Relaxing in the not-too-comfortable departure lounge at Las Vegas International Airport on my way home from NABSHOW 2018, my mind drifted back 25 years to my first NAB and I began to contemplate the numerous changes which the broadcasting industry had experienced during this quarter of a century. Unlike the lounge, which still retains its original sparse atmosphere, and is slightly poorer these days having lost the excitement of the pumping and tinkling of the jackpot coin payouts from the fruit machines, the broadcast industry has experienced massive changes in both technological and financial considerations.
Back in the old days, the industry was privileged to enjoy good margins on their exclusive, tailor-made, proprietary gizmos giving rise to extravagant trade shows, boundless hospitality and entertainment and a guaranteed bottom line surplus to keep the shareholders satisfied. The generosity did not end there but was even reflected in the free-of-charge service arrangements which accompanied the afore-mentioned gizmos. A number of famous global suppliers actually pampered their clients to such a degree that when service charges for support started to become a standard part of the supply package, much to their surprise, their clients tended to vote with their feet in order to seek continued free support elsewhere.
Wake up from the dreams
As we wake up from the dreams of these good old days, we see a more business-like approach within the broadcast industry driven by the hard reality of the need to make dependable profits and undertake continual R&D. Technological demand is also continually shifting in line with these changes as broadcasters themselves also have to face these hard realities. I spent most of my time at NAB on the Provys stand and I attended many of the client meetings. I was continually impressed by the consistency of the requirements put forward by broadcasters visiting the stand, in particular, the need for greater automation and improved efficiency. This exactly dovetails with the comments of Lorenzo Zanni, Lead Analyst with IABM, in their recent industry forecasts. In a nutshell, broadcasters simply need to do more with less.During the show, Provys were presenting three lectures daily titled: “Be on the ball - operating a sports channel from production up to transmission”; “Playlist in 5 minutes - automate the scheduling of your channels” and “Content first - optimise multichannel use, linear and especially nonlinear!”, topics which exactly reflected IABM’s forecasts and visiting clients’ expressed requirements. “Be on the ball” covered the management of sports broadcasting and how to plan live matches, particularly the scheduling of resources, together with the scheduling of live broadcasting of these events. The presentation, “Playlist in 5 minutes”, showed how easy it would be to use an advanced broadcast management system instead of the current manual, time-consuming and often very boring methods. The “Content first” lecture demonstrated how to keep pace with the changes in this era of constantly evolving markets. Sabina Svidova, Business Analyst at Provys, one of the presenters, explained:
““We wanted to highlight real life experiences from the field in our presentations. For example, a case study based on Norway TV 2 showed how they successfully monetise their content across channels and paid platforms. Another case study showed our experience of the demanding management at BT Sport.””
In the time that I have been attending, NAB has come a long way from the early relaxed days when cell phones and credit cards were scarce executive toys. Today’s visitor is professionally focused on finding the best, state-of-the-art solutions among the myriad stands and not always totally reliable exhibitors. And to this Sabina adds: “Offering the best solutions to the industry, with the highest levels of efficiency and ongoing support, yet with a human face, is, and always has been our principal objective”.