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CES 2020: Tech Confab Draws More Entertainment Players — And Apple, After Decades-Long Absence

CES 2020
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Hollywood and media types have long been part of the massive throngs that alight in Las Vegas each January for the annual CES convention.

But CES 2020 will have an even bigger focus on entertainment, thanks in large part to the streaming wars, while Apple’s first appearance at CES in nearly three decades has also generated buzz.

In 2020, C Space — which is CES’s marketing, entertainment and media track, now entering its seventh year — currently has lined up 86 exhibitors, up 20% from last year. Those include Hulu, NBCUniversal, WarnerMedia, Roku, Samba TV, Viacom’s Pluto TV, Amazon’s Twitch, Snap, Discovery, Univision, Spotify, SiriusXM and Pandora and iHeartMedia. In addition, WPP, a major advertising holding company, will be a first-time exhibitor. [Variety also is returning to C Space next year with the Variety Entertainment Summit at CES on Wednesday, Jan. 8, at the Aria Convention Center.]

Next year, C Space will take up four floors of the Aria Resort and Casino, whereas it previously stretched across three. Part of the expansion is due to CTA relocating sports technology conference sessions to C Space. According to CTA, over 33,000 entertainment, marketing and advertising pros attended CES 2019 and it’s hoping for a similarly strong turnout next month.

“Media companies and brands have recognized they need to be part of the technology conversation,” said Jean Foster, senior VP of marketing for the Consumer Technology Assn., which produces CES. “Some of them even are positioning themselves as tech-first.”

As part of C Space, entertainment-industry headliners at the conference include Quibi CEO Meg Whitman and founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, who are expected to reveal new details of their ambitious mobile-video subscription venture ahead of the service’s scheduled April launch. Linda Yaccarino, NBCUniversal’s chairman of advertising and partnerships, will also hit the keynote stage, joined by NBCU-affiliated talent Terry Crews, Ester Dean, Mandy Moore and Natalie Morales for a session dubbed “If TV Was Invented Today: NBCUniversal Reimagines the Future of Entertainment.” The Quibi and NBCU sessions are both set for Jan. 8 at the Park Theater at the Park MGM Hotel.

Meanwhile, CTA just announced that Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff — now a media mogul who also owns Time Inc. with his wife, Lynne Benioff — will be part of a keynote session at CES that will focus on the role that companies can play in “helping solve some of the world’s biggest social and environmental challenges.” The session, which will feature Benioff together with Unilever CEO Alan Jope and MediaLink CEO Michael Kassan, is set for Jan. 7 at 4 p.m. at the Park Theater.

Elsewhere at the CES sprawl, a recently added session on digital privacy has grabbed attention because it’s scheduled to include an Apple executive — marking the Cupertino giant’s first official presence at CES since 1992. Speakers for the roundtable discussion (Jan. 7, 1-2 p.m. at the Las Vegas Convention Center) are set to include Jane Horvath, Apple’s senior director of global privacy, along with Facebook’s Erin Egan, VP of public policy and chief privacy officer for policy; Procter & Gamble global privacy officer Susan Shook; FTC Commissioner Rebecca Slaughter; and Wing Venture Capital’s Rajeev Chand.

“There’s a huge amount of interest in the session,” said CTA’s Foster. “That was a huge win for us getting Facebook and Apple together on the same stage.”

Other confirmed CES 2020 keynoters are Hyun-Suk Kim, president and CEO of Samsung Electronics, Daimler CEO Ola Källenius, and Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian. Meanwhile, Ivanka Trump was reportedly scheduled to appear at CES on a Jan. 8 panel with CTA president/CEO Gary Shapiro; Foster declined to comment.

In addition to the bigger C Space area, Foster cited other growth areas at CES including the Digital Healthcare and Smart Cities sections (which both grew 25% in terms of exhibitors in 2019); VR/AR in gaming; and the Eureka Park exhibition area at the Sands dedicated to showcasing startups, which will be at capacity with some 1,200 companies.

CES 2020 will run Jan. 7-10, 2020, in Las Vegas. According to the CTA, in 2019 the conference drew 175,000 attendees from 160 countries and featured over 4,500 exhibiting companies across more than 2.9 million net square feet of exhibit space.

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