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CES Unveiled: Peek into Santa’s Sleigh

| November 13, 2013

By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant


NEW YORK — Even before Manhattan could dust off its cheery Christmas decorations, it got a dusting of snow Tuesday.  A fitting backdrop for the Consumer Electronics Association’s annual Holiday Sales and End-of Year Trend Analysis, a perennial forecast that, year-after-year, reckons whassup at The North Pole.

This research is released each November at the CES Unveiled press event that previews January’s massive, mind-boggling Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which I cover for TALKERS and RadioInfo.

Again this year, we’re giving gadgets.

As in 2012, expect the #1 electronic gift for adults to be tablet computers, 21% more of ’em than last Christmas.  For kids, smartphones.

1 of every 3 households buys a TV every year.  And how old does this make you feel?  HDTV is 15 years old; and early adopters are now eyeballing UltraHD – FOUR TIMES the resolution of HDTV – which was introduced to ooohs-and-ahhhs at CES2013.  One manufacturer calls it the “Resolution Revolution.”  UltraHD is still pricey enough that sales will predictably ramp-up as costs taper-off, as happened with HDTV and most other electronics breakthroughs.

Meantime, radio is remiss if we’re only programming real-time to transmitters.  New-tech TVs are being tweaked to play other than what manufacturers call “linear content” (broadcast programming), because “TV” is now defined as video.  Think files, which, in radio’s case, would be the on-demand audio we’ve been calling podcasts.  Radio stations are already competing with non-broadcasters in this space, so our advantage is using transmitters to drive traffic to our own archived content.

We’ll begin gobbling-up gifts on Turkeyday.

Thanksgiving comes late this year, November 28; and that adds-up to the fewest days between “Black Friday” and Christmas since 2002.  So, unsurprisingly, 30% of gift-givers surveyed say they’ll begin shopping in December, up from 25% last year.

But stores won’t wait.  As we were getting our CES Unveiled download, USA Today ran a SIX FULL PAGE Best Buy ad.  It’s among stores breaking precedent by opening before the perennial photo-op of shoppers trampling each other when stores used to open at midnight Thanksgiving night.

And more than half of shoppers surveyed admit they’ll be “showrooming,” comparing prices via smartphone while in-store getting the touch-and-feel bricks-and-mortar experience.

What all this means to radio?

3 things:

*  As an on-air topic, tech talk won’t be Greek to listeners if you’re talking about what-they’re-already-using, and “wow factor” new developments.

*  Because radio was the original electronic gadget, it’s vital that we keep-up-with all the tech newcomers vying for listeners’ attention…and that we exploit new-platform devices whenever possible…so here’s where I swap my trade press reporter fedora for my radio consultant hat…

* About podcasts, and photos and video you can capture on your smartphone: Create content for tablets, producing what TALKERS and RadioInfo publisher Michael Harrison started calling a “media station” about a decade ago.


Holland Cooke is a media consultant working at the intersection of radio and the Internet; and he covers industry conferences for TALKERS and RadioInfo.  @HollandCooke and www.HollandCooke.com

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Category: Analysis