By: Marjorie Loiseau, digital marketing manager for broadcast solutions
Five intense yet exciting days of IBC Show have passed. An undoubtedly enriching experience and one that gave us answers to some of the questions we were asking before the beginning of the show. So, now that the show’s over, let’s recap the subjects that dominated discussions at IBC 2018.
“Tracking IP and revenue is where the power is,” claimed Singular DTV co-founder Kim Jackson.
During a Blockchain keynote on Friday Sept. 14 Jackson explained that blockchain allowed a digital supply chain from producer to consumer, empowering artists and creators by enabling them to track and retain control of their IP.
Answering the question “Has blockchain found its place yet?” Jackson claimed we were still in the early days of the technology.
Applications are emerging, because developers and engineers are starting to see how useful blockchain could be and how it could make a difference, she explained.
Besides, regarding the said power of blockchain for fighting piracy, precisions were made that the technology could not protect from “bad actors.” Jackson clarified that blockchain could not and will not change human behaviours but what it could do is track back when piracy is happening, where and what.
Finally, when asked if blockchain needed to be legitimised in order to be accepted, Jackson answered that it was a “logical step” that made sense. Indeed, it would make things easier for the general public to gain more interest and understanding.
Speaking on Friday 14, in a Headliner on Netflix’s growth story, Vice President of Business Development EMEA Maria Ferreras reviewed Netflix’ opportunities for future growth and highlighted “partnerships” as one key element.
Ferreras acknowledged the importance of telcos to access and enter new markets and allow the experience to be personalised across all devices. Discussing the challenges of establishing their business within regions with different standards like Europe and MENA, she gave the example of countries like Saudi Arabia with low penetration of credit cart-type payments. Hence the importance of partnerships with telcos to address consumers and provide the opportunity to pay through their billing platforms.
Moreover, she addressed other challenges such as connectivity or mobile-oriented countries. But let’s remember here that in Netflix’s plan to enhance the viewing experience on mobile phones, the company has already rolled out vertical video trailers on mobile apps, while long-form content should remain in the horizontal format for now.
Another subject of discussion was Netflix aggressive expansion of its international content portfolio. Ferreras confirmed that in addition to new genres, they were also targeting specific countries and regions. Netflix is producing in 16 countries in 16 different languages, with over 35,000 people working in those local productions, and Ferreras added that most of those productions were in 4K and HDR.
On Monday 17, Michel van der Voort, Screenforce Managing Director, taking part on a panel about the TV and ad markets, commented “Netflix might be the biggest overall, but I don’t see how it’s ever going to be the biggest in local markets.” Moreover, asked on IBC TV about Netflix dynamic content expansion, Paolo Pescatore, Tech, Media & Analyst, explained that while this expansion may seem unstoppable right now, the company needed to continue growing fast because of the escalating cost of their own content rights. “I believe Netflix is a takeover target for one of the big online giants.” He concluded.
Finally, another point raised during Maria Ferreras session was when she made it clear that Netflix had no plans for live sports. “There’s nothing we can do differently from a television broadcaster, so it doesn’t add additional value,” she affirmed. For now, they will only address sports with documentaries and interviews. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves; she ended by saying “never say never.”
In a previous article, we were wondering what will happen to VR, asking “is VR the next 3D?” We already acknowledged that the question was a bit dramatic but imagine our surprise when CEO of Discovery Networks International Jean-Briac Perrette claimed that “it feels right now like it is more on the 3D track.” Indeed, on day one of conferences, Perrette discussed Discovery’s strategy for engaging fans on a global scale and also shared his opinion on VR. He admitted VR was an interesting subject, but it would take time, and for now they are more interested in AR which is where they see more progress.
However, VR Industry Forum president Rob Koenen painted a more positive picture of the future of VR.
“It exists now. It is no longer a promise,” claimed Koenen, speaker at the IBC VR Masterclass.
He added that the technology will start growing next year and that for now, huge investments were being made. Koenen also mentioned the fact that tools were developed for VR production and that headset prices had decreased, from $2000 a few years ago to $200 now. The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) estimates that 3.9 million VR/AR headsets were shipped last year while 4.9 million will be shipped in 2018, and advancements in 5G and 8K should stimulate this.
So, generally speaking, it looks like immersive VR experience was quite a subject at IBC Show, and many believe that if well produced and with good storytelling, VR could now genuinely start taking off. However, “if VR isn’t up to scratch, consumers will abandon it” warned Koenen, adding that “live service” will be key to its success.
Monday Sept. 14 was eSports day, with two big conferences highlighting the challenges and opportunities of this fast-growing market. MTGx CEO Arnd Benninghoff first discussed how traditional TV and sports production “should wake up to the huge potential of eSports.” Benninghoff also addressed the challenge of involving more sponsors to the industry without upsetting the core eSports community, not fans of corporate sponsorship. There’s the need for eSports content to be free and available on many distribution platforms, but also the fact that eSports productions were more complex than traditional TV sports production were two other points discussed.
The panel “eSports world domination: how to engage a global audience” emphasized that the most important aspect of eSports lies in social. Speakers agreed that eSports contributed to generate typical advocates, which means players are communicating about the game without being told what to say. And it is that accessibility for viewers and fans to directly engage with players that explains the rapid success of eSports, especially among millennials.
“If broadcasters started treating their audiences more like a community and focus more on that, probably that is a good contribution from eSports into broadcast” claimed Michiel Bakker, CEO GINX Esports TV.
Remember, 2018 is the year of live HDR TV. And indeed, the Ultra HD Forum and HDR demos in the Future Zone have given attendees plenty to talk about.
For the record, the Ultra HD Forum is an open forum created in 2015 and focuses on defining the best practices for the implementation Ultra HD, informing the industry about it and accelerating Ultra HD deployment.
On Monday Sept. 17, there was one tech panel on the learnings from the last FIFA World Cup, as well as a market panel on “getting HRD to market in 2018”. In the end, UHD was defined as a success for broadcasters who have deployed it this year. And especially the FIFA World Cup, which was one of the most challenging sports competitions ever produced in HDR.
Additionally, Maria Rua Aguete, Research Director at IHS Markit Technology, gave highlights on 4K TV set shipments by regions with Western Europe, China and North America representing over 50% of shipments. Panellists also agreed that UHD channels and content are growing, with up to 180 UHD channels or feeds in the world, according to Lyngsat and Eutelsat research. And up to now, Netflix has the largest range of UHD content in the UK, followed by Sky. For more info, download the slides of this Masterclass here.
On the same day, a deeper focus on HDR with a BIG SCREEN on the potential of HDR and getting the right workflow took place. Panellists discussed “whether consumers really care what kind of standards their TVs support”.
Peter Collins, head of Scripted Pipeline at The Farm Group explained that most filmmakers seeing HDR for the first time see more colour and saturation and that can be a shock. This is why panellists defined ‘education’ as key because TV viewers are not used to natural colours.
So, once again we had a wonderful time at the IBC Show this year! It’s always an invaluable event to meet with clients, prospects and colleagues at the same time. But above that, this is where we hear expert speakers talk about traditional subjects along with innovative ones like blockchain that will shape the future of the industry in which we’re constantly evolving.
Our industry is heading towards more partnership and collaboration. This is a key takeaway of ours from IBC. While our broadcast industry, and more widely, the media entertainment and technology industry is being shaken up by FAANG, it feels like strategies have changed. Local broadcasters are coming together and actually even Netflix underlines the importance of partnering with telcos.
“You have to partner to scale” said Tim Davie, BBC Studios CEO on the first day of conferences.
Thank you to those who visited our booth at IBC 2018. See you next year Amsterdam!