NAB Show to Stress Broadcast Competitiveness

LAS VEGAS—Recognizing the community that’s built up around the media, entertainment and technology industries, the NAB is trekking into its spring 2017 show with a newly spun theme and a realization that to compete, the NAB must look farther afield.

By compete, that means embracing technology waves like OTT and all that it portends. This year the convention will build a Super Session around an OTT series in an effort to offer guidance on how these types of programs are competing with traditional television. One Super Session will focus on the series “The Man in the High Castle,” based on the novel from Philip K. Dick, which was produced and shown on Amazon Prime.

“We’re looking forward to hearing firsthand how the next generation of both creatives and talent brought this adaptation to life in today’s highly competitive content marketplace,” said Chris Brown, NAB executive vice president, Conventions and Business Operations.

The new Next-Generation Media Technologies Conference will look closely at big trends in the entertainment space, including virtual and augmented reality technologies.

That assessment—keeping competitive in today’s marketplace—colors much of the NAB’s decisionmaking when it comes to what’s new at the show this year.

“The M.E.T. Effect,” the NAB Show’s theme this year, embraces the convergence of those three areas of Media, Entertainment and Technology industries, according to the association.

That new theme may help explain the show’s gradually growing attendance and exhibitor base. Last year, more than 100,000 visitors visited the Las Vegas Convention Center, and in 2017, more than 1,800 companies are expected to exhibit across more than 1 million square feet of exhibit space.

In response, the NAB has revamped entire conferences, introduced new pavilions and streamlined forums. For example, the long-standing Business Management Conference has been given a new label—the “Business of Broadcast”—and been reimagined as a four-day conference. The sessions and speakers are designed to give radio and television stations the big scoop on content delivery and to offer practical suggestions in the areas of finance, legal, policy, advertising, marketing, and business development.

Likewise, technology trends led the NAB to introduce the “Next-Generation Media Technologies,” which will tackle big trends in the entertainment space, including cloud innovations, artificial intelligence and augmented reality. Produced in partnership with USC, the conference will spotlight cutting-edge technologies that are reshaping the creation, distribution and consumption of content.

New pavilions and attractions are on the menu, too. One only has to elbow through the standing-room-only space at the well-attended Aerial Robotics and Drone Pavilion to know that the technology has taken off. A topic a little more ominous—namely breaches in security—led the NAB to introduce a new “Cybersecurity Pavilion,” which will offer insights on how to protect valuable assets, programs, networks and data from malicious activity.

Hearst CEO and President Steven Swartz will participate in a Q&A during the NAB Show Opening keynote on April 24.

The NAB is also putting a renewed focus on advertising strategies with the new Ad Innovations Lab, which is a separately ticketed program sponsored by the Global Audience Based Ad Conference (GABBCON). The Lab will take a deep dive into audience-based buying and why programmatic is no longer an ephemeral idea to be considered some other time down the road.

New names will dominate at NAB 2017, too, with Hearst CEO and President Steven Swartz participating in a Q&A during the NAB Show Opening keynote, actress America Ferrera receiving the Television Chairman’s Award, and journalist Jane Pauley emceeing the NAB Show Opening.

The NAB also plans to host a pre-show event on Saturday, April 22, known as “Global TV Tech Day.” Attendees will be given a preview of the types of technologies emerging in the next-gen TV space. Presentations will include an overview of developing next-gen TV standards from the Inter-SDO Group, a look at the Korean launch of ATSC 3.0 UHD service, and an update on Consumer Technology Association’s WAVE project, which is attempting to narrow the focus on important elements of OTT.

An offspring of the Broadcast Engineering and IT Conference will result in BEITC ENGAGE! (energetic emphasis courtesy of NAB), a series of interactive sessions that will let attendees have in-depth conversations with presenters for a full 90 minutes on topics such as IP-based facility design.

Susan Ashworth is the former editor of TV Technology. In addition to her work covering the broadcast television industry, she has served as editor of two housing finance magazines and written about topics as varied as education, radio, chess, music and sports. Outside of her life as a writer, she recently served as president of a local nonprofit organization supporting girls in baseball.