Executives from high-profile media and technology companies such as ESPN International and Microsoft discussed new trends and developments in providing entertainment to the digital home Wednesday night for the Tuck School of Business’ “Tech at Tuck” day.
The panel of four consisted of Chairman and CEO of Time Warner Cable Glenn Britt ’71 Tu ’72, the Senior Vice President of marketing for the digital video and audio products group at Samsung Jim Sanduski, the General Manager for strategy and communications at Microsoft Research Kevin Schofield ’88 and the managing director of ESPN International Russell Wolff ’89 Tu ’94.
Bruce Leichtman, president of Leichtman Research Group, Inc., moderated the discussion.
“It’s interesting having these players come from four different areas and the question is, how do they work together and how do they compete to help bring technologies into the home?” Leichtman said in an interview with The Dartmouth.
At the start of the discussion, Leichtman asked members of the audience if they owned an iPod or a similar digital music player. Approximately 90 percent of the audience raised their hands. Leichtman used that informal poll to segue into the discussion of new, everyday media and technological devices.
The panelists focused on two specific forms of entertainment — music and movies — to underline technological breakthroughs. Some of the panelists identified the music industry as the leader in improving products for the digital home.
At one point, Wolff asked the audience, “How many of you have ever downloaded something illegally from the internet?”
After a number of hands shot into the air, Wolff then asked, “Now how many of you have robbed a bank?”
But the music industry, panelists said, has managed to make money regardless of the piracy, thanks to software such as iTunes.
Sanduski explained that he believes music has led the charge in terms of new technological products because people can incorporate music more easily than movies into their daily routine.
“Music is something you can multi-task,” he said. “Video is a dedicated event.”
The panel also discussed changes in television.
“The era of appointment TV is over,” Sanduski said. The Samsung executive emphasized the increasing reliance on digital video recorders and stand alone devices, such as TiVo, which allow busy viewers to watch what they want, when they want.
The line between content and technology companies has become increasingly blurred, the panel agreed.
Wolff pointed out that his company, ESPN International, no longer provides only content. Fore example, ESPN HD, its high definition television channel, was one of the company’s first forays into peddling technology.
The event ended, appropriately enough, with the awarding of an xBox 360 to an audience member chosen at random.
The game console, which is sold by Schofield’s company Microsoft, is one more example of technology moving into the digital home.
The panel discussion capped a day of “Tech at Tuck” events including a hands-on demonstration and display of new devices and gadgets and a talk by Grammy Award-winning jazz composer-conductor Maria Schneider regarding the role of music in the digital home.