NAB Show 2013 kicked off earlier this week, with broadcasters, video professionals and digital media startups gathering in Las Vegas to talk about the future of the big screen, the small screen and the tablet-sized screen.
For the last three days, I’ve roamed the show floor at NAB Show 2013, talking to technology companies, media groups and broadcasters about the impact that digital and social are having on the industry as a whole.
There’s so much to see at NAB, but here are the three most over-arching trends that are on display at the 2013 show.
4K and Ultra HD
If there is any singular buzzword to describe NAB Show 2013, it’s 4K — also known as Ultra HD.
4K made big waves at CES 2013 but its at NAB Show where the technology is really coming into its own.
In addition to panels and sessions on 4K and other display technologies of the future, there’s tons of 4K product on the show floor.
Sony announced pricing and availability of its 4K TVs and its new 4K Media Player.
Of course, the big issue with 4K is all about content and when it can be broadcast and distributed. There are lots of sessions and conversations about those workflows too, with companies such as Adobe showing off their 4K tools.
Intel on Monday showed off its next-generation Thunderbolt technology. This technology is important for a few reasons: First, it raises the data rate from 10 Gbps to an astounding 20 Gpbs in both directions.
What does this mean? Well, not only does it mean that an era of actual, real, external GPU’s may soon be upon us (hallelujah!), it also means that this tech would allow editors to transfer and display a 4K video file at the same time.
There are a lot of hurdles with 4K at a broadcast level — and that’s before we even address distribution and bandwidth constraints for actually delivering that content — but the easiest way to get 4K content in the wild is to make it work with existing workflows. The new
Thunderbolt could be that very solution.
Second Screen and Monetization
If Social TV was the big digital buzzword at NAB Show 2012, Second Screen is the trend for 2013.
At this point, content creators, distributors and networks understand that TV viewers are quickly moving into a world world where we multitask while watching a show. Social TV isn’t just about building in ways to tweet or chat in real-time with content, it’s about offering more ways to offer feedback for that content and to offer that feedback on secondary devices.
I’ve written tens of thousands of words on the second screen over the last two and a half years and the concept is only becoming more mature. At Second Screen Sunday at this year’s NAB Show 2013, networks and second screen companies talked about what is happening in the space.
Meanwhile, dozens of startups are at NAB Show, with many focused on integrating into existing second screen paradigms and workflows or helping surface data that can be used in those contexts.
The Future of Broadcast and Distribution
Broadcast is changing. Based on my conversations on the floor at NAB Show 2013, how those in the broadcast industry feel about those changes — or how they are willing to acknowledge those changes — differs.
During Monday’s opening remarks, News Corp. COO Chase Carey made waves when he all but threatened to turn Fox into a cable network because of the actions of the New York-based startup Aereo.
On Tuesday, Verizon’s Lowell McAdam took a different approach to the cord-cutting issue facing broadcast: a la carte programming.
Welcome to 2011, Lowell. But seriously, it’s great to hear a telecommunication executive acknowledge a potential solution, rather than plugging his ears and ignoring reality. Who knows, maybe Verizon’s FiOS TV service can be one of the first providers to try to offer more a la carte subscription options.
For me, the real take-away from McAdam’s discussion was the growing power struggle between the content providers — think Comcast, DirecTV, Verizon, Netflix, Amazon, Cablevision, etc. — and the broadcasters and content owners.
This is a point I have been arguing since 2011 — that broadcasters and content owners are the real power players in this discussion. We can talk about a la carte and online streaming options all we want, but that will only work if those that provide or create the content are willing to negotiate.
And this is the crux of the biggest shift in broadcasting. As the power roles shift, the content distributors are starting to create their own content. Netflix, Amazon and Hulu are all making original programming — and increasingly, content owners are looking outside the broadcasting box to distribute that content.
Tomorrow during the Disruptive Media Conference, I’ll be interviewing Avner Ronen, the CEO of Boxee about the future of content delivery, cord-cutting and Boxee’s role in this shift. I’ll also be moderating a panel on curating content across new distribution channels.