When Forrest Gump wrote about the IBC Conference, he likened it to a box of chocolates, it never being entirely clear what you were going to get. We do our best to enlighten you. Fortunately the organizers have done their best to theme the sessions and the result for those of us active in the multichannel television business is that while Thursday and Friday are full, the Saturday and Sunday are free enough to do some stand-hopping, before returning to the conference fray on the Monday.
Thursday’s conference keynote is Sir Michael Lyons, the chairman of the BBC’s regulatory body the BBC Trust, which faces both political and technical challenges in the months ahead. A supporting cast from Japan’s NHK and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) will ensure the session is not too UK-focused. (Conference keynote: Does Public Service Broadcasting have a future? Thursday September 9th, 10.00)
There are a couple of sessions on Social Media, but the pick has to be Social media: Look who’s talking now (Thursday, 12.30), given that it features practioners including Philip O’Ferrall, senior vice president, digital media, MTV Networks International; Trevor Johnson, head of strategy & planning, EMEA, Facebook and Simon Nelson, controller, portfolio & multiplatform, BBC Vision.
The way forward with online video (Thursday 14.30) offers a European take on Hulu – so often held up as the example even though European providers have just as successful models and Hulu’s own attempts to break the market have seemingly failed. Contributors include PJ Sebert, the former Eurosport executive now running SeeSaw, and Marcus Schelin, head of new media platforms, Modern Times Group. This is followed by Connected TV: The new deal between content and devices (Thursday 16.30). The session includes contributions from the UK’s Digital TV Group that has written the specifications on which Canvas and others will sit.
Friday has a trio of senior executives to talk on the subscription models available between pay and advertising funded television and the creation of original content. New routes to funding original content (10.00) includes contributions of Mike Darcey, chief operating officer, BSkyB, Linda Jensen, chief executive, HBO Central Europe and Gerhard Zeiler, chief executive officer, RTL. There has to be a twist given BSkyB’s recently-signed first look deal with HBO, though Hungarian comedy is unlikely to be on the agenda.
Two more head to head sessions that require Solomon-type decisions are How to protect your premium content in the connected era that features a session keynote from NDS CEO Abe Peled. This runs opposite a session on niche content Hitting the jackpot: how new business can make a mark (Both Friday 13.00) with contributions from Alex Connock, chief executive, Ten Alps, John Honeycutt, executive vice president & head of international business operations, Discovery Networks International, and Paul Robinson, managing director & co-founder, KidsCo. This session along with earlier contributions underlines IBC’s new found interest in the content that plays out through the technology found in the exhibition halls.
If you fancy an early start on Saturday morning try breakfast at the Holiday Inn courtesy of the Strategy Analytics Analyst Forum – entrance is free but requires booking – where the guest speaker is Brian Lenz of BSkyB. Lenz also appears on a later IBC panel (Stereoscopic 3D – Your questions answered, Monday, 16.30) but this is arguably the only chance to hear in detail about a broadcaster’s deployment of a 3D channel as opposed to the capturing of the content itself that pre-occupies the official sessions.
Monday is the day for the MPEG Industry Forum with turns from Toby Russell, chief executive officer, 3Vision; Benjamin Schwarz, chief technology officer, Innovation Consulting and David Wood, deputy director, EBU. One intriguing topic is the success of H.265 simulations just as MPEG-4 is finding its feet (Room E102, RAI Convention Center, 11.30-13.00).
Running opposite this is a session that could be described as Mobile TV’s last hurrah (Engagement and monetisation for mobile TV and mobile apps). The question is whether the appetite for mobile TV applications as practiced by a number of broadcasters and platforms will finally provide a breakthrough for mobile TV. (11.30) Discussing the issues are Olivier Dhotel, group strategic marketing director, Orange; Richard Griffiths, head of TV & entertainment, Eircom; Simon McGrath, chief marketing officer, SeaChange International and Stefan Vlachos, head of mobile TV, MTG Online AB, Modern Times.