1 Million Square Feet of the ‘M.E.T.’ Effect

Convergence of media, entertainment and technology at center of annual confab

Why This Matters

Convergence will be top of mind as the TV industry gathers in Las Vegas for the NAB Show.

With the NAB Show in full swing through Thursday, Las Vegas this week is buzzing with next-generation broadcasting, big-name success stories and all the elements it takes for TV to con­tinue to evolve and thrive as a multiplatform industry.

This year’s event, held across 1 million square feet of the Las Vegas Convention Center, is focused on the “M.E.T. Effect” — the convergence of media, entertainment and technology. About 100,000 people are registered to come to Sin City to be a part of it.

Approximately 1,7000 exhibitors — including newcomers Google, Vimeo and TiVo — are touting their offerings. Up to one-third of those products come from outside the U.S., making the NAB event the largest international trade show for media tech and entertainment, NAB executive VP of communi­cations Dennis Wharton said.

At the core of much of this week’s hubbub is ATSC 3.0 — the next-generation, IP-based broadcast standard that “virtually the entire TV ecosystem is talking about,” Wharton said.

With the standard well out of preliminary en­gineering and onto the brink of approval and implementation, the show floor is offering a plethora of technology related to ATSC 3.0 and its applications, with broader reach, live TV on mobile, ultra-HD delivery and improved emer­gency services among them.

Gazing Into the ATSC 3.0 Future

And attendees will have opportunities to see up close what the new standard and attendant tech will bring to broadcasting. A Las Vegas TV station, for instance, is slated to air an ATSC 3.0 broadcast on the NAB Show floor; on Wednesday, NASA will stream its first live 4K broadcast from space.

“This is the future of television as we know it,” Wharton said. “This is not in the gestation stage anymore. This is real.”

The way many broadcasters see it, ATSC 3.0 is key to the industry adapting to — and thriving in — the new TV ecosystem, which has pushed broadcasters into digital endeavors beyond the comfortable confines of linear TV.

In turn, many of the NAB Show’s largest informa­tional and educational sessions stem from that new reality, and what it means for content development, distribution and the ability to win with viewers.

After NAB president and CEO Gordon Smith opens the show Monday with his “State of Broadcasting” address, Steve Swartz, presi­dent and CEO of Hearst, will discuss what it takes for a media company to succeed in today’s fast-paced environment. Veteran TV journalist Jane Pauley will emcee the opening event.

Also on Monday, actors Hank Azaria and Aman­da Peet and IFC president Jennifer Caserta will ex­plore the evolution of Brockmire — the network’s new comedy series — from Web video to linear TV show. The production of HBO’s Game of Thrones will be the subject of a Monday session as well.

On Tuesday, comedian Chris Hardwick will inter­view NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Green­blatt about issues including the art of 52-week programming, creating appointment viewing, on-demand and mobile content distribution, viewing trends and how the series This Is Us was launched to record-breaking results.

The executive producer of Amazon’s Man in the High Castle, Daniel Percival, will discuss how an OTT series competes with traditional TV, in a show session on Tuesday as well.

Parsing Policy With Pai

Broadcasters will also be getting down to business in a range of ways over the course of the show, during which subjects such as the benefits of ATSC 3.0 and relocating broadcast signals to new chan­nels after the FCC’s spectrum auction will be the focus of discussions. FCC chairman Ajit Pai is expected to offer insight into the commis­sion’s policy and regulatory objectives Tuesday at an open session.

Additionally, affiliate boards will meet with their networks during NAB. Amidst recent prog­ress on the issue, striking deals with networks that facilitate a more robust distribution of local broadcasters on over-the-top platforms remains a priority, affiliate representatives said.