Deeper Dive—What AT&T, Comcast, Dish and others have planned for CES 2019

Shake off that Christmas cookie coma! It’s almost time for CES in Las Vegas!

The annual show draws more than 4,500 exhibitors, more than 180,000 attendees and tons of events—including a 5G event held by FierceWireless on Jan. 10. It’s also a chance for major video industry players to show off new products and services.

Ahead of CES’ kickoff next week, here’s a look at what AT&T, Comcast, Dish Network and others have planned (or are rumored to have planned) for the biggest technology show of the year.


John Donovan, CEO of AT&T Communications, will be taking part in a CES keynote conversation this year alongside Michael Kassan, chairman and CEO of MediaLink. The talk will focus on 5G and its potential to open up application opportunities like robotic manufacturing, AR/VR and mixed reality, sporting experiences and public safety. The two will also be joined by executives from National Geographic, Deloitte Digital, Adobe and Magic Leap—the AR startup with which AT&T has partnered to help develop a new DirecTV Now streaming application.

The biggest 5G focus for consumers is when they’ll be able to use the technology with their smartphones. But given AT&T’s work with Magic Leap and the promise of a DirecTV Now beta launch on the platform in 2019, the company could end up discussing interesting video applications over 5G during the show.


Comcast doesn’t have anything planned as high profile as AT&T’s 5G keynote. But the company will be at the show. Comcast Technology Solutions will be meeting with visitors, and the company will likely be discussing recent updates to its Xfinity xFi service.

But the provider could also have some video service news to share if recent information from Viva Entertainment is any indication. That company runs a small streaming TV service called VivaLiveTV and in a recent SEC filing it disclosed a partnership with Comcast Technology Solutions. Viva Chairman and CEO Johnny Falcones said the deal with Comcast is about improving VivaLiveTV’s channel lineup and making it more relevant on an individual market basis.

Dish Network

Dish Network at one time made a habit of dropping splashy product and service announcements during CES, but in recent years the company has scaled back its news rollouts during the show. The company is still present, and this year Sling TV President Warren Schlichting will engage in an “Audience Battle Royale” along with Discovery’s Nancy Daniels, NAGRA’s Andre Kudelski, Group Nine Media’s Ben Lerer and MTV’s Chris McCarthy.

During Dish’s most recent earnings call, Schlichting said that Sling TV’s focus right now is on improving customer experience, and the service has been making small announcements with respect to that goal. It’s possible Dish and Sling TV might continue that trend during CES but there’s always a chance the company has something big up its sleeve.

LG, Samsung and 8K TVs

CES wouldn’t be the same without a lineup of massive, eye-popping TVs and manufacturers, including LG and Samsung, who are not going to let 2019 go by without propping up some huge displays.

The big attractions at CES 2019 this year will be 8K TVs. Samsung will likely be showing off its QLED 8K 85-inch Q900R smart TV, which officially went on sale in 2018 for the reasonable price of $15,000. Not to be outdone, LG will be at CES this year with its 8K 88-inch Z9 OLED TV.

Other manufacturers like Sony will also be showing 8K displays during CES but, given the fact that 4K TVs are still catching on in the U.S. and 8K content is still limited, TVs with 7680 x 4320 resolution probably still have a way to go before firmly landing in the U.S. market.

Video service vendors

Away from the scene-stealing keynotes and retina-scorching TVs of CES, video service vendors will be at the show to help advance the multiscreen experience for viewers.

Synamedia, the video services business recently spun off from Cisco, will be making its CES debut in 2019. At the show, the company will be showing off its AI, machine learning and behavioral analytics technology used for tracking credential sharing, and its low-latency ABR and Smart Rate Control for IP video processing.

NAGRA will be at the show demonstrating its tech around content value protection and active content monetization. You.i TV will be at the show talking about cross-platform development for unified app strategies. And Google will have Android TV executives on hand to talk about shifts in consumer habits and how Android TV is addressing those changes.