Am I a Martian at IBC2010


I have just returned from my annual sojourn at IBC and must confess that I was somewhat bemused by what I saw. I always think that the way to assess the tone of a show is to ask yourself what an average Martian would think about it, if it were doing a spot of pre-earth invasion scouting.
Three dimensional headaches
This year, my Martian would have walked into this broadcast show and thought: “Well, these humans are funny creatures because everything is shot or produced in 3D and they all walk around wearing funny glasses so they can look at what their eyes obviously don’t want to see, without giving them a headache”.
I have two things to say on this.
First, I am not an expert on Martian glasses-wearing but, to have to put on glasses to watch television, and/or to have to sit in exactly the right spot in front of a TV screen to view the picture properly, and/or, and/or, does seem fairly daft.
Secondly, the facts are that only one per cent of all broadcast TV is shot in 3D, and that under one per cent of the population have the equipment in their homes to actually view this content.
A fairy tale?
So why is everyone obsessed with showing technology that hardly anyone is buying into, and that is also not yet ready for public consumption? I can’t help wondering if certain companies are taking part in a technological version of the emperor’s new clothes.
I suppose what I am trying to do, and it’s something that we often talk about in our sales teams and meetings, is demonstrate that the most important point of a show is relevance. Companies must be aware of what they are trying to achieve and conscious of where the main income in their business is coming from.
Bread and butter basics
We at Azule have what we call the bread and butter deals. We then have the evening deals. And we have the ones for the weekend. This is the relevance to us, and the relative chances, of business coming in. So, every business needs to concentrate on the daily bread deals that ensure its survival. The evening deals are the icing on the cake – the extras that can make a difference to the year, or maybe the quarter, but will not affect you making your numbers. And the ones for the weekend are the deals that are so unlikely that you should only think about them on a wet weekend when all sport is a cancelled and there is nothing to watch on TV.
No fantasies
I always remember a company that went bust in the early 2000s. An excellent company with an excellent reputation, its core business made good money all the way through to the end. However, it also embarked on a rather radical (some would say foolhardy) journey into the manufacture of undeveloped products. These products may have had niches but the market was untried – and the equipment remained unsold.
Inevitably, the R&D ate up all the cash in the main business. The only assets left in the balance sheet were the R&D products that, in sales terms, had no value. Result: a company that was effectively worthless.
And old timer’s reminiscences
So what else did I glean from my Martian-like view of IBC? I suppose it is the change in the people at the show. I know that I am, in many eyes, an old-timer. I have been to all the IBCs that have been held in Amsterdam – I suspect that means about 15 or 16 years. In the early days, the show was probably about four halls big (but don’t quote me on this, you know what happens to old memories). Despite being smaller, it seemed that most of the UK’s decision-makers attended. You could sense that deals were being done at the show – talk in the bars was of kit being sold; press releases gave news about successes as they happened.
Old news isn’t news
Now the show is a finely choreographed event, not unlike political party conferences. This year, we were asked, by our PR company, to have all our mid-show press releases (for publication in the IBC Daily News) ready by the end of July. How can the ‘daily’ news have relevance when a significant proportion, possibly the majority is written in advance? No wonder the atmosphere was flat; it was infected by stale news – or, rather, news that wasn’t news.
Deal or no deal?
In the last couple of years, the television industry (especially post production) has taken a hammering. Yet IBC seems to be oblivious of the many hardships that most of us have endured during this downturn. Yes, there were fewer parties so corporates could be seen to be cutting their cloth in hard times. But the show won’t regain relevance until people feel that the decision-makers have returned and that real deals are being made.
Remember that two years ago the largest crowd outside the TSL stand was not for the Grand Prix or the Ashes. It was for the announcement that Lehman Brothers had gone to the wall. No-one saw that coming – and I do wonder if several broadcast manufacturers are living in a rather too cosy world that is not unlike the world of banking a couple of years ago.
Next month I will be back in the world of finance – but do let me have your thoughts about IBC, as seen through your 3D view.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom
But it would be unfair not to mention the positives. The show attracted the second largest number of visitors ever – so it has great potential. The conference sessions were excellent – and I’m not saying that because I spoke at one of them. They offered a good insight into the industry and were well worth the money. As for the beach bar … who can complain about catching up with customers, friends and colleagues over an end of the day beer in covered surroundings outside?
To read other articles in this series, visit our website: www.azule.co.uk. If you would like advice on buying or leasing equipment, or on management and business issues, do email me on peter.savage@azule.co.uk and/or write to the TV bay editor.

Tags: iss046 | ibc2010 | finance | review | business | azule | N/A
Contributing Author N/A

Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

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The Pace of Change
Dick Hobbs - new

The youngest human to stand on the moon (so far) was Charles Moss, the lunar module pilot of Apollo 16. Charlie had a wonderful claim: his father witnessed the Wright Brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk, and lived to see his son on the moon.

Does anything capture the speed of technological advance better than that? The whole of the history of powered flight in one lifetime.

Tags: iss133 | state of the nation | st2110 | st2110-10 | Dick Hobbs - new
Contributing Author Dick Hobbs - new Click to read or download PDF
Ruth Matos Interview - A Career Unfolds
Ruth Matos We first met Ruth when we employed her as a student to help with our live studio at BVE in 2013. We were struck by her determination, passion and ‘I’ll do anything to help’ attitude. We became friends of Facebook and have since seen her career in the industry develop and unfold. We thought it was about time to catch up and share her inspiring story of where she is now, how she got there and the challenges she has faced along the way.
Tags: iss133 | interview | filmming | career | education | Ruth Matos
Contributing Author Ruth Matos Click to read or download PDF