IBC haunted by fears of a slump in 2009

The seemingly endless rain showers of the first few days of IBC seemed a good metaphor for the show this year.
IBC haunted by fears of a slump in 2009
By Douglas I. Sheer
Sun 26 Oct 2008 02:21 PM

The seemingly endless rain showers of the first few days of IBC seemed a good metaphor for the show this year.

In keeping with the fact that we are in an Olympics year and a US presidential election season, the turnout for IBC was modest in terms of total numbers, up from 46,964 last year to 49,250 this year.

Booth space, however, was almost totally sold out reflecting the optimism of exhibitors going in to this year's exhibit. IBC housed over 1400 exhibitors from all over the world, providing showcases, business critical content, one-to-one meetings and networking opportunities.

However, in the background during the period of IBC, the Wall Street banking crisis ballooned and that gloom overshadowed an otherwise positive convention. Several exhibitors feared that next year, after the surge of the special events of 2008 passed, there would be cause of concern. And that cast a pall on the expectations for 2009. There were, however, a few impressive announcements to break the recessionary mood.

IABM, affiliated with IBC, issued its latest research report stating that the industry would see an annual growth rate of about 13% but that Western Europe would only see 8.5% growth. They pegged the total broadcast revenue in 2008 at approximately US $25 billion, up significantly from their previous $11.6 billion number, accounted for, however, by a new form of accounting.

But the exhibitors soldiered on. It was interesting to note that the newly emerging JVC, released from its history of being 51% owned by Matsushita and overshadowed somewhat by the Panasonic brand, had chosen to support Sony's XD-Cam rather than go with P2 or other Panasonic-backed camcorder options.

That said, JVC seems to be hedging its bets by continuing to support HDV and is also interested in the potential of compact flash memory. It seems that new investor Kenwood will take a light touch with them. EVS unveiled a range of new products including the XT (2) server.

Avid was around, although not on a large scale, but trooped out new CEO Gary Greenfield and GM Kirk Arnold to field questions about where they see themselves heading. Stereoscopic 3D and its potential impact on digital cinema was a recurring theme. Snell & Wilcox spin-off Amberfin, which focuses on iCR was a feature of Snell's effort as was their upgraded Kahuna series vision mixing line.

Thomson appeared to be emphasising sports coverage, which hinged on a compact sports-oriented controller tethered to the K2 series servers and utilising its K2 Summit client, thus allowing crystal clear HD resolutions and instant replay. Harris' test and measurement under its Videotek line was featured, but it was its sales performance for 2008 that was astounding - more than double that of 2007.

QuStream's new IntegrityCS series signal processors that were designed to allow for the most frequently required processing can be a one RU install. Shining Technology announced delivery of the first ultra portable solid state HD tapeless recording system. Super HiVision from NHK was featured in many screenings whose thundering sound quality was just as impressive as its pictures.

The IABM's Peter Wayne award went to a virtual unknown, Phabrix, a UK-based so-called five-staff ‘garage' start-up for its S&A handheld test signal generator. Runners up included Omneon for its Post IP content distribution platform, Quantel for its Pablo 24 stereoscopic post production system, Tandberg for its iPlex ultra compression trans-coder and Thomson for its LDK 8300 super slo-mo HD camera.

The main IBC award, the Honour of Excellence, meanwhile, went to DreamWork Animation SKG's CEO, Jeffrey Katzenberg, presented by Peter Owen, chair of the IBC Council.

Major orders and projects, such as Sony's massive one from Sky were also heralded. Signiant delivered a digital distribution management system to Scandinavian Broadcast Services focused on a DMDMS application. And, it links with Thomson's Aurora HD tapeless production suite. Germany's ZDF national broadcaster announced it had deployed a Utah 400 digital routing system for 24/7 news broadcasting.

Douglas I. Sheer is CEO and chief analyst of DIS and can be reached at dougsheer@aol.com.

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