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CES Gets Serious About Content

The Consumer Electronics Showofficially opens today and though attendance will be slightly down, hopes are higher than ever that the gadgets and technology here will rev up the media business.

This year it's not just about distributing content, it's about finding new ways to monetize that content.

Whether it's distributors like Imax and DirecTV or electronics companies like Sony or programmers like Warner Brothers, everyone is getting serious about implementing subscription models and charging. The media companies can't help but acknowledge that their digital revenues are small and *must* grow to compensate for declines in traditional businesses like DVD sales and old fashioned advertising. Here at CES they're trying to figure out how all these gadgets and applications will make the digital future a reality for their bottom line.

Every year at CES media companies brag that "content is king" and that they're distributing content of all sorts to consumers wherever and whenever they want it. Unfortunately, it has seemed more that the consumer is king, they're getting virtually limitless, usually free access to content, and the media giants are still struggling to make digital revenues a significant part of their business.

There are a couple big trends at CES this year that are inescapable. Walking through the convention center 3-D is everywhere. The Panasonic and Sony booths, both hulking presences in the central hall, boast of their 3-D televisions. Accompanying the new gadgets, we've seen a flood of news on 3-D TV stations — a joint venture from Sony, Imax and Discovery, ESPN 3D and three new channels from DirecTV.

Facebook and Twitter may not be here at CES but they seem to have infiltrated every device, application and widget. You can't escape them.

And as ever, mobile devices are huge. But I'm not just talking about iPhone-esque smart phones. Netbooks have taken a back seat to "Smartbooks" and the all-important tablet dominates them all. Of course the gadget makers and media companies are touting access to content on the go. But this year we're hearing about giving you constant connectivity to your digital library not just from one device, but also seamlessly from any device.

More on all these topics later in blogs, on-air, and via Twitter! @JBoorstin.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.