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The Quiet Conference: At IBC 2019, No News Was Good News

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As a journalist, I can't help but go into the year's two big trade shows—NAB in Las Vegas in April and IBC in Amsterdam in September—looking for big trends, huge tech news, or game-changing acquisitions. But this year's IBC offered none of those.

It was my 10th IBC, so maybe I'm just getting cynical. I know, there are plenty of you reading this who've been to many more than that. Still, none of the tech on display at this year's event seemed revolutionary, or even evolutionary. Just incremental moves forward along some already well-worn paths. As I said to one of my colleagues after I left Amsterdam Monday morning—with two days left in the five-day event—"How many more low-latency, end-to-end workflows can I see?"

That's not to say that those incremental improvements don't have real business value. They do, and even the attempts to be as future-thinking as possible with demos of 8K live streams aren't so much about radical changes in technology and consumer behavior tomorrow as they are about demonstrating what technologies can do for customers today. Technologies that were groundbreaking a few years ago—like HEVC, SRT, and NDI—are now reaching maturity and bearing fruit, and even if they don't satisfy the journalist's desire for the big story, that's certainly more exciting for most readers of this site than, say, VR, which still hasn't delivered on the promises made five years ago.

And so it hit me: It's when vendors back off of the hype that you can be sure that they're really taking the technologies seriously, focusing on building solutions for today rather than building cool demos for trade shows. And there was plenty of real talk about real ways tech companies can help content distributors achieve their goals.

As Adrian Pennington wrote in a blog post before the event, "The real reason to attend IBC, the reason it should long continue at home in Amsterdam, is the unrivalled opportunity to network and check the temperature of the industry." So if, like me, your initial response to IBC 2019 was "meh," think again.

[This article appears in the October 2019 issue of Streaming Media Magazine as "No (Big) News Is Good News."]

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