The future of media and entertainment: Insights on voice activation, virtual reality, eSports and security

Unbound London panel

The future of media and entertainment is shifting at great speed as technology develops new platforms which fragments the viewing opportunities and offers new experiences for audiences and advertisers to engage with one another around entertainment.

During this year's Unbound London conference, The Drum’s editor, Stephen Lepitak hosted a short question and answer session with three entertainment professionals working in different environments, all striving to develop new engagement opportunities to audiences. That panel was Asaf Peled, chief executive of Minute Media, the technology and entertainment platform, Aksel van der Wal, executive vice president, digital ventures and innovation at Turner International and Adam Howard, chief solution architect for Chirp, the data/audio technology company.

Following a brief presentation from each on the work being conducted by their companies, they formed a panel to discuss issues such as virtual reality, voice technology and security, when it comes to the future world of entertainment. Below are their answers to the questions on the day:

How well are traditional broadcasters adjusting?

Aksel: Traditional broadcasters – of course I think we’re doing a good job. We can always do a better job and it's about the different channel for each audience to drive engagement. One big part is to make sure that story telling is done in the best way.

Adam: The fight to innovate is hard. You would imagine that there are a lot of smart guys trying to figure out how that storytelling can become more immersive, more fun, more helpful and easier. We still tend to be so passionate about how we consumer entertainment and that’s not going to change. What we want to do is to put things into people’s entertainment experiences as easily as possible. We know that when it starts to get hard, people check out.

How do you ensure audiences discover your content?

Aksel: You can’t wait for audiences to discover your content. You have to be proactive and find them on the platforms where they spend their most time. That’s Facebook, Instagram, Instagram and Google Search, so you have to be very proactive in how your content gets out there and then they will find you on their feed and come to you on that.

With the growth in video creation and voice activation - what role will the written word play in media?

Aksel:People will consume more and more video, but writing is not dead. Personally I always believe there is some space for the written word but if you look at the likes of CNN apart from their channels, online they have more and more video with some words, but it is declining in importance.

Adam: You can’t beat the written word in terms of summing-up something in a powerful and quick way. Video is a very engaging medium but the written word isn’t going away soon.

Asaf: We believe that the written word is here to stay but you see on average less and less words written, that’s the secret, but it won’t disappear.

How important is voice activation becoming and how will it impact on media?

Adam: What you are going to see is that voice services are going to drop into everything so it's not just sitting looking at Alexa, it’ll be looking at the light switches and toys and other mediums that tap into the enormously powerful voice recognition software, but you’ll find that inanimate objects are going to become animate very quickly. It’s going to be an interesting space to play, where it ends up with everything having control over each other I’m not so sure, but a big concern for me is security.

Aksel: A big part of audience are kids, so they can watch but they cannot read yet and voice technology alongside some of our digital assets can help them discover something.

What concerns to do you have around connected toys and the security of children using them?

Aksel: From our stand point, and not just about kids but because our content is less contained in terms of how it is created; you have to make sure that it contains quality and originality or else brands and partners will not be working with you. As part of that openness of creation you have to take care of that stuff or else it is a security weakness.

Asaf: For our kids, security is a big part for us not just for us as a company but also as parents with our own kids at home. So even with all the products that we have, parental control is a big thing for our fans as well as that is being monitored.

What is the potential of eSports?

Aksel: There is a lot of potential in eSports, it’s growing as a phenomenon. It’s still at the early stages of defining that ecosystem with the team, the players, the partners who play a big role. The leagues are important as well but no one has really figured out how the future is going to be because it’s different from football, where you have Uefa, so it’s really about trying to find out how the ecosystem is going to evolve without alienating the fans. For me it’s about the people who watch because many of those people actually play, and making those watchers into more impassioned fans with more interactivity.

Asaf: For the answer to that you have to go to one of these arenas with 50,000 young people and watch them shooting at one another. There you see the enthusiasm around it for three straight days and you understand that it’s a phenomenon that is here to stay. What is yet to be clear is how the landscape will shape around it to turn it into a business and how advertisers will interact with the games and the challenges and how broadcasters will become part of the business. It’s really growing but the business side of it is really shaping up.

Is the future of live television viewing down to sports?

Aksel: There are still a lot of people who watch live TV. I personally don’t but still a lot of people do. Sports is still a big big thing and it is one of the few appointment viewings that remain worldwide and it will remain a very important part, whether it remains with people viewing it on their televisions or another device is to be seen.

Adam: Ask the broadcasters how many people watch Game of Thrones live – they need to do it better. It needs to be of a certain scale and done in a certain quality that is enough for people to go after. There is probably no bigger prize to get that many eyeballs at once, but you have to invest in it. It needs to be spectacular and global.

Is there one piece of tech that will make a difference to content consumption?

Aksel: One of the key questions is the emergence of video consumption and advertising and more users shifting to mobile. The integration of scaling video on mobile devices to me is yet to really happen, so the technology that will enable scalable video consumption on mobile and how to integrate with advertising is a big thing.

Adam: I will go old school and talk about an article on Dunkirk where Christopher Nolan spoke about virtual reality without the goggles. There is a space for high quality film in order to bring people into that world. It’s not a race to the finish line over ‘what it the new technology?’ There is space to do stuff better with more quality that is more immersive and utilize the technology we have got to make that original experience the best and disseminate it out in a slick way. Just do what we do well, but do it better.

Asaf: I agree. VR is an important part. It is developing but it can become an immersive experience and combine that with the power of the mobile and if you think longer-term that the future is self driving cars, well what are you going to do in a self driving car? You are going to be entertained and your device is going to be your mobile and combine that with VR then you are going to be delivered an immersive experience while being driven somewhere.

What is the potential of virtual reality?

Aksel: It is still catching up and growing and more. The previous experiences were not that great, but now we are getting to a stage where those experiences are really becoming immersive and are good enough that you want to engage with them.

Will we still have TVs in our livings rooms in 20 years time?

Asaf: Yes

Adam: Yes

Aksel: Yes

The Drum is to host a premier of its new eSports mini-documentary early next year in London. If interested in attending find more details on the registration page.

Stephen Lepitak

Stephen Lepitak is editor of The Drum, with responsibility for overseeing the day-to-day running of the content produced for the various platforms run by the publication. Over the years he has interviewed agency network bosses such as Sir Martin Sorrell, Maurice Lévy and Arthur Sadoun, as well as Cindy Gallop, Kim Kardashian, film directors James Cameron, Spike Jonze, Richard Curtis and Lord David Puttnam. With a keen interest in media and breaking news, Lepitak has been with The Drum since 2005 and is based across its UK, US and Asia operations.

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