NAB’s Smith: Broadcasters should embrace mobile

Gordon Smith President and CEO of NAB, has called on US broadcasters to embrace new technologies and realise the consequences if they don’t. In particular, he stressed the importance of including mobile in the distribution mix.

Delivering the annual NAB State of the Industry address during the 2013 NAB Show in Las Vegas, Smith said he was optimistic about the future that lay ahead for broadcasters, stemming from broadcasting’s ability to endure and adapt to consumers’ changing habits since the very first broadcasts were aired.

“Even in a world of tablets, smartphones and digital dashboards, broadcast radio and television are as relevant today as ever,” he asserted. “And some might say more relevant. As Americans become dependent on new technologies, radio and television continue to thrive and prove time and again their dependability when all else fails.” He warned that the industry must keep its eyes focused on the new doors that were opening before it. “The danger for any business that becomes complacent is its being left behind.”

He said that broadcasting’s future lay in innovating and spurring technology that would deliver its highly-valued content to any platform for generations to come. “The time has come for us to unite in our embrace of new technology and to realise the consequences if we don’t. “We must ask ourselves, ‘What is our vision for the future of radio and television?’… and ‘How do we grow our businesses?’ For television, our future lies in our willingness to embrace new platforms, and to go where our viewers want to go. Emerging technology presents a great opportunity for broadcasters to provide viewers with our highly valued content anywhere, on any device, anytime they want it,” he advised.

“For example, many stations that have embraced mobile TV are delivering broadcast television signals to consumers wherever they are – in their homes, cars or at a baseball game. Just today, we heard a new announcement about more markets coming on board with mobile TV. Coupled with an announcement last week, 25 new stations will be lighting up mobile TV in some of our biggest cities,” he said.

According to Smith, broadcasting’s one-to-many architecture allows it to deliver a product where there is no streaming necessary, so there’s no signal congestion. “Our competitors in the wireless industry want to be part of the mobile TV business… and they are investing a lot of money in this endeavour. They are even branding their service ‘mobile TV’,” he noted.

“But our competitors will never have what we have – the ability to deliver our high-quality content reliably. As consumers’ appetite for local TV on-the-go continues to grow, broadcasters must continue to rise up to meet consumers’ desire for more live, local TV content. We must seize the opportunities that new technology platforms present to broadcasters, otherwise, we are essentially handing our competitors the keys to our future,” he warned.

“And we must also continue to examine our own architecture and whether we have the tools necessary to move our business forward, to provide new revenue streams, and to lay the groundwork for future growth. The possibilities are limitless, but we must first make sure that our technology allows us the flexibility to develop new tools, perhaps even micro-targeted advertising, to compete in a field crowded with competitors who are doing these things,” he advised.

“It is my opinion that television broadcasting should seriously consider the challenges and opportunities of moving to a new standard, allowing stations the flexibility they need to better serve their viewers, compete in a mobile world, and find new revenue streams. NAB will continue to take a leadership role in examining the best ways to expand the value of broadcasting to emerging platforms,” he confirmed.

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