Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Letter From Las Vegas

So it's that time of the year when 100,000 broadcast industry execs land in this strange place in the middle of the desert to peddle their wares to each other. (And meanwhile, the other, content-driven half of the industry are down in Cannes selling programming).

I'm meeting people who live a few miles from me in London and you'd thought that, with the internet, the need for trade shows would have long since disappeared. But the opposite is true. In an impersonal world where we often do business without ever meeting our counterparty, the ability to meet, greet and put a face to an organisation is more important than ever.

And the show this year is buzzing and busy. There has been a great deal of consolidation in the industry of late as the financiers realise that there is little point in backing so many players in such a small marketplace.

There are some over-arching themes - 4k, of course, storage and asset management are to the fore. Digital delivery and the misuse of our company name - TV everywhere - is prevalent but has now become mainstream.

Some interesting second screen and augmented applications are appearing.

The really packed stands were in the Lower South Hall, technically given over to 'Display Systems & Post' but actually containing a wide range of categories well beyond this. Upstairs at Upper South Hall, Distribution, Delivery and Online Video was somewhat quieter, but not much so.

Figuring our what each company does amongst the marketing slogans and technical straps is one of the greatest challenges. There are huge degrees of overlaps and beyond buzzwords (TV everywhere (again), H.265, HEVC, 4K, asset management, content solutions...) it's often difficult to discern any differentiation.

Certainly some stands were much busier than others - those of Far eastern suppliers show that there's a lot to brand building - conversely savvy marketeers at the big brands were wrapping audiences around their stands.

So, the broadcast industry is in for an interesting time as it moves from hardware to software to the cloud.