By Barry Eitel
This year is turning out to be an exciting time for all types of broadcasters. Some relatively new technologies are on the verge of maturing, like 4K UHD and podcasts, while other longtime favorites, like live television, are becoming more relevant than ever. From the immense success of the 2018 FIFA World Cup live broadcasts to the FCC adopting ATSC 3.0 as the next generation broadcast standard, there has never been a more exciting time to check out NAB Show New York in October.
Meeting the Growing Demand of 4K UHD
First released in 2013, 4K UHD (ultra-high definition) televisions are crowding the shelves at big-box stores across the world. Consumers understand the importance of the beautifully clear images these TVs offer. A report released in June found that 28 percent of consumers had replaced an existing TV with a 4K one by February of this year, a 5 percent increase from November 2017.
“Screen size and picture quality are driving consumer purchase decisions, instead of price, which seems to indicate that the industry has been slow to address the shifting value proposition of the TV in the home,” Stephen Baker, the vice president of analyst firm NPD Group, said.
Of course, now the question becomes about content – are broadcasters doing enough to keep this rapidly growing market satisfied? They would be wise to attend NAB Show New York, which features sessions like “The State of UHD and HDR: Five Things Everyone Should Know” led by Thomas Bause Mason, the director of standards development at the Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers (SMPTE).
ATSC 3.0 Rolls Out
In November 2017, the Federal Communications Commission approved ATSC 3.0 to be the next generation of broadcast standards on a voluntary basis. Next Gen TV offers extremely high-quality video for free over the air.
“By authorizing the rollout of the next generation broadcast television standard on a voluntary, market-driven basis, we open the door to a substantially improved, free, over-the-air television broadcast service, and fiercer competition in the video marketplace,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said at the time.
Now that stations in Phoenix, Dallas, East Lansing, Michigan, and elsewhere are signing onto projects, ATSC 3.0 is truly moving into the fast lane. Now is the time that broadcasters are learning the real capabilities of ATSC 3.0. At the Show, speakers with experience in rolling out ATSC 3.0 in local markets will discuss their experiences at a session titled “Accelerating on the Road to ATSC 3.0.”
AI as Latest Weapon in Fake News War
There’s been a rise of artificial intelligence in the past few years, and now it is being harnessed to fight one of the biggest scourges of our modern era – fake news.
Social media platforms are beginning to deploy AI to battle fake news in ways it has been used to free us of spam emails in the past.
“Building on this type of text analysis in spam-fighting, AI systems can evaluate how well a post’s text, or a headline, compares with the actual content of an article someone is sharing online,” Anjana Susarla, an assistant professor at Michigan State University, said in a report this year. “Another method could examine similar articles to see whether other news media have differing facts. Similar systems can identify specific accounts and source websites that spread fake news.”
Fighting fake news is on the mind of every broadcaster, and several sessions at the Show will explore how to identify and screen out fake news with AI.
Naming Rights and the New Sources of Stadium Revenue
Arenas, theaters, stadiums, and destinations are constantly seeking new forms of revenue, ranging from ticket sales to fees for hospitality. Many such destinations are searching for newer sources of revenue like merchandising apps and naming rights. Naming rights are a particularly valuable source of branding revenue, especially in markets like Europe and the Middle East.
The ability to directly and exclusively engage with thousands of people for hours is an undeniable avenue for growth.
“The investments sponsors make typically include the exclusive right to interact directly with the audience attracted by a given venue,” Lars Stegelmann wrote in a report for Nielsen Sports. “In the past, such opportunities were reserved for the venue’s event organizer or anchor tenant; they now represent a key component of what makes naming rights valuable.”
At a session entitled “Attracting Revenues for Venues and Facilities”, Randy Bernstein, the CEO of Premiere Partnerships, will share his knowledge on the subject along with other experts.
The Next Stage of Live Entertainment
FOX Sports’ coverage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup brought more live broadcasts of the matches to viewers in the United States than the previous four World Cups combined. In an age of cord-cutters, live media appears to be growing in popularity.
However, new appeal means more demands from consumers – they want higher quality video and fewer glitches. They also want multiple viewing options on multiple platforms.
“Sports are one of the few mainstays of appointment TV that people still gather to watch live,” Ashley Rodriguez explained in Quartz. “That’s exceedingly valuable at a time when the TV audiences are splintering across TV and digital channels. Sports TV networks still command top dollar from the cable, satellite, and digital providers that carry them, as well as from advertisers.”
Experts from both traditional sports and esports will share a wealth of information on the future of live entertainment at the session “Keeping Pace With the Demand for Live Entertainment.” The panel includes luminaries like Steve Davis, the chief revenue officer of online video platform Ooyala, and Stuart Lipson of the Esports Ad Bureau.
New Opportunities in Podcasting
As the world continues its obsession with podcasts, the medium holds fantastic new opportunities for advertisers. An IAB forecast published in June predicted that podcast advertising will be a $659 million industry in the U.S. by 2020. That figure is more than double the value of the entire market in 2017.
“These strong numbers speak to advertisers’ increasing recognition that podcasts provide a powerful platform for reaching and engaging audiences,” said Anna Bager of IAB. “Advertisers that range from traditional financial services to direct brand retailers are tapping into the medium’s highly engaged audience.”
Podcast advertising also presents unique challenges because it has similarities to radio and online streaming marketing. Advertisers, broadcasters, and brands need to familiarize themselves with this rapidly growing sector. At the Show, Brendan Monaghan, the CEO of firm Panoply Media, and Sarah Van Mosel, the chief podcast sales and strategy officer at Market Enginuity, will share their experiences at the session “What’s Fueling America’s Podcast Ad Growth?”