Programmers Backing Off From CES

The Consumer Electronics Show has increasingly become a showcase not just for electronics companies to demonstrate their new technology, but also a place where programmers and content creators can reach an influential audience. But as the economy has soured, so have the parties and productions that programmers have brought to the trade show the last few years.

In 2008, Sony Pictures Television shifted resources from other conferences to CES, with a large booth on the floor. It went even bigger in 2009, taping episodes of its syndicated game show Jeopardy! on a 16,000-square-foot set next to the Sony booth.

For 2010, a spokesperson for the company says SPT has no major plans for the show, and will not have its own booth. It may have a small presence within the Sony Electronics booth, but that is still being decided.

Likewise, the Comcast Entertainment Group has had a “best of” event at the show the last few years for its G4 network to profile new gadgets. That event has been canceled for 2010, though the network will tape episodes of Attack of the Show live from the convention floor during CES, as it has in years past.

One programmer not stepping back is NBC Universal, which has had a major presence at CES since becoming its “official broadcast partner” in 2008. The company will once again have a booth at the show, with a Vancouver Olympics theme. Al Roker, Maria Bartiromo and Chris Hansen will host segments and programs from the show floor, including Closing Bell and The Wall Street Journal Report. The company will also present findings about lessons learned from consumer behavior and the Beijing Olympics, and how those apply to the Vancouver Games. NBC President of Research Alan Wurtzel and President of Ad Sales Mike Pilot will deliver that presentation.

At presstime, the only other television programmer to have confirmed exhibition space at the show was CBS Interactive.

Even though programmers may be cutting back on splashy live events and booths, most of them will be sending executives to speak on panels and hold meetings. Among the speakers are former NBC entertainment chief turned Electus president Ben Silverman, CBS research chief David Poltrack, CBS marketing head George Schweitzer and NBC digital chief Vivi Zigler.

While past years have seen major players such as Comcast's Brian Roberts and Disney-ABC's Anne Sweeney deliver keynotes, the lineup outside of the Up Next at CES content track consists almost entirely of technology executives.