Getting ready for IBC 2016: The 5 most important trends and where to find them on the exhibition floor

IBC 2016 logo

With IBC 2016 around the corner it’s a good moment to take a look at some of the most recent trends in the broadcasting and multiscreen industry. During IBC over 55.000 attendees, drawn from more than 170 countries, visit Amsterdam to see the latest innovation from close to 1600 exhibitors. Since these numbers can be a little overwhelming, we defined 5 important trends and take a look how they are represented on the exhibition floor.

In between the many traditional hard- and software companies we like to search for companies that try to do something new. Companies that understand how broadcasters become media companies that require new ways to manage video, social media, live, community, monetization, marketing, and interaction. Tools allows them to build on insights from data intelligence and explore new ways of content creation, distribution and monetization.

Below are five trends and IBC exhibitors that are worth a visit.

1. Livestreaming

Livestreaming has been around for years with companies like Livestream and Ustream, we can even consider chatroulette to be an early form of livestreaming yourself to strangers. But livestreaming was difficult, usually desktop only, and didn’t had great talents that were worth watching. But with the launch of Meerkat and Periscope people with millions of followers could start broadcasting from their mobile to their fans in no time.

Nowadays Twitch broadcasts reaches more viewers than some of the prime-time shows on TV (a livestream of Bob Ross videos attracted 5.6 million unique viewers last year). YouTube saw live video views jump by 80% over last year and is expected to open its mobile live streaming functionality for all users later this year. The recent launch of Facebook Live has supercharged the growth in live streaming even more. Live streaming creates a form of immediacy and urgency to watch over the fear of missing out, especially with the younger ‘Snapchat’ generation.

Media companies are looking for ways to use this opportunity as a new way of distribution. Just last week over 14 million unique people around the world watched the Trump tower climber on Facebook live, with 4.77 million watching the CNN live stream on Facebook. Also the troubled Twitter is betting heavily on live streaming with deals with the NFL and Bloomberg. And we haven’t talked about the Chinese market yet where companies like Weibo and Hua Jiao are making large profits from the gift and reward economy surrounding live streaming.

Livestream has been a big topic for years at IBC. Make sure to visit the Content Everywhere exhibition in Hall 14. And try to make a stop at the following companies and ask them how they are changing the livestreaming industry.



2. Virtual Reality

With HTC Vive and Oculus finally shipping their VR gear the market for advanced VR experiences is developing fast. However, most people experience VR through the Samsung Gear or Google cardboard which don’t allow free movement or advanced interactions with the environment. These are more 360-degrees experiences than true VR but it gets the market ready for this new interface. And also Intel, Twitter and Apple are said to be working on hardware or content for this new market.

At the same time Microsoft is betting heavily on augmented reality with the Hololens. A term that got a lot of attention with the rapid growth of Pokemon Go. The market that seems to be most ready for VR at the moment is the gaming industry. A combination of strong demand and limited supply made the PS VR gear sell out faster than any other hardware ever at Gamestop.

But also broadcasters are innovating with this new platform. For the launch of the new season of Mr Robot, USA Network created a VR experience that took the viewer back to a memory from the main character (see video below). Netflix used VR for the launch of Stranger Things creating a thriller setting that resembles the atmosphere of the series. Game of Thrones created an immersive VR experience during the Game of Thrones exhibition that traveled the world. But also news can get a new perspective using VR as Sky News showed with the migrant crisis on Lesbos. New players in the industry are jumping into this hype; Amazon is getting ready to produce its own virtual and augmented reality content, while FooVR are building TV shows in VR.

So far most VR experiences have been one offs and experimental. They are marketing tools to promote shows and are a stand alone experience. The next step will be in combining traditional storytelling with VR experiences and making it an integrated part of a transmedia storyline. Or maybe even an “massive events accessible to and loved by all. Think sports, debates, contests, game shows. I think the first truly big online event will be one part real, one part virtual”.

During this year’s IBC I suggest to stop by the following exhibitors and ask them how they are shaping the VR market.



3. e-Sports

The biggest move in e-sports from traditional broadcasters came from Turner who is live broadcasting 20 e-sport events. The broadcast of the Eleague events attracted 19 million viewers on the channel, with 3.4 million of those viewers being new and coming from the male millennial demographic ages 18 to 34. The championship had a peak of 168,500 concurrent streams on Twitch. E-sports is attracting a young audience that skews to millennial males, a target audience that is difficult to reach for many broadcasters. The e-sport market itself is expected to grow 43% to $463 million in 2016 and reach $1.1 billion by 2019. 

One of the challenges with e-sports is similar to the sports broadcasting industry; distribution rights. Game developers, distributors and online platforms all want their say and return from these tournaments. Turner only broadcasts all the commentary, interviews and live coverage on the TV channel, while the Twitch channel only showed the game itself. There is still a rights issue that doesn’t allow multicasting explained Turners’ VP and GM of eSports Christina Alejandre during this years TV of Tomorrow in San Francisco.


The attention for e-sports during this year’s IBC seems to be limited while it offers a unique opportunity for broadcasters to reach a young and engaged audience. E-sports is a great genre for audience engagement and viewer interaction. Twitch is already offering tools with which the audience can influence the game by offering power ups. If you’re interested in e-sports we suggest to attend the Multiscreen Salon that has a special section about e-sports in its program.


4. Data & Multiscreen strategy

Programmatic and addressable advertising are starting to make waves in the broadcast industry. Slowly the traditional TV market sees the value of one to one advertising and technology companies are creating solutions to ingest personalised advertising into a broadcast. Part of this data strategy is extracting better insights from viewer and usage data. This industry has advanced rapidly over the last years for digital advertising but is a relatively new in the broadcasting industry.

 The strategic advantage of the broadcasters is the access to high quality content, advanced distribution channels, and a large engaged audience. To improve the monetization of this audience you need to provide a personalized experience combined with effective advertising and sponsorships.

At the same time traditional TV advertising had strong upfronts this year. Martin Sorrell, ceo of WPP, gave an interesting perspective during a recent interview with Bloomberg: Part of of the reason why investments in traditional TV ads are up are is because reach on TV is not measured effectively and this uncertainty is priced in. But he believes it has also to do with concerns from some clients about the lack of effective data in digital. Facebook is refereeing and playing the game on their platform, but you got to have an independent referee that has data that is verifiable. He questions if the viewability of a 3-second view which has the sound off for 50% of the time, measures against the 15 or 30 second TV commercial. Audiences are stronger in traditional media than some people give credit for.

Programmatic and addressable advertising can have a significant impact on the TV advertising industry as long as there will be a shared currency that can validate the stronger effects and confirms the premium value. Although advertising is never a key topic during IBC (make sure to follow the announcements around dmexco) we think you should pay attention to the following exhibitors.



5. Over the top video

Last year Netflix CEO Reed Hasting admitted that the company has “[…] always been most scared of TV Everywhere as the most fundamental threat”. We see more broadcasters opening up their business model with direct to consumer platforms, more flexible distribution of content and less exclusive contracts. Especially with the rapid growth of original content by OTT players like Amazon Prime and Netflix, broadcaster feel the requirement to find new ways to serve their viewers. “When forced to act, they will improve,” Hastings said.

 Broadcasters have direct access to a large library of high quality content, but getting this to an audience is challenging. There is a technical challenge to create a premium experience that competes with existing platforms and there is strategic challenge to deal with existing contracts and distribution partners. In our recent research in broadcaster apps for the big screen (smart TV’s, game consoles etc.) we found that the big screen provides new opportunities for content creators to reach viewers by creating a seamless viewing experience across devices. It connects directly and individually to a viewer instead of through a distributor which allows broadcasters to move from a B-to-B-to-C business to a B-to-C business.

During the IBC you can find many technical solutions to store, host, distribute, and monetize video content. Below are the most interesting exhibitors that are worth a visit.


Did I miss anything? Let me know on Twitter and I’ll add you to the list!


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