With IBC 2019 fast approaching, Mike Crimp, CEO of IBC, offers insight into what’s in store for visitors to this year’s conference and exhibition.
What is new or different at IBC 2019?
Crimp: 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 recognize 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 honors to our popular and prestigious IBC Awards program. We will be honoring 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 IBC 2019 conference?
Crimp: 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 monetize: scaling audiences and revenues, looking at how brands can lead to new models of advertising.
The lounge talks program — more informal chats about key topics – will be back, too, looking at topics which are harder to fit into the formal program. 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 program 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. 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 Ssports showcase, and how will this add to the overall IBC experience?
Crimp: 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.
IBC has kept its five day format, but aligned the conference and exhibition dates. Why?
Crimp: I know I use this mantra so often, but it is absolutely true. IBC is run by the industry, for the industry. Our five-day format gives visitors the opportunity to attend over a weekend or on weekdays; they can drop in for a day or two, or benefit from the whole experience.
This is not me saying this. We commissioned research from an independent body and the results were clear, that most of our audience is happy with the number of days we run. If that is what our audience wants, that is what we will deliver.
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?
Crimp: We established catalyst projects to seed development in important collaborative directions. At IBC 2019 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 you most excited about IBC 2019?
Crimp: My answer is the same as it has been for many years now. All our plans and efforts have gone into developing an experience – exhibition, conference, networking opportunities and special events – that works for our visitors. It is no boast to say that IBC is the world’s leading forum for the media entertainment industry. What excites me is the prospect of delivering on our plans, and once again seeing IBC as the global meeting point.
What do you hope attendees take away from IBC 2019?
Crimp: Everyone comes to IBC with their own set of goals, so my first wish is that they achieve them, whether that is in researching technologies and solutions, or in buying or selling.
I have no qualms at all in saying I hope that people go away with new business opportunities and ideas. Business genuinely gets done at IBC – deals are signed on the show floor. That is very good for our exhibitors, of course, but good too for buyers, who have had the opportunity to compare solutions from all the leading vendors around the world, in one convenient showcase.
I hope too that attendees go home equipped with shared knowledge and experience, which will help them drive their own businesses forward in the year ahead. What they see at IBC should energize and motivate them and reveal new opportunities – for their businesses and as individuals.
IBC is about networking, about sharing knowledge and experiences. So, I hope that everyone goes home with more entries in their address book: more contacts for business and for advice and encouragement.
What are your top two reasons to be at IBC 2019?
Crimp: Number one is networking. IBC is above all a place to share knowledge and experience, whether that is on the show floor, in the conference room, or in the cafés and bars of the RAI and across Amsterdam.
My second reason would be to do deals. Whether you are a media company looking to find a better way to engage with your audiences or a vendor with fresh ideas for technological solutions, I hope you find the best way to grow and move forward.
What are the technical trends you expect to see at IBC 2019?
Crimp: 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 monetizing 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 deliver it to the audience that will enjoy it, whether they know about it or not.
Monetization 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 optimizing, tracking and collecting revenues. This is such a key issues it gets its own full day in the IBC Conference.
What are the top three things to do at IBC 2019?
Crimp: This year we have a great program 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!
You introduced two new categories to the IBC Awards this year. What are they, and why are they important now?
Crimp: 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 recognize those settling in to our industry who are already having a significant impact. The IBC 2019 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!
You have recently renewed your agreement with the RAI. What does the future look like for IBC beyond 2019?
Crimp: 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 our conclusion remains that the 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 which 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.
How do you ensure the content stays fresh, year on year?
Crimp: 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 panelists. 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 program in terms of diversity of thought, talent, age, gender, geographic representation and ethnic background.
What new audiences are you expecting to attract to IBC 2019?
Crimp: The audience for IBC is anyone who has an interest in creating and delivering media, whether that is creating it, managing it or earning revenue from it. The nature of the media industry is changing, and our audience has to reflect that, reaching out into adjacent sectors like telecoms and mobile, IT and the cloud.
One of the ways in which we broach these topics is through our three Executive Forums, which 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.
We also have specific goals to ensure that women in our industry are better represented at IBC, and to attract younger people working in media. We have made great strides in our inclusivity, but there is always more to do.
IBC is a global event – we have visitors from around 150 countries – but inevitably a substantial portion of our attendance comes from Europe. Bringing more people from further afield to benefit from the IBC experience is another important effort.