NAB 2014: 4K, HEVC and Internet

The real NAB Show began this morning in Las Vegas by a beautiful sunny day. The “real” because that was the first morning of the exhibit. The conference program began on Saturday but for me, the main interest of NAB is the exhibit as the conference program seems to always be less interesting than others like IBC.

I have attended NAB since 1987 and it seems that I do it more quickly each year. It maybe just because I don’t have interest in what many exhibitors are presenting but I feel that in some areas, there is an unsustainable number of players. That is probably because the barrier to entry is low and many tries.

So far, I walked only one of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) four large hall, the South Upper hall, so this is only first impression. Still, it consistent with the trend that was observable at last year’s show.

All over the South Upper Hall, there is tens (probably hundreds, I did not count) of exhibitors that shows product supporting 4K UHD and the related HEVC (H.265) codec.

Similarly, there is a plethora of offering for all forms of Internet delivery. Over-The-Top and mobile solutions are legions.

This is probably a normal phenomena as these are fairly new technologies and everyone hope to be able to provide their solutions to the market. The problem is that there is not much differentiation between the products. It’s a narrow problem and there is not that much opportunities to make a significant difference. I expect that the market will weed it out quickly and a lot of those will be history in one or two years.

One thing that is problematic for all those IP based video delivery initiative is the extra management that is required to extract revenue form those. Traditional management systems (traffic/sales etc) are not very well equipped to support all those extra destinations. The issue is that there is an incremental cost at providing those and the revenue does not necessarily offset the costs. This is also true for the “hyper-local” content that is promoted notably by Grass Valley and Harmonic.

I also passed by the booth of Nevion in the same hall. Nevion did impact the market a decade ago with slim routing switcher. One of the problem that they must be facing now is size. They are still a smaller organization in a segment where competition have become a lot bigger; The “new” Grass Valley (combined Miranda and Grass), Evertz, Ross and even Imagine (former Harris Broadcast) and Snell/Quantel are all much bigger. I think it will be hard for them to stay at that level, they will have to grow by acquisition or be acquired itself.

The most crowded booth in that Hall was Avid whose “Avid Everywhere” initiative seemed to draw a lot of attention, it’s a good sign for them and a bad one for a lot of the others’ cloud offering.

A side note, I saw the past darling of 3-4 years ago, 3DTV only in the Dolby booth.

Alright, enough for now, returning to the show floor!

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