Last week’s NAB was, as always, loaded with new ideas and toys (although drones, I suppose, are getting to be old hat). The South Upper and Lower Halls remains the nexus for new technology relating to all things over-the-top, with a number of new entrants eating up whatever available space remains.
Here are some observations from my time in Las Vegas:
- Broadcasters – finally – officially buy into OTT. Last year, FCC Chief Tom Wheeler admonished NAB attendees to embrace OTT rather than fight it. This year, it was clear that broadcasters are all in and looking for ways to go over the top as quickly as they can in as many ways as possible. And it’s not just the big networks, smaller market players are looking to go over the top live with their news shows, weather, local sports coverage and their morning shows. Their big worry, as usual, is monetization. There is no longer concern about cannibalizing their “prime” (OTA) audience. They were far more concerned about how to reach Millennials and their following generation.
- High Dynamic Range content (HDR) was trending with broadcasters who are still not as committed to 4K as is new media. This isn’t a matter of them having their “heads in the sand,” as they were with OTT. It’s much more a matter of their skepticism that consumers are eager to join the 4K revolution. While Sportscasters are more willing to jump onboard, it may take a lot longer for broadcasters to adopt what many of them currently see as a gimmick driven by a small segment of the industry (and CE manufacturers).
- Social media – in the form of Facebook and Twitter – held center stage at NAB, with many panels focusing on mobile phone news delivery (to Millennials), political commentary and opinion being delivered and readily consumed by an even broader audience on mobile devices, and, of course, the increasing availability of live being key. The amount of conversation spent on Twitter’s deal with the NFL (for a rumored bargain price of $10 million was staggering, and everyone was using Facebook Live to post content from panels, keynotes and even, ahem, social gatherings).
- An old friend, discovery, remained on the main stage. As more content moves online, more solutions are being launched to help viewers find it easily. The “magic” of Netflix’s 80% success in recommending content was the mantra of any number of speakers on panels that defined the success of OTT as the ability of viewers to find content easily. Competition is hot in this space as there were a ton of solutions being shown in meeting rooms all around the convention.
- Virtual reality continues to grab headlines, but questions remain as to whether it’s the “Next Big Deal” or the next 3D, ie., flop. I’ve seen it before, and I’ll say it again… when the technology is something you step into rather than wear, it will be adopted wholesale, until then, it’s a niche product (gamers, for example, will adopt, but they’re just not convinced anyone else will – especially if it involved a bulky wearable).
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