I was in Las Vegas last week, attending the annual broadcast industry gathering - NAB. The conference is an opportunity for technology providers to promote their capabilities to broadcasters such as CNN, Comcast/NBC Universal, ABC and others. After working around this industry for 8 years before leaving HP, I'm still interested to see how broadcasters evolve. This year I attended with one goal. I wanted to understand the hot topics and see how they had shifted since I last attended NAB two years ago.
The topic that has been trending for several years is that of multi-screen delivery or OTT. This means the delivery of TV content to the PC, tablet or smartphone. We've all become used to watching video online, but probably don't think about the behind the scenes effort involved with making that content available. Vendors such as EVS, Harris and Ericsson TV are providing broadcasters with solutions to simplify the adaptation, delivery, branding and user interface for their programming. Streamlining and simplification are increasingly important. Due to the rise of tablets and smartphones and 4G or LTE networks, consumers are demanding content in real time regardless of device.
The trending topic coming out of SXSW and into NAB is that of social TV. This is the integration of social content into and around TV broadcasts. Any of us watching news broadcasts or reality TV have seen the incorporation of Twitter or Facebook feeds into the on-air graphics. The vendors that provide the platforms enabling this integration are ramping up their efforts.
Broadcast use of social media started, not surprisingly, from a pure marketing perspective. TV shows, broadcast journalists and networks created Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, YouTube channels and iPad apps to augment their on-air programs. The use of these "second screens" created a social buzz around the content while it was on air, but also even when it was not. Companion apps such as Buddy TV, Miso or Get Glue track this buzz and will let subscribers know what their friends are watching.
However, the new challenge is to integrate live social content into programming in real-time. Vendors such as Mass Relevance and Never.no have created modular platforms to moderate select and integrate social feeds into broadcast workflows, adding Twitter or Facebook comments to on-air graphics. These niche social TV platforms must integrate with leading graphics vendors such as Chyron, Vizrt and Harris. In fact, these start-ups provide these long time vendors with the ability to showcase new capabilities. The challenge for broadcasters is to curate the social feeds, provide the expected level of interaction as well as select the best content to share on-air. This is a new challenge for producers and requires new skill sets both behind the scenes and on-screen.
The broadcast industry faces an ever shifting landscape as it struggles to remain relevant in the face of news driven by un-substantiated Twitter feeds. Its acknowledgement and incorporation of social content is critical to its survival. There are still challenges related to media asset management, tagging and metadata to be addressed, but it was great to see the dating ritual underway between social TV and traditional broadcast vendors. The marriages will follow - of that I am sure!
What's your perspective?