Fast Forward 2005: 41-44

The future is something to get excited about again. Here’s our look at the surprising people, ideas, and trends that will change how we work and live in 2005.

Spotlight: Next-generation entertainment

Interactivity arrives — bring on the ads!

Phenom What it is Our take
41. Yair Landau vice chairman, Sony Pictures Entertainment; president, Sony Pictures Digital He’s the champion of “immersive” entertainment, making possible advances in Sony’s massive multiplayer games such as the new Everquest 2 and in the motion capture technology powering this Christmas’ The Polar Express. If, as expected, The Polar Express and Everquest 2 are hits, Landau will be the hottest exec in Hollywood, with street cred in both the entertainment and digital worlds.
42. DVD’s replacement Two rival formats, HD-DVD and Blu-Ray (ah, memories of the VHS-Beta clash), compete to replace what we just got. The idea is to support high-definition TV and improve antipiracy measures. Look for first-generation stuff in late 2005. HD-DVD is compatible with current gear; Blu-Ray isn’t. But Blu-Ray has the support of the movie studios. (Sigh.) We can’t believe we’re going to have to buy another copy of Rudy.
43. Scott Newnam founder and CEO, GoldPocket Interactive When we first heard about interactive TV, Scott Baio was hot stuff. Twenty years later, 30 million set-top boxes can get it (up from 9 million in 2004), and GoldPocket’s producing 230 interactive shows a week. Advertising’s built into the interactivity, so marketers avoid the TiVo problem. Newnam may be ready for his close-up — if viewers like us can find the interactive features. We have a satellite system but didn’t know we could play along with our favorite shows like CSI.
44. Live call-in quiz shows storm American TV Big Brother and Fear Factor were European hits before being successfully copied here. Next: U.S. programmers could poach popular German interactive game shows in which viewers place 18 to 20 million calls a month to compete for prizes. Smells like a walk-before-you-run version of interactive TV. But with Barry Diller behind the German network that airs 12 hours a day of call-in quizzes, count on hearing more about what a genius he is.

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