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IBC 2018

I recall the excitement that I felt before my first IBC, back in about 1847.  To be honest, it was probably more to do with the free flights and beer than the opportunity to learn about the new technology, but it was real.

The headlines from the thought-leaders of the day would have said something along the lines of:

“We are at a pivotal moment for the broadcast industry and those who don’t embrace the changes will be left behind”.

Fast forward 20-odd years, and every year in between, and the message remains exactly the same.  My IBC outlook has matured somewhat since the heady days of my first trip, and to prove the point, I’ve made a conscious effort to read more about IBC. With this in mind, I read the following report and think it’s well put together and considered. Worth a look.

https://www.theiabm.org/ibcreport/

It’s also directly relevant to you if your mortgage gets paid by the work you do in the broadcast industry. Mostly focussing on the big picture macro-economics of the industry, there are some insights that will no doubt affect us all.

The Disney boss Bob Iger makes an excellent point. While the Mega-Media firms are playing a high-stakes poker game about whether content or distribution is king, the consumer is being given new technology to watch content on different devices via different delivery methods, so it’s actually the consumer who’s holding the aces. I’m paraphrasing, and it’s a great point. I’m sure he’ll be delighted by my endorsement.

It’s also clear even to the blindest of eyes and the deafest of ears that our industry is ripe for disruption, and scale is everything. The FAANG’s have already got their teeth in to content and distribution, and are busy making 4K HDR content by the petabyte whilst traditional broadcasters are feeding off the scraps. And with both of the A’s recently tipping over the $1B mark, they have deeper pockets than Croesus.

But even with deep pockets, they are setting the bar very high for what is technically possible. There was critical comment that Amazon’s recent 4K HDR coverage of the US Open tennis was delayed by 44 seconds. The technical challenges of this would have been extraordinary, and the images looked pretty good to me. I didn’t know or care that I was 44 seconds behind. Clearly Serena did, so maybe this explains her meltdown even if it doesn’t excuse it.   Next year’s will be half the delay, and the next year half again. According to Gordon Moore anyway, and he wrote the law in this area.

I’ve been scanning the pre-IBC press releases for what the big new product launches will be. I’ve seen a new sub £1K camera, and Cooke has announced some new Anamorphic full frame lenses, but that’s it, and to be honest, that’s fine by me. Clients need some longevity from their products to get a decent return on their investment. We saw a flurry of new cameras and lenses launched at BSC in London in January. Sony’s Venice, Arri’s LF, and Panavision’s rental-only DXL were all announced even before NAB, as were Arri’s Signature lenses and the very nice Zeiss Supreme lenses which have just started shipping.

There was also passing comment in the IABM report that some businesses are spending less on trade shows, which is a particular bugbear of mine. I think that what the consumer needs from a trade show has evolved, but trade shows themselves haven’t.  Often, you can get a better awareness of new announcements around a trade show from the internet, than you can while you’re walking the aisles at the show itself.

But crucially what you don’t get is the personal human interaction, which is the basis for all true business relationships. With online discourse so binary, the chance to spend some time learning about the person that you’re dealing with is invaluable. In the Twitter-sphere where the requirement to present your point of view as the only sane one is over-powering, the chance to meet real people in real life is what I enjoy most about any trade show.

Now I’m a business owner, and realise that of course the flights and the beer aren’t actually free after all, I take a more holistic view that spending time talking to clients and properly understanding their issues is the best use of the precious few days at IBC.

Gareth, Sam and I are there from Thursday afternoon until Sunday evening. It’s our 2nd IBC as a collective, and we remain in awe of the support and trust we’ve been given. Business is great, and our sense is that over 60 combined industry years of doing the right thing has put us on a good footing.  Thank you.

We look forward to finding some common ground with you at the Beach.

Happy IBC.