LAS VEGAS-Change will occur when the 2021 NAB Show returns in Las Vegas, October 9-13. Masks will be ubiquitous. You will need evidence of a COVID-19 vaccine to even enter the door (sidebar, below). And the results of the once-in-a-lifetime change that the media industry has faced over the past 18 months will be fully displayed.
Following a break last year, the National Association of Broadcasters has the opportunity to help the industry answer pressing questions. How do you stand out in a sea of content suggestions? How to effectively generate revenue from this content? What is the best way to assess what has worked – and what hasn’t – in the last 18 months?
CONSIDER OUR APPROACH
“This industry, like most, has had to rethink its approach to doing business, and in some cases even rediscover it,” said Chris Brown, executive vice president and managing director of global communications and events at NAB. “It was undoubtedly a challenge, but it opened up new opportunities,” he said, adding that the pandemic has forced content creators to step up their focus on serving customer needs, whether it’s a user, content creator or distributor. “The whole dynamic of the industry has developed around a new look at media consumption,” he said. “There are many options and the appetite for content has never been greater.”
So where do we go from here? To remain relevant, companies in this environment need to rethink their vision of the customer and their vision of the product they deliver. “Few can afford to stay in their original band,” Brown said.
The NAB show will try to help its visitors make their way forward through a series of educational sessions, exhibits, pavilions and conferences.
With the change of the world, the logistics of this year’s exhibition also changed – indoor exhibits will be held only in the central and northern halls, and outdoor exhibits in LVCC Silver Lot. The radio show of NAB and NAB SMTE (Television Exchange for Sales and Management) will take place in Westgate.
So broadcasters may be wondering: how will the industry benefit from everything learned during the pandemic halt – while working remotely and trying to extend this workflow into a more continuous and efficient system?
“Before COVID, some organizations already had simplified ‘one-off’ situations such as a graphics operator working from home,” said one industry representative and frequent contributor to TV Tech. Then, at the beginning of COVID’s experience, news organizations added dozens — sometimes hundreds — of additional workflows to facilitate a real end-to-end environment, but outside the conventional workplace.
This whole change has led to several technological changes – improved codec efficiency, communications including hybrid cellular and Internet-based solutions, improved remote accessibility and security over conventional ISPs, increased video reception with a mobile phone camera, LTE connectivity or 5G connectivity, and more. “Many of them, while on site or used for casual services, now had to be processed almost full-time,” said the industry insider.
SUPERVISION OF INNOVATORS
Recognizing this change, NAB has united around the theme of adaptation for 2021. “The industry is not unfamiliar with change, but last year brought the concept to a new level,” said NAB Brown.
Through the exhibition floor and a series of educational offerings, the NAB Show places special emphasis on innovators and other companies driving change. CineCentral, a new exhibition floor destination, will showcase changes in pre-production, production and publishing, and look at how content creators are using the new technology, from VR to improved workflows.
Another new destination – Future of Delivery – will have a floor theater focused on 5G, mobile delivery, streaming, LEO satellite and other technologies influencing the future of distribution and delivery.
The show will also give attendees a 360-fold look at how things are with streaming. When users in mid-2020 responded to reduced social plans and blockages across the county with increased consumption of streaming content, content creators responded by offering relatively cheap subscriptions and exceptional content. Now, 18 months later, as subscriptions continue to grow, content creators are responding with new options such as niche programming, bundled offerings and VIP access.
According to Nielsen, by May 2021, the use of streaming in all television homes had increased to 26% of all time spent on television. Add broadcast programs to this pool, and streaming / broadcast combined now accounts for half of all TV time. When production accelerates and new content enters the space, it will stimulate additional traction, said Brian Führer, senior vice president of product strategy at Nielsen. Other estimates suggest that the number of homes with TVs watching streaming services will reach 33 percent by the end of the year.
OTT seems to be quite stable, said an internal representative of the broadcasting industry, with perhaps one exception: broadcasters are assessing the competitive nature of the streaming services they offer on the more traditional “big four” networks in order to remain relevant, such as trying to reflect the pattern set by Disney +. Other broadcast groups are making adjustments in a bid to meet changing requirements, he said.
In response, the Streaming Experience in the Central Hall lobby will look at related TV commercials, video quality, and content grouping strategies, along with demonstrations on more than 50 streaming video platforms and devices. “The streaming experience will provide, for the first time, a glimpse into the full range of streaming offerings and the experience on offer,” Brown said.
Several other technologies are expected to develop in 2022. New 5G applications will be expected, as well as a transition to products such as PCoIP, next-generation intercom products and a renewed focus on software-defined systems and cloud-based playback products.
Others look forward to effective means of generating content revenue to make the most of digital platforms. “One priority we want to explore further is an efficient workflow to decorate our video streams with appropriate SCTE tags,” said David Burke, senior vice president and chief technology officer of Gray TV Group. “[We want] to clearly indicate the beginning, end and duration of all advertising breaks, especially during news or live, so that we can maximize the inventory and revenue potential of our digital platforms. “
According to Brown, what makes this year exciting is not only that it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to get together, but that there are so many opportunities.
“The industry is sustainable and is preparing for great success in the future,” he said. “I think everyone will finally be emotional and this will be an important stage for all involved.”
To register for the show, visit nabshow.com.
Health and safety at the NAB exhibition
Numerous indicators show strong anticipation among the NAB Show community to return in person, said Chris Brown, executive vice president and managing director of global communications and events for NAB.
But the NAB said it was also aware of health and safety concerns associated with the proliferation of the COVID-19 delta variant, Brown said. In response, the association introduces a so-called comprehensive data-based plan that prioritizes safety and creates a productive environment.
In mid-August, the association announced that all attendees and participants must provide evidence of vaccination against COVID-19 in order to enter the convention. However, participants will not be required to wear masks. This follows a statement on August 16 from Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, who said large indoor establishments would be allowed to waive state requirements for masks as long as everyone was vaccinated.
“It’s avant-garde. There are no other places in the country to do that, “Sisolak told the Associated Press. “I think it will make more people want to go to an event because they know that when they go to this arena or this stadium, everyone is vaccinated.”
NAB is currently being finalized a a series of protocols that will maximize the safety of visitors. According to Brown, this process includes consultation with health and safety experts, gathering feedback from a number of exhibitors and visitors, and reviewing the safety measures recommended by national and local health authorities.