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IBC Upbeat for Its Return to Amsterdam

AMSTERDAM—The last time the M&E industry gathered here in Amsterdam, the word “zoom” was more likely to describe a lens than a new form of a virtual meeting.

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AMSTERDAM—The last time the M&E industry gathered here in Amsterdam, the word “zoom” was more likely to describe a lens than a new form of a virtual meeting. And given that the show went through numerous stops and starts over the past several years because of the pandemic, the mood heading into the 2022 IBC Show, Sept. 9–12 at the RAI, is one of optimism and a sense of purpose.

IBC

(Image credit: IBC)

Although the show is well known for shining the spotlight on the latest industry trends through its conference sessions, this year the exhibition is getting a lot more attention than before, perhaps because “virtual expos” are an inadequate substitute for the real thing. IBC President Michael Crimp agrees and thinks attendees are eager to get back to business.

“There’s a hunger for the expo; expo space demands have been high and have outstripped our cautious approach to it,” Crimp said. “We’ve even seen customers who had a digital value proposition package with us shifting back towards expo again because there’s just an excitement about networking with people.”

Crimp

Michael Crimp (Image credit: IBC)


Trade shows are notoriously expensive undertakings for attendees and exhibitors alike and a three-year gap between events can lead to sticker shock for those used to attending free virtual events. Crimp says IBC has taken steps at controlling costs for this year’s show.

“We have significantly reduced the cost of attending the conference—that’s a third of the normal cost,” Crimp said. “So we’ve concentrated on not just the cost there but the value of providing other things. We have negotiated with the hotels to reduce their prices, which are actually about 9% cheaper than in 2019.”

High Exhibitor Demand
The number of exhibitors is now closing in on 1,000. “We’ve seen a crazy amount of demand over the last six months,” IBC Director Steve Connolly noted during a press conference in late June. “We’ve surpassed our initial expectations and are thrilled with the levels of enthusiasm and engagement among exhibitors and visitors for this year’s show.”

However, attendance figures are more difficult to estimate, he said.

“In terms of in-person attendance, it’s harder to predict, especially when you look at other trade shows at the beginning of the year and how much of their final registration comes through in the last three weeks,” Connolly said. “However, to give you some kind of guideline and mathematical formula, when we had 55,000 square meters of space, we had 53,000 visitors. I would expect our final square meters [of exhibit space] to be around about 35–36,000 square meters, so following that trend, you can expect some numbers around that.”

The show already has seen the return of one major exhibitor that had originally announced that it would not exhibit at live shows in 2022—Avid disclosed in late June that it would exhibit at this year’s show, after assessing the recent success of in-person shows.

In an interview with Peter White of the IABM, Avid President Jeff Rosica characterized the change as “an evolution of our decision.”

“I think as we saw the market improve and the situation improved with COVID and countries started opening up, I think we started to realize that with the feedback from our customers that it’s probably time to start getting back to some of the major trade shows,” Rosica said.

Regarding COVID-19 protections, IBC will follow current EU COVID-19 protocols, which are minimal at this point. Unlike the rules leading up to the 2021 show, which was eventually canceled, a COVID-19 entry pass is no longer required and social distancing and masks are no longer compulsory.

However, Crimp cautioned that IBC will monitor safety protocols and will change them if needed. “If medical advice is to do differently, we will introduce them so you can imagine we’ve got a ‘Plan B’ and ‘Plan C’ in place,” he said.

With COVID-19 still having a large global presence, Crimp thinks the geographical makeup of attendees will be slightly different than in the past. “I certainly think we’re going to have a strong U.S. audience from everything that we’re seeing,” he said. “Europe will be strong of course, including good attendance from the U.K. I guess there are questions around Asia and specifically around China, which we’re keeping a close eye on but they are only a small part of our audience.”

Two Day- Conference
In terms of the conference agenda, the show’s theme is “Designing the Future Together” and will focus on the current and future trends that have emerged since the 2019 show—many of which were advanced by the pandemic.

“During the pandemic there was this kind of acceleration in lots of various areas, in particular, remote production,” Crimp said, adding that in parallel, this has impacted workflows, now more likely to be cloud-based. “There are [conference] sessions on things like cloud media workflows, but it takes on a different perspective than in 2019 because of what we’ve been through and the fact that it’s actually become more of a norm for some people now.”

Other topics will include AI, virtual production and a focus on hybrid broadcast/OTT models in the show’s “Future of Linear” session, for example. “We’ve got these different ways of consuming where traditional broadcasters in the OTT space are all looking at different ways of monetizing their content,” Crimp said. “So I think there will be some thinking about what those hybrid business models look like going forward.”

Confirmed headline speakers during the two-day conference include:

  • Eddie Drake, Head of Technology at Marvel Studios
  • Anthony Guarino, EVP, Worldwide Technical Operations at Paramount Global
  • Renard Jenkins, SVP, Production Integration and Creative Technology Services at Warner Bros. Discovery
  • Michael Wise, SVP/CTO, Universal Pictures
  • Lewis Smithingham, SVP of Innovation at Media Monks
  • Raymundo Barros, CTO at Globo
  • Archana Anand, Chief Business Officer at ZEE5 Global

Focus on Trends and Innovation
New this year is the free “IBC Changemaker sessions,” hosted by IBC’s Partners’ Programme, which brings together industry trailblazers such as RISE, Albert, MovieLabs, HBS, Soho Media Club to explore topics such as raising equality, advancing sustainability, and mental health awareness—as well as the latest thinking in creativity and technology.

RAI

IBC attendees will want to check out the Content Everywhere Stage in its new purpose-built home in the expanded Hall 5 at the RAI. (Image credit: RAI)

Also featured is IBC’s Partnership Pavilion and free-to-attend IBC Owner sessions, which will enable attendees to engage with and gain insights from the six leading international bodies behind IBC: IABM, IEEE BTS, IET, RTS, SCTE, and SMPTE. Other free-to-attend sessions include panel discussions, product demonstrations, and case studies presented on the Content Everywhere Stage in its new purpose-built home in the expanded Hall 5. A four-day program will cover live streaming and VOD; achieving low latency; content discovery and recommendations; audience engagement; monetization models and ad tech; software development strategies; and device fragmentation.

A new addition to the show is the Showcase Theatre in Hall 12, which will feature live demos, masterclasses and thought-leadership insights on key trends and opportunities from leading technology providers such as Accenture, and Amazon Web Services (AWS), EVS, and Zixi. The Innovation Stage in Hall 2 will feature thought leadership speakers and other sessions.

The IBC Accelerator Media Innovation Programme returns, bringing together pioneering media companies and leading-edge technology partners as they collaborate to solve real-world challenges and drive advances across a range of areas, including cloud production, 5G, AI, and Volumetric Video.

Also returning is the IBC Accelerator Project of the Year Award 2022, voted by an independent jury of media and innovation peers, with the award announced after IBC showcases have taken place.

Better than expected attendance at the NAB Show and similar recent trade shows also didn’t hurt when it came to assessing the potential success of IBC. “[The shows] are seeing solid, not spectacular attendance,” Crimp said. “There was an enthusiasm for networking and the benefits of meeting face to face—that’s what we heard about NAB [Show], so my congratulations to Chris Brown and their team.”

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