2014 NAB: What to Watch For

With the NAB Show right around the corner, we decided to canvas our writers and columnists and get their thoughts about what to expect and not expect at the industry’s largest annual gathering.

Here’s what they had to say…

Gary Arlen
Multiscreen Views

NCTA’s Cable Show starts just three weeks after the NAB Show. It will be fascinating to see how topics of mutual concern— spectrum, Aereo, retransmission consent, second-screen diversion, audience fragmentation— will be addressed from totally different perspectives at the shows. Aereo’s day in (Supreme) Court on April 22, in between the two conventions, will escalate the rhetoric.

The NAB Show again has a very strong roster of “new media” sessions and exhibits. Evolving multiplatform delivery and simulviewing options on display in Las Vegas will be an urgent reminder to broadcasters that the new competitive landscape is here.

Mobile TV is a big factor in this new landscape, so let’s see what Dyle and the other broadcast-based systems promise now. With the advent of 5G service (Qualcomm announced new chips in February), the prospect of video on handheld devices becomes stronger. Viewers seem to like Web-delivered video-on-demand. Other over-the-top technologies are generating new business models, also with an impact on broadcast operations.

For the policymakers, vendors who sell to broadcast, cable and increasingly ’netdelivery platforms and also for the press corps who cover media, April can be a cruel, exhausting month. And also highly exciting, confusing and contradictory.

Craig Johnston
TV Technology Correspondent

Stations shopping for cellular-based liveshot gear at NAB will find the solutions to this equipment technology fragmenting. Customers will be evaluating whether to buy bonded cellular (multiple modem) and/or single modem systems, off-the-shelf or commercial grade modems, remote antenna units, cameras sporting built-in modems, or hybrid equipment combining all or some elements of cellular, Wi-Fi, microwave and satellite methods of getting the news from the field to the studio.

Navigating the puzzle of this must-have equipment requires making a bet on whose solution correctly matches the cellular environment of a particular television market, whether 4G connectivity is up and running or soon to arrive, and what new gear interfaces with a station’s existing cellular toolkit. Station groups may find themselves shuffling hand-me-downs from their larger markets to the smaller ones, likely a win-win for both.

Al Kovalick
Cloudspotter’s Journal

One of the biggest changes in media facility infrastructure is the move to all things IT and cloud. If this is important to you, focus on products and vendors that are leading the charge in this area. I will be looking for Apps-as-a-Service, lossless AV transport over Ethernet with bridges to legacy SDI, virtualized storage, cloud services and reliable connectivity. I will ask vendors about their views regarding IT/cloud and their support for standards. Vendors that “get it” will have a strong roadmap that leverages IT/cloud. This NAB Show will be a turning point in the migration.

Mario Orazio
Masked Engineer

Seems like only last week I was doin’ my post-NAB laundry… and here it is, time to pack my valise again. Sheesh. And what’s changed in a year? I can tell you one thing that didn’t go away… and that’s 4K. I’ve got high-resolution doubts about them folks sellin’ millions of 4K screens to the great unwashed (that would be my family); but I know there’s a boatload o’ production types queuing up for 4K gear, because it makes life sweet in the suite. Got my eye on that.

And I’m lookin’ forward to not seein’ a ton of new gear, but instead, watchin’ big new features blossom for last year’s models, courtesy of radical, field-installed firmware upgrades. Cameras, recorders, switchers, whatever… I’m sick of watching my new toys turn into worthless has-beens in a flash; so instead, let’s flash them PROM’s with some firmware magic, and give my current gear new life—and value!

Karl Paulsen
Media Server Technology

We are all looking forward to the new Grass Valley/Miranda combination, eager to understand how complimentary their respective technologies will be to each other and how they plan to support the industry going forward.

Obvious changes this year will be for new formats such as 4K, UHDTV and even 8K. With the CES emphasis on UHD consumer set availability, it will be interesting to see where the manufacturers put their emphasis. Will we now make the switch to IP (packetized) routing of video or will we continue to emphasize the SDI world, perhaps carried as IP on Ethernet; or will there be another means to carrying greater than 3Gbps video?

Software defined systems—those that now include storage, networking and envelope the cloud—are surely expected to make a more dramatic entrance or reappearance. Expect to see software based video encoding more in our future; and storage becoming integrated with transport, distribution, filebased workflows and transformation (i.e., transcoding) technologies.

Asset management and workflow process managers are becoming prevalent. We see products that will manage storage, transcoding and other workflows across many vendors; allowing load balancing and workflow managers that encompass multiple groups of products, both similar and dissimilar in function.

Jay Yeary
Inside Audio

At this year’s NAB Show I expect to see more activity among audio-over-IP manufacturers, especially after Audinate’s announcement that Dante will support AES67 and with AVB’s current stagnation. More manufacturer support for AES67 means wider interoperability among product lines and minimizes broadcasters’ concern over investing in the technology.

I will also be taking a close look at intercom and communication products to see the direction this part of the industry is heading. Upcoming intercom products need to support not only audio-over-IP protocols, but also voice-over-IP, have easy integration to consumer technologies like Skype and Facetime, and must have non-proprietary connectivity to other vendors.