Changes at the Consumer Electronics Show

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The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has changed in recent years. The "E" in the name is just as likely to be marketed as "entertainment" than it is electronics.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

CBS chief executive Lesley Moonves yesterday announced several partnerships with new media and technology companies at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas. Although it's a show that have long been about gadgets, Moonves and other entertainment executives are there looking for more ways to get their content to consumers.

NPR's Laura Sydell reports.

LAURA SYDELL: Media executives at the Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, usually bring out the stars. Last year Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks made appearances. But this year CBS's Leslie Moonves shared the stage with stars from the tech world including YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley and Blake Krikorian, head of Sling Media. As Moonves sees it, CBS must look beyond the television set.

Mr. LESLIE MOONVES (President and CEO, CBS Corporation): We are doing just about everything we can to see what's going to work now and in the future. For us that means teaming up with those who understand how to showcase our content in new ways tomorrow.

SYDELL: Moonves announced a deal with Sling Media, which makes a box that sends live television from your home to your computer or even your mobile phone. CBS will test a new service called clip and sling, which lets users save short segments of live TV broadcasts and e-mail them to friends.

Moonves says he's not afraid of competition from sites like YouTube. In fact, CBS is making deals with the Web site. YouTube users are competing to get a homemade 15-second video clip of their message to the world broadcast during the Super Bowl. Moonves showed one entry of an underwear-clad couch potato.

(Soundbite of video clip)

Unidentified Male #1: Look, turn off the TV. Stop watching football. Call your mom. Hug your daughter. Hug your son. Do something. Don't watch football no more.

Unidentified Male #2: He just ran it back for a touchdown.

Unidentified Male #1: Oh!

SYDELL: The couch potato runs off to watch the football game.

Media companies like CBS and Disney are turning up at the Consumer Electronics Show because survival depends on finding ways to distribute their content through the new outlets of the digital age. Josh Bernoff is an analyst at Forrester Research.

Mr. JOSH BERNOFF (Analyst, Forrester Research): The objective here isn't to try and become the next YouTube because they know they can't do that. The objective is to just make sure that you don't lose all of your audience to these new ways of consuming content.

SYDELL: And there are thousands of gadgets at CES: mobile phones that play music and video, laptops with high-resolution screens. Sony may own a vast catalog of music and feature films, but the company knows it must find new ways of drawing consumers to that content.

This week it announced the Bravia Internet video link explained here by Sony's Nick Culcy(ph).

Mr. NICK CULCY (Representative, Sony Corporation): It's a small module which hooks up to the back of your TV set, you use the TV's remote control to control it. And what it does is connects directly to the Internet without a PC to your TV screen to your living room.

SYDELL: The Internet video link only displays content from sites that have agreements with Sony. So far that's AOL, Yahoo and Grouper, a site similar to YouTube that hosts user-generated content.

But the world of consumer electronics is spinning as fast as the roulette wheels in Las Vegas. No one knows for sure which devices will be most exciting to consumers. Analyst Bernoff of Forrester Research says Sony's new Internet video link or any other gadget on the floor faces hurdles with consumers.

Mr. BERNOFF: Any of us who've tried to install technology in the home know that things don't always go the way you expect them to go. And so when you see a new device like this you just have to ask, is it so exciting that people are willing to get past these little difficulties along the way?

SYDELL: Difficulties or not, Bernoff says the direction is clear. New devices and outlets are emerging and big media companies must pay attention.

Laura Sydell, NPR News, Las Vegas.

MONTAGNE: Get a look at the Apple iPhone and some reactions to its debut at npr.org.

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