ETCA 2016: The Future of Home Entertainment in a Connected World -- A Warner Bros. Perspective

David Cardinal
Tuesday, June 28, 2016 16:32

The conference's Day 2 keynote was given by Ron Sanders, CEO of Warner Home Entertainment, in the form of an interview conducted by  EnGadget's Roberto Baldwin. Ron started off by confirming what others had said -- that change is accelerating in the entertainment business. As fast as technology improves, customer expectations are increasing just as rapidly. The proliferation of devices has made the job of meeting those expectations much more difficult, but worth it as the overall demand for content continues to increase. 

On the topic of the profusion of new video technologies like 4K, UltraHD, HDR, wider color gamut, and Dolby Vision, Sanders said the first problem is deciding which of those formats are even worth promoting, but the improved viewing experience of all these technologies together is certainly justified by an improved viewing experience. Consistent messaging of the benefits, as well as refitting the retail purchase experience to showcase the new features. Warner is promoting versions of its movies -- about 100 this year -- that include a range of these features, along with immersive audio, as "4K UltraHD." To make these versions practical, they need to be considered early in the production process -- and part of what the Director thinks about -- especially since the theater-only window continues to shrink, meaning there is a need for shorter time-to-market for home releases. Sanders compared the difference between 1080p TV and 4K UltraHD being as large as the upgrade from VHS to DVD. Short term Sanders sees the new versions as a complement to the existing HD & SD versions, but over time more of the market will move to the higher-quality versions. Industry group DEG (Digital Equipment Group), chaired by Sanders, is trying to coordinate consistent messaging around the rollout of the new technologies.