This year, the broadcast industry will gather at the NAB Show to discuss an industry that is more dynamic than ever, with innovation continuing to open up new frontiers. And with this comes new opportunities and challenges. Super platforms, ad blockers, virtual reality, data analytics and, of course, digital content will all be key topics under discussion as professionals from across the sector gather in Las Vegas.
Super platforms spawn a billion new live broadcasters
It’s impossible to discuss innovation at the NAB Show without touching on the super platforms - the likes of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. Their growth, power, and influence will be a big story at this year’s show.
Watch for news about them offering competing video products to those that have already emerged as this is an increasingly important channel for consumers.
For example, Facebook’s Livestream will enable a billion new broadcasters with a potential audience of the same size, coupled with an analytics capability to make the right connections. Unlike broadcasters who constantly struggle with what footage to save and archive, Facebook will rewrite the storage rules – by storing all of it.
Virtual reality gets real
Super platform Facebook already has some announcements under its belt in 2016, including an application of virtual reality technology, and VR will likewise be a big story at this year’s NAB Show. The technology opens the door to telling new types of original stories and selling a unique immersive experience to a broader audience.
The technical capabilities of VR in cameras, lighting, production, special effects, concert-going, editing, media distribution, encoding, headgear, projectors, and mobile applications will all be on display. In particular, vendors will display the latest VR presentations for live sports.
Like virtual reality, augmented reality will also be an important story. This technology can help directors lay out pre-visual effects on top of a live scene while virtual reality can help producers tinker with any element of a scene before committing to it.
From a business perspective, the VR storyline will centre on the challenge of monetising the experience and offering low-cost VR solutions customised for the casual user, giving them an opportunity to express their creativity through the medium. This is the only way VR can escape its specialised niche and avoid the same fate that befell 3D. Anticipate plenty of experimentation with VR and other takes on creating a more intimate viewing experience.
Cord-cutting won’t kill cable
Having touched on the viewing experience, you won’t get through the NAB Show without a discussion of cable TV broadcast vs online.
It’s a myth that cable TV companies are facing their last days of existence. While OTT are currently riding a wave of success with original hit shows and international wins, cable TV and broadcasters still maintain some distinct advantages that will keep them in the game. Anticipate this being a big story.
While Accenture research provides evidence that viewers are watching more shows and movies on mobile devices, we still believe cable providers, broadcasters, and pay TV providers hold a position of strength.
Viewing may be fragmented but consumers are telling us they still value reliable platforms with popular content (like live sporting events) for which they receive one bill. Only cable providers can offer this premium experience.
Also expect news about more innovations within cable TV and broadcasting companies in the digital arena. For example, there will be stories about cross-integration between digital platforms and set-top boxes, smarter content discovery tools, and easy-to-use offline and time-shifting options.
Likewise, OTT providers will demonstrate that they, too, can offer a premium streaming experience of the same quality as cable. Integration and less complexity will be a defining feature of their offerings.
It may take a while, and eventually cord-cutting will become a reality, just not right now.
That being said, the pace at which media consumption is accelerating, and at which the broadcast industry is innovating and changing leaves no room for stragglers.
The industry’s biggest players in broadcast will bring the relationship between broadcast media consumption and innovation to life showcasing their biggest news to date at the NAB Show– it will undoubtedly be an exciting moment for the industry.
By Gavin Mann, global broadcasting industry lead at Accenture