NAB 2015: So, you really wanted IP?

I arrived in Las Vegas for this year edition of the NAB Show and it’s been so busy that I haven’t had time to write a blog post until now, midway to Monday… and even so, I am doing it because I need to recharge my phone. iPhone are useful but when you make full use of their features, the battery is gone in no time. Obviously, power is still a big deal.

That said, the show this year is really about IP. The broadcast industry have finally begin to really embrace what so many had for decades. Or should I say, the manufacturers have finally responded to customers by providing solution based in IP technologies.

The inflection point for our industry was really at last year’s NAB (I wrote a post about it then) but I think that this year we are clearly seeing the impact of it. It is just my impression, but it really feels like that conversion or build-outs based in IP is really what is driving sales in this market segment at this time. For many years, it had seems that the broadasters were delaying their purchases partly because they were uncertain about the future and partly because the IP based solution were not available off the shelves.

As we have proven with the build-out of three networks at Current TV between 2004 and 2008, it was largelly possible to use IP for remote production, central storage, playout, editing and control but it was not available in product format that you can buy from your trusted vendor.

This is not partially the case and it seems that everyone wants it now. I am sure that many are relieved and feeling confident now.

This is purely anecdotic but I attended the Imagine Communication (former Harris Broadcast that was previously Leitch) event yesterday night and it was a really lavish party. I am using this example ecause Harris Broadcast used to treat the press to pretty great event. One of my favorite one was three or four years ago (I think it’s three, doing ti from memory) where they hosted it at “Lagasse’s Stadium” in the Palazzo Hotel. They had a great, setting, great food and products demo with engineer on-site. That was a great press event but it was nothing compare to the event yesterday.

Yesterday was more like what I was used to in the computer industry. A little like when the JAVAONE event was at it’s peak (early 200s) and they had bands like the B52s to entertain us. So yesterday, Imagine had the “Joint” at the Hard Rock hotel reserved (a room capable of hosting 4000 people) and they had the band “Foreigner” booked a for a free concert. Now, I never was really a fan of Foreigner, but it is a pretty great band and they gave us a great show (as a side note, it was a great idea for a band to have a few hits in the 80s, that guarantee that you will basically have gigs to sing in front of baby boomers for the rest of your life). So, this party was pretty lavish even by the standards of the computer industry and something much bigger than what we normally see in the broadcast industry. Is this a sign that business is in fact getting really good?

One notable thing about the Imagine event (which started with some speeches and a panel discussion) is that they were not so much presenting products. It was clearly a brand building event. Consolidation, mergers and acquisition in the past five years have given birth to some larger global organisation in our indutry and those are gradually shifting from product to brand.

Some notable thing from the past two days that have noted:

-Harmonics is delivering more around it’s VOS service oriented architechture. Opening APIs and collaborating with others. This is moving towards a more collaborative approach to solving customers needs, one that we foresaw in 1997-1998 with the “SMPTE-EBU task force on exchange of television programmes as bit streams” and is taking two decades to materialize.

-Sony is pushing IP a lot but it still pushes 4K a lot (for the third straight year). They are probably the organization that pushes the most on 4K.

-Grass Valley is claiming “IP from Glass to Glass” but it is more a vision than a reality, a lot of their pieces still require baseband.

-Ross Video CEO and owner David Ross has provided a “Keynote” to parners, customers and the press for the second year. Mr. Ross has always been a fan of Steve Jobs and you could see the inspiration in his presentation. They continue to grow at a fast pace both organically and through acquisition. They are moving from a technology company to one that also include creative service. for the “two sides of our brains” or so they claim.

-Avid has reached an agreement to buy Israel’s based Orad. Avid clearly gain from adding live production technology to it’s lineup as this is becoming increasingly critical for broadcaster to differentiate their offering from content repositories. Orad is gaining from being part of a well known brand with global reach. Avid has also announced free entry level version of “Media Composer” and “Pro Tools”, version that will be known as “One”.

-This year NAB is the bigger yet with over 1700 exhibitors and more square footage than ever. There is still room to grow in the LVCC but it’s getting there… will be sold out in a year or two if it continues that way.

-There is a plethora  of aerial drone for broadcast at the show. I don’t think that the market is wide enough for so many. I expect that some will thrive though, this is an area where you can see small inovative companies. There was a notable demo this mornig where they experience a large numbers of dropped in the video transmission, they probably did not expect that NAB was “Interference Paradise”. Also, these things are noisy, it you use it to shoot something, don’t excpect to use the fields sound!

OK, that’s a long enough post, I’ll come back on a few of these subject in the next few days hopefully.

PS: I found “Interference Paradise” to be rather funny. See, the “Las Vegas Convention Center’ is actually located in “Paradise, Nevada” and it also make for another definition of “IP”….

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