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My $0.02 on This Year’s NAB Show in Vegas

We’ve all now returned from the stardust of the annual National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas last week, which seems a useful time to reflect briefly on the major threads of the show. It was a great one for us, and I’m pleased and grateful to report the following, in no particular order:

1.     Broadcasters and program networks are getting fired up about the IP transition, like the rest of us, and not a moment too soon. We fielded tons of questions about the cost savings associated with CDNs (Content Delivery Networks), IP distribution over terrestrial fiber networks--the proliferation of IP-based, video-capable screens, and cloud--how to get new services to market more quickly and how to streamline workflows. Transcoding engines, contribution networks, and all of the tacit and explicit benefits of the overall IP migration were all hot topics.

Of course, we, as Cisco people, can talk about IP all day long. And so we did: One of the Cisco booth demos highlighted our origination products (encoders, decoders, ASR-9001 routers, DCM gateways), useful for establishing low latency, high quality connections, from the cloud — at price points far below traditional transmission means (think satellite and conventional HD-SDI video lines.)

2.     Companion apps and 2nd screen experiences are a big deal to Media and Entertainment Networks, as they recognize creative ways to marry their content with contextually-relevant additional material. The “run of app” advertising opportunities were of great interest, too. In the booth, we showed our work with Coincident, using our Videoscape “Conductor” product suite. Interactive-enabling a show on a connected device is great, but monetizing it is greater.

3.     Television and cable networks are drowning in device profiles. This significantly changes their workflows around collaboration and moving video assets around. What once was a linear, one-to-many broadcast stream is now file-based, with maybe dozens of different content profiles, necessary to play professional-quality video on all manner of connected screens; and that’s all before any DRM (digital rights management) requirements pile on.

4.     Navigation, search, and metadata are a big deal everywhere, but especially with media and entertainment companies, for obvious reasons. This means it’s no fun having a TV show, if people can’t find it. To that end, we demonstrated a soft client architecture, augmented with seriously advanced search and discovery (thank you again, DigitalSmiths, our partner in that demo), and advanced ad insertion into ABR (adaptive bit rate) streams.

5.     Go, Brazil! The international attendance at NAB is always sizable, but we were particularly impressed by the substantial presence of our colleagues from the Brazilian television community. We’re talking three people deep, in meetings and in the booth. We love that. Thank you Brazil and all our other international visitors!

That’s the short list of big happenings at this year’s NAB. And like every NAB, we’re glad we were there — and we’re glad to be home again. Speaking of home — if these trends hit home for you, please leave a comment below. Until next year…

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