NAB Show: A Learning Lab For Traditional, New Media

The theme of this year’s show is “Crave More,” a message that reflects the passion of the people who make up the spectrum of industries represented under the media and entertainment umbrella.

“The people in this business … bring an energy that is always palpable at the NAB Show, and this is a particularly exciting time in the industry’s evolution,” said Chris Brown, executive vice president, Conventions and Business Operations for NAB. “Things are changing rapidly and that means it is more important than ever to stay ahead of trends and to be on top of skills and knowledge.”

To do that, the 2015 NAB Show will usher in a number of new programs, many driven by the fact that growth on the new media side of the ecosystem continues to accelerate.

“Part of [our evolution] was driven by a desire to make it very clear that the NAB Show provides a great home and learning lab for anyone playing in either traditional or new media spaces,” Brown said.

More than 98,000 attendees and 1,700 exhibitors will come to NAB Show this year, including more than 200 first-time companies, with a sizable number from the post production, Internet, satellite, government and new media sectors.

The NAB Show is responding with new conferences and pavilions, including a new aerial drone pavilion, expansions in the broadcast management and engineering conferences, a media finance conference and the new Online Video Conference.

“We really felt it was important to create a dedicated conference for online video,” Brown said. “What makes NAB Show such a unique and incredibly productive event is that it draws such a diverse audience. That means friends, competitors, partners, you name it. So this program is intended to provide a forum for those that may not normally think of the NAB Show as ‘their’ event.”

cell phoneNAB Show has also expanded its lineup of speakers and keynote authors from the entertainment industry, ranging from a Super Session conversation with director and activist Morgan Spurlock, a keynote address at the Post|Production World conference by director Dan Myrick and the General Session Q&A with the creators of “The Walking Dead.”

NAB Show is also boosting its partnerships with various organizations, including the new co-located New Media Expo, a full conference and expo.

The convention kicks off this morning with a General Session led by NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith, and rounds out the session schedule later in the week with several FCC-focused sessions featuring Chairman Tom Wheeler and all four of his fellow FCC commissioners.

It seems 2015 is the year of the moniker, as three of the biggest topics at this year’s convention are expected to be OTT, IP and 4K.

Over-the-top video delivery, or OTT, is an opportunity and challenge when it comes to deciding on platforms and content. A 2014 Nielsen Ratings report found that millennial television viewers are forgoing traditional television viewing at higher rates, further illustrating that consumers no longer watch television the same way they did even five years ago.

“We’re the first to admit that this is not your parents’ television viewing experience,” said Dennis Wharton, executive vice president of Communications for NAB.

The industry is responding with technology — creating companion apps and complementary online sites that put content where the viewers are.

“We want to be where the eyeballs are, on tablets and mobile, and responding to meet that need,” Wharton said.

The show will respond with sessions such as “Constant Cravings — Using OTT to Win the Next Generation of Viewers,” and sections of the show floor such as the Connected Media|IP Pavilion. The event is also introducing a new Digital Strategies Exchange for Television program.

“This is a natural reaction to the way consumers are shifting their viewing and listening habits,” Brown said. “More and more they are looking to OTT options, and content providers need to follow the audience.”

Other key issues at the show will be 4K and IP technologies. The conference will touch on 4K during the Post|Production World Conference and the Broadcast Engineering Conference, where there will be more than 30 sessions with a 4K focus. There also will be several 4K/Ultra HD presentations
in the NAB Labs Futures Park, and elsewhere on the show floor.

Also in the Futures Park, NHK will demonstrate 8K Super Hi-Vision in a special presentation theatre featuring a 350-inch screen and 22.2-channel sound. A highly portable 8K camcorder, a multiplexing scheme called MMT, a full 8K/120Hz production system and a loudness meter for 22.2-channel audio also will be shown.

“We are seeing consumer demand for 4K television sets increase as well as more content being produced,” Brown said. And then there’s IP. For broadcasters it’s important to look at all things IT, Ethernet, IP, virtualized and cloud-related. The Super Session “Television’s Transition to an All-IP Future — Why It’s a Big Deal” will give a broad view on the transition to IP infrastructure, while a new live, guided tour entitled “Connected Production via IP” will guide attendees to these spots on the show floor.

Other challenges for the industry loom on the horizon, too, from spectrum auctions to the developments around ATSC 3.0. Sessions on the issue include “Overview of the ATSC 3.0 Effort” and “Inside ATSC 3.0 — What’s Happening Where.”

One of the more exciting spots across the entire show will undoubtedly be the Aerial Robotics and Drone Pavilion. While there are issues to be addressed over just how these devices can be used, clearly these content capture devices can have enormous utility, Brown said.

“Part of what we always want people to take away from the show is that, amongst all the chaos and change, there is real opportunity,” Brown said, pointing to the show’s “Crave More” theme. “The pace and magnitude of change in the media sector is dizzying, yet the business is founded on creativity and a boundless desire to tell amazing stories in even more amazing ways.

“The NAB Show is the catalyst, the inspiration, the global window into everything that isneeded to achieve this,” he said.