@ CES: Hollywood Digital Czars Rain On Smart TV Parade

Television manufacturers, take note: All those new sets you’ve crammed with apps and other internet-derived content experiences aren’t impressing some pretty key constituents in the entertainment industry.

A panel discussion here at CES on Thursday afternoon drew some sharply critical assessments of the so-called smart TVs.

“They’re clearly not ready for primetime,” said Curt Marvis, president of digital media at Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF), who went on to describe the poor functionality of one particular device whose manufacturer he did not identify. “Other than Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) and Qriocity (Sony), there was nothing on there that worked very well at all. It reminded me of the old CD-ROM days.”

Marvis later added, “People are loading up these BD players and sets with all these apps but i haven’t seen many that are that compelling today.”

Hardie Tankersley, vice president of online content at Fox Broadcasting, also panned the consumer-electronics industry’s history of trying to bring the web-browser experience to the TV.

“I think web-browsing experience on TV has always sucked and still sucks,” said Tankersley. “Nobody wants it now on Google (NSDQ: GOOG) TV. It’s lame.”

Of course, Fox and Google TV aren’t on the best of terms right now given the broadcasters has blocked its programming from the new service, as have a number of other TV networks.

However, some of the other panelists noted that monetizing TV content in the app environment is going to be crucial to sustain the economics of premium-programming production.

“TV won’t exist five years from now if there isn’t a way to fund up-front development,” said Steve Canepa, general manager for IBM’s global media and entertainment industry division. “The app environment allows for authentication, it allows for a business model that gets a much better share for the content creator.”

Added John Penney, executive president of strategy and business development at Starz, “Staking out a position on the OS layer of this is what the battle is about right now.”