Future of TV? Snapping, swiping and surfing

Fri Dec 3, 2010 1:33pm EST
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By Paul Thomasch

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Fall back on your sofa in five years, snap your fingers to turn on a TV that's thin as paper and stretches across a wall, then ask it to switch to your favorite sports channel so you can watch the day's baseball game in 3-D -- no glasses required.

This is a portrait painted by top executives when asked about the future of TV. Not all agreed on details -- some, like Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman, warned big changes could take more than five years given that people tend to have "a very optimistic view of how quickly and widely devices will be adopted."

But there was broad consensus that the act of kicking back in the living room to watch TV was not about to go away. Indeed, executives said the experience will only grow richer, and hopefully simpler.

"You don't want in the future for people to have to have a PhD in device management to use their media products," said Time Warner Inc Chief Executive Jeffrey Bewkes.

Speaking in Paris, Frederic Rose, CEO of French set-top box maker Technicolor, said that in five years' time he hoped the living room would feature one big screen TV, one remote, and one set-top box that allowed viewers to connect to the Internet, watch live TV, and search for video and movies.

"Today it can often take a dozen clicks to find one news program," he said. "There are too many boxes, too many remotes, and too much hardware."

Frustrating, confusing remote controls were the most frequently mentioned problem with the current TV experience -- and that is during a time when the remote is not expected to do much above the basic functions of adjusting volume, changing the channel, fast-forwarding or scrolling through a listing guide.

"The typical remote control is not useful for playing video games. The video game controller is not useful for watching films. Neither of those is useful for search. They are dumb controllers," said Bobby Kotick, chief executive of Activision Blizzard Inc, the video game company behind "Call of Duty."   Continued...