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What we will learn from NAB: Tim Thorsteinson, SAM

Ahead of NAB 2016, TVBEurope asked a number of industry leaders for their views on the progress of the broadcast and video technology industry, and the talking points at this

What does progress look like for the broadcast and video technology industry in 2016, and what will be the major talking points at NAB this year that will best inform us about the evolution of our marketplace? Tim Thorsteinson, CEO, Snell Advanced Media (SAM) has the final say on the week’s discussion.

The amount of change in the last couple of years has been very dramatic. It has been an order of magnitude greater than anything else I’ve seen in my 20 years in the industry. I’ve been through the move from analogue to digital, SD to HD and now this move to IP. But this is a fundamental architecture shift. Combined with the issues that broadcasters are facing in terms of changing monetization patterns, the confusion in the market is very understandable.

The move to IP is massive. We see a couple of things going on. There’ve been downturns and shifts in the industry in the past and plenty of bumps in the road where capital spending was off ten per cent. But we are seeing more than that recently. This is a dramatic shift because customers’ business models are changing at the same time that we’re beginning to see this huge technological shift on the production and playout side. Together this is clearly a challenge.

There are also issues on the supplier side. I’ve always tracked the industry quarter-to-quarter and you might sometimes see companies’ revenues decline eight, 10 per cent. But we’ve seen companies with revenue declines significantly greater recently and that means radical change to stay alive. 10 per cent you can handle, but much more is very tricky.

Flipping this around to the positive, where there are genuine challenges there are also genuine opportunities. There is confusion on the customer side – and rightly so at the moment – and we need to provide clarity and standards. AIMS is an important effort in this regard and that’s the kind of progress we need to see. It will help to introduce some stability into the marketplace. That’s crucial.

The supplier base really needs to educate and inform the customer base what’s happening, something we’re now pushing hard. Of course not just with IP but 4K, HDR, virtualization – I could go on. Then there’s the shorter term issues that we must also be across with our customers – day-to-day pragmatism.

The definition of progress will vary from customer to customer. I know that sounds obvious, but never has it been truer. We are as far away from a one-size-fits-all approach as we’ve ever been.