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CES: More Streaming Deals But No Synergy

Even though the Consumer Electronics Showis supposed to be about electronics, in recent years it is also about the content that is served on those electronics. This year, I predict, will be the same.

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Kevin P. Casey | Bloomberg | Getty Images
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Most years Amazon uses the show to make announcements about exclusive video streaming deals for Amazon's Video On Demand. Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming media portals have also used the convention to show off their catalog of offerings. There is reason to believe that at least one of these companies will do the same this year because these days, it is content that drives gadget adoption, not the other way around.

“It starts and stops with content," says Eric Anderson, vice president of content and product solutions for Samsung Electronics America. "You can have the most beautifully designed product with amazing performance, but at the end of the day, if people can’t get the content they want on their device, it’s an incomplete experience.”

Three decades ago, the gadgets dictated the content. VHS won out over Betamax so that is the type content that consumers purchased. These days the format war is less tangible but just as important.

"In a sense, consumer electronics have always been a delivery vehicle for content - whether you go back to stereos, speakers, TVs or anything," says Jim Funk, vice president of business development for Roku. "Then the iPod came about because of the widespread availability of digital audio files. What we see now is that same transformation with video as we saw with audio not so long ago. Now we can build very cost-effective products that deliver that video."

Funk says that it is easier to make content deals these days because studios want their shows on as many different devices as possible. He says that the days of exclusivity may be coming to an end. The next step will be portal synergy…or at least that is what I hope will be the next stage!

The onus is still on consumers to remember which shows are available through which portal. Hulu and Hulu plus have content from over 330 studios but not all shows from those studios are available through the online portal. Consumers still have to figure out where they can find what they want when they want it. It's a pain.

"Because of the way that the industry has evolved, it is fragmented," admits Funk. "There is not one place to find and catalog where content is available. It will continue to evolve but it is fragmented. The good news is that there is a ton of choice. On the one hand you have to go search for Breaking Bad on Netflix or iTunes , but on the other hand, you can actually find it to watch it somewhere."

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