Darcy Antonellis, CEO of multiplatform video services company Vubiquity, has seen plenty of changes in how content companies deliver their wares over the years. But they’re nothing quite like what’s happening today, in terms of both the amount of formats and the size of the files getting moved around.
Antonellis sat down recently with Next TV contributing editor Chris Tribbey to talk 4K, High Dynamic Range, virtual reality and what everyone in the content industry should look out for next month at International CES . An edited transcript follows.
NTV: In broad strokes, what do you see as the outlook for 2017 for video entertainment? What are going to be some of the main challenges, and what are going to be some of the main breakthroughs?
Darcy Antonellis: I think it should be a terrific CES as the start of the year. Certainly, 4K and 4K UHD … will be prominent. And I think virtual reality and augmented reality and their applications across not only media and entertainment, but linking into IoT [Internet of Things] applications, are probably some of the things we’ll get a good look into at [next year’s] show.
NTV: Along the lines of 4K, the size of these files alone is a little daunting, and then you add on HDR: We’re putting a lot of stress on the pipelines, aren’t we? Are we doing this correctly? Have we solved all the problems in delivering 4K to the house?
DA: I think we certainly manage and process on behalf of our content provider relationships, let’s call it the various flavors of what is 4K and, to your point, now HDR with the expanded color space, and it’s really a fantastic immersive experience.
The nuts and bolts of both delivery, as well as display penetration, have migrated from certainly well beyond theoretical to, we’ve got a set of standards or at least let’s say industry practices, that’s probably the better term, that are allowing new distributors to distribute to the home and provide to displays that can really leverage a fantastic HDR type of experience. It’s probably the biggest pivot point we’re seeing rolling into 2017, as differentiated in the past couple of years when we probably talked about this.
NTV: A few years ago, we saw the studies really give a big push toward 3D, and that has kind of fizzled out. How is virtual reality different? How is VR different? Is VR something that is here to stay or is it another passing fad?
DA: No, I by any stretch don’t see it as a passing fad. For those who have had the ability to experience VR and certainly now for filmmakers, for creators, it’s a fantastic additional or adjacent kind of way to tell the story. And I think what’s become evident is this is the year that it’s moved from … the early days of being focused around gamers, and really kind of coming into the public perspective, let’s say, through gaming, and enthusiasts as early adopters.
Probably what speaks best to this is just watch some of the latest ads in advance of this holiday season that I really think are incredibly emotional. Without mentioning any particular brands, there are a number of ads that take VR and connect the generations — young and old — and kind of bring VR into the mainstream, certainly by virtue of device availability, and a growing library, growing creative works in the market. This is the first time we’re really seeing that kind of transition for the technology.
NTV: What do you think will be the main headline-grabber coming out of CES? I know it’s hard to predict the future, but what do you think the industry is going to see as the biggest thing coming out of it next month?
DA: I think certainly all areas of IoT are going to have big headlines within CES , whether it’s through smart cars, or smart homes, connected smart devices, health care — I think those will be some of the biggest headlines. And then certainly, again within media and entertainment, we’ve already talked about 4K and HDR, but virtual and augmented reality, and the implementation we will see of those experiences across brands, I think are the other things we will see.
NTV: For Vubiquity, what are the biggest challenges facing multiplatform video services today? Have we figured out how to move content everywhere we need it, or are we still seeing problems doing everything, everywhere, at any time?
DA: You actually just summed it up. I think the requirement to deliver globally in local language to leverage a brand or property awareness to certainly continue to stem things like piracy and to really monetize content from its first viewing within hours or a handful of days. That need and requirement, certainly substantiated by the changes in rights and windowing and continued compression, I think, have pointed to and teed up the challenges for the industry, and certainly in areas for a company like Vubiquity, that’s what we do. And help our customers within those now highly accelerated windows work to monetize that content, grow advertising revenues, increase CPMs, probably more so than we have ever seen. That work for us has grown exponentially just in the last 12 months.