What Everyone Is Talking About Today

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Whether what you want to view comes through on your TV screen, your Web browser, your video iPod, your PSP handheld or your cellphone, the consumer electronics industry is making bets on every contingency. This week’s Consumer Electronics Show is bursting with the unveiling of deals that will let consumers get what they want when they want it, but often for a fee. While the fees are nominal -- most often in increments of 99 cents, $1.99, or $2.99 -- the assumption is consumers will pay for convenience.

The latest to enter this game is none other than Google, which plans to layout its plans in a speech from Larry Page. Google Video will let users download CBS and NBA programming for a fee. The service is also expected to allow content owners to decide how they want to distribute their video, either as a pay-to-own, pay-to-rent or free.

Google jumps in to a field with pay-per-view video deals already in place online, such as ABC and NBC arrangements with Apple to offer some of their programming on iTunes for $1.99 a download. NBC and Fox both offer programs on demand through DirecTV for 99 cents and CBS has a similar on-demand deal with Comcast. Most recently, DirecTV announced it would offer up shows from the popular FX Network on demand before they’re scheduled to air on the network for $2.99.

Yahoo also will unveil at CES today its plans for Yahoo Go TV and Yahoo Go Mobile, which will allow access to its portal from those other screens.

Movie studios are also making sure they are prepared to deliver their fare wherever we decide to watch movies. Cable companies and major film studios are discussing ways to release movies through video-on-demand the same day they are available on DVD. Liberty Media cable network Starz will have its own Internet movie download service, Vongo, backed by partnerships with Microsoft and Sony, which will allow consumers to download feature films to PCs and portable media devices for a monthly fee. Akimbo has struck a deal with Hollywood studios to distribute movies over the Internet, saying its TV-top box will be manufactured by Thomson and sold under the RCA brand beginning in April.

Manufacturers are also making sure they’re ready for audio, as the other flurry of activity was about how consumers listen to music or podcasts or satellite radio. Motorola introduced iRadio, a subscription service with 435 channels of music, talk and other programming. Subscribers pay $7 to $10 per month to download up to 18 hours of content from the Web to a mobile handset. The content can be played on the handset, home stereo system or via Bluetooth technology in a car.

Confused yet? We are. Someone call us when it’s all sorted out.

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