I’M HERE AT THE NATIONAL Association of Broadcasters’ NAB 2006 show in Las Vegas, with 80,000 of my closest friends. On the tech side, it may look like business as usual–but if you know what you’re looking at, you can clearly see that versions of Moore’s Law and Metcalfe’s Law are actually starting to change the way the broadcast business operates. In my first hour touring the show floor on Monday, I did not meet anyone who didn’t use the word “broadband” in a sentence. To be sure, some used it more appropriately than others, but … wow! Broadband has taken on the characteristics of the “F” word in TV speak. Let’s see. “Go Broadband yourself!” No … that doesn’t work. “Broadband him if he can’t take a joke!” or how about, “This is un-Broadband-believable!!!” I don’t know–it really doesn’t have the same ring as the “F” word. But the way it’s being thrown around here, isn’t much more intelligible.
There’s good news here at the show: servers are cheap, routers are reasonably priced and enterprise-grade broadband solutions that used to be priced for the telecos and ISPs are becoming financially attainable by people with home studios. But that’s only for people who know what they’re looking at. For the vast number of non-technorati, they’re just black boxes with some wires hanging out of them. Point, say “broadband” and do it with authority. You’ll impress your friends (and your boss). Ugh!
The very good news is that there are dozens of executives on panels using words like: “online marketing strategies,” “communities of interest,” “collaborative filtering,” and “consumer relationship marketing.” These have replaced words like: “interactive video,” “convergence,” “enhanced television,” and “streaming media. It’s an exciting time for executives in the broadcast business, and it’s a scary time for anyone who has a strong relationship with the status quo.
One executive was giddy as a schoolgirl as he told me about the 8k video he just saw. (8k is mind-bogglingly high resolution video–think of it as HDTV on steroids) He exclaimed with glee, “and broadband consumers will be able to view it.” I guess that’s a factual statement. He means the 11 people in America who have enough bandwidth to their homes to use such a signal. I’ll call them and let them know.
In the meantime, let’s have some fun. I just Googled “broadband” and got 425,000,000 results in .14 seconds. If you type in “define: broadband” you’ll get a page of definitions from useless to scientific. What’s your definition? The broadcasters want to know.