Now that the dust has settled on the first IBC in three years, Content Everywhere exhibitors take a look back at an event marked by a real excitement to be back — although transport within and from Amsterdam could have been better!
IBC certainly proved more challenging than expected for those who missed flights or experienced serious delays because of the train strike or massive queues at Schiphol airport. Now that we are all (hopefully) safely at home, it’s time to look back and reflect on the highlights of this year’s event.
As usual, Content Everywhere exhibitors were there in force, this time in Hall 5, and are more than happy to share their experiences of what they saw and heard on the show floor. Some also provide an overview of what they regard as the key trends, and what those trends signify for the future of our industry.
First, a few statistics about the event. It was always going to be the case that visitor numbers would be lower this year compared to 2019. According to the organisers of IBC, more than 37,000 people from 170 countries visited the RAI conference and exhibition centre from 9th – 12th September this year.
Yet as remarked by Luke Boyle, CCO at Magine Pro, while overall numbers were down a little, “people seemed keener than ever to engage and talk direct business or discuss the future of broadcast and OTT”.
Bart Lozia, CEO of Better Software Group, expressed the view of many by commenting that although online meetings “can be very efficient and make time management a little easier, they are not sufficient. We may have believed that such a state of things is the new normal, but it isn’t. And nothing will replace face-to-face contact.”
Thomas Servatius, CEO of Smartclip, added: “It was fantastic to be back at IBC after a three-year break. What I find to be so special about IBC is that you’re able to meet people you normally would not have the opportunity to meet elsewhere — people who happen to be searching for solutions that we offer.”
Those solutions include adtech and monetisation tools to digitise TV advertising, including OTT video advertising and addressable TV advertising.
“We are currently working to make the linear TV ad break available through programmatic buying. That means we will connect DSPs to the linear TV ad break, giving them relevant audiences at scale — in traditional TV programmes. This will enable buyers to apply digital parameters to their linear TV buying, while giving broadcasters new monetisation opportunities,” Servatius said.
Lozia also noted that content personalisation and targeted ads “were some of the main topics discussed at the event. We believe that it is truly vital to open and share a broader discussion about these trends, as they are the point of our interest for a good reason – improving the overall viewing experiences.”
Streaming, cloud, and sustainability
In terms of dominant themes, Oliver Lietz, CEO of nanocosmos, remarked that the “space representing streaming at IBC increased significantly while its context is no longer restricted to broadcasting anymore. On the attendees’ side there are several new industries that have joined the space. To us, this indicates a value of interactive video that includes a broader range of application areas now.”
David Thompson, chief product officer at Veset, noted that “unsurprisingly, cloud was a huge topic, with many content owners looking to complete a full transition to cloud solutions … all of the traditional on-premise solution providers are now offering cloud-based services.”
The challenge with cloud, he added, is that many people don’t realise that there are many varieties to public cloud services, and that simply virtualising an on-premise solution doesn’t bring the same flexibility, scalability, and cost-savings that make true cloud beneficial for video providers.
“Cloud is becoming a requirement to gain the speed to market necessary for delivering media quickly to increasing diverse audiences watching content on a variety of platforms and from every device possible,” Thompson said.
Martin Sebelius, SVP and GM, EMEA and LatAm at Accedo, said one of the most significant stand-out trends this year was the focus on sustainability.
“We launched our sustainability initiative just ahead of the event, aimed at supporting our customers in their journey towards building more sustainable video businesses,” he said. Sebelius pointed to the many discussions about this topic, and the increasing number of companies “looking at this seriously, and I’m very encouraged by that shift in focus for the entire industry”.
Continuing with this trend, Christelle Gental, VP for marketing at Synamedia, added that a “renewed focus on total cost of ownership means cutting cloud costs has become a priority. While sustainability has surprisingly never been seen as an industry driver, energy prices mean new approaches, such as just-in-time processing that reduce cloud and CO2 requirements, attracted a lot of attention at the show.”
Gareth Capon, CEO of Grabyo, agreed that cloud production “was a prominent theme at the conference, especially now that cloud platforms are starting to catch up with traditional hardware systems in terms of functionality and output.”
He also cited vertical video as another key topic. “Not everyone in the broadcast industry is happy about this, but the exponential growth of TikTok over the past few years is driving huge interest in vertical video streaming and consumers love it,” he observed. “Major broadcasters and media organisations are taking vertical video seriously and making it a core part of their video strategies now.”
FAST and furious
One of the themes most frequently cited by exhibitors is the growth in Free Ad-Supported Streaming TV (FAST). As pointed out by Steve Russell, chief product officer at Red Bee Media, “the term ‘FAST’ was barely known when we last gathered at IBC in 2019 – I understand that the first documented use of the term was in January of that year. But how things change. It’s clear that FAST is establishing itself as the fourth major business pillar for our industry alongside classic broadcast, D2C and rights syndication.”
Rick Young, SVP for Global Products at LTN Global, agreed that FAST was a hot topic throughout the show. “Today, media companies need to find ways to not only launch FAST channels quickly and efficiently, but they need to bring fresh, localised, live content to FAST platforms.”
Meanwhile, Venugopal Iyengar, COO Digital at Planetcast International, described FAST as “an exciting trend that emerged as a major talking point across panel discussions, demonstrations and throughout the exhibition halls. That’s no surprise to us – we know there are FAST opportunities waiting to be unlocked across international markets. We also understand that launching FAST services quickly and efficiently isn’t always straightforward.”
Olivier Crête, multimedia lead at Collabora, summed up the feelings of many when he said IBC met or even exceeded his expectations.
“Both exhibitors and visitors came back in large numbers and were enthusiastic at being able to meet in person, and discuss their latest projects with us. In 2019, I had the opportunity to speak at the CE Hub, and highlighted how open source software was beginning to take broadcasting by storm. Fast forward three years and that statement has come to full fruition, open source software and open communities were omnipresent at this year’s show,” Crête said.
There were of course many familiar names at IBC, but also a few new exhibitors. Two Content Everywhere companies making their IBC debut this year are Castify.ai and XroadMedia.
Gal Turjeman, CEO of Castify.ai, said IBC2022 “definitely met my expectations confirming our predictions for the industry’s progress moving forward and shift to the AVOD model. The speaking panel was a great opportunity for me to present Castify.ai, focusing on our OTT app builder and monetisation methods through AVOD apps and FAST channels. Now more than ever, I am confident in the OTT market and the exciting opportunities it offers for content creators and enhanced monetisation.”
Tom Dvorak, CCO and co-founder, XroadMedia, added that it was great to be back to meet colleagues and friends from the industry again after so many years.
“For XroadMedia, it was the first time to exhibit at the show and, without a doubt, it was the right decision for us. Our booth was buzzing with excitement from our customers, partners and our team and we had a brilliant platform to talk about our latest partnerships and customer wins,” Dvorak said.