Unleash was picked as the theme for this year’s National Association of Broadcasters Convention. After many years of promoting convergence while the tools of the broadcaster became the same tools used in other media of content distribution, the big, new word for the year was disruption. Somebody finally noticed that social media, streaming, and other non-broadcast electronic methods of content distribution might have a negative impact of the former core industries of this broadcaster group. It looks like Dr. John Malone was right all along to focus on content.
What’s the big deal for broadcast on the exhibit floor? It’s all based on getting out of the traditional business. The big sales dollars to be generated in the next round of spending will be based on auction of broadcast television spectrum. Some television broadcasters will move, share spectrum, or just go away. Over on the medium-wave end of things, AM broadcasters will be saved by getting paired with an FM translator.
We have to look outside the US to see the effects of innovative transmission technology. India gives us the best example of digital radio for medium wave as they expand their use of DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) for their national network. Korea seems to be the one in the lead for implementation of what would be possible with ATSC 3.0.
NAB should still be a lot of fun this year despite not being able to maintain any reasonable expectations of what I can expect to find. Canon always has some great cinema created to show off the capabilities of the latest hardware in their NAB theatre. FCC Chair Tom Wheeler will be subjected to questioning on Wednesday morning. The drone pilots will have had an extra year to hone piloting skills to demonstrate what is possible with the newest UAVs. A good time will be had by all and Dr. Scholl will sell a bumper crop of foot pads. We can all traverse the aisles while humming the Duke Ellington classic, “Things Ain’t Like They Used to Be.”