4K TV and Consumer Adoption — NAB Follow-up

4K-Logo4K technology was featured throughout the 2014 National Association of Broadcaster’s Show in Las Vegas in exhibits, product features, and panel discussions with those developing and adapting 4K. Based upon my blog regarding 4K and consumers, the following video encompasses viewpoints and facts on 4K from locals in Iowa and displays 4K products and insights found at the NAB Show.

- Olivia Hottle

 

Cord Cutting Continues to Grow — NAB Follow-up

My previous post was more of an introduction to cord cutting. It was an overview of what is out there for people who are fed up with paying their cable and are looking for something that is not only less expensive, but also quite simple. Much of what I talked about was online subscription services that are available to consumers for a relatively small subscription fee.

Since that post Netflix has announced a price increase of an unknown amount and Amazon Prime has raised their one-year membership fee from $79 to $99. Although Amazon struck an exclusive deal with HBO to host many of their older shows that have already been completed like The Sopranos, The Wire, and Six Feet Under. This is quite surprising news, as HBO has in the past been very vocal about not allowing their programming on other streaming services.

amazoneprime   HBOlogo

Even with these increases in price, I believe these options are still of better value than any cable subscription. Netflix is the industry leader in original content for a streaming service and Amazon has invested into that realm as well in the recent months. This medium is growing larger and larger at quicker rates than anticipated.

After my last post I jetted off to the NAB Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, seeking to answer the three questions below:

1. Have cable providers seen a noticeable impact on revenue due to “cord cutting”?

2. Is the Comcast and Time Warner merger likely to go through? If so what does that mean for consumers?

3. Is measuring cord cutters useful to professionals in the audience measurement industry? Why?

I will start with the first one by answering YES. There is a reason I capitalized every letter in that answer. Because I am shouting it. A recent study claims 1 in 10 cable subscribers will cut the cord this year. That means 10 percent of cable’s customers will not be customers! That is a huge decrease. Just imagine the outlook over the next five years once people understand the financial benefits of cord cutting. This industry is preparing for a significant financial shift.

Second, the Comcast and Time Warner cable merger was not talked about much at the NAB Show as it is very much a broadcasting conference. But since my post, Netflix has come out with a statement opposing the merger. Personally, I still believe it’s a terrible thing for American consumers and am astounded at how far the U.S. Government has let it move forward.

measureLastly, measuring cord cutters has proven to be a bit of a hassle. This is because there is no entity that needs to measure cord cutters for any specific purpose. There are only subscription services that measure the amount of subscribers they have and what exactly their subscribers are watching.

In n NAB I attended on online programming, they mentioned some vital metrics they pay attention to when determining what programming is successful or unsuccessful. These metrics consist of unique views, engagement, repeated viewing, and shares through social media. These are what determine successful online content and encourage content creators to produce more.

I anticipate the future to be cordless place, figuratively speaking. I believe cable will be around for a while longer but cord cutting will eventually take over. It’s very exciting as someone who values quality content on such a personal level, I can’t wait to see the changes it makes to what type of media is produced. The sooner you cut the cord, the sooner you can enjoy watching exactly what you want to watch.

- Mitch Ingstad

Streaming TV, Get Your Game On

Don’t consider me a genius when I tell you that video is thriving today in our media saturated world.  Video is the next thing that everyone wants to get their hands on as often as they possibly can.  People are willing to watch nearly anything on their mobile devices: homemade videos on a smartphone, high quality documentaries on YouTube, fifteen second clips on Instagram, and even fragments of video on Vine, have all snuck in front of the eyes of millions of Americans.

Knowing that people are so willing to watch a 6 second video of a random individual “whaling” it also shouldn’t come as a surprise that mobile television already HAS and WILL become a MASSIVE contributor to the video people can watch “on the go.”

A company called Dyle is leading the way right now in true mobile TV, offering local channels in select cities throughout the United States.  With 36 markets providing coverage for Dyle services and counting, 55% of the population has access to live mobile television. All someone has to do is make a one time purchase of an Audiovox MobileTV receiver or something similar.  The Audiovox receiver is a wireless receiver that can be purchased for $100 on Amazon.com and many other electronic stores.  For iPhone 4 or iPad users, a 30 pin connector made by Elgato can also be purchased on Amazon.com or other similar electronic stores for around $80.

AudiovoxMobileTV_iPadBenefits of these devices are the one time purchase, saving you from the hassle of subscriptions services and nagging emails about “special offers.”  You just buy the connector one time and you have full access to live television if you are in one of the selected market areas.  Also, these devices use the legitimate TV airwave signals that your television at home would if you didn’t have a cable or satellite service. YOU DON’T HAVE TO WASTE YOUR DATA OR BATTERY BY STREAMING THE VIDEO. This is a definite feature that any level of techie can appreciate.

One negative to this service is the lack of channels that it can receive.  Since the live mobile TV industry is still developing, the only channels which an individual can have access to are the ones you would have minus a cable or satellite subscription.  Major networks such as NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, and Qubo will be available for your watching enjoyment however.

Another company that has just recently made a massive splash in the mobile TV industry is Turner Sports with their newest edition of the NCAA March Madness app.  Although this app does still require you to use data on your phone for streaming, it is entirely free and gives the user an opportunity to watch all 67 games in the tournament. Although this app has been available for a few years now, it has gotten a complete makeover this year and the results have been exactly what the team at Turner was hoping for.  As of March 21st, before the round of 32 even happened, there had been 51 million live video streams through the app (2 million more than 2013).

ncaa_sports_appThe app also allows people to see what the buzz is on social media while the game is happening.  Don’t worry though, Turner Sports has hired more people to sift through the thousands of posts and only deliver you the most high quality ones presented so as to not overwhelm the viewer.  Also, this year, Turner Sports will broadcast each of the final four games on three different networks.  Allowing for a basic neutral broadcast on TBS, while TNT and TruTV will each broadcast a game with announcers who are “homers” or people in favor of one of the specific teams (Naturally this will be available on the March Madness app as well).

How does Turner provide all this quality coverage on their app you ask?  Well they are showing live television, so they can add value to those who chose to put commercials up knowing that they will not only appear on television, but on the mobile streaming as well.  Also, AT&T, Coca Cola, and Capital One have been presented as the co-releasers of the app and get extra coverage within the app and on air.

Although this app is still a data or wi-fi using feature which requires you to have some sort of cable connection providing you with the channels that are broadcasting the games, it is progressing and developing rapidly.  Don’t be surprised to see this app revolutionize the way people expect to watch television on the go, especially sports.

What does the future specifically hold for mobile TV? Will the sports industry fuel growth for more free mobile television?  When can we expect to see these changes in mobile television to come?  Will 100% of the nation eventually have access to mobile TV?  Hopefully a trip to the NAB Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada this week can answer these questions and more.

Keep an eye out for an update to this post to have your questions about mobile TV answered.

- Matt Lange

Women in the Media Industry

Media can be a man’s world, but women involved in media production are plentiful and powerful. The NAB Show in Las Vegas has dozens of panel discussions on everything broadcast related from online streaming and 4K broadcasting to cinematography forums hosted by film makers from movies like Gravity and Transcendence. Many of these forums and discussions are hosted by women or have women on the panels.

Women-in-TechOne of the general sessions at the NAB Show, hosted by a woman, Cali Lewis, is titled NewTek™ Presents: Broadcast Minds, and it includes Tom Green, Criss Angel and Norm MacDonald. Lewis is the co-star of GeekBeat TV which is a technology news website delivering daily video content. Their mission, to enlighten, educate, and entertain, can clearly be seen in their web videos, which are hilarious and informative. Lewis has over 400,000 followers on her various social media sites, including Twitter and Google+. You can watch a video of Lewis discussing Amazon’s newest product, Amazon Fire TV, a media streaming device similar to the Roku or Google Chromecast, below.

The CEO of Vubiquity, Darcy Antonellis, will also be at the NAB Show as a panelist on the discussion board at the Consumers “4K and Next Gen Home Entertainment — Which Experiences Will Most Excite Them?” panel. 4K resolution is the next generation of ultra high definition television, and it is moving into consumers homes. As of this post, there is not much content for 4K, but television and cinema are both starting production and release of 4K content. In Antonellis’ career she has held many positions including senior vice president of Warner Bros. in distribution technologies and operations, where she was promoted to executive vice president in 2003. Since then she oversaw the creation of the first anti-piracy operation which had locations in Burbank, CA, London, Germany, South America and Asia. She attained her current position as CEO of Vubiquity this year. Below is a video of Antonellis discussing content creation, one of her many areas of expertise.

Net neutrality is a topic that has been on the tip of every technophile’s tongue the last few months. The net neutrality debate is over whether or not broadband network providers should be completely detached from what information is sent over their networks and at what speeds specific information is sent. Amy Schatz is going to be moderating a forum on that very topic at the NAB Show titled “World Without Rules: Is This the End of the Open Internet?” Schatz is the senior editor of tech policy at Re/code, a technology news startup, formerly AllThingsD.com. Panelists from the forum will include a former commissioner of the FCC and the executive vice president and general counsel of the National Hispanic Media Coalition.

There will be many more women at the NAB Show, whether they are moderators, award recipients or presenters, panelists, exhibitors or attendees. Women are not only content consumers, they are content producers, and the NAB Show is “where content comes to life.”

- Sommer Darland

Broadcasting in 4K: Just a Matter of Time?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year or so, you’ve probably heard something about 4K.  4K is something that has been around for years in the film industry.  The term comes from 35mm film and “4K” is referring to the number of vertical lines in the resolution.  As explained in the video below, 4K is 4 times the resolution of our typical 1080p HDTVs.  4K TVs (or UHDTVs) began rolling out into the consumer market in 2013, and as with any new tech, initial sales have been slow.  Now, in 2014, as these UHDTVs are becoming more mainstream and more affordable, broadcasting companies are starting to figure out how to broadcast this new high resolution.  But there are some challenges that go along with this, as expected.  For one, the bit rate itself is giant.  It takes 8 times the bandwidth of typical broadcast HD to push a 4K signal. The key to broadcasting in this new resolution will be next generation compression with HEVC.

5391099_origThe next generation of video compression standard is upon us.  HEVC is the successor to our commonly used H.264/MPEG-4 AVC codecs.  Using science, HEVC has been developed to make 4K resolution (and other resolutions), still look amazing while drastically reducing the overall file sizes.  See the video below for a more visual explanation of the process.

Now that you know a little bit about 4K and HEVC, it might not seem like broadcasting in 4K is very far away.  I believe we will start seeing 4K broadcast distribution sometime in the next year, maybe even by the 2014 holiday season.  Along with that idea, we may even see 4K distribution through streaming services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, or Amazon Instant around the same time.  These are some of the topics on which I intend to ask questions about and hopefully gain some inside information on at this year’s NAB Convention, which I will be attending in Las Vegas early next week.

I will update this article below with my findings soon.

-Rob Bauer

What Screen Do You Use?

We live in the time of technology. Everybody and their 4th grader has TVs, laptops, smart phones, notebooks, iPods, tablets, smart TVs, desktops… Whatever! You name it, if it has a screen you can probably search, create, or watch content on it. Because of our technology and gadget driven lifestyle, a trend has emerged which is called ‘multi-screen viewing.’

It is a pretty self-explanatory term, but let me ask: How many screens do you have on you right now? Most likely you are reading this blog post on a computer screen, or perhaps a computer that is plugged into a larger screen like a television. Maybe your phone is on the table next to you, lighting up or even in your hands right now while you sit reading. Maybe you’re reading this on your tablet, while doing your homework on a laptop, while also watching TV in the background! I think you get the point.

MultiscreenNinety percent of our media consumption occurs in front of a screen. The reality is that it has become normal for most people to be using more than one screened device at one time, in order to achieve multiple goals.

Studies have shown that there are a few reasons why people are using more than one device at a time. These reasons include playback problems, productivity, time and space, and information flow. People own and use multiple devices in order to stay connected anywhere at any time. In 2012 ThinkWithGoogle.com conducted a study on multi-screen viewing, which you can check out here. This research delves into consumers motives, how they use multiple screens, and how activities on one screen may impact another among several other research goals.

Marketers know that multi-screen viewing is relevant, so in order to keep with the times and engage viewers, we see companies taking advantage of all sorts of platforms. This enables consumers to connect on a broader level with companies and the products that they want.

For example, you may be watching your favorite TV show that is displaying a tag in the bottom corner of the screen. This indicates to viewers that they are able to follow along with an interactive stream of content that is online, most likely a social networking site such as Facebook or Twitter, and it is most likely this occurs simultaneously on another device.

For more information on muliti-screen viewing check out this video of a panel of industry professionals at the 2013 Abu Dhabi Media Summit, discussing multi-screen viewing in regards to television more in depth.

I will be attending the NAB Show next week and hope to learn more about how the entertainment industry is adapting to this new viewing model. Monetization is an important aspect of the multi-screen viewing industry and companies are in the processes of developing new coordinated ways to reach consumers on multiple screens.

- Paige Buns

Filmmaking with Compact Cameras

In the past, large cameras were behind some of the greatest movie making experiences ever. Whether it was a documentary, feature film, commercial, or even a industrial video, bulky cameras required a great deal of logistics and support for the production.

Film gave way to tape, and the cameras and productions began to get smaller.  VHS was trimmed down to VHS-C and then 8mm. HiDef 8mm led to Mini-DV which became Mini-HDV. As the cameras got smaller they required less equipment and support for producing videos.

The introduction of recording video to media cards has allowed cameras to trim their size even further. These smaller more compact sizes allows for innovation in camera use, with considerable effect on movie making as a whole.

DSLR or Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras were one of the first to actually make a dramatic cut in size for recording video to memory cards. Canon was the first major DSLR manufacturer to incorporate HD Digital Video into their pro and prosumer DSLRs. The use of these cameras allowed for the camera to use photography lenses that produced cinema quality images for video production at a fraction of the cost as major cinema production cameras. Light and portable, these DSLRs allowed for the cameras to capture cinema quality video in a variety of scenarios that would be too difficult or expensive for pro video and film cameras.

avengersDSLRs became so useful; that major motion pictures like The Avengers and 127 Hours used various Canon Pro line cameras to shoot some of the movies scenes and the list of films using these digital cameras and other digital compact cameras continues to grow.

Although GoPro started out with film cameras in 2004, they evolved to digital and have made a major impact on consumers who can now more easily share their experiences by filming them with GoPro. The idea of affordable filmmaking with a compact digital camera not only appealed to film makers but also became a social phenomenon that quickly made GoPro a household name. Average consumers can produce quality high resolution videos to share with their friends on social media and websites.

As the demand for compact digital video cameras increased so did the demand for quality within the realm of compact digital recording. Grainy webcam images became a thing of the past as high-end camera companies saw how consumers could make rigs to use GoPros for shooting more than stunts. Sony and Nikon joined the ranks of companies producing compact digital video cameras.

BlackmagicBlack Magic was the first pro production digital camera company to enter the compact arena with their Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera. Their design allowed cinematographers to mount professional lenses, some bigger than the camera, to the compact body for cinema quality on a high resolution image sensor to produce high resolution cinema quality digital video. Professional filmmakers now had compact agility combined with high-resolution for their films. Just as consumers had a social networking revolution that was spurred by consumer’s use of GoPro, filmmakers are seeing their own revolution. High-end, compact cameras like those from Black Magic, make producing high quality films possible for a fraction of the production costs.

While at the NAB Show, I’ll be looking for answers to the following two questions: Which filmmaker will take a chance and shoot their entire feature length film on a compact camera like the Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera? And, even more importantly, what will it look like on the big screen?

- Eric Benson

Droning Out to the Oversaturated Media Buzz

Over the last decade we’ve been hearing more and more media speculation about the many dangers people fear regarding the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (or more commonly referred to as drones). Satire comedian, Steven Colbert, sums it up nicely in this mock news piece.

ColbertI personally feel that it is time to look at drones under more of a positive light. After all, there are many different great outcomes possible from this technology. One of the most enlightening aspects of drones is the ability for the average citizen to get aerial footage that was impossible 50 years ago. In this video, a news organization in Kiev was able to use a drone to capture eye-opening documentation of the extreme divide taking place in the Russian occupied territory.

At the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) show, I will seek the latest and greatest uses of unmanned aerial vehicles. There are so many applications for these pieces of engineering genius that I believe we are on the brink of what the best uses may be. There have been ideas from Amazon’s founder to use the technology to implement an air service where you get a speedy delivery by a friendly drone rather than an angry delivery guy. I’m excited to see the new ideas put forth by the industry leaders at the NAB show April 5-10th.

So I would think that it’s long overdue for the news media to stop harping about the ill-use of possible drone attacks and tout some of the benefits of this great technology. The news audience may be more interested in what good things technology can do to inform us and create an environment where drones are thought of as a tool to help discover the amazing world we all live in. I’ll leave you with one of the commercial opportunities that could change the way your next pizza is delivered.

- Robert Scott