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Social Networks, Stroopwafels, and Streams: The Themes of IBC 2017

Social Networks, Stroopwafels, and Streams: The Themes of IBC 2017

Another year, another IBC, the International Broadcasting Convention, has come and gone. As expected, the show once again set records with nearly 58,000 attendees from all over the world, converging on Amsterdam for updates on everything from electronics remotes to online video.  Here are a few of the topics that caught our attention at Brightcove. 

Although a recurring theme, 4K was exceptionally buzzworthy at this year’s show. Why? In a word, Apple. Just prior to IBC, Apple hosted its annual special event where it announced a handful of new products that will deliver 4K content to millions of users worldwide. From the 4K Apple TV to the new iPhone 8 and upcoming iPhone X, Apple’s embrace of 4K, more specifically HDR 10 and Dolby Vision which mean vibrant, color-rich content, will mean a great deal for the world of online video. Why? For the past few IBC shows, and NAB too for that matter, the HEVC codec has garnered lots of discussion and interest, but adoption has been slow. When a brand like Apple makes a move in the way it did, it moves markets. To support that visually rich 4K world, the online video space will need to not only help content owners, with broadcasters and publishers at the front of the queue, but also to help make the path as efficient as possible. Since HEVC is roughly twice as efficient as its predecessor, it is beneficial that we’ve had a few years to tinker and tweak with the codec in advance of a market moving event. For more on this topic, check out my blog post from the Apple event itself.  

IBC, and its American sibling, NAB, are traditionally stocked with vendors from various sectors of the broadcast space, with the ‘B’ in both acronyms representing broadcast. Just as online video is changing how we consume video, these shows are hosting new entrants who are changing markets as well. Case in point at IBC: Facebook. This is the first year I can recall the social media behemoth having a stand at IBC. There is no denying Facebook’s importance to publishers, broadcasters, and content owners. At Brightcove, we have been helping media organizations to publish and optimize video content on Facebook, as well as Twitter and YouTube, with our Brightcove Social solution for the past year. At the show, Facebook showcased its 360 and live video offerings and tools. We’ve been seeing more interest and supporting both 360 and live video as well. 

Speaking of live, IBC 2017 was center stage for discussion and planning for live online video offerings. As I’ve said at many shows and on panels, live remains the most perishable but valuable form of content as viewing behavior shifts in today’s market.  Whether the content type is sports or news, live (and life) only happens once and we can’t hit rewind on breaking news or a touchdown scored in a football game. Therefore, more broadcasters than ever seem to be using shows like IBC to assess their live efforts, and the tools they plan to leverage while forging a path to reach audiences on devices used daily to consume video content. We had a great deal of interest in our Brightcove Live product, which paves the path to cost effective live streaming. Whether the need is for an event that lasts a few hours or a 24x7 channel, Brightcove Live enables organizations of all shapes and size to quickly and seamlessly deliver and monetize innovative live experiences. We’ve helped broadcasters stream some of the biggest sporting events of the past year including the most hyped boxing event which took place last month.

Last but not least, a look at a topic we’ll likely be talking about as we preview IBC 2018, virtual channels. We are seeing increasing demand from broadcasters who want to launch online-only channels that are unique and different from their ‘traditional’ broadcast siblings. The economics of creating these channels using online video platforms is orders of magnitude less expensive than using yesterday’s methods. Combining a varied lineup of on-demand video with live streams to assemble a 24x7 channel is something that online video is exceptionally well suited for. Expect to see this as a major growth area in the video space well into 2018. 

IBC 2017 was a great opportunity for us to connect with our colleagues, customers, and analysts who cover this great industry. And there were stroopwafels to be had, and brought home for the kiddos, always a bonus.