IBC, the largest convention of broadcasting in the world, concluded on September 14, 2010 after days of conferences and exhibitions showcasing various facets of the broadcasting industry across the world.
The massive scale of the event and the people attending it definitely makes it among the top exhibitions for this industry across the world. If one was to keep aside content, the exhibition covered all aspects of the broadcasting industry and the present and future forms across the world.
IBC focuses on technology for every aspect of media – from technology being used in producing content in terms of lighting, cameras, equipment and so on, for studios, followed by editing, recordings, transmission, broadcasting and thereafter technology being used for distribution, digitalisation and finally technology in the way the consumer sees the content as he likes at his own time and own free will. This year was no different as far as the display of technology was concerned.
With the recent years of worldwide financial crisis, people across the world have reduced their travelling, shopping and other extra curricular activities and stayed at home watching TV. This has brought about a lot of momentum and technological advancement in the arena of television.
The major emphasis for the last few years has undoubtedly been the introduction of content in ‘high definition’, however, this year the focus shifted to the future of television brought in by the release of the movie ‘Avatar’ in 3D across the world. The complete focus of this year’s IBC was on 3D and its future and content being developed in 3D around the world.
Content and Broadcasting: The two aspects of the IBC
If one was to divide the exhibition into two aspects – the first being the stage where content is created and broadcast; and the second being the post broadcasting issues and the consumer – it would give a better idea about the way the exhibition was structured.
The first aspect was showcased in halls where all studio equipment of the present and the future were displayed along with highly advanced cameras, support equipment, various 3D cameras, recording and editing hardware and software. There was a great emphasis on 3D equipment along with 3D televisions and projectors for screening the specialised content in home theaters and different screens across the world. The plethora of recording and editing hardware and software displayed made one realise that the stunts, dance sequences and world that we saw were actually all recorded in a small studio and then technology converted that into the fantasy that we all watched on the screen every Friday of the month.
The second aspect that follows content creation involves a lot of money and time from those involved in transmitting it to consumers through various means – satellite, cable and over IPTV. Also, with high transmission, the need of bandwidth increases, resulting in a world moving towards speedy digitalisation. Transmission of larger amounts of data and unlimited data in rapid time frames to consumers who watch it on all possible sizes of screens – TV, laptops, netbooks, mobile phones, etc., is only possible through specialised technology and digitisation.
The growth of digital set-top boxes was also highlighted from the simple zapper boxes to hybrid set-top boxes to Home Gateways – encompassing all that one can imagine a smart hardware to possibly do to make our lives comfortable. The cost of making the content and securing it for the real owners to get their returns for the same emphasises the need for transmission of the data through set-top boxes using secure conditional access and to add to the customer experience in terms of uniformity; the issue of value addition brings in the role of the middleware companies across the world.
With the amazing display of technology at the convention, IBC is the ‘Mecca’ for all interested in the broadcasting industry. It helps people gain a perspective on things across the emerging markets and the developed markets. The easy intermingling of markets allow a convenient free flow of technology exchange, allowing weaker market segments to learn extensively from more developed ones in any and all aspects.
The Indian Picture
As far as the India focus at the convention was concerned, the fast emergence of the country during the financial crisis across the world and the potential to become one of the future drivers of economy was strongly felt at the IBC this year. There were people who wanted to enter this dynamic market and were ready to listen and offer solutions customised for the Indian market, and this was a major advantage for people travelling to IBC this year from India.
There were people from the broadcasting arena for equipment for studios, cameras and other requirements, as the Indian television and cinema industries are coming of age with better and slicker editing and special effects to compete with the best in the world. It only promises to get better as we saw a lot of Indian companies competing in this arena, especially in terms of software development.
Moreover, with the onset of digitalisation in India and the fastest growth recorded (other than in China) in terms of deployment of digital set-top boxes either through DTH, cable or IPTV, there were a lot of people from India backing the growth. Major DTH operators, MSOs and IPTV operators were there, along with their technical teams, to analyse the current scenario and gauge potential future offers from various system integrators, headend organisations, subscriber management systems, conditional access providers, middleware solutions and digital set-top box partners. Also showcasing the various technological roadmaps were various chipset companies, based on which the digital set-top boxes are becoming smarter to enable various value added services to enhance consumer experience and help increase the ever diminishing ARPU for the operators.
Looking forward to next year: Thank you IBC!
The IBC with its meticulous timing was followed by special private theme parties of all the major exhibitors like every year, and was something to look forward to this year as well. IBC brings all the people related to the industry from across the world together in one city, every second weekend of September. This convention becomes a homecoming that everyone in broadcasting eagerly awaits. The fervour to be back next year for a more futuristic vision begins as soon as the current edition comes to an end.
Finally, the real strength of IBC lay in its neutral and unbiased level playing field for one and all. This gets highlighted by the fact that on the one side we had the big boys of the media industry showcasing the emergence of the latest technology in TV and cinemas and 3D, while in one small corner of the exhibition was a person in love with and dedicated to photography, highlighting how the 3D effect was tried and showcased in the world as early as end of the 19th century.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is exactly what IBC is all about – here’s to next year!
(Amit Kharabanda is Executive Director, MyBox Technologies Pvt Ltd.)