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!

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