Written by Paul Whybrow
Just in case you don’t know what it is. The National Association of Broadcaster Show or NAB for short is has been a key date in the diary for broadcasters and the entertainment industry in Las Vegas for nearly 30 years. Before that the annual show had toured around with a new home every year.
It is the biggest event for technology, creativity and business to come together in the US, with the IBC event in Amsterdam in September competing head to head as the global leader. It is often said that if you haven’t been to Vegas then you haven’t lived! If you haven’t been to an NAB, then it is fair to say you haven’t truly experienced the broadcast industry in action.
The numbers are huge, with over 100,000 visiting professionals and vendors from 160+ countries, 1,717 exhibitors spread across nearly 95,000 square metres of space. The breakdown of participants is varied too 21% are executives or management, 20% creatives and 23% technical with the rest from marketing and other roles.
The show has a well-earned reputation for bringing new technology and insights for the broadcasting and production industry that have transformed entertainment, like widescreen digital or online streaming technology plus those that haven’t yet like 3D TV and Virtual reality.
As the 2019 show kicks off, whether you are a seasoned veteran or a broadcast show newbie, I personally think there are a few simple ways to ensure you survive NAB and come back with great insights for strategy and technology advancement. This will impress your colleagues who didn’t have to get on a plane to fly to the middle of the desert in early April.
In short, they are Knowing your buzz words and phrases, finding the gem no one else sees and getting fit in the process.
Knowing your buzz words and phrases
Like all conferences and shows there are always the hot topics and themes that the organisers spot well in advance, so that they can ensure they have the right speakers, showcase the best fit innovations and get the press and publicity they need to validate the shows ROI in the marketplace.
Looking at the NAB website it is clear where they see the buzz words heading.
My first tip for surviving the show is to make sure you seek out these as they will be what people are talking about after the show.
Podcasting certainly seems to have found its mojo. Podcasts have been around for a number of years and have often been used by radio broadcasters to give an on-demand experience for shows that listeners may have missed and want to catch up on a car journey or when out walking or running. That has now morphed into a rapidly growing self-publishing ecosystem where there can be strong commercial revenues and audiences for podcast only content that is shared and promoted only via social media.
5G and In-Vehicle Entertainment are quite linked as they represent some of the opportunities and questions on how 5G will influence the entertainment world. There is still a lot of buzz that this new telco technology will revolutionise the broadcast industry through highly personalised content and commercial activity. The question for many is exactly how? In vehicle entertainment may be one way because if we have much more access to driverless vehicles then in theory the daily drive could be an extra 2 hrs of entertainment time to be consumed.
Artificial Intelligence concepts and practicalities is finding interest across all industries and so media is certainly not going to be left out. Expect many examples of how AI can drive efficiencies and data driven control across the whole value chain from creation through video and content management through to viewer and listener consumption. One area I am personally looking forward to discovering more on.
Cloud is probably heading to shift from innovation into standard operating over the next few years. Expect to see even more user cases how cloud is the natural way to do more in a virtual environment and that on premise is something of the past. The reality as is often the case, is actually still pretty complicated and from what several technology leaders have suggested to me, it is about getting the balance with cloud usage not transforming to fully cloud, it is picking and choosing what will work now and what still makes very good commercial and production sense to still keep on the ground.
Streaming is a continuing theme as broadcasters look for the video everywhere solutions and delivering what viewers are demanding, which is access to what they love to watch available live, on demand and instantly in a high-quality viewing experience. I suspect there will be plenty of vendors looking at how they can meet that need for high quality frictionless content viewing at low cost per viewer.
esports is fun exciting and growing rapidly! – all the ingredients to be taken more and more seriously with the mainstream industry. It will be interesting to see where esports is influencing in the creation space along with the examples of where the take-off of engagement and participation has been centred in the last year.
Finding the gem no one else sees
It is always a great feeling when you are able to reflect back on a new piece of innovation, product or service that is becoming big and recall where you saw it in the very early days before everyone was talking about it. If your role is to lead innovation in anyway, then this survival tip is critical not only for your only pride but also your own business growth.
When you discover a real gem, I find it really inspiring in thinking how you can either use that exact product in your own business or at the very least get the brain ticking over on how you may incorporate some of the smart ideas into what you have already bought.
The tip I was given to achieve finding these gems, is actually really simple.
Just make sure as you go around each hall do one round just sticking to the outside wall and looking at what is there. The theory is that new innovation often needs to be discovered fully before being available to all. So as new companies emerge on the scene, they will hit a stage where they can afford a small stand booked late in the process to showcase what they do. So, if you take the time to walk around and look at these booths, you may stumble on some really exciting innovation, before others see it.
Getting fit in the process
My final survival tip is how to make a positive benefit of the vast area of halls that make up the NAB exhibition site. If you are not on a stand all day, it is inevitable that you spend time shifting from hall to hall as you race from vendor meeting to vendor meeting.
If you own a smart step tracking device then my advice is to bring it with you and wear it every day. I think you will be amazed the number of steps you do as you move from space to space. The added benefit is that when you get home, you are able to share the great number of steps you achieved each day whilst you were busy away at a broadcast trade show!
Personally, this is only my third NAB show event, so I still have tons to learn in surviving and thriving at the event. I am here this year working with the team at Tech Mahindra as they take their own fresh steps into the showcasing and transforming world of broadcast and entertainment services on a world stage. I am ready for the demos and meetings with my own other secret survival tip, and that is to bring my favourite Aussie sweets (Fantails Freddo’s and snakes) to share with fellow Aussies and Kiwis that come to visit us. For me as a person with a sweet tooth this is always a winner.
Have a great NAB 2019 whether in Vegas or home.
Paul Whybrow is the Entertainment and Media Transformation lead for Tech Mahindrain Australia and New Zealand. He is the Managing Director and Creative Collaborator for Bodyboard Immersive Experiences. A boutique business with access to award winning creative, broadcast and immersive experience skills and consulting. Our purpose is to be the creative connector for imagining the possibilities and crafting the practical, so you can share passionate storytelling.