Every year, IBC brings new elements to the table to keep the show fresh. We catch up with Michael Crimp to learn more about what’s new this year.
We hear you have recently renewed your agreement with the RAI, which means IBC will continue to be held in Amsterdam?
Yes, we have signed a new three-year contract with RAI Amsterdam and its partners, and I am very pleased we have. I am all too aware that there is pressure to consider other venues, and I would like to assure everyone we take this matter seriously, continually monitoring our options.
But RAI, and the city of Amsterdam, remains the right venue for IBC. The RAI allows us to stage the entire event under one roof, with spaces that are flexible enough as our requirements change, and which have the functionality we require. In Amsterdam, we have a host city that is committed to media and technology, and which works well with us to meet all our requirements. It is well connected by air, sea and train, and provides us with a friendly, welcoming environment which people enjoy visiting.
Our new agreement allows us to look to the future to continue to provide for the needs of our delegates, visitors, exhibitors and sponsors, reflecting developments in the industry and maintaining our position as the one global meeting point for the industry.
We hear the conference and exhibition dates have been aligned this year? What else is new at the show?
That’s right. We have brought the IBC conference and exhibition back into alignment, instead of starting and finishing the conference a day earlier. 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.
We have also added two new honours to our prestigious IBC Awards programme – we will be honouring a Young Pioneer and significant projects in social responsibility. 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. We have also redesigned the IBC Award itself, using fully sustainable materials.
On Tuesday, we are converting the RAI Auditorium into an esports arena, with live tournaments as well as conference sessions around it. The IBC Esports Showcase is a new venture supported by market leader ESL along with Lagardère and EVS.
I would also like to point to the Media-Telecom Convergence Catalyst, an exciting new collaboration between IBC and the TM Forum. 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.
How will your esports showcase add to the overall IBC experience?
Esports have rapidly risen to become major global media events, calling for comprehensive coverage and with a unique set of technical and editorial challenges. We are also of 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.
What’s new at the conference?
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.
What technical trends do 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. This is such a key issue that it gets its own full day at the IBC Conference.
What are the top 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; 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 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.
Don’t miss our 15 exhibition halls, the Awards Ceremony on Sunday night, as well as our movies and screenings. This year, attendees also have 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!
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.
And finally, tell us more about the Executive Forums.
Our three Executive Forums are invitation-only events aimed at a C-level audience. In the Leaders’ Forum, the Cyber Security Forum and the Telco and Media Innovation Forum, we bring together the most influential and visionary people at the top of the industry, giving them an opportunity – behind closed doors – to talk about the strategic issues facing us.