This is the week where in TV land, 2013 gets into high gear. The annual International CES happens in Las Vegas, with more than 150,000 people expected, while TV critics across the country travel to Los Angeles for their annual winter meet with programmers. As this pair of events gets underway, here's a collection of developments to watch and explore so early this year: ***All the smart TV announcements this week at International CES. Count on plenty of them. In particular, what interactive applications surface, any TV set makers welcoming in Google TV and efforts to test personalized in-set advertising, where 30 or 60-second spots are electronically downloaded into TV programs by genre or audience demographic--bypassing TV networks, stations, cable or satellite. This could be a universe-transforming TV development if such a system can be perfected as the smart TV population reaches multi-million mass.
***3D TVs profile at CES. What's the state of glasses-free sets and technology? Any new 3D channels on tap?
***All the networks launching scripted TV this year. Plenty of new entrants to choose from--Bravo, Hallmark Channel, E!, Oprah Winfrey Network (via Tyler Perry), Sundance Channel, GMC and History. Plus a dabble into made-for-TV movies/miniseries by Discovery Channel and Science Channel.
***Diversity network launches. Revolt from Sean Combs and Robert Rodriguez' El Rey come on via Comcast's independent net initiative, and round two of new proposals (for the remaining four-to-six services Comcast launches at minimum by 2018) begins. Get ready also for ABC/Univision's English-language news and information service, Al Jazeera America replacing Current TV, and African-American multicasters KIN-TV and Soul of the South.
***Developments in the multicast network world (digital-transmitted channels getting both broadcast and cable placement). Will someone from the rerun-oriented category (This TV, Me-TV, Antenna TV, Retro TV, etc.) break from the pact with first-run material to attract more sponsors? How many more multicast nets launch? How many stage upfront advertising events this spring?
***Netflix enters the original programming universe Feb. 1 with House of Cards by launching all 13 episodes in one fling. This is the first of at least four original scripted series Netflix will premiere this year, with House followed by the Arrested Development revival, Orange Is The New Black and Hemlock Manor. Still in play: bringing back The Killing with AMC as co-partner. How they do--and how much of the viewing originates from smart TVs, will determine if this is a one-year undertaking or a big part of Netflix from here on. Ditto what emerges from Amazon and Hulu.
***More series moving into production without a pilot... or a network to call home before production begins. NBC attempts two series in that category: Silence of the Lambs prequel Hannibal and pirate drama Crossbones. Watch NATPE's showcase later this month in Miami, and MIP-TV this spring, for who else plays producer without pilot or net.
***The makeover of CNN under new president Jeff Zucker. Should begin around springtime, once Zucker gets the lay of the news network's land. Could involve bigger roles for Anderson Cooper and Soledad O'Brien, Jake Tapper (just arrived from ABC) and a new home for Ann Curry.
***Tribune's TV activity post-bankruptcy. Is there a graduation of WGN America from still superstationesqe national offshoot of the famous Chicago independent channel to big new original series player? More in store with multicast Antenna TV? Dropping ties with Food Network or The CW?
***YouTube's original channels strategy. Stay tuned over what current channels remain funded, the status of current channels who lose their YT funds, and the next set of funded channels.
***The new Participant Media network, out of the merger of indies The Documentary Channel and Halogen TV. We know Participant can make hit movies that entertain, provoke and enlighten all together. Let's see if they can do the same with TV for the hard-to-reach millennial crowd. With former IFC/Sundance president Evan Shapiro as leader, and the talent roster they announced last month creating projects, they have a solid chance. One other note: will Halogen parent Inspirational Network increase its profile with more original ad-supported content?
***Crowdfunding as source of seed funding for new series now, new channels later. Watch what emerges from A) Kickstarter B) Web site Mobcaster, focused on pilot production funds C) the Early Shares agreement with Fashion Star producer 5X5 Media, and who else agrees to similar partnerships with Early Shares or someone else.
***Apple putting its TV set effort in motion. Let's see when this happens.
Be ready for this list to shrink or expand as the weeks pass. May the watching and listening begin.
Until the next time, stay well and stay tuned!