‘Have any of you paused your spending, are you confused?’

‘Have any of you paused your spending, are you confused?’

So went a question posed today by Joe Zaller to a panel of broadcasters at the NAB Show in Las Vegas, including Discovery, Fox, Disney and TV2 of Norway.

Sunday is typically a day of rest, not this weekend, not in Las Vegas. A packed audience filled an auditorium to be confronted with fact after fact about the financial implications of the changes sweeping the media industry.

And those facts were challenging.

Håvard Myklebust, CTO, TV2 of Norway caught the mood when he observed ‘You need to rewrite a lot of heads’

Ulf Ewaldson, CTO Ericsson, reminded us all that there are more mobile subscriptions than there are people on the planet. Right now. He told a room, packed with broadcasters, that mobile has become the global default platform for internet access, that by 2020 there will be 28 billion connected devices. The internet of things is not science fiction, it’s here and it’s growing, fast. Perhaps even more boldly, he proclaimed that the differences between broadcast and mobile spectrum ‘are in our minds only’.

Josh Stinehour, resplendent in red tie and matching suspenders, pointed out the massive mismatch between the space taken by traditional vendors at NAB and the (much larger) sums now paid across to IT companies. Further pause for thought.

Slide after slide pointed to the massive economic challenges presented by content delivery on digital platforms. Facing this, Stinehour told the packed room that it was ‘impossible to put the genie back in the bottle’.

Ewaldson spoke about the importance of immersive content, picking up the vibe created by Ang Lee’s powerful, emotional, message in the same vein on the previous day.

The speakers, time and again, referred to the need for cultural change, the need to embrace the cloud. A theme that clearly resonated in the room was the call for broadcasters to focus on what they do best ‘telling stories’ and let others take on the burden of ‘undifferentiated heavy lifting’ associated with owning and operating digital infrastructure. 

When Zaller asked the broadcaster panel about their intentions to broadcast in 4K their response was muted and cautious. Perhaps they had all recognised that, in the pursuit of the latest and best technologies, we need to remember that, unless the customer can tell the difference, the expenditure may be wasted.

In part, the message today was a siren call to broadcasters to focus on their core business, to let go and compete on the grounds of the stories they tell, not the quality of their (owned) infrastructure.

To focus on what the end user wants, to change and adapt.

And, in a powerful statement, Ewaldson told the room that some 15% of Ericsson's 100,000 strong workforce are refreshed each year in the constant process of ensuring skills are matched to the changes sweeping the industry.

Of course, this is hardly news, Heraclitus (paraphrased) observed many centuries ago that ‘the only thing that is constant is change’.

At Marquis, we are ready to work through the implication of these changes for your business, and to help you make the decisions you need to make. 

 

 

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Last modified on 21 April 2016
Andy Townend

Proven track record in shaping and delivering complex national transformation programs.