Video execs predict future with voice, gesture interfaces and cheaper, smaller content bundles

LAS VEGAS--The future of the video market will likely include new ways for users to access content, including by asking for it with their voices and navigating through options with a wave of their hand. Users in the future will also likely be able to purchase smaller, cheaper bundles of content and TV channels.

That was the consensus among a group of video executives hailing from players including Gracenote, Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH), Verizon (NYSE: VZ), Piksel and others here at a panel session at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Panelists generally agreed that users in the near future will be able to search for content by speaking to their TVs.

"If you know what you're looking for … it (voice search) can get you there fast," said Ty Roberts, chief strategy officer and co-founder of Gracenote, which provides a searchable database of music and video content.

Jody Stark, ‎an SVP at OTT video company Piksel, agreed. Voice search "is getting adopted at a much faster rate" than had been previously expected, he said.

But Jason Henderson, senior product manager of iTV for Dish Network, cautioned that users may not migrate to new ways of interacting with their TVs so quickly. "I'm all for voice recognition, but we need to get people what they want quickly," regardless of the access method. He also questioned whether everyday users are prepared for their TVs to become their "personal concierge."

Piksel's Stark noted that the company is working to push the boundaries of content search. He said the company worked with customer AT&T (NYSE: T) to develop a product that would allow users to search for TV content with their voice and then browse through results on their Samsung smart watch.

The panelists also discussed recent trends that point to changes in the video business model. Specifically, they noted customers' desire to purchase relatively small bundles of content for relatively low prices--this trend was recently highlighted by Dish Network's new $20 per month Sling TV service.

"We knew that there were customers who wanted to see a pared-down package and pay less money," Dish's Henderson said in explaining the company's launch of Sling TV.

"I think that (smaller, cheaper bundles) is the wave of the future," Piksel's Stark added, noting that one of the company's OTT customers recently introduced a low-cost content bundle and recorded an increase in its sales as a result, rather than a decrease as some had feared.

But Campbell Foster, director of product marketing for video solutions at Adobe, said that whatever bundles video suppliers provide, they must do it in a profitable way. He said that's challenging considering the millions of dollars often required to produce high-quality video content.

"The streaming wave is here … but we haven't figured out the business model," acknowledged Eric Fitzgerald Reed, VP of entertainment and tech policy at Verizon.

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