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TV industry show hails smartphone, Facebook era

Internet-based TV viewing, the arrival of Apple's iPad and the proliferation of smartphones are set to ring in a new era of connected entertainment, industry experts predict.

Thousands of TV execs are to flock to the French Riviera to brainstorm and snap up some of the hottest new programmes at this year's influential MIPCOM 2010 audiovisual entertainment show that kicks off here Monday.

The four-day event will focus on re-defining the entertainment experience through fast-growing digital platforms such as social networks as well as smartphone-connected digital TV and apps and their effect on the industry.

"The business model for the web has not yet emerged even while the business model on TV is shifting dramatically," Gary Carter, chief operating officer at international production company FreemantleMedia told AFP.

"The two big areas of exploration for FreemantleMedia in the last 12 months have been the use of our brands in social games and on social networks," Carter noted.

Games such as FarmVille or Bejeweled, both of which are available as apps on Facebook and Apple's iPhone, are spreading like wildfire, Carter added.

Digital technologies are expected to steadily increase their impact on all segments of entertainment and media.

The number of apps on offer to iPhone, iPad and smartphone users is exploding and promises to usher in a new era for the media sector.

In 2010, almost 6.0 billion paid-for and free apps are predicted to be downloaded, up from around 2.4 billion in 2009. This surge in sales could yield over 11 billion dollars in revenue by 2014 in the US alone.

The bottom line here is how the entertainment, digital and advertising sectors can work together to create much-needed new revenue streams.

With advertising revenues increasingly migrating to the Internet, a large number of Internet-based companies are expected to attend.

These include heavyweight Microsoft's MSN as well as hugely-popular video-sharing website YouTube and social networking sites Facebook and Bebo.

Television nevertheless remains as popular as ever, via terrestrial, cable and satellite channels or via the Internet.

"Over a five-year period television, globally, will continue to hold its share of global advertising," Marcel Fenez from influential market watchers PricewaterhouseCoopers told MIPCOM News.

Media specialists Eurodata TV Worldwide reported recently that whilst 2009 was a record year in terms of worldwide viewing time, 2010 looks set to be even better.

"In 2010 the worldwide consumption of television continued to grow strongly, mostly due to the many sports events that year, but also because of the cross-fertilization between TV and the Internet," noted Eurodata TV Worldwide vice president, Jacques Braun.

This year will be a star-studded event with a host of A-list TV stars and top entertainment industry honchos due in town as the entertainment industry bounces back after a tough few years.

Hollywood legend Robert Redford will jet in to mark the first anniversary of the launch of the Sundance Channel in Europe.

Three of the stars of America's multiple-Emmy award winning drama series "Mad Men" - Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss and John Slattery - will also be here for the first MIPCOM World Premiere TV Screenings.

And the cast of hotly-tipped new series, The Waking Dead, will invade the famed Cannes Croisette to promote the show.