Has NAB changed its broadcast signal?
It’s a big week for those in broadcast. This year’s NAB kicked off on Monday morning, the doors of the Las Vegas Convention Center thrown open to more than 100,000 visitors who have descended on Sin City for the four-day exhibition. Some familiar faces from the Babel stable were among the crowd. A number of our clients are in town for the show, joined by a few members of the team who have flown in especially to support them. But not me – I’m sat behind a desk in London penning this blog post on my lunch break (ho hum). At least the sun’s out.
NAB has become a mammoth event. Even if you’re not familiar with it by name, you’ll definitely have stumbled across some of the coverage from the show this week. NAB is now comparable to Mobile World Congress in that it’s grown considerably year-on-year into one of the largest events in its sector, playing host to a bevy of high-profile announcements (both technical and consumer-focused), attracting big names from within the industry and generating a lot of media interest.
As Chris highlighted in his MWC-focused blog post last month, major industry trade shows like MWC (and NAB, too) have taken on a life of their own in recent years, broadening their appeal and reaching a size where they now encompass all elements of their respective industries. The focus is no longer on technological innovation exclusively. To put this into perspective, Will.i.am was one of the speakers at this year’s Mobile World Congress, and was mainly there to promote his new smartwatch. Will’s attendance garnered a similar level of interest to when Zuckerberg took the stage to address an – arguably more important – issue of expanding internet access across the globe. How times have changed.
A similar thing happened at NAB this week when key members of The Walking Dead cast took part in a panel session around the immensely popular show. There’s more to a trade show like NAB than promoting the next series of a TV show, of course, but with such a captive audience and the world’s press watching, now more so than ever before, it’s hardly surprising that companies of all shapes and sizes are using a show like NAB as a launchpad for their announcements – even the big ticket releases that might previously have been made at other events, like CES.
One such news item this year came from Vislink, a Babel client, announcing that the mini transmitter it’s jointly developed with GoPro is available for purchase. It’s a clever bit of kit, and I genuinely believe it’s going to change how broadcasters capture footage for live sports going forward. I suppose I would say that, being in PR and all, but the press seem to agree (check out Pocket Lint and Broadcast).
Hand on heart, I don’t know what this means for the future of NAB. It might be unrecognisable in five years, becoming a cross between CES and a star-studded event used by broadcasters and TV networks to promote their latest shows. But I guess it doesn’t matter either way. Like MWC, the growth of NAB goes to show that the broadcast sector is very much alive and kicking, which is incredibly important at a time when the success of VOD services like Netflix is irreversibly changing the industry.