The 2017 Consumer Electronics Show will convene in Las Vegas this week with company press events beginning Wednesday and the exhibit halls opening Thursday and staying open until Sunday. (Although there may be more people at the nearby Vegas airport on Sunday than on the floor.)
The convention, which draws up to 150,000 industry officials, journalists and the curiously related, is famous for being a launching pad for new TV technologies and company maneuvers.
With that in mind, I thought it would be a good time to ask six burning questions that might be answered before the show is over, starting with:
1. Will Dish Unveil Its AirTV Player?
This is an easy one. The satcaster has already ‘leaked’ the set-top’s features at SlingTV.com (its streaming service; see picture above) so it’s highly likely that it will give it a proper unveiling at CES. Basically, the AirTV Player will allow you to integrate your favorite streaming services (such as Netflix, Sling TV, Amazon Prime etc) with your local channel signals so you can watch them via one interface on your TV. Think of it as assembling your own on-screen guide of streaming and local signals.
How Dish will announce the AirTV Player is less certain. The satcaster has told Fierce Cable that it will not hold a press event at CES, a head-turning change in company tradition. In previous conventions, Dish has employed everything from live kangaroos to B-list celebrities to promote their new wares.
2. Will AT&T and DIRECTV Make a Big Splash?
I’m not expecting big news from AT&T and DIRECTV this week, particularly since the telco just launched its new standalone streaming service, DIRECTV Now. (AT&T is also busy lobbying the feds to approve its merger with Time Warner; a company, even one the size of AT&T, can only focus on so much.)
But I wouldn’t be surprised if DIRECTV announces some content deals for additional 4K programming, perhaps even a promise from the National Football League to show the Super Bowl in 4K…in 2018. (Logistically, I can’t see the league and DIRECTV putting together a 4K Super Bowl this year; too much to do and too little time.)
3. Will Amazon and Hulu Make Some Live Streaming Announcements?
Hulu has vowed to launch a live streaming TV service in 2017 but has yet to disclose any content partnership besides the companies that co-own it (Disney, Comcast, Fox, Time Warner.) If Hulu is serious about the venture, CES would be a good time to disclose a few more deals.
Amazon has been rumored to be contemplating a live streaming service of some sort, perhaps just for sports, according to Bloomberg News. I’m not convinced yet that Amazon will invade the live streaming space, but if it is, CES again would be a good place to tell us.
I expect Amazon will unveil some other TV-related product at CES as well, although I’m not certain yet what it will be. Call it a hunch based on an educated guess. In fact, I would bet that Amazon is more likely to announce a new TV-related hardware than a streaming service at CES.
4. What About Google TV?
I think it’s much less likely that Google will use CES as a venue to unveil its rumored live streaming service. Google likes to do things on its own time and its place of choosing.
5. What About New ‘TV Set’ Technologies?
There will be all kinds of new picture technologies discussed at the show. (LG has already said it will introduce something called, ‘Nano Cell’ technology that purports to offer better colors for LCD TVs.) Some of the technologies unveiled will be largely wallpaper, but they will be announced to create the impression that they will improve your life in some mysterious way. In most cases, they will not.
6. Will Cable TV Companies Make a Splash?
A few years ago, Comcast and other cable TV companies became highly visible players at CES, but their interest in the show seems to be waning. When cable TV ops have something big to say, like Google (and Apple), they will do it on their own time.
That’s it for now. TVAnswerman.com will provide our usual blanket coverage of the show this week so come back often for more news and analysis of CES 2017.
— Phillip Swann