21CF at CES 2017: Randy Freer talks consumer experience, ‘Alien’ and ‘Planet of the Apes’ go VR, Fox Innovation Lab gives award


21st Century Fox was active last week at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2017 in Las Vegas, the annual showcase of the latest in the world of consumer technology. From business leaders speaking on panels, to the Fox Innovation Lab awarding its first Innovation Award, to “Alien: Covenant” and “Planet of the Apes” getting the virtual reality treatment, there’s plenty to recap from 21CF’s time at this year’s CES.

Randy Freer talks distribution and consumer experience

During a C Space Keynote Panel discussion on Thursday, Fox Networks Group COO and President Randy Freer said the emergence of streaming content is an enormous opportunity for FOX as a content creator and builder of brands. “Ubiquitous distribution and the ability to go from being a pure wholesaler to a consumer-focused business changes your entire culture, it changes your thought process.” He added that this transition allows the company to “diversify our business and get closer to the consumer,” which will ultimately strengthen connections between consumers and FOX’s content and between consumers and advertisers.

Randy also said the industry must think about the consumer as more than a Nielsen point, and that “Linear television is a crappy consumer experience today” because of heavy commercial loads.

Fox Networks Group COO and President Randy Freer (left) joins a keynote panel discussion at CES 2017.

“Alien: Covenant” and “Planet of the Apes” get VR experiences

Director Ridley Scott is once again venturing into the world of VR with the upcoming film “Alien: Covenant” (in theaters May 19). The Fox Innovation Lab announced early last week that the next movie in the science-fiction horror franchise will inspire a VR experience with Ridley serving as its executive producer. It will be available on all tethered VR platforms. Ridley’s film “The Martian” also yielded a VR experience called “The Martian VR Experience.”

Fox Innovation Lab also announced that it’s turning the “Planet of the Apes” film franchise into a VR experience that will allow players to embody an ape and band together with fellow primates against humans.

“We’re trying to develop consumer content someone would want to own and release it during the theatrical window,” said Mike Dunn, President of Product Strategy and Consumer Business Development for 20th Century Fox during “The Reality of Virtual Reality” panel at CES. “Now we see that as a way to entertain the consumer. You’ll see the movie and love it and want to be a part of it.”

Mike said the goal is to release mobile, tethered and location-based versions of the VR experiences.

Fox Innovation Lab presents first Innovation Award

The Fox Innovation Lab also handed out its first Innovation Award to Video & Audio Center for being the first retailer to offer 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players and discs.

“The Video & Audio Center is in a class by itself. They have long been a pioneer in presenting new digital technology to the consumer as an integrated solution,” said Danny Kaye, managing director of Fox Innovation Lab. “We get invaluable consumer feedback on our latest products and enhancements through our relationship with Video & Audio Center.”

Video & Audio Center CEO and founder Joseph Akhtarzad noted that his stores used “The Martian” to demonstrate 4K Ultra HD TVs with high dynamic range.

Osterhout Design Group shows off two AR smartglasses

Osterhout Design Group, a leading augmented and virtual reality smartglasses manufacturer in which 21CF has a minority stake, unveiled two versions of its latest AR smartglasses: the R-8 and R-9. The two models are made for consumers and enterprise customers. The R-8, aimed more at the consumer market, is set to sell for under $1,000; the R-9, aimed more at enterprise customers, is set to sell for $1,799. Both smartglasses will ship in the second half of 2017.

“ODG is pioneering glasses for the masses that play movies with cinematic clarity, drop you inside immersive 3D interactive experiences, and reveal new worlds of invention and productivity,” the company said in a statement. “This is so much bigger than just a device, it’s about a whole new computing medium that will transform how we interact with and discover information and engage with people and objects in the world around us.”