NAB 2018 Recap: Foundational Changes are Underway
Posted on April 26th, 2018 by TitanTV, Inc.
The NAB Show in Las Vegas came at a particularly interesting time for our industry, as several major initiatives and trends are coalescing this year, driving significant change. Not since the digital transition has the future been so uncertain. While that uncertainty is creating challenges, it is also creating opportunities. It was clear from our conversations with partners and clients at the show that there are many different, innovative approaches underway to prepare for what’s ahead.
Here are three key themes that we heard throughout the show:
#1: Next Gen TV is coming soon, and it is time to act.
On the first day of the show, the “ribbon was cut” on ATSC 3.0, and this the standard finally begins its transition from science project to commercialization. Offering consumers 4k ultra high def and immersive audio, as well as several broadband-like experiences such as interactive menus, Next Gen TV will provide a whole new experience to viewers and an opportunity for savvy broadcasters to grow revenue.
The Pearl TV consortium is running a market trial in Phoenix, and TitanTV is a proud participant in this project through provision of our electronic program guides. An extension of our current EPG technology, these guides will allow for an immersive, engaging viewer experience. (Take a look at our next gen digital guides – this same type of rich media experience will be present in an ATSC 3.0 enabled TV.) This trial should be watched closely. Though ATSC 3.0 is an optional standard, consumers may begin to demand it once they have experienced it, and broadcasters should be ready to respond.
#2: The Vendor Ecosystem must streamline workflow and connect systems.
Broadcasters can no longer afford to have redundant workflow and are particularly tired of redundant data entry. This challenge is becoming more acute as linear OTT and diginets proliferate. Vendors must allow their systems to cleanly interoperate and integrate, allowing for the automated flow of information. Some vendors have been slow to respond to this trend, while others have embraced it. But broadcasters are unified in wanting it.
TitanTV’s MediaStar scheduling platform is open and available for connection to other systems. Many such integrations have been completed already, enhancing MediaStar’s ability to bring accuracy, efficiency, and consistency to program scheduling throughout broadcaster operations. We had some good discussions at the show this year to continue to expand our list of partners, and will continue to make this a point of emphasis moving forward.
#3: Consumer education about the Repack and Next Gen TV is essential.
As the repack and ATSC 3.0-driven channel sharing arrangements get underway, this will be a confusing time for OTA viewers. Viewer education and outreach will be essential. But there are resources available to help broadcasters educate and inform.
Regarding the repack, once a station moves, viewers will need to rescan their TVs before they can receive the broadcast. The NAB has developed clear messaging to viewers who will need to re-scan. Its web site, TVAnswers.com, is a crucial viewer resource that broadcasters about to repack should heavily promote if they wish to retain viewership.
If you set up a channel sharing arrangement or otherwise move your transmission, your OTA viewers will need to understand how to change the direction of their antennas to ensure a clear signal or purchase a new antenna to get your full content offerings (diginets, ATSC 3.0, etc.). Our NAB and CTA-sponsored web site Antennaweb.org is a crucial resource for OTA viewers for this purpose. This tool is free for viewers to use. We urge broadcasters to promote this utility to ensure a clear, strong signal can be received at a viewer’s location.
We heard that the logistics of the repack for many broadcasters will be somewhat messy, with uncertain project timelines. Please keep TitanTV appraised of your repack timeline and key events. To do so, we provide a free utility for broadcast engineers called Antenna TechSpecs. This utility feeds AntennaWeb.org and TitanTV.com, as well as the electronic program guides on broadcaster web sites. At the NAB Show this year, TitanTV and the NAB met to begin developing a workflow to share updates regarding the repack. TitanTV and NAB will be sharing repack information with each other to ensure that their outreach efforts on broadcasters’ behalf are fully informed with the latest information.
We are proud to work with our clients and partners to work closely with them during this time of change with our traditional high level of service and responsiveness. It would be our pleasure to work with you.