Campbell Foster, marketing director for Adobe Primetime, has been to more than his share of conferences. So he recognizes the value of the IBC show in Amsterdam, which starts Sept. 8 and wraps up Sept. 13.
“You can essentially cram six months’ worth of meetings into five days, so it’s incredibly productive,” he said. “Just don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes—lots of walking!”
The 49th installment of the IBC show is projected to see a record 55,000-plus attendees, a record 1,700-plus exhibitors and more conference space than ever at the expanded Amsterdam RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre.
IBC’s level of broadcast, technology and content industry attendees still pales compared with the 103,000-plus who showed at this year’s NAB Show (and it is dwarfed by the 170,000-plus at CES 2016). Even so, attendance has climbed 14% in just five years. And the 2016 edition of IBC sees conference organizers responding to the added attendance with added sessions and zones dedicated to emerging technologies.
“The event itself has evolved with the industry, now covering everything from production and media sales to live broadcast and content discovery; without a doubt, virtual reality will have a big focus this year as well,” Foster added. “This show is forward-looking, global and provocative.
“You are subjected to such a broad range of business perspectives and a deep bench of attendees that no mater what your area of focus, you can be assured of valuable and actionable conversations.”
The dedicated broadcast tech areas are especially reactionary to modern times: A new IBC Future Reality Theatre will offer up cinematic VR, 360-degree video and immersive and panoramic video for attendees. And this year’s edition will see a dedicated demonstration area for all things IP-related, with the Alliance for IP Media Solutions (AIMS) and the International Association of Broadcasting Manufacturers (IABM) helping to show off advancements in IP broadcast delivery.
“Visitors will be able to see verified technical interoperability over IP from more than 30 companies and the same technology being used in a real production environment,” Michael Cronk, VP of core technology at Grass Valley and chairman of AIMS, said in a statement. “It will be a showcase for the reality of the technology and a demonstration that the industry is converging on a common road map.”
IBC has expanded its conference track as well, with sessions running Sept. 8-12. Two new session tracks are joining the five that were in place last year (Content and Production, Business Transformation, Advances in Technology, IBC Big Screen Experience and Rising Stars), with the introduction of entire days dubbed Platform Futures—which looks at content aggregation, new distribution strategies and evolving platforms—and Audiences and Advertising, which looks at how broadcasters and TV services can better reach and monetize viewers.
“We have seen significant change in the sector, and the conference allows us to debate and explore topics collectively and with editorial rigor; this promises to be a great year,” IBC CEO Mike Crimp said in a statement.
IBC’s peer-reviewed technical paper sessions track—dubbed Advances in Technology—saw a 40% year-over-year bump in submitted papers to discuss. That prompted IBC to introduce 13 technical sessions, including six new ones: the rollout of UHD TV, studio IP trials, virtual reality and 360-degree TV, the Internet of Things, targeted advertising and metadata applications.
“Our industry is going through dramatic changes challenging and exciting at the same time. The conference will focus on how the entertainment and media sector is using the accelerating power of technology to transform its businesses. It will be very useful for the content industry which has a greater level of complexity than it used to,” said Susan Elkington, consultant director of content for IBC.
Todd Collart, general manager and senior VP of Deluxe Digital Distribution, said IBC serves up something unique: Every year, it forces both content owners and distributors to rethink where and how they invest to make more content available, across more platforms, in more formats, across more devices. “IBC is a fantastic opportunity to bring together all of the participants in the content delivery supply chain; it creates a dynamic picture of the state of the art, what’s needed, and what’s coming at a time of such massive change,” Collart said.
Penny Westlake, director of European operations at digital media solutions company Interra Systems, called IBC the place for broadcast industry decision-makers to rethink their strategies, thanks to top executives from all over the world being in one place. And she said this year’s iteration will prove “particularly interesting,” with ever-expanding options for content delivery and increased consumer expectations for quality, no matter the bandwidth.
“4K and HEVC will be hot trends at this year’s event,” Westlake predicted.
Dan Castles, CEO of video transcoding company Telestream, concurred: “At IBC, we’re keen to talk to broadcasters and service providers who seek to address the tremendous opportunities presented by live- and on-demand streaming. If we acknowledge the revolutionary change in consumer viewing preferences and adopt a very different approach to multiplatform delivery workflows, we believe the broadcast industry can take advantage of the most tremendous opportunity of our generation.”
Paul Levy, cofounder and COO of mobile video platform company Burst, emphasized how important the show has become for those at the executive level. “IBC is where the leaders of both the media and technology world come together to address the future of how video is delivered to consumers,” he said.
OTHER IBC NEWS OF NOTE:
• At the 2016 NAB Show in Las Vegas, one of the hit keynote speakers of the week was filmmaker Ang Lee. He’s been called on to do it again in Amsterdam on Sept. 12. Lee will be discussing the same film he did at NAB: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, which utilizes a number of tech advancements (4K at 120 frames per second, with 3D). Other keynote speakers include Eric Huggers, president and CEO of music video and entertainment platform Vevo (Sept. 10); Dominique Delport, global managing director of Havas Media Group and chair of Vivendi Content (Sept. 8); Shahrzad Rafati, founder and CEO of BroadbandTV (Sept. 10); and Oscar-winning film producer Lord Puttnam (Sept. 11).
• Sept. 10 will be dedicated to everything IP and cloud technology, with sessions covering how IT- and IP-based workflows are changing how broadcasters do business, standards that are affecting the industry and how advances in analytics are helping content companies better monetize what they have.
• The Sept. 10-11 Rising Stars track of sessions will be opening its doors to more than 300 millennials for free, giving them a taste of IBC and the upcoming changes in the international broadcast space.
• The Big Screen Experience session of tracks, which runs the length of IBC, has upgraded its projection technology to include Dolby’s proprietary high dynamic range technology, Dolby Vision, along with the company’s object-based surround sound technology Dolby Atmos.
• The IBC Future Zone will see big sections dedicated to Ultra High-Def (UHD) upgrades for broadcast, including advanced audio and HDR; virtual reality and augmented reality, with advancements in on-the-go 360-degree production unveiled; and advancements in IP technologies and OTT streaming that allow for more interactivity and better personalization of content for consumers.
• Sept. 10-11 has IBC bringing back its Hackfest, with hackers spending 36 hours doing what they do best. More than 100 developers and entrepreneurs will be on hand to look at new software solutions that revolve around security and technology.