Behind all the cutting-edge technology and each Next Gen TV demo is a desire to enhance storytelling, and the tools of the trade are on display and in full focus at NAB Show, where the 2019 theme is “Every Story Starts Here.”
“When all is said and done, this business is about telling stories,” said Chris Brown, executive vice president of Conventions & Business Operations for NAB, “and NAB Show is the only event that provides exposure to the full array of products and techniques that enhance the storytelling process. It also provides a forum to learn and network with the entire international media and entertainment ecosystem—all with the goal of building and delivering better stories.”
This year technology and those stories co-mingle in front of more than 90,000 attendees guided by dozens of conferences, sessions, keynotes and fireside chats. Attendees from more than 160 countries are expected alongside 1,600 companies, including 224 first-time exhibitors, across nearly 1 million net square feet of exhibit space within the Las Vegas Convention Center.
“Creating quality audio and video content is truly modern-day storytelling; and all that powers the art, science and business of this type of storytelling is found at NAB Show,” said NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith.
This year the topics making headlines all have two things in common: educating and inspiring attendees. In that vein, the 2019 NAB Show will feature a handful of new exhibit areas including advancements in AI, cloud capabilities, next-generation wireless technologies, autonomous vehicles and esports. The show’s conference programs will focus on issues impacting the professional
video industry, from ATSC 3.0 and 5G to streaming and advertising.
What seems particularly interesting are those quiet technologies that are moving into the forefront in 2019. Take podcasting, for instance, which is being explored at this year’s show with a separate pavilion and live shows. As the industry solves questions of monetization and embraces the power of smart storytelling, listeners are paying attention.
“Radio and audio technology are an important part of NAB Show,” said Brown. “The podcasting genre is growing, and there is great content being created. It’s another important form of storytelling that needs to be part of our broad-based show. And momentum is strong for podcasting; so much so that we have already seen examples of podcasting personalities and content even
migrating to television.”
Steven Goldstein, CEO at Amplifi Media, will speak in the Content Strategies track “Inside the Thriving Podcast Marketplace 1: The Exploding Business of Podcasting.” He said media companies must begin to move beyond old anxieties that podcasts might disrupt the broadcast ecosystem. Successful podcasters have learned to appeal to underserved niches—whether it be crime, comedy, daily news or fantasy sports. “What I love about the business is the innovation and trial. It’s all dynamically unfolding in real time,” he said.
Other technologies garnering attention at the show will include AI and machine learning.
Consider the transformation that’s already around us, such as viewers finding TV content with voice commands or the series of recommendations that show up in a streaming app. Sessions such as “Transforming Television With Artificial Intelligence,” which will take place in the AI & Cloud Campus on the exhibit floor, will explore the AI landscape, including near-term improvements in three key areas: natural language processing, recommendation engines and personalized information.
“For media companies, a critical consideration is how changes in the technology will impact consumer behavior,” said William Ammerman, technologist and author who will be keynoting that session. “Understanding that voice changes the way consumers find content forces a rethinking of search and marketing. For many consumers their next ‘smart speaker’ will actually be a TV.”
Brown said that esports is growing exponentially, and there are real opportunities for the broadcast and wider media industry. “It is a new form of content, with its own ecosystem of content players,” he said, “and it is rapidly reaching a point where there is a need for a higher level of production and distribution. This is a new sector that can benefit from the expertise of veteran media organizations to take the genre to a new level.”
New opportunities for advertising will be part of the Esports Experience session “Opportunities in Esports: How Brands Can Take the Game to the Next Level” while “Level-Up: How Video Gaming Is Driving the Future of TV” looks at the current markets for streaming, esports and gaming, and what these markets tell us about the future of video entertainment.
And this is where esports and another key technology discussion—5G—will converge. The session “Game On: How 5G and Esports Will Radically Change the Playing Field for Service Providers,” will look at how 5G has opened the floodgates for a new influx of on-the-go gaming. As 5G works to eliminate the difficulties of cloud gaming, there are new opportunities for media companies to
reimagine gaming. Those opportunities will be part of the new Destination 5G theater.
ATSC 3.0 will also be a major focus this year with the ATSC 3.0 Academy, part of the Broadcast Engineering and Information Technology Conference, which offers updates from real-world market trials, including the hybrid-services architecture in place as part of Chicago 3.0, an ATSC 3.0 trial organized by Weigel Broadcasting Co. Launched in September 2018, this experimental next-generation full-power broadcast station will delve into the facility’s native IP transport infrastructure.
Also new this year is the Influencer Series, fireside chats featuring leading entertainment and sports executives who will discuss their strategies for success. More focus is also being given to the automobile via the In-Vehicle Experience pavilion, which will give attendees a look at connected cars, voice activation and audio design, and the ways in which ATSC 3.0 and HD Radio are powering these autos.
NAB Show continues to be strong in terms of attendees and exhibitors, a fact that Brown attributes to the show’s core value proposition of breadth and diversity of viewpoints.
“NAB Show brings together more people, more companies and more technology than any other event,” Brown said. “Participants come from a diverse geography and diverse sides of the media and entertainment spectrum. There is just no other way to get a more complete picture of all that is happening in the media and entertainment industry.”