Welcome to FierceCable’s 2016 IBC Preview Issue

This year's IBC will include participants from NASA, among more conventional keynote speakers. Image: IBC
1. Welcome to FierceCable's 2016 IBC Preview Issue
2. Europe’s ‘biggest TV show’ opens tent to Liberty Global, other pay-TV conglomerates
3. VR technologies to draw big focus at IBC 2016
4. CBS, HBO, others shop for OTT distribution tech at IBC

This year’s International Broadcasting Convention, scheduled for Sept. 8-14, will see tens of thousands of broadcast, pay-TV and OTT industry players descend on Amsterdam’s RAI convention center to get a look at the newest video technologies, chat about developments in video standards and do some wheeling and dealing in the midst of it all.

Michael Crimp, CEO of IBC, is once again leading the effort to put on one of the industry’s largest annual tradeshows in terms of attendance – IBC saw more than 55,000 attendees in 2015. Registrants at this year’s conference and exhibition will see a number of events and keynotes that reflect a rapidly transforming broadcast and media ecosystem.

Crimp took a few minutes to go over IBC’s highlights with us in an e-mail exchange that also took a look at the strategies being used in the international market, and where U.S.-based broadcast networks are succeeding.

FierceCable: This year, what broadcast market trends will IBC focus on?

Michael Crimp

Michael Crimp: We continue to see an onward development in online video and technologies, which is very much supported by our Content Everywhere (CE) Hall; the conference also addresses this from a number of angles especially in our Platform Futures stream.

We are seeing growth in companies using high end production technologies such as VR [virtual reality] as well industry development in interop, data analytics and the onward development of IP and cloud tools as well as broadcast technologies. 

FierceCable: There’s an interesting diversity of keynote speakers this year – not just broadcast veterans but movie director Ang Lee, BroadbandTV CEO Shahrzad Rafati and even NASA. Why does a show ostensibly for the broadcast industry have such a wide range of speakers?

Crimp: Our 2016 Conference is named “Transformation in the Digital Era; Leadership, Strategy and Creativity in media and entertainment.” As such, our keynotes reflect the significant transformational leadership in the content and video industry – both from significant market players such as KDG-Vodafone as well as relative newcomers such as Vevo and BroadbandTV

The advertising industry itself is part of our industry, and of course has a significant and key relationship with the broadcast, video and content, especially as it moves online; we are delighted to have Sir Martin Sorrell as well as Dominique Delport with us. David Puttnam and Ang Lee represent the essence of leadership in creativity.

In our conference, we believe we are talking about industry issues as well as discussing the boundaries and that is superbly demonstrated by NASA and what they achieve in space.    

FierceCable: This year you’re debuting an interop that runs throughout the show, demonstrating interoperability in a live production environment. How will this interop contribute to the development of IP video? Do you plan to hold an interop every year going forward?

Crimp: IP interoperability and its impressive progress will, for the first time, be showcased at IBC in a new, 150 square meter, dedicated feature zone in Hall 8. IBC invited the key groups AIMS, AMWA and EBU/Sandbox to show the state of the art and explain their route maps. Visitors will hear current case studies and experience demos of verified technical progress plus a live broadcast via IP.

We believe that it is part of IBC’s role to help facilitate key issues. Clarity on IP standards will certainly help purchasing decisions and unlock business for everyone. We will be happy to host the next stage of development next year, too.

FierceCable: Last year, we saw broadcasters embrace OTT video as a complement or component to their traditional video delivery (OTA or pay TV distribution). This year, will we see more of the same or are broadcasters integrating OTT and IP video in general more tightly into their ecosystems?

Crimp: Yes, in Platform Futures, a new stream within the conference, we have a number of significant players talking about their online content distribution strategies – both Vodafone and DT, as operators, as well as NBCU and Netflix. It’s what I might call a mixed economy – with all the players using IP to deliver content services on line, either in partnership or in competition.  

FierceCable: The European pay TV market is somewhat different from the U.S. Where does OTT fit in the business models of EU TV providers?

Crimp: We have seen a growth in pay TV players delivering standalone OTT services such as the Now TV service from Sky, and we have also seen Netflix widely signed up by IPTV players such as Belgacom and DT. We are seeing more OTT activity from European broadcasters such as Cirkus TV, which is backed by ITV. These trends are fairly unique to Europe, though there are examples of them elsewhere.

FierceCable: Why did EU broadcasters/pay TV providers seem to more readily accept OTT video services years ahead of the U.S.?

Crimp: A number of factors contributed to this development, including the growth of broadband speeds in Europe. Additionally, many broadcasters were early in launching OTT services such as the BBC with the iPlayer; it set a great example of what a producer-broadcaster could achieve, and this has been replicated across Europe by significant FTA TV providers.

It was supported to some extent by the levels of production and rights held within leading media groups. IPTV platforms have also widely signed Netflix, indicating that they are focused on the aggregation and delivery of content, rather than in owning it themselves.

FierceCable: A few U.S. networks and media industry players have a strong international presence: Discovery, Fox, NBCUniversal, Disney, HBO, along with OTT services like Netflix and Amazon. What does it take to succeed in the competitive European market?

Crimp: The European market is somewhat complex to reach, with language and localization being just one of a number of factors. All of these players have decent scale to make the investment work as well as sufficient shareholder focus to diversify revenue streams outside of the U.S. and North American market.