COMCAST CEO Brian Roberts will deliver this morning’s CES keynote and reveal a plan to increase on-demand titles from 1,300 to 6,000. Roberts will also discuss the company’s plans for Fancast.com, a guide to video that helps users find content online and offline. Fancast will let users search for any content in any format. A search on the site will return listings for TV, DVD, iTunes, Netflix, Amazon or web video sites like Hulu. The site will also integrate with Comcast and TiVo DVRs, letting users schedule recordings through the site.
CISCO has designed an “entertainment operating system” that will help companies build online communities of viewers that watch specific TV shows or match other criteria. The “Eos” will monitor user interaction in the community and deliver both web-based content recommendations for users as well as targeted advertising. Eos will be tested on sites for the NHL and Nascar.
ECHOSTAR has announced a $39.99 digital-to-analog converter box, which will be fully covered by the NTIA’s $40 converter coupons. Users will only have to pay sales tax on the boxes. EchoStar is also working on higher-end converters that include DVR functionality but are not covered by the coupon program. In related news, the NTIA has certified 250 retailers and 19 different digital-to-analog converters for the program. Retailers include Best Buy and Wal-Mart.
PANASONIC unveiled a new 150 inch Plasma TV, proclaiming it the world’s largest high-def display. The TV offers 2160×4096 resolution, totaling almost 9 million pixels. Panasonic also unveiled an initiative with Google that will bring YouTube and the Picasa photo-sharing site to its new Viera HDTV’s.
PARAMOUNT will reportedly follow Warner Bros. in dropping support for HD DVD. The Financial Times is reporting the exclusive story and proclaiming this the latest “final blow” to HD DVD.
SONY BMG announced the details of its new DRM-free offering, which requires users to go to retail stores, purchase cards and then visit a website to download the unprotected music. Downloads will come from Platinum MusicPass, a new site starting January 15th. Music download cards will be available at 4,500 retail outlets for $12.99. Sony BMG said the service is “a great way to bring digital music to the physical retail space.” Retailers may love the idea. Consumers will not.
BITTORRENT announced that both Netgear and D-Link have joined its Device Partners program. The companies will license BitTorrent technology for devices that enable file sharing at home and across the web. As part of the program, BitTorrent has certified the D-Link Xtreme N DIR-655 router and installed its SDK on the DNS-323 storage unit. Netgear will use BitTorrent technology to power the Digital Entertainer HD, a device that brings Internet content (including hi-def streams) to HDTVs.