The annual National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show New York (October 24-26) saw more than 12,000 broadcast, media and entertainment professionals converge on the Javits Center, a figure that the NAB team claims is a 28% improvement over the previous year.
Wider broadcast themes
The Washington, DC-based NAB is marking its 100th anniversary, having started both convention and association in 1923, and the New York edition boasted nearly 270 exhibitors and more than 225 sessions hosting nearly 300 speakers. The show was conjoined (as with past years) with AES (Audio Engineering Society), so pro-audio themes such as Immersive and Spatial Audio saw strong representation.
The sessions and seminars at NAB included a considerable proportion of AI-focussed topics, with the “AI Creative” track hosting 20 separate sessions. FAST and AVoD channels for local TV stations received a tranche of 11 sessions, post-production topics enjoyed 36 sessions, while pure-play broadcast had 11.
High-profile major brands on the show floor included Avid, Fujifilm, B&H, Cisco, Blackmagic Design, Grass Valley, Signiant, Harmonic, LiveU, Panasonic Connect, Ross Video, Lawo, Evertz, Telestream, Perifery, Ikegami, Canon, Alteon, Imagine Communications, Maxon and Matrox. Both Canon and Avid were returning to the show after a long hiatus, while around 50 companies were first-time exhibitors.
Radio still a key player
A key moment at NAB New York was the Marconi Radio Awards, which are are given to radio stations and on-air personalities to “recognize excellence in radio” - among the 20+ US-focussed awards, one for podcast of the year stood out among the more traditional radio accolades. The ceremony at the Javits Center was hosted by sportscaster Rich Eisen, presented by Xperi, with entertainment from “Verzuz” host DJ Scratch.
Indeed, the radio component of the show made a strong showing, with a widely-heralded session featuring engineers from New York-area AM radio stations making some of the international variations clear. The session, led by Engineers Andy Gladding of Salem Media Group and Dan Hirschl of Red Apple Media, discussed some of the technical issues that AM broadcasters must navigate, such as antenna system optimisation, and the use of metadata. Meanwhile within Europe many countries have closed AM radio completely, and in the UK AM listening hours halved between 2013 and 2020, on a path that the UK government 2021 Digital Radio and Audio Review predicted will see AM listening become “commercially unsustainable” by 2025.
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AI a central talking point
Of course, AI played a starring role at NAB New York, just as it did at IBC2023, with a keynote presentation by Michael Cioni, Founder & CEO, Strada taking pride of place. GenAI received many a name-check along the way, while AI in Audio, use of AI to optimise social media channels, and the future of the sector also got individual sessions. Other areas included the legal frameworks required to encompass AI, the use of GenAI in photography enhancement, and the value of AI in image processing and video noise reduction and upscaling too.
The future was also discussed comprehensively in Evan Shapiro’s Keynote ‘What’s Next’, which was preceded by commentary from NAB President and CEO Curtis LeGeyt. “Forget the crossroads, we passed them a while back,” Shapiro said in a pre-show statement.
“The media and entertainment industry faces an existential moment in its history with its infrastructure, business models and audience consumption behaviours all being disrupted.”
TV Production focus
On the show floor, specialised exhibit areas helped to break up the brands into bite-size chunks, such as in the Cine+Live exhibit area, introduced last year in partnership with AbelCine, where sessions and demos with SONY VENICE 2, ARRI Alexa 35 and Panasonic AK-PLV 100 cameras laid out how the latest cameras are being used in television production.
The main National Association of Broadcasters event, NAB Show, will be held April 13-17, 2024 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and will be a key part of the news cycle before IBC2024 on the 13-16 September.