Takeaways from IBC 2018

Perspectives from this year’s IBC Show by JW Player’s Co-founder and Head of Strategic Partnerships, Brian Rifkin

Every year broadcasters and media company executives from around the globe fly to Amsterdam for the IBC Show. Personally, I have been coming to the show for the past five years and am always interested in what folks are excited, and worried, about.

This year, some of the main headlines are surrounding what folks were not talking about, just as much as what was being discussed. From the lack of conversation around VR, 360 videos, and blockchain to a focus on live streaming and cloud editing, the vibe of this year’s IBC Show (and DMEXCO for that matter) was realism over futurism.

So, without delay here are my takeaways from this year’s IBC Show.

Let’s live in the moment

One of the more striking trends from this year’s show was the lack of discussion surrounding two emerging technologies – immersive experiences (virtual reality and 360-degree video) and blockchain. Over the last two years, there has been endless chatter about the future of media being tied in some form to these technologies.

The impression I got after chatting with a variety of industry executives was that while both will be important to both the delivery and monetization of video in the future, it was still too early. They were more focused on how to capitalize on the present opportunities, creating a better experience for audiences with cross-screen distribution, and addressable video advertising (more on that below).

My takeaway: Coming out of a few years of digital media exuberance where tons of capital was being put into startups, there is now an urgency to “live in the moment” and focus on growing audiences and generating enough revenue today, so that we can look to the future tomorrow. While there is still optimism, the lack of practical applications of both blockchain and immersive media puts a damper on those longer-term conversations.

Addressable Advertising

Feeding off the need to capitalize on the opportunity in front of the media companies and broadcasters was the ability to reach audiences with more targeted ads, and provide better analysis to marketers. As TV dollars continue to shift to digital, executives around the show were looking for better ways to reach audiences across a variety of screens while also staying compliant with GDPR.

Personally, I feel this was one of the more exciting topics of discussion as it combined the realistic “deal-making” discussions with the more future-facing topics of what we can do as marketing technologies become more advanced.

My takeaway: Put simply, digital video advertising is about to get a whole lot better in the near future. Right now we see anecdotal complaints of the lack of targeting and the lack of inventory. More critical to the future of the media ecosystem is the fact that digital video advertising is about a quarter of the size of linear TV ad spend. This shift to digital can only accelerate if we create tools that show increased value to brands and marketers.

Please, no more OTT apps

It’s official – we have hit peak OTT. This may not come as a total surprise with the folding of go90 earlier this year, and multiple other players beginning to shutter their OTT operations. But you would never know that by looking at this year’s IBC Show.

Everywhere you turned, there was someone who was offering to build a custom OTT app for broadcasters and media companies. The growth of these custom developer shops is a result of a market on the brink of saturation.

My takeaway: This euphoria has very similar characteristics to the mobile app development craze we saw almost a decade ago – yeah there’s an app for that. Based on what I heard at IBC, I predict a similar consolidation within the OTT marketplace. The result will be a fallout that creates clear winners and losers over the next twelve to twenty-four months.

High Expectations for Cloud Editing

Finally, it’s not all about the business of broadcasting, it’s also very much about the creativity and production that goes into creating videos. The ability to edit footage in the cloud and upload it directly into a CMS has made life astronomically easier for broadcasters, and allow for more efficient workflow during the editing process.

My takeaway: While we continue to focus on how to support media companies and broadcasters, it is incredibly important not to forget that without the creators there would be nothing to stream. We are continuously looking for ways to make their lives easier from creating Content Scores (a way to understand how your video is performing), to AI driven workflows. By finding ways to take the legwork out of creating incredible video will only help to foster a thriving digital video ecosystem around the world.

 

Overall, it was a great year to be at IBC and am looking forward to next year’s!

 

Brian Rifkin is a co-founder of JW Player and head of strategic partnerships.

 

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