NAB 2012 Sunday: Press events marathon

“Press events” remains a tradition at the annual National Association of Broadcasters convention. It’s not a place where you actually learn a lot. Today with the Internet, it’s easy enough to get all the PR material (press releases, brochures, video) and know all about the announcements.

In the past, when communication was harder, it was really a place to get news and to ask question (although it’s probably the most mundane form of journalism)… but today, information has little to do about it.

So, why am I wasting a beautiful day like today (yes, the nice weather has finally arrived to Las Vegas) going from one press event to another?

I would say to feel “l’air du temps” (I really don’t know how to express that in english, wikipedia says it roughly translates to “the prevailing atmosphere”). To get a feeling on how people sees the current marketplace, to see what they feel is important to their market. Going to a press event gives me that intangible kind of information that is not there when you are not in the same room as someone else.

NAB is a machine that has been meeting every year in Las Vegas since 1991. Before that, it was basically meeting one year out of two in Vegas and one year elsewhere. The people felt that the 1990 gathering in Atlanta was so painful that it would then stay only in Vegas. Regardless, since 1991, it is fairly predictable. The smaller press conferences are done in a room at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC, where the rest of the show is happening) and the larger dubbed “press events” are done off-site in hotel. The exhibitor coordinates themselves so that for the most part those press events are done sequentially with enough time in-between to travel from one to the other. Further, they even provide transportation for the media folks between the events.

Personally, I am not present at all of those events… I maybe masochist but only to a certain point! I also limit my pain by not using their arranged transportation, preferring the rental car (a VW Passat this time) to carry me from one place to the other.

So far, I have covered the press events of Harmonic, Panasonic, Sony, Avid and Harris. Harmonics was on Saturday night, while Panasonic, Sony, Avid and Harris were on Sunday.

So what do I feel this year from those events?

-With the commoditization of hardware, it’s harder and harder for an hardware company to differentiate itself. The game is on software and once you have an hardware platform in place, you want to expand it’s reach and offer a wider gamut of product to your customers. This is notably the case of Harmonics witch did expand out of ti’s traditional encoder/decoder business by acquiring Omneon two years ago and by now leveraging some of that technology in their edge devices (ProStream 1000).

-The cloud is very “in” and everyone wants to have an offering. Avid has it’s “Interplay Sphere” witch facilitate seemingly transparent remote access to content from standard Avid tools, that did seem similar to Quantel’s Qtube, we will have to see in practice and from a cost standpoint. Panasonic had a deal to provide cloud content delivery, Harris had an ambitious architecture and so on.

-HD is so 20th century, to be in now you have to shoot and produce in 4K! Brazil’s TV Globo is now shooting all it’s soaps (yes, soaps) in 4K! They are so excited that they are pushing for the home distribution market to evolve into 4K so that people can enjoy their soaps in all 4K glory.

-Maybe the bad economy is a thing of the past now in the broadcast television market but no one seems to express any concerns over the capacity of the TV stations to pay for all those nice high end gears.

-3D is a concern but not a main one.

-Multiscreen, finally… your content everyone and without pain or manpower. That’s what everyone seems to offer. We will see how this translate into reality, I have yet to see a multi-screen, multi-distibutors pipeline that was not painful. That everyone seems to jump into that market is certainly a clear indication of how much “new media” is now vital to our industry.

What else can I say after this second day at NAB 2012? Well, AT&T network is as bad as ever, I had no data coverage in many places where the press events were held. Also, the folks at Panasonic and Sony did not provide any wifi to compensate for the bad data coverage demonstrating that they still don’t quite get social media. Avid did have free wifi (but to be honest, I am not sure it was there doing or Aria’s) and they had San Pelegrino… they had me on the good side from the start. Harris had a lavish press events, with a great venue at the Pallazo hotel and with great food and drinks… that did demonstrate that if your company is a big defense contractor you can throw better press events than those who rely only on the poor broadcasters.

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