The annual tech showcase set for Sept. 10-15 in Amsterdam is strategically timed six months after NAB and lets equipment companies highligt new wares to the Europe, Middle East, Africa market just as broadcasters are looking to drive down costs and find new revenue opportunities.
For many of the 1,000 exhibitors attending IBC this year, it’s the show’s position on the calendar (Sept. 10-15) and the map (Amsterdam) that make it strategically important.
“Since IBC comes almost half a year after NAB, we have plenty of new developments to show our customers,” says Peter Jones, general manager for FOR-A UK. “As the key show for Europe, this is a real opportunity to show our products to the market.”
Exhibitors also think the timing is right for helping broadcasters in their drive to lower costs and find new revenue.
“Broadcast TV isn’t just broadcast TV anymore,” says Grass Valley Senior Director of Marketing Mark Chiolis. “There have to be new revenue streams to deliver programming, be it mobile phone or the Web. They’re looking for ways to do that affordably so they can make money. Otherwise, they’re not in business and neither are we.”
Although pre-registration is tracking closely to last year, when the show attracted 33,046 visitors (49,250 including exhibitors), most expect attendance to fall as that for other trade shows have.
But the exhibitors say they don’t need a lot of people, just the right people.
“Visitor numbers overall may well be down due to the current economic climate, but just as at NAB, this year we expect those attending are there for a reason and we expect business to be steady,” says FOR-A’s Jones. “However, we will be looking even closer at the return from our investment in the show.”
“Harris expects to hold significant meetings with commercial and public broadcasters across Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East,” says Richard Scoot, vice president, EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) operations, Harris Broadcast Communications.
Grass Valley’s Chiolis points out the difference between NAB’s international attendance (approximately 23,000 in 2009) and IBC’s overall attendance (in 2008 at nearly 50,000). “You can see that there are anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 people at IBC who we wouldn’t see otherwise unless we went to them,” he says. “Going to IBC is an affordable way to be able to stage all our key and new equipment and bring key people in front of everyone in one place.”
Most North American exhibitors use IBC as a way to show gear for the EMEA marketplace that was introduced five months earlier at NAB.
For Grass Valley, that includes its Kayenne series of mixers, LDK 3000 HD camera and its 3 Gb/s Trinix NXT digital video routing system.
FOR-A will demonstrate its new virtual studio technology and showcase its FRC-8000 frame rate converter as well as its 3 Gb/s upgradeable UFM-30 Series modular frame system.
Ross Video is highlighting the Vision Octane series of 1-8 MLE production switchers, version 9 of its OverDrive Automated Production Control System and a 3 Gb/s fiber line solution.
Other companies using IBC for European debuts of gear first shown at NAB include Utah Scientific, with its UTAH-100 Professional Products new line of small routers, distribution amplifiers and associated products, and Omneon, with its MediaDeck GX channel-playout solution. It unites the company’s MediaDeck transmission platform, master control module and template-based graphics software.
Front Porch will show DIVAsolo, an all-in-one migration path from videotape to CSM and archiving on high-density data tape. IBC will be Miranda Technologies’ first European showing of its 3 Gb/s NVISION Compact CQX 16×2 router since the acquisition of NVISION.
Not all the news at IBC is a repeat of NAB debuts. Just prior to IBC, OmniBus Systems announced support for Ideas Unlimited’s Content Probe for built-in control of compliance recording within the iTV transmission environment. IBC attendees will have the first chance to test out this integration.
IBC is also a key show for large manufacturers with significant divisions headquartered in Europe. Whereas Hitachi North America is responsible for NAB, Hitachi Kokusai Electric Europe GmbH is in charge of the IBC exhibit. JVC, Ikegami, Canon and Fujinon similarly fall into this category.
Introducing new key executives or existing executives in new positions to the EMEA market is another important activity at IBC. For example, Bitcentral’s former EMEA sales manager Alex Keighley will meet-and-greet as Bitcentral’s VP of sales. Keighley will introduce to the European market Oasis Media Marketplace, which allows TV stations to buy and sell media over the Internet.
Although some exhibitors, notably Sony, will not be exhibiting, the lack of a booth on the show floor doesn’t indicate the lack of presence at the show. Vizrt, for example, will not be a formal exhibitor at IBC, but has planned an invitation-only gathering at the Hotel Okura. There, the company will unveil the latest version of channel branding software.
Even as the U.S. market is retrenching, IBC is an a strategic way of doubling down on resources and commitments to the overall marketplace. “We’ve seen strong growth in our European and other international business,” says Ken Swanton, president of Broadcast Pix, which will show a 3G Switcher Frame introduced at NAB. “IBC puts us in front of the decision makers in those markets in a very strong way.”
Scott points out that showing up at IBC also gives a message to attendees that the company is here to stay.
“Stability in key suppliers is a major issue for our customers, especially in the current climate,” he says. “Our customers are concerned about further consolidation, and some smaller players not surviving the tough market conditions.”
Even so, exhibitors aren’t expecting deals to be struck at the show. “In the past, IBC and NAB used to be deal-making shows, but it’s not as true as it was,” Grass Valley’s Chiolis adds. “One of the things we did at NAB was to utilize a good deal of our booth for sitting down and getting more in-depth with customers, understanding their changing needs and challenges. We’ll do the same at IBC.”