Welcome to the first #TBT of 2023. But for today's post, while I'm going back nine years in time, this is a case of the more things change….
Yes, this is a journey back to CES 2014. And while the technology is evolving quickly and the innovation each year is mind-blowing, the value of this event hasn't changed much at all. You'll hear from people who I consider to be media pioneers. The fact they made attending CES a habit all these years ago says a lot about their innovative spirit.
Almost all continue to show up for CES each year. And while a number have changed companies during this time, their spirit and energy remains intact. I think they'd all tell you, CES has had a little something to do with that.
Looking back on this group, it's lamentable I included no women. Back then, you didn't run into too many radio people at CES – maybe a couple dozen out of 150,000+ attendees. And women were few and far between at this event in 2014. Not today. I can see more diversity – women, in particular – as I roam the exhibit halls and conference areas of the Las Vegas Convention Center.
That's a good thing.
Enjoy this look back at the spirit of CES back then. And we'll have more about CES 2023 next week. – FJ
For several years now, you’ve heard my story about why attending different conferences is one of the best things radio professionals can do. At CES 2014, there were a number of radio people in attendance, and I thought it might be helpful for you to hear from some of them about why this conference matters. The question was, “Why CES?” and here are 13 great responses from people in and around the radio business.
- Follow the money. In the depth of The Great Recession, people found $500 for something they hadn't heard of 30 days earlier, iPad.
- Follow the ears, and eyeballs. Broadcasters compete for attention and revenue with what's on-display and discussed at CES.
- Radio was the original electronic thing, the great-grandfather. Meet the children, and their children; and understand broadcasting's changing place in consumers' media array.
- To us, legacy media, the mojo of this innovation culture is VERY invigorating.
- It's a Vegas two-fer. Also attend NMX (the New Media Expo, formerly Blogworld), a weekend conference before CES. As keynoter Norm Pattiz told NMX-ers: “Podcasting is the future of audio, where network radio was 30 years ago.”
CES is great for radio folks because it provides a look-ahead at what platforms and devices our consumers will be using in the coming years. Not only that, but as a programmer you absolutely have to “touch and feel” those devices, sit in the driver’s seat of the cars, and converse with the vendors to get their perspective of where we are going.
Technology will ultimately help us reach more audience and engage in more meaningful ways and CES is great proof of that!
I have been attending the CES since it began in 1967. The reason I've never missed one is quite simple…I don't want to miss the future!
I want to know if there is anything in the pipeline that can impact my business and, if so, develop an aggressive plan to adapt to it. (I also love toys!)
This year's buzzword, for example, was “Connectivity”. I expect this to create disruptive change, so I suggest everyone pay attention for the sake of their own survival.
I think of CES the same way I think of Comic Con; events that started as niche programming for a select group of nerds, but are now at the epicenter of popular culture. I go to CES to maintain my personal relevance and knowledge of what's new, especially in the areas of media, entertainment, and technology.
It's easy to get lost in the parochialism of one's own world, especially if that world is made up mostly of staid competitors that don't push themselves, or you, to innovate and excel. CES is a reminder that excitement and innovation are table stakes in any business, and that there are legions of consumers that value those things very highly.
The CES was a tremendous opportunity to learn how the automotive industry is developing the car dashboard for the connected car of the present and the near future. After having a near monopoly in the car, radio now has to share the car dashboard with nearly fifty audio content platforms. There were nine manufacturers representing the auto industry at CES.
I also spent time at the HD Radio and Next Radio booths, it was encouraging to hear they were busy and interest in these additional ways to consume radio is growing.
On a personal note as a first time attendee, it is impossible not to be impressed with the magnitude and scope of the show. As a person who works out regularly, I found the various products available to monitor physical activity interesting. The rapid growth of “Smart Watches” is a trend to watch.
President & CEO, iBiquity Digital Corporation
Why CES for HD Radio technology? Easy question. Because it’s essential for us, and should be essential for radio industry leaders. Every major trend impacting radio on the consumer side is on display here, and you get an accurate view into the future. Example: the radio industry is now seeing clearly the threats and opportunities of the connected car, with all major automakers announcing connectivity plays in the dash. We saw that years ago at CES, and have been building our business accordingly. We’ve seen for some time the trend of pulling AM/FM out of home “radios,” where clock radios are now docks or Bluetooth speakers without radio tuners.
There has been an HD Radio booth at CES for 15 years. This year’s was our largest ever, and now looks a little like a new car selling floor packed with affordable mainstream cars with built-in HD Radio receivers. CES has been essential to understanding consumer trends and building the HD Radio business. That’s great for radio broadcasters, but more should see it in person.
For me the question of “Why CES?” comes with a lot of answers. My friend, Holland Cooke, nagged me for years to attend because it was all about “seeing the future” and that continues to be a driving reason to this day for making the trek. Jacobs Media has also reminded us so consistently and brilliantly that the technology behind the dashboard represents both significant challenges but major opportunities for our business.
I have to highlight curiosity as the biggest answer to the “Why CES?” question. We all maintain a sharper edge in our business when we feed our “curiosity thirst” on a continual basis.
Greater Media allows me to feed that curiosity because as a company our mission is to stay committed to not only figuring out the current puzzles but the future ones.
Nolan Bushnell (the American engineer, entrepreneur, and author of the great new book Finding the Next Steve Jobs put it best about CES (and trade shows in general):
“Surround yourself in areas where your mind is being creatively challenged and trade shows are one of these… that represent the best and the newest of an industry. Collections of talented and creative people…they plasticize your brain just a little bit.”
I originally started attending CES because 1) I always believe you should attend a convention outside of the broadcasting business to gain a perspective on what is happening in other industries and 2) due to all of the early HD rollout as I wanted to see how that was positioned. This was my fifth consecutive year at CES. My reasons have evolved. It is important to attend because of what you can learn about signage, packaging, elevator pitches, demonstrations, seminars, and learning beyond what 4K TV means.
It certainly can help you discover what is going to be hot in the fall in terms of consumer electronics and also provides a huge database of companies that are key vendors to your local audio/video retailers. The access to the major auto manufacturers and seeing their vision of the future of the digital dashboard is must see stuff.
Why do I go to CES? To see who wants to eat my lunch and try and eat theirs first. At least that’s why I started attending around 2009. Then, the novelty for radio guys was seeing all the individual appliances built to stream Internet radio. Gradually, these single-use devices were replaced by broad-based integration of streaming radio services in smart phones culminating a few years ago with a refrigerator streaming Pandora and playing Foreigner’s “Cold as Ice.” Bizarre? Possibly.
Hearing the hype is one thing. Holding the hype in your hand—that’s special. Talking to entrepreneurs at CES about audio products they’ve created, provides valuable insight into what is possible even if it’s not always practical.
CES is where the auto industry reinvented itself to become the ultimate mobile audio platform. Sitting in new vehicles and seeing how radio is integrated in the dashboard provides valuable insights and, for me, emotional thrills. I recall my first “experience” in a car. I’m referring, of course, to the first time I could select ABC News audio through a Ford’s built-in dashboard. So excited, I tweeted that photo before the newscast I was listening to ended.
Mostly though, CES is an intellectually exhilarating but physically exhausting experience. Most of my time is spent meeting current partners, prospective partners or networking. Since I’m credentialed as press, I can target my time on the exhibition floor to those products that are of the greatest interest.
Should you go to CES? If your job is to generate new business for your company, I sure would try. We all agree that technology is disrupting the radio business. Don’t you want to know who those disruptors are and what their strategy is? I guarantee you’ll leave CES with new ideas and, if you’re like me, more excited than fearful about the future.
Hubbard Radio places significant value in providing quality content to our audiences everywhere it’s consumed. Because of this, I felt it important to attend the largest technology show in the world to get my hands on emerging technologies and see for myself what’s coming.
There were pre-conference sessions addressing topics like “The Future of Digital Audio & Digital Performance Royalties.” I felt, however, these sessions could be more informative and impactful if more from radio participated in the conversation.
If more broadcasters attend CES, we could influence future topics. We may also have increased opportunity to share the stage with thought leaders NOT in the broadcast space, but those that still have influence on emerging media & entertainment technologies.
With more broadcasters attending CES, I wonder if this could become a forum to better influence future technologies that affect our industry?
Being in Las Vegas, it’s easy to attend this annual event. CES is lots of bright, shiny objects that may or may not wind up on retail shelves this year. In my opinion, the primary reason to attend is to generate sales ideas and establish networking opportunities among the CES’ 3200+ exhibitors. This year, I went to learn more about the “connected car” and the implications for radio. All the major auto companies were there – each touting their connected audio, information, and entertainment interface. It’s sobering to actually see firsthand how radio’s exclusive real estate – the in-car dashboard – now contains links for Sirius, Pandora, iHeart, Tunein, and more. The future is here and was on display at CES.
The benefit for radio people of attending CES isn't in the specifics of the technology or the panels. It's to get a strong understanding of where technology is going, how people are likely to be interacting with their entertainment and information content in the near future, and how radio can be part of that. You'll see that radio barely registers in the new tech landscape — doesn’t register at all, really — but you might get ideas on how to leverage the kind of content you can produce in new ways; you might realize that you can't remain just a provider of streaming content on radio receivers, but that you can do video, gaming, data… CES is a stark reminder that things have changed and they're not changing back, and you can change with them or ride the old paradigm downward.
For years I used to say more radio people should attend the International Consumer Electronics Show. My feeling was that broadcasters should see what's between their tower and their listeners. Now, technology has changed much of that, and the only stand-alone radio I saw was in the Voxx display (formerly Audiovox) and that one was actually an emergency radio. It's been said that radio listening on a “traditional” radio is fast becoming a thing of the past, and after walking the millions of square feet of the Las Vegas Convention Center, I believe it to be true.
If we can sum up the CES in one word, other than BIG, it would be CONNECTED. It seems that every manufacturer is stressing the importance of being “connected.”
I felt as though new life is being breathed into HD Radio after visiting their display and all of the new features they're touting. Now, they just need to get it into more cars as standard equipment. Video has a far greater presence at CES than audio, but anyone in radio who still truly cares about the medium should seriously consider being in Las Vegas for the 2015 event next year!
Thanks again to all 13 pioneers who took the time to share their perspectives. So which one stood out or resonated with you? And if you're in radio and a first timer at CES 2015, the first beer is on Jacobs Media. – FJ
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