Sunday, April 20, 2008

Play with Me? Widgets, Gadgets, Video, NAB

You might be wondering why I posted a widget that said play with me earlier on this blog.
It was a cat. I could have just as easily posted a video, as others have posted video here in the last week.

How did I do that? Did I have to log into the blog software to post my virtual pet or a video? No. I never went to this blog administrative page to post the pet. I found the pet on another website and sent it here. (I was testing a website by IAC, when I ran across the pet widget.) I clicked on "add pet" to my blog (along with my login and password) and it was already posted. Look at the previous blog entries for the cat.

The ease of use to distribute audio and video on the Internet and portable devices is maturing. If you can send a virtual pet, you can send video anywhere.

No, it's not all simple or reliable. The problem is usually the creator of the "distribution" device or widget (gadget, or "app" application) hasn't made it easy for "us" to put up video on multiple websites, blogs or on portable media devices.

Hang on, last I looked I found 900 video widgets or gadgets on Facebook, a popular social networking website. Last I played with them, many were one click distribution networks in their own right! Presto, I put up a Live TV channel on my Facebook profile page. ( A profile page is akin to your own personal home page or personal website. The social networking websites provide tools to let you connect and add things in a very easy manner. That's the short definition. You need to join a social network with video to understand this.)

Why are some of these things not working?

It might be a media company or content producer that didn't think through all the details about how they would distribute the files across the Internet. (That's a job for companies at the show like Akamai, Limelight, etc, called CDN's or Content Distribution Networks. On a smaller scale, you need a computer and an Internet connection.)

What does this have to do with the NAB?

At the NAB SuperSession on Social Networking, we got a glimpse of mashups and how content is coming together and getting distributed on the Internet. (I do have a list of the three favorite social networking sites from each panelist which I will post.)

Social Networking websites are not just for sending notes, emails, or exchanging photos or resumes. They are video distribution networks, so to speak, but video distribution is promoted or discovered on individual profile pages in a social network.

Are you confused? About half the people reading this blog might be. More than half of you may not have watched video on a social network. You might not be a member of a social network where video is just part of the social network experience.

Some discover videos on profile pages, others discover it on widgets, gadgets which are portable applications. Let's say I find a channel I love from Norway. In a second, I can click on "add Norway Channel", and viola, it's on my profile page. Guess what, my friends who follow me might note that I added the "Norway Channel" and they watch too.

In the meantime, if these widgets or gadgets sound greek to you, you're not alone. If social networking sites don't interest you, you're not alone. It might not interest you, but darn it, it's part of your broadcast life and there's no way to get around learning about it to stay ahead.

Folks are finding video on the Net on the profile pages of others who are on a social network or by recommendations from friends. A Facebook executive told me that 70% of the folks on Facebook discover video from another Facebook member on their profile page.

If you want an example, review the website from the CEO/Founder Dmitry Shapiro who was on the panel with me. His url is You can also connect to me at Facebook, I have a few video widgets and gadgets on my profile face.

Still confused about widgets, gadgets, applications, video aggregation sites, content distribution networks, blog video, blog audio, social networking video, that's okay.

I am confused too. The social networking video gurus you met at the NAB are confused too. (They may not admit it!) They may see a path to the future of video, but they can't give you a map.

The way the world is discovering video is changing daily, and with that media companies are changing too, and so are you and I.

It all boils down to providing content to listeners and viewers the way they want it, where they want it.

That's pretty simple to understand, and if you understand that, you can call yourself a video social networking guru too.

See you on the Net

Peggy Miles

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Friday, April 18, 2008

“Where content comes to life” is the NAB trademarked angle on this year’s show. NAB also presents the vision of moving from “broadcasting to broader-casting.” What does that mean? I have my take on this. To me it means broadcast execs need to have a broader view of what business they are in and what they need to do to compete successfully into the future.

David Rehr asserted that the “broadcast model is not dead.” Next generation broadcast executives like ION Media’s Brandon Burgess are taking up the charges both industry and corporate leadership to help make this so. On my Super Session panel (“New Devices, New Opportunities”), Brandon asserted that if broadcasters are reliant primarily on the traditional advertising supported broadcast business model, they will not be maximizing their opportunities in a fast changing digital media world. He contrasted the slow-paced, bureaucratic culture of the broadcast industry balancing fiduciary obligations to share holders to manage risk with the highly innovative and trend shaping technology-based entrepreneurial companies. His implicit conclusion is that the competitive battle is as much between clashing corporate cultures and affinity for risk and innovation as it is with between digital and traditional media technologies.

The NAB’s “broader-casting” mind bent is a step in the direction of taking broadcasters’ collective and trying to lead them into the land of the paradigm shift. Broadcasters are making moves, but these are not necessarily being executed against some grand, integrated and insightful strategy. Instead, it seems like the industry is moving more in a series of one-off tactical moves. Walking the show floor, peaking into some of the sessions and reading the company names on attendee badges all makes you realize that broadcasting has already become not only broader casting but a slow moving eddy in a fast paced river of change.

Industry leaders like NAB’s David Rehr are committed to creating possibilities for broadcasters. Next generation broadcast industry execs like ION Media's Brandon Burgess speak to a broader vision at the industry level but also set an important example by walking the walk at their own companies. Broadcasters, as noted in another post (see, have significant advantages in a world where content comes to life and the goal is broadercasting. But turning those advantages into business success requires excellent strategy and both well timed and executed tactical implementation.

Is this industry up for it? Part of the success formula will involve recognizing how the “broader” audience is changing (again see my BIA post) and strategizing on how broadcasters keep their advantages relevant. This year's NAB Show advanced the ball by presenting some key sessions, new speakers and again showing the reality of changing and converging industries on the show floor. I overhead two young tech professionals on the exhibit floor talking. One said to the other, "You know, this show is really the place to be to see not only the moving parts but understand how it's all got to come together." Fair enough. And no time to waste!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Attendee NAB Secret! Thursday is the best day to go exhibit hopping!

Thursday is a great day to find a little time to drop by exhibits and catch up with people that were busy earlier in the week.

It's the best day to go booth hopping. It's usually a little slower as some folks have to leave the floor to check out of their hotel or make travel arrangements. Other may have decided that's today's the day to play a round of golf!

Even though everybody is a little tired, it works out great. Many attendees hit the most popular booths early in the week and they won't be as busy today.

Thursday. It's one of my best days!


Video Interview – Gary Adcock and the AJA IO HD

Richard Harrington, author of Producing Video Podcasts looks at the AJA IO HD.

VIdeo Interview – The Litepanels Micro

Mark Weiser, author of Producing Video Podcasts looks at the popular Litepanels LED lights which get scaled down in size and cost for lightweight shooters.

Thursday@NAB08- Time to Go Home

Aw!-- I have an afternoon flight and now back at the hotel packing.  Our last supper was at an old favorite when we visit Vegas-- Pamplemousse Restaurant  just off the strip at 400 E Sahara Ave.  Why this french restaurant is named after a grapefruit is beyond me since there is nothing on the menu to suggest this.  We have been coming here for the last 12 years and the original chef owner turned over the kitchen to a new partner last August and we wanted to give it a spin.  We were not disappointed to find the best of the rest and some new creations to sample.  Lunch was at the restaurant 106 stories high at the top of the tower on The Stratosphere.  I think it is so named for the high prices rather than the altitude but in fact prices at lunch time are much lower and I enjoy the daylight view from 1000 feet up.  By the way-- this is a rotating restaurant so there is no bad seat and you get a 360 degree view.

As I change hats from blog contributor to blog reader (I don't want to miss any last day activities), I want reflect on the show.  As the theme this year indicates it is all about the content for sure but there is more to content then creation.  A big common theme on the show floor and the sessions was asset management especially as it relates to transformation of linear tape archives to file based online and near-online storage.  New assets are much less of a problem but even here if care is not taken to associate rich meta-data you will not be able to easily find the content when you need it.  

Another aspect of  content is delivery, and although 85% of US households have a multi-channel provider such as cable or DTH satellite, there are some 70 million primary and secondary OTA sets suggesting that 70% of the about 100 million households are have a vested interest in OTA reception.  The DTV transition will leave some unknown number of these 70 million sets unusable unless they connect to cable, satellite, or get a converter box and suitable antenna.  It is the suitable antenna part that worries me-- my own experience is that my secondary sets with monopole built in antennas are perfectly suitable across all the local Vs and Us but with a converter box I can only get the Vs.  Some research suggests my experience is not unique so it may represent a good opportunity for secondary outlet sales to existing cable and DBS subscribers and lots of angry calls to Congress from the OTA only households who don't want to invest in an expensive outdoor antenna installation.

The last observation with respect to content delivery is energizing OTA for delivery to non-traditional delivery platforms-- especially mobile platforms such as cellphones.  With an estimated 270 million cellphones in use, even a small fraction energized for OTA delivery will vastly increase the eyeballs and the advertising revenue linked to viewership.  In my opinion, a real sleeper however is not just the advertising revenue increase, but the additional revenue that can be unlocked from transactions via the cellco's IP back channel.  I see the ability of OTA broadcasters to share in a percentage share of the payments and also transaction fees associated with video commerce.  There is also of course the ability of OTA broadcasters to offer unique interactive content that increases the audience share and the local nature of OTA gives some special competitive advantage to network based interactive content.

Bye-Bye-  Vegus until CES at least,