NAB Show Set to Tune Into Video’s Future

WHY THIS MATTERS: The NAB Show will offer a state-of-the-art perspective on where video tech is and where it’s headed.

As tens of thousands gather for the National Association of Broadcasters’ annual rendezvous in Las Vegas, the focus will be all about TV and video, and what’s out on the horizon with respect to new services and the technologies that will be fueling them.

While video will serve as the NAB Show’s primary focus, the topics and areas of coverage will reach into various facets of the technology, and span into video production tools and techniques, cutting-edge multiscreen video distribution platforms and emerging formats such as virtual reality and ATSC 3.0. The show will also serve as a coming out party of sorts for a new royalty-free codec that will, at least initially, be laser-focused on over-the-top video.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the technology-facing aspects of the big show that will be on our dance cards this week.

The Big Picture

The stage will be set Monday, as NAB president and CEO Gordon Smith delivers an industry address. (See page 30 for an interview with Smith that serves as a solid preview of his priorities and what’s on his mind heading into the show.)

That opener will also include a fireside chat with Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the House’s Energy and Commerce Committee.

Also on tap is a keynote from Neal Mohan, chief product officer at YouTube, carrying the title of “Experience the Future of Entertainment.” Mohan’s specific focus is being kept under wraps, but it will get into the “next era of television” and how this will enable broadcasters to reach eyeballs in new ways. Notably, Mohan will be coming on stage about a year after the launch of YouTube TV, the company’s OTT TV service, and amid its work in areas such as 360-degree video and virtual reality.

A Meet and Greet With AV1

This year’s NAB will serve as a debutante-like debut for AV1, the recently released royalty-free codec that has some of the largest online video and media players behind it.

AV1, which claims to have a bandwidth efficiency edge over current-generation codecs such as HEVC and VP9, is expected to have an initial focus on streaming and over-the-top video applications and services, rather than traditional broadcast TV.

And NAB will offer an inperson view of AV1 in action.

AOMedia, the group behind AV1, hosts a presentation and demo of the technology on April 10 from 2 p.m.-3 p.m. at the South Supper Hall Destination NXT Stage.

Of note, Ateme will show off a “productionready” version of Titan, its video delivery platform, with support for AV1 that, it claims, can be added with a software upgrade.

Ittiam, meanwhile, will demo its Content Adaptive Encoding technology using a “significantly speededup” version of its AV1 encoder.

Bitmovin and Mozilla, meanwhile, will show end-toend playout of AV1 video by integrating to Bitmovin’s cloud encoding and player products with Mozilla’s Firefox Nightly developer browser.

That demo, which will feature a “full workflow stream” with the new codec, will provide a sense of AV1’s capabilities and the video qualities it can produce, David Bryant, Mozilla’s vice president of platform engineering, said, noting that his company has already been shipping support for AV1 in Firefox.

“We’ll have a test drive experience” for AV1 at the show, he said.

On Wednesday (April 11) at 3:20 p.m. PT in the North Hall (room N257), several AOMedia stakeholders will gather for a panel that will offer a deeper dive into AV1, including more about its royalty-free model and what products are poised to implement the technology.

On hand for that will be Microsoft’s Gabe Frost, Google’s Matt Frost, Intel Corp.’s Zach Hamm, Microsoft’s David Rudin and Netflix’s Mark Watson.

Perchance to Stream

A significant addition to this year’s show is the Streaming Summit, which will run Wednesday (April 11) at the Westgate.

Headed up by Dan Rayburn, a top analyst in the streaming and over-the-top video sector, the Streaming Summit is a focused, multitrack event tied to the larger show.

The event is set to kick off with a keynote discussion between Rayburn and Dwayne Benefield, vice president and head of PlayStation Vue, the Sony-run OTT TV service launched almost three years ago.

Other sessions will fixate on some key trends and issues that are keenly important in the OTT arena, including migrations to IP-based workflows; how OTT services, including skinny bundles, are disrupting the pay TV industry; quality metrics for 2D and VR video; and how to deliver low latencies with live streaming at scale.

Also on our OTTfacing docket at NAB will be a keynote discussion on Tuesday (April 10) with Christy Turner, executive vice president and GM of CBS News Digital, about CBSN, the streaming video news service launched in 2014.

A broader discussion, also set for Tuesday, will get into the “Six Pillars of a Successful OTT Video Strategy,” with NeuLion’s Chris Wagner, Discovery U.S. Digital’s Joe Ambeault, the NBA’s Steve Hellmuth, Univision’s Scott Levine and another appearance by PlayStation Vue’s Benefield.