It may have been the weather, but this year’s BVE – at the traditionally windswept Excel venue in London’s reclaimed Docklands diaspora – seemed to be feeling some sort of pinch. Despite recent proclamations about increasing the audio content of the show, and about promoting more crossover technology between broadcast and complementary disciplines in live events and fixed installation, the footprint in the snow was decidedly camera-shaped and the earmuffs were back on.
That said, this is the leading event in the UK to find professional discussion of media content, how to monetize it and how it is dissolving into a diffident soup of Smartphones and socializing. It’s all gone very cloudy, and the Branded Content Marketing Association hosted a 1-day conference within the show called The Great Content Revolution – branded content being the highly sophisticated post-modern term for something not a million miles away from product placement.
All of this comes against the background of ITV announcing a ‘strategic refresh’ following the biggest drop in advertising revenues in a decade – and no wonder, if you can skip the ads at the push of a button. Of course, the technology providers may be able to perfect multimedia content streams but they cannot sculpt revenue streams, so the cameras and the switchers and the mixers and the microphones soldier on with talent at one end and box sets at the other.
Timing and location are the twin product-launch criteria, and Ross Video chose CabSat in Dubai in January to unveil the Ultrix-FR5 routing platform; here it was a UK debutant along with a new bundle of OverDrive automation and Graphite switcher. Similarly Quantum ‘showcased’ – rather than launched – Xcellis workflow and StorNext platform upgrades; a busy Aspen Media stand gave a UK bow for the Avatus IP-based audio console; OWC’s ThunderBlade external drive arrived on British soil; and Studer – toughing out domestic upheaval by Harman with the new helping hand of UK distributor HHB – answered the Avatus with the Vista 5 Black, Glacier and Micro mixing desks.
Business talk was dominated by the über-consolidation brokered by Belden’s acquisition of Snell Advanced Media, sealing heritage from Snell & Wilcox, Pro-Bel, Grass Valley, Quantel and more into a package worth $400 million of market share. This was only out-paced by speculation – in this Weinstein-stained era – about exactly how Louis Hernandez Jr was sacked by Avid for “violations of company policies related to workplace conduct”.
The headline keynote speakers were all from the production team behind Blue Planet II, and whether or not the Arctic Circle can be ‘branded’ as it melts at least these are people who know how to wrap up warm against the chill wind of change. So we need BVE, and its talking heads. It just needs a few extra layers.