Michael Crimp, IBC CEO, discusses what visitors to the 2019 conference and exhibition can expect, from conference streams and themes to new innovations and awards…
What is new or different at IBC2019?
As always, the team has worked hard to keep abreast of developments in the industry, and the innovations we introduce are, as always, driven by what our visitors want.
So we have brought the IBC conference and exhibition back into alignment, instead of starting and finishing the conference a day earlier. When visitors could take the time to attend for the whole of IBC this made a great deal of sense, but we have to recognise that visitors today make much more targeted trips to IBC, and need to make the best use of their time.
Another important shift we have made over recent years is to actively encourage a younger audience, and to ensure that as far as possible we are inclusive in everything we do.
This year we have taken a major step forward by adding two new honours to our popular and prestigious IBC Awards programme. We will be honouring a Young Pioneer, and significant projects in social responsibility.
Talking of young people, a whole new media genre has appeared from nowhere in recent years: Esports. On Tuesday we are converting the RAI Auditorium into an Esports arena, with live tournaments as well as conference sessions around it.
The final innovation I would point to is the Media-Telecom Convergence Catalyst, an exciting new collaboration between IBC and the TM Forum. We will see three unique catalyst projects on the show floor, showcasing open innovation between the telecoms and media industries. Participation from Al Jazeera, Associated Press, BBC R&D, RTÉ and more will show how 5G, AI and big data management can solve business and technology challenges, and improve the customer experience.
What is new for the IBC2019 conference?
The most obvious change is that the conference will now run Friday to Tuesday, ending with the IBC Esports Showcase, a new venture supported by market leader ESL along with Lagardère and EVS. This means that our invitation-only Executive Forums will take place on Thursday (12 September), clear of the rest of the event, allowing us to focus all our attention on these vital, top-level summits.
As ever, the conference looks at contemporary issues from a creative, commercial and technical viewpoint, allowing our visitors to form a fully-rounded view and take part in the debate about the future of the industry. This year, each day has its own theme:
• Friday is Create and Produce: creating disruption, which includes a look at new technologies including immersive experiences and beyond 4k resolutions
• Saturday sees Manage: automating media supply chains, which looks at how emerging technologies like blockchain and AI can transform the media business
• Sunday we will look at Publish: embracing the platform revolution and how the move towards new business models is disrupting the industry
• Monday’s theme is Consume: engaging consumer experiences, and in particular what is going to engage
• Tuesday is Monetise: scaling audiences and revenues, looking at how brands can lead to new models of advertising.
The lounge talks programme – more informal chats about key topics – will be back, too, looking at topics which are harder to fit into the formal programme. That includes corporate social responsibility and inclusion, too.
But perhaps more important to talk about is what has not changed about the IBC conference. And top of my list for that is that it is completely non-commercial. We are not driven by vendors who spend large: the programme is developed by a group of industry leaders, who have the clout, on IBC’s behalf, to attract the most influential speakers. The result is that IBC is the one global forum where the big questions are asked and answered.
I would add that it is the most inclusive forum, too. We have visitors from around 150 countries. Wherever you are from, whatever your level of experience, whatever your specialist interest, you are welcome at IBC.
The final thing that has not changed is that IBC is in the RAI Convention Centre in Amsterdam. By day, that makes it hugely efficient, with a comprehensive exhibition, world-class conference facilities and all the other things that add value to your experience, all under one roof. While, after-hours, you are in one of the world’s most welcoming, inclusive, cosmopolitan cities. Why wouldn’t you be at IBC?
Why have you added an Esports showcase, and how will this add to the overall IBC experience?
The answer is quite simple: Esports have rapidly risen to become major global media events, calling for comprehensive coverage and with a unique set of technical and editorial challenges. Where else would you go to understand the issues and possibilities than IBC?
We have always taken the view that you need to see something to understand it, so we have always strived to make the IBC conference experiential. A dry debate without appreciating the extraordinary excitement of Esports would be very dull.
So as well as conference sessions – which include the participation of the players emerging from the world of Esports like Ginx TV, Twitch, Riot and Blizzard, as well as developers like EA Sports – we will host a live demonstration. Two professional teams from ESL’s National Championships in Germany and Spain will go head-to-head on Counter-Strike.
We think this is going to be an extraordinary afternoon, so we are hosting this in the RAI Auditorium, our largest space, which we will be kitting out with all the technology an Esports championship demands. Everyone is welcome, and we anticipate a big audience.
A year ago, you announced a new collaboration with TM Forum to drive open innovation across the telecom and media industries. Can you point to results from this?
We established catalyst projects to seed development in important collaborative directions. At IBC2019 we will be showing the results of three of these projects. The three are very different in application, but use technological innovations coming from both industries to solve real-world issues.
The three projects are:
• a 5G-enabled tourism experience, championed by Aardman Entertainment and BBC R&D, and developed with Bristol University, Cambridge Communications Systems and Zeetta Networks
• AI indexing for regulatory content management, championed by Associated Press, Al Jazeera and RTÉ, with technical participation from Metaliquid, QCRSI, Tech Mahindra and V-Nova
• mobile news gathering using AI-powered compression, again championed by Associated Press, Al Jazeera and RTÉ, working with V-Nova.
These three projects really show how collaboration across our industries can transform both businesses and consumer experiences.
What are the technical trends you expect to see at IBC2019?
One of the sea changes in our industry over the last decade or so is that we used to be in the broadcasting business, where technology defined what we can do. Today we are in the media business, and audiences are demanding the technological solutions that will connect them to the content they want, on the device they want, when and where they want to see it.
To meet this torrent of consumption, media producers and distributors have to find innovative, practical and secure means of monetising their IP as well as making and storing it. Technical trends, therefore, are very much pulled through the industry by the demands of consumers.
We will certainly see more developments in Ultra HD – 8K as well as 4K, with the Japanese launch of consumer Super Hi-Vision channels ahead of next year’s Tokyo Olympics. As well as resolution, that means growing interest in HDR.
The march from bespoke hardware connected by SDI towards software applications running on standard IT kit and connected by IP is well advanced. These applications enable the key challenges, like delivering to multiple platforms quickly and efficiently.
On top of these software-defined architectures we will see major developments in AI and machine learning, again aimed at managing the massive amount of content we now generate and delivering it to the audience that will enjoy it, whether they know about it or not.
Monetisation is the final part of the chain. Media businesses can only create, curate and deliver content if they make a fair return on their investment, so expect to see new ways of optimising, tracking and collecting revenues. This is such a key issues it gets its own full day in the IBC Conference.
How do you ensure the content stays fresh, year on year?
IBC’s in-house content team works with a carefully selected group of industry leaders, the Content Security Group. Chairing the group this year is Claire Hungate. The CSG meets monthly, to discuss the key issues around the industry and how IBC should be covering it.
So the CSG does not just bring topics to the table, it brings solutions, as well as some impressive address books to ensure we get the best possible speakers and panellists. Its enthusiasm drives IBC to new ways of tackling subjects, like the Esports Showcase this year.
As well as being on top of industry trends, the CSG and IBC’s own content experts collaborate to achieve a balanced and fresh programme in terms of diversity of thought, talent, age, gender, geographic representation and ethnic background.
You introduced two new categories to the IBC Awards this year. What are they, and why are they important now?
The IBC Awards have always had a distinct character that reflected the nature of IBC itself. Our Innovation Awards, for example, are not about clever technology but working together to achieve a solution that delivers against defined challenges.
Our two new awards are also unique and reflect the way that the industry is changing. IBC has long been a welcoming place for young talent setting out on a career in broadcasting and media. We felt that we should recognise those settling in to our industry who are already having a significant impact. The IBC2019 Young Pioneer Award will go to someone under 30 who has carved out a role combining excellence and leadership, whether that is technical, commercial or creative.
The second new award focuses on social responsibility, both corporate and individually. The judging panel is looking at entries which focus on diversity and inclusivity, on environmental matters, and on ethical leadership.
I have had a sneak preview at some of the entries for these two new awards, and I can tell you that there are some remarkable stories in there.
And, incidentally, we have redesigned the IBC Award itself, using fully sustainable materials so the winners can display their trophies with pride!
What are the top three things to do at IBC2019?
This year we have a great programme of keynote presentations in the conference, including leaders like Cécile Frot-Coutaz, head of YouTube EMEA; YouTube; Arnaud de Puyfontaine, chairman of Vivendi; and Max Amordeluso, EU lead evangelist, Amazon Alexa.
We are bringing back the IBC Global Gamechangers Stage again this year. This hosts the biggest business, creative, technical, news and future facing talent making waves around the world, to talk about what is going to change the game for us in the media industry. Already signed up to speak on the stage are Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association; Jane Turton, CEO of All3Media; and Lisa Opie, Managing Director, UK Production, BBC Studios.
Number three for me would be something I am really looking forward to, the Esports Showcase. This is going to light up Tuesday with top level debates and discussions, and of course the chance to see what it is all about, with a real, live, here on-stage contest between the national champions of Germany and Spain playing Counter-Strike.
But limiting me to three means I miss out on all the other great stuff, like 15 exhibition halls, the Awards Ceremony on Sunday night, movies and screenings. That includes the chance to see a complete, battle-strewn episode from the final series of Game of Thrones, on the giant screen in the Auditorium in 4K and HDR. And there is so much more!