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Real-world Investment

Sep 2, 2009 2:22 PM, By Cynthia Wisehart


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If you were envious in past years of venture capitalists and the people they fund in emerging markets, consider this: $929 billion flowed in 2007; in 2009, it will be $165 billion, according to the Institute for International Finance. That’s a shortfall of $764 billion, a little more than an 80 percent decline.

On that cheery note, we turn to sports. Just as people are giving Hollywood another great box office season, they’re getting out to support their teams. Both industries are upping the user experience—they’re investing. A series of deployment plans are underway in Hollywood that call for more than 20,000 digital-cinema-screen installations by the end of 2010. We look at a significant investment in the fan experience at the new Yankee Stadium, one of several AV upgrades going on across professional sports.

As out-of-home experiences get new energy, the sound and pictures flow back—increasingly over IP—to televisions, computers, and cell phones. These virtual experiences will be a key part of the next round of the economy (and venture capital spending). How much of a driver? Here’s a clue: IPTV will grow by 52 percent annually through 2012, according to IMS Research. By 2013, IMS also expects 255 million households to have HDTV—five and half times as many households as in 2007. Much of what they will be watching at home will be sports and other real-life experiences with out-of-home audiences.

It’s also possible that some number of those viewers will be watching on screens with resolutions of 7680x4320 pixels. (If you were at IBC, you saw the demo.) That’s 16 times clearer than the current HD standard. That tide will eventually float all display boats including those in the real world.

Why is all this an opportunity? Why is it important to our industry? Because real-world experiences are incredibly valuable and becoming more so—they are the engine that drives the virtual experience. There would be no market for cell phone delivery of box scores if there were no one out on the field scoring. Real-world experiences are the manufacturing; everything else is distribution. So real-world experiences must sound and look great. They must be accessible to the virtual audience whenever and wherever, which means the real world will need to be more wired than ever. Meanwhile, marketers already understand that real life is the new frontier in advertising—the so-called digital out-of-home experience—where there are no TiVos and pop-up blockers. Advertisers will want to connect with people in the real world via AV and digital signage, and they will want that AV to interconnect back with the virtual world.

The venture capitalists will be back, and they’ve got a lot of headroom to work with now. They will be looking for people who understand how to wire the real world and the virtual world together. To gauge how near—or long-term—this opportunity may be, consider attending the Digital Signage Investor Conference Oct. 6-7 in New York at the Embassy Suites.



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