The TVB Europe MediaTech 360 Summit is a superb event that looks at the technologies and trends shaping the future media landscape. It was a real honor to host the 2021 virtual edition and to deliver the opening address.
MediaTech 360 Summit Opening Address
For more information please visit: www.technologyleadershipsummit.com/2021/MediaTech
MediaTech 360 Summit – day one wrap-up by TVB Europe
5G will challenge content creators to push the boundaries
The first day of the MediaTech 360 Summit covered 5G, artificial intelligence, machine learning, the pandemic and the future outlook for the media tech industry. Read article.
MediaTech 360 Summit – day two wrap-up by TVB Europe
Virtual production will democratise and diversify storytelling
Day two of TVBEurope’s MediaTech 360 Summit featured discussions on virtual production, the future of TV and monetization for the digital realm, and the importance of educating young people of the opportunities behind the camera in the media industry. Read article.
MediaTech 360 Summit Opening Address Transcription
Hi there, my name is Oisin Lunny and I just wanted to say thank you very much for the generous introduction James, I am thrilled to be here and very honored to be in the company of so many people I greatly admire in the business and so many good friends like yourself. And it is, I think, the first time I’ve ever been called “illustrious” – that’s a keeper, thank you, I’m going to stick it on LinkedIn right away. The shots are on me next time we hang out.
Speaking of which… it does seem like a long time since any of us hung out in real life, and enjoyed the art of liquid networking over ill-advised beverages the night before a conference. Reminiscing about this made me think about what have I done during the lockdown, funnily enough.
It’s an interesting question to ask yourself… what have you done during the lockdown….? I would be fairly confident to hazard a guess that both you and I have consumed a fair bit of media content, in all it’s different and wonderful forms, during the lockdown. I would also suggest we have all consumed a lot more than in non-lockdown times.
Two days ago the actress Sheila Hancock famously remarked to the journalist Emma Barnett about her lockdown experience. She said, “I’ve done nothing. I’ve stood staring at the walls and I’ve gone upstairs and thought ‘What am I up here for…?’ I’m utterly confused and I’ve come to no conclusions” before adding, magnificently, “except that we need a revolution.”
Hancock was talking about how much she missed “coffee with mates” and also spoke about the need to heal societal divisions and address some of the “gross undervaluation of the people who have got us through this mess”. Fantastic words. And her frustration is palpable. If you can’t attempt to fix something during a global pandemic, if you can’t be radical now, when can you?
The normal path of most industries is evolutional. Many moons ago when I first moved to the U.K. from Ireland I was working in a recording studio and making music in a band. This was the early ’90s, nothing was connected, and moving digital media assets happened at a snail’s pace, on floppy discs, 2MB at a time.
Over the following decades, the discs got bigger and cheaper, ZIP and JAZ drives followed Moore’s law, offering more capacity at less unit cost, then early internet connections opened up a mind-blowing digital world, which seems quaint and even prehistoric by today’s standards.
The analog instruments and studios I was using to make music evolved to virtual instruments and software emulations of famous recording equipment. And, as the capacity of connectivity evolved, everything started moving to remote servers, and then to virtual servers, and eventually to what is known these days as “the cloud”.
With the introduction of the iPhone, fixed data plans, and the Apple App Store, the concept of portable supercomputers accessing content became completely mainstream. The device in your pocket is many times more powerful than the computers used to put earthlings on the moon, and has been for years.
The evolution to: always portable, always fast and always connected has opened up an entirely new paradigm of media consumption. In the ’90s it took me 10 years to find some records (I’m a bit of a vinyl collector) and I found them in very obscure places, like clothes shops in San Francisco. True story. In 2021 it is actually quicker to find any piece of music on my iPhone than it is to rifle through my heaving shelves of vinyl, which are now an elegant device to gather dust and support a tiny little box that connects Spotify to my hifi.
We have evolved from a world of content scarcity to a world of abundance, and the “bottleneck” in User eXperience (or UX) terms, is the consumer. Your eyes and ears. There is only so much content you can cram in there at once, even during a pandemic. As Netflix CEO Reed Hastings stated in 2017, rather controversially, their main competitor is sleep.
So as attention becomes the battleground for media, the UX is the prime gateway to loyalty, and broadcast companies, in particular, are embracing innovative new technologies to make sure customers stay loyal, and exchange their valuable attention for the best content, the best technology, and the best experience.
Lord Stuart Rose once told me that the customer used to be king, but now they are Master Of The Universe. In the world of broadcast, content will always be king, but only in a world of UX and technology that is so brilliant, and so effortless, that it is almost invisible. Convenience is the king of kings.
One of the main places this all comes together is on our smartphones. Everything that can be done through our mobile devices usually is, prompting The Economist magazine to state that humanity had evolved to a species of Phono Sapiens, and I would tend to agree.
Another related trend for the broadcast industries is what NYU professor Scott Galloway calls featurization, when content is bolted on to another business as a feature to add value. Just look at Amazon Prime Video. I live in Spain, and one of the key factors in choosing my phone, broadband, and TV provider was the HBO subscription that came with the package. Which has come in very handy during the lockdown alongside the many other streaming and on-demand platforms I happily pay for.
Necessity can be the mother of invention. Last year I celebrated a significant lockdown birthday, here in Spain, by installing OBS on my laptop, and live streaming a DJ set on Twitch, and some mates popped by on Zoom to say hi. And tonight, after our event, I’m going to attend a gig being staged by Brighton radio station Platform B, which will be held in a VR replica of the Green Door Store, a venue next to Brighton train station. Despite the many tragedies of the pandemic, and the very real human cost, the progress in technology over the past 12 months, I would suggest, has not just been evolutionary, it’s been revolutionary.
Projects that have been bubbling away as R&D have suddenly become urgently needed solutions. Technologies like 5G, AI & machine learning, remote working, and virtual production have been promoted to the mainstream, to business as usual. This progress is one way, and we are not going to downgrade, or roll backwards.
There is a tech expression to build the surfboard as you are riding the wave, and I think this is what we are doing to some extent. Because if you are not riding the wave, what’s the alternative? It’s wipeout.
There might be some difficult and candid discussions about balancing the costs of our emergency innovations against our pre-pandemic plans, but this is a moment of great opportunity to put things right.
The former EVP of innovation at Disney, Duncan Wardle, told a virtual audience at the Sibos conference, that “DIVERSITY IS INNOVATION” – it can be that simple. And let’s be honest, Disney’s plans for innovation have not exactly been shabby. Think of the success of Disney +.
Finance and Venture Capital genius Tony Fish explained to me that without diversity, companies will trip themselves up. Because if you have a group of people looking at the world in exactly the same way, they will have a narrow field of view. They will miss the details (over there and over there) that can really derail their future without them having a clue what’s happening. Because no-one can see it. Because what they can see is limited.
DIVERSITY IS INNOVATION. What does your board of directors look like? Your senior management? What is your company’s diversity policy? What are YOU doing to improve things?
I think that the media and technology industries have moved from evolution to revolution. Because let’s face it, if you can’t be radical during a global pandemic, when can you be? If not now, when?
The revolution will be live.