Hollywood looks to offset sales declines by turning to Internet
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 Robert Iger will announce an overhaul of the company's Web site at the Las Vegas event, which kicks off Sunday. 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," Moonves said in an interview Thursday. "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.
The past year marked a detente 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 of the association, said in an interview. In 2006, Apple's iTunes began selling Disney films, and 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, 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.
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, NBC and Fox followed ABC onto iTunes.
CES, launched in 1967 in New York, expects 140,000 attendees, including 2,700 exhibitors, according to the conference Web site.