Las Vegas road sign at night

The art, science and business of content at NAB 2019

Next week, the world’s media and broadcast community will swap editing suites, TV studios, master control, and green rooms for – the desert. On 6th April, NAB will open in Nevada’s scorching Sin City for another year, welcoming attendees from across the industry for a week promising talk, tech, action, and advancing ‘the art, science and business of content.’

Babel has represented numerous clients in the broadcast space – from adtech and security to VoD content delivery – so has years of experience charting the ripples and tremors caused by regulation, M&A, new technologies and tightening budgets. We’ll be keeping an eye on developments as they happen from NAB this year, but in the meantime, we’re looking ahead to how the show’s triplet of themes could play out.

The business of content

The broadcast business is big business. How big is big? $71.3 billion is a pretty accurate answer – the sum Disney paid for 21st Century Fox earlier this month, in one of the biggest ever broadcast deals. As the sea of content available to viewers grows and diversifies, the pool of those controlling (and capitalising on) that control condenses. In addition to its own OTT content service – scheduled for launch soon – Disney will also gain 21st Century Fox’s stake in Hulu, giving it 60% of the streaming service. This is of course in addition to the film and animation studios, news programming, TV networks, and every single piece of content produced by the broadcasting company.

Many at NAB will be mourning the further loss of diversity in the broadcast industry (not to mention the slashing of jobs), while at the same time forecasting what additions we can expect Disney to now make to its soon-to-launch streaming service. We can also expect more M&A activity (though on a smaller scale) at the show itself, as the broadcast industry consolidates to acquire the talent, technology and assets required to compete effectively today.

The art of content

NAB has taken a literal approach to the ‘art of content’ idea on its website, swapping blocky graphics and traditional typefaces for hand-drawn-style scrawling and sketched imagery. The effect is more cartoon strip or schoolbook doodlings than ‘content is corporate’, and elevates the role of storytelling and creativity in content.

What does this mean? In an age where consumers face few restrictions in the volume and type of content they can access, creators and distributors must do more than simply spoon-feed the content-hungry consumer.

One sector which is leading the way here is live sport. From the early days of overlaying graphics to experimentation with AR and VR; the lucrative sports broadcast industry has never shied from adopting new tools and technology to enhance the fan experience and boost engagement, both at home and in-stadia. The commercialisation of 5G will act as a springboard for further developments, providing the capacity and speed required for consumers to access features like live 360-degree streaming, and access to player stats and game analysis (via dedicated apps) during live events. According to recent research, nearly two-thirds of the world’s largest network operators are planning 5G-enabled AR and VR to offer richer viewing experiences to fans.

In addition to NAB’s ‘Influencer Series: Sports and Entertainment’, the show’s dedicated (and new this year) ‘Esports experience’ will be the one to watch for developments and news in the enhanced sports content arena, with live gaming events offering the perfect vehicle for immersive AR and VR experiences.

The science of content

Delivering engaging, exciting and creative content experiences is great for consumers, but to sustain this output, broadcasters too must stand to gain. OTT has opened up a treasure trove for marketers, unlocking the kind of audience measurement and engagement metrics which couldn’t be accessed from linear delivery in the past.

However, because viewing is now so fragmented – we watch a variety of subscription and pay-as-you-go services across a broad array of devices and platforms – gathering accurate insight on viewers is a growing challenge. As is the sheer volume of data, which often exists in siloes overseen by different parties. On the other hand, leveraging viewer data for ultra-targeted advertising can have a darker side; who wasn’t a bit creeped out when Channel 4 unveiled personalised advertising which called out viewers by name?

There’s a fine line between creepy and cool, something speakers will likely touch on during NAB’s ‘Business of Media’ conference stream, which promises to equip attendees with ‘the tools, trends and ideas to help your business thrive’. The event will offer an opportunity for the broadcast industry to come together and plot a successful future for their businesses and their viewers. The need for this kind of cross-industry collaboration was highlighted in a recent report on broadcast data strategies, in which an overwhelming 93% of TV industry execs called for new initiatives for TV advertising measurement, data and metrics, to enable the European TV industry to remain competitive.

Babel knows just how difficult getting your voice heard amidst the competition can be. Contact us to find out more about our TV and media PR experience, and to discuss how we can help broadcast your message to the audiences that matter.

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