Sam Matheny officially kicked off the NAB Show Broadcast Engineering Conference this morning with his keynote address to a packed room at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Sam opened his keynote by honoring John Marino, VP of technology at NAB. Marino is attending his 40th NAB Show, and is retiring this year after 25 years at the NAB. John’s career in broadcasting spans over 50 years, “He’s done it all,” said Matheny, “from D-Jay to producer to technologist and engineer.”
“We have all benefited from knowing and working with John. He is smart, well-spoken, funny and a pleasure to work with…you know, your typical engineer.”
Sam also took the time to pay tribute to Ernie Jones, who tragically passed away in October last year. “This past year we lost a legend in our industry,” he said.
“In the days following Ernie’s death I spent a lot of time on the phone talking with so many people about what an exceptional person and engineer he was, and about the great loss we had suffered.”
Matheny then introduced a moving tribute video to Ernie from the people who knew him best.
Sam also took the opportunity to discuss broadcasting’s strengths and growing opportunities.
“Because of your efforts our industry is strong and getting stronger!” he said, “Nielsen reports that over 1.7 million new homes have migrated to OTA only in the last couple of years,” Sam continued “GFK’s home technology survey says that 21% of U.S. Television Households – some 66 million people – rely directly on over the air broadcasting.”
Sam explained how the cord cutting and cord shaving phenomenon plays to broadcaster’s natural strengths. He quoted Nexstar CEO Perry Sook, who recently said that “broadcast is the original OTT… we are well positioned and have been from the start.”
Sam also explained how it’s not just in television that broadcast is well positioned. “Magid research recently completed a study that clearly shows that despite all of the hype around Pandora, Spotify or other pure-play streaming services, that AM/FM broadcast radio is king” with nearly 75% of people saying it is the most important audio source in the car.
“But let’s not get too comfortable”
Despite all the positive news, Sam is eager for broadcasters not to rest on their laurels. “I invite you to be uncomfortable,” he said “restless and, well, maybe a bit paranoid.”
He said that this restlessness is key to innovation and the future strength of broadcasting. He said that today broadcasters are multi-platform media companies whose innovation goes beyond our traditional technological sphere and into the web, mobile phones, social media and streaming applications.
Diconvergence: A difference or conflict in interests, wishes and technologies that come together from different directions so as to eventually meet in chaos.
Sam also discussed “diconvergence,” a word he coined at the IEEE BTS symposium in 2012.
“At the time I was focused on how things seemed totally upside down,” he said “as we were starting to see things like video on phones and apps on TVs.” While the premise still holds, Sam sees the HTML5 runtime environment of ATSC 3.0 and the activation of FM tuner chips in smartphones as proof that we are “moving beyond the chaos and into the next phase of innovation. ”
Matheny then talked about PILOT, and how this new initiative of the NAB Technology department is the vehicle by which to drive this innovation through “new types of integrations and larger conversations.”
Sam then spoke about the recent petition for rule making that the NAB filed last week with the FCC to allow broadcasters to voluntarily use ATSC 3.0. “This is a great step towards the adoption of ATSC 3.0, Next-Generation Television,” he said “…and this petition is really just the starting gate.”
“I want to hear from you. I want learn from you. I want to share ideas, challenges, and opportunities.”
Sam spoke about the PILOT home gateway demonstration, which opens tomorrow at Futures Park. The gateway uses the upper layers of the ATSC 3.0 standard to showcase the interactivity that the next-generation standard provides.
Sam summed up his presentation urging collaboration from the industry “I want to hear from you,” he said, “I want learn from you. I want to share ideas, challenges, and opportunities.”