IN PERSPECTIVE: Oktoberfest and Convergence

Tue, 09/30/2008 - 8:20pm
Brian Santo, Editor

Half the halls at IBC were full of vendors who've been helping to blur the
functional distinctions between their cable, phone and DBS customers.

There are two minor differences between IBC and Oktoberfest, and one major one. On the minor side, September isn’t, technically, Oktober. Also, at IBC, you had to wait nearly all day, until after 4:00 p.m., for the alcohol to start flowing in Brian Santoearnest in most of the booths that had it … though there was a story told of a small contingent of Russians who wiped out a bottle of Scotch during contract negotiations that started and concluded while it was still morning.

The big difference between Oktoberfest and IBC is that Oktoberfest features a much narrower variety of equipment. There’s a joke about “taps” in there somewhere…

But I digress…

IBC is ostensibly a show for broadcasters, but IBC 2008 was yet another demonstration of imminent convergence. True, only broadcasters are going to need much of what was on display at the RAI Center in Amsterdam – CGI editors, robotic camera booms, klieg lights that overwhelmed the RAI’s flaccid air conditioning, etc.

But at the show last month, half of RAI’s more than a dozen buildings were full of vendors who’ve been helping to blur, if not erase, the functional distinctions between their cable and phone (and, to no small extent, DBS) customers.

There were entire halls dedicated to IPTV, mobile video, 3-D video and digital signage.

That last category is, at the moment, a bit of a tangent, but nonetheless interesting in that the advertising industry is no longer simply buying airtime, but is now also sparking more use of the means of transmission itself – those digital signs need electronic connections so they can be updated with new material. Advertisers using digital signs are now, in a narrow but very real way, network channels themselves.

The 3-D thing is interesting too. DreamWorks impresario Jeffrey Katzenberg won an IBC award for demonstrating a transatlantic transmission of a 3-D video presentation. Studios are very serious about 3-D, and that’s only going to amplify the amount of bits that network managers are going to have to figure out how to accommodate.


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