My report from IBC – the International Broadcasting Convention

September 10, 2007

Each year, along about this time, the powers that be congregate in Amsterdam. If you’ve never been to Amsterdam, here are a couple of constants. First, you could look far and wide and never find a nicer group of people than the Dutch. Second, when you hear a “ring-ring,” like the ringer you had on your bike as a kid, get out of the way. The Dutch ride their bikes everywhere. What looks like a walking path is actually a lane totally dedicated to bicyclists. Last, and without question, Heineken tastes better when you are in the shadow of the brewery.

IBC bills itself as being for “everyone involved with content creation, management and delivery.” Today, that means just about everyone. Day 1 was last Thursday – called broadcasting by broadband. That’s right: broadcasting by broadband. If you read my blog a few years ago from IBC, I talked about IBC being all about IPTV. This year IPTV is such a foregone conclusion that we now call it broadcasting by broadband.

Just what does that mean, broadcasting by broadband? It’s simple…really. Broadcasting by broadband means you use IP, internet protocol, to deliver data, i.e. bits and bytes. The main benefactor of this shift is, or will be very soon, the end user.

The cost of creating content has come way down. I looked at a studio today which cost all of $15,000. HD-ready cameras are less than $20K. This means more content and more choice for consumers.

The cost of managing content has come down so far we refer to it in our own projections as “negligible”. I must have seen a dozen companies that provide machines to encode content previously housed on film. How will this benefit you? It means more choice and, better yet, because of richer meta-data, it means video search will be that much more powerful. It means Charlie Chaplin will some day be available on your cell phone.  

Finally, the cost of delivering content has gone down and the end-user experience has gone up. This is where IP really comes in handy. IP makes it efficient. IP makes content delivery flexible. IP delivery for consumers means you choose the device you’d like to view the content on.

So, as we get ready to wrap the 40th annual IBC tomorrow I can’t help but wonder what the 80th annual IBC might look like. I can look back less than a decade and remember when nobody talked about IPTV. IP would never be acceptable. Ironically, today it leads the way. Perhaps at IBC-80 to see great content all we will have to do is close our eyes… Just don’t do it in the bike lane.