TVBEurope 2020 conference brings Europe together
This year's conference in London took place in the shadow of the Brexit vote
This week at London's BAFTA Piccadilly, the global elite discussed the future of Europe. But these weren't political interests, fighting for supremacy. They were the best of European technology providers, broadcasters, researchers and analysts from around the TV and media tech space, and despite the turbulence in the UK outside, the European industry was united in trying to solve its common problems.
TVBEurope 2020, part of TVBEurope Strategy Week, was launched last year, consolidating into one, day-long conference NewBay Media's previous IT Broadcast Workflow and Beyond HD Masters conferences.
The day was hosted once again by IABM's John Ive, whose insights and long industry experience make him a conference favourite with Russell Grute of Broadcast Innovation also chairing sessions. In his opening address, Ive painted a picture of an industry notably different from the industry of even two years aog. Ive boldly noted (at a technology conference) that new technologies don't always mean profitable technologies: "Sometimes we talk about things that are exciting and new, but they may not be things people are spending their money on."
Indeed, technology for its own sake is no longer at the forefront, as services become more important to broadcast industry revenues. "We're not a product industry anymore," Ive said, "Over half of the broadcast industry revenue is in services."
John Ive pointed out that the habits of media consumers, unpredictable as they are, must be accommodated and that technologists can't expect to always be in the driver's seat. He also said that simplicity of the upgrade from SD to HD will never come again. We have now moved into a permanently multiformat world where SD, HD, UHD, 8K, HDR, mobile and VR, to name a few, will all be living alongside each other: "Image quality is no longer automatically a valuable commodity, but a business decision"
The conference's opening keynote, "Do we need broadcasters in an internet enabled future?", was given by Tom Toumazis, MBE whose address challenged the status quo of the broadcast industry. Tom, who has been CCO at Endemol as well as EVP and MD at Disney Television, even expressed some skepticism about a UHD future, noting that the general preference for viewing globally seemed to be going smaller with a greater and greater consumer focus around mobile devices.
The conference was composed of two tracks running simultaneously - a Plenary Track featuring panel discussions and presentations and a Technical Masterclass Track, hosted by TV Technology Europe, in which delegates got extended Q&A time with industry technology experts.
The Masterclass Track held an depth discussion of cloud technology, with a panel composed of Greg Hoskin, MD EMEA/APAC of Signiant, Ben Foakes, MD of BASE Media Cloud, and Steve Plunkett, CTO of broadcast & media services at Ericsson. A presentation by Veset followed in which its cloud playout system was presented.
In the afternoon, the EBU's David Wood gave a detailed look at how the standardisation of HDR (High Dynamit Range) was progressing. There has been much debate at the EBU over which standards will be selected, and some have complained that the debate has held up the development of HDR technologies for TV.
Wood said that the two standards selected to go ahead were the HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) standard jointly developed by the BBC and Japanese broadcaster NHK and the PQ (Perceptual Quantiser) standard proposed by Dolby.
Plenary Track subjects included "Who are the content stakeholders in an all IP world?", "Broadcasting in the software-defined age", "How market conditions are shaping long term business strategy" and "Does new media technology deliver an acceptable ROI to broadcasters?".