc player in 1981, high-definition TV in 1988, and Microsoft's Xbox video-game console in 2001.
Following a presentation by Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates over the weekend, the first full day of the conference on Jan. 8 includes speeches by Motorola Inc.'s Ed Zander and Nokia Oyj's Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo along with Iger. Speakers on Jan. 9 include Moonves, Dell Inc. Chairman Michael Dell and Cisco Systems Inc.'s John Chambers.
Moonves, who took the helm of CBS when the company split from Viacom Inc. a year ago, has signed partnerships with Yahoo in addition to Google's YouTube to attract viewers. Moonves, 57, has also digitized a 4,000-title library of Simon & Schuster publications.
Yahoo, which trails Google in Internet search, will unveil new Web services for mobile phones next week, spokeswoman Nicole Leverich said in an e-mail. Last year, CEO Terry Semel introduced software that let consumers access the company's services from TVs and cell phones.
“The thing that's selling all devices is the content,'' Standard & Poor's equity analyst Tuna Amobi said in an interview. “You have all these kinds of consumer electronics devices that allow viewers to take content with them. No media wants to be left out of that party.''