A High-Level, Retrospective Look at NAB 2018

Observations from a tired, aching feet and back attendee after several days at the 2018 National Association of Broadcasters show.

As in previous years’, I was geared up to attend the 2018 NAB show once again held in Sin City. While it’s (mostly) true that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas – in this case I have to make an exception. As the CEO of Cloudkinesys, I wanted to share my experience at the show: the trends, techniques, new ideas and what I think we can expect from the industry this year.

• Collaboration & Cloudification
One of the first trends I noticed was the concept of collaboration and cloudification of media applications – it’s really started to take off this year. In fact, it was almost impossible to access the AWS Elemental booth at all – it was completely packed throughout the show. Only slightly less busy, the Azure and Google booths all created a significant amount of traffic. What’s more, I noticed that most if not all of the start-up to mid-sized companies at the show touted their public cloud integration. This movement is important to note as it shows a new way of thinking: that of recognizing the critical aspect of management of content on the cloud. Once content has been migrated the importance of ensuring its security and ongoing stability is of great significance

• OTT Monetization
A second trend noticeable at NAB was a re-emphasis on monetization for OTT video via advertising and subscription models. On the advertising front, the renewed emphasis was based on solutions that emphasized Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning. The goal appeared to be a combination of tying the pre-roll advertising video to the primary via video metadata, content source, and user information. Monetization continues to be the desire, based on the need to drive additional revenue to justify OTT solution investments.

From the content provider perspective, the trend was towards OTT monetization via more targeted content and flexible paywalls. Generally the paywalls were able to provide specialized and or “vetted” impartial video and news feeds. And while the subscription model works, I believe that there is an opportunity to provide the content via small direct micro-payments to the content providers. Maybe this is recreating the wheel, or maybe this approach will allow the content owners to manage their content more effectively.

• Lack of Content Programmers
Finally, the third trend I observed at the show was a noticeable lack of content programmers. Perhaps this may be another significant step towards the trend of disintermediation and media fragmentation. What will the impact be for broadcasters when you are more likely to see content programmers contacting and marketing to consumers directly or at shows like ComicCon verse providing curated content via broadcasters.

Things to Track through the Year

• Fully Integrated vs Build your own Cloud Media Solutions
I think it’ll be quite interesting to note the adoption rate of robust end-to-end solutions delivered by mid-sized to large competitors versus the adoption of highly segmented applications stitched together and run on the public cloud. While there are significant pluses and minuses to each of these approaches for example end-to-end solutions tend to be more secure, supportable and provide generally accepted workflows but are slower to react to change, while ad hoc cloud based solutions are more flexible, and able to provide features to the market quicker but will need to be stitched together with professional services and may have feature overlap. It is likely that we will see customers focusing on the larger issues of consistency and supportability vs. flexibility and speed. Ideally the robust end-to-end solutions could be architected in a way to allow for numerous and highly customized plugins.

• Providing Cloud Security and Portability and Cost
How will vendors provide Cloud Security and Portability for applications across the collaboration infrastructure? And to that end, how can customers avoid cloud lock-in, ensure security across the multitude of applications, and protect their ecosystem investment? The use of common security tools and shared secrets via a tool like HashiCorp’s Vault should help ensure cross application security and the use of common API’s, consistent infrastructure, and ensuring that a clearly defined architecture is adhered to, should enable better security and platform portability. So, even if one the solution components disappears from the marketplace, it is likely that the solution could be replaced by a solution from a different company, so long as the architecture framework and API’s allow for a swap-out of components.

It is my belief that at scale, the cloud integrating multiple cloud applications and securing the end-to-end environment may be somewhat less expensive than operating an end-to-end solution from a vendor. However, there are a couple of caveats, the customer needs to have significant cloud architecture, software integration, and devops expertise, and they will have to actively manage the public cloud financials, including using reserved instances and ensuring end-to-end platform scalability via extensive orchestration, etc. If on the other hand, the cloud is handed off to a less technical team, it is likely that the platform will quickly become unmanageable and very expensive to operate.

You May have Missed

• One item you may have missed at the show was the Spectral Edge booth. It was a small booth, but what they were showing was really well-organized and efficient, and one can easily see it has an outstanding opportunity for global adoption. From a very high level, their solution enabled color blind people to watch “corrected” content on the same screen and on the same screen as non-color blind people. The example was a based on a real time sporting event, but other use cases could include other any scenarios where people need to interact with content based on color.

Now that I’ve shared all my thoughts and observations of the show, I’d like to hear from you! What did you notice at the show? I look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback!

Categories: Blog

1 Comment

Bill Hitchman · May 3, 2018 at 3:41 pm

Michael: I have to commend you on the synopsis. It was well written and flowed nicely. Sounds like an interesting business. All the best.


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