Professional Sound - April 2017 - Page 9

— in P u t What Is The M.E.T. Effect? A Q&A with Chris Brown, NAB Executive VP, Conventions & Business Operations T he National Association of Broad- casters has trumpeted The M.E.T. Effect as a major focus of the 2017 NAB Show, but what exactly is it? NAB coined the term to represent the results of the ongoing convergence between the once-separate fields of media, entertainment, and technology. The cultural phenomenon is being fuelled by things like increasingly sophisticated integrated systems and boundless connectivity and, according to the association, is rapidly changing how we live, work, and play. PS: What informed the decision to coin the term "The M.E.T. Effect" and make it the focus of the NAB Show at this particular time? CB: We wanted to recognize that life has changed, not that people haven’t figured that out. There’s still some sorting hap- pening as people are trying to wrap their heads around the change and what it is, what it looks like... We’re trying to suggest one way to look at it, which is the blending of media, entertainment, and technology. The other important thing for us is that the NAB Show has typically been thought of as a technology event, but it hasn’t been just about technology for 15 or 20 years. It’s evolved way beyond that, and we wanted to make sure people understand that the media, entertainment, and business aspects are all intertwined with technology. They all affect and influence each other and it’s not that people haven’t recognized that, but we wanted to give it shape, give it form. PS: What are some of the key emerg- ing technologies, platforms, or trends at the forefront of The M.E.T. Effect that you feel have been or will be most prominent in its development and advancement? CB: There are a few, and it’s hard to zero in on one or two, but a couple that I think are important are, one, the cloud. All of this has been driven by digitization and the internet. As we’re seeing the impact of that and as things continue to migrate from what would’ve been linear workflows to work- flows that are completely flexible, based on digitized content, it opens up a whole new world of possibilities and efficiencies. We’ve seen a big shift from what’s tra- ditionally been a hardware approach in the world of media and entertainment to more of a software approach, which leads us to cloud-based technologies and the oppor- tunities that represents. The cloud is kind of the ultimate M.E.T. Effect enabler, if you will, because once things are in the cloud, all kinds of collaboration can occur. Related to that is over-the-top content (OTT), and I think that today, more and more, we’re seeing new trends around the way companies are bundling and deliver- ing their content. Skinny bundles are still a new concept and kind of underscoring the segregation of content, or breaking down of traditional bundles. I think that’s been interesting and scary and disruptive for a lot of people, but on the other side, it’s opening up a lot of opportunity, so content providers pretty much universally under- stand their business is more on the content side of the equation and less dependant on the platform or distribution. PS: What are some ways or examples of how professionals representing any of these three fields – media, entertain- ment, and technology – have come to- gether with others for a successful union? CB: That’s a great question because it’s some- thing we’ve spent a lot of time looking at, and the more we can point to things, the better. Almost anywhere you look, you can find really interesting examples, and a number of us here have this fun chart we grabbed from Bloom- berg that lists some traditional media players and then under that are companies they own or have investments in and the crossover is very interesting. So for example, there’s Disney, with its ownership of Maker Studios or investment in Vice Media. And there’s Hearst, whose CEO is opening our Monday morning, and they’re investing in Vice Media and other new media companies. A lot of people would look at Hearst and think, that’s a really traditional media company, who own a lot of print media as well, but they’re obvi- ously capitalizing and looking for ways to diversify and leverage all the great content assets they have. Even Verizon is an owner of The Huff- ington Post and TechCrunch. These are the intersections that are very interesting. Another thing is, look at what to me are obviously the new content networks in this universe – Netflix and Amazon and those companies. Is Netflix a tech company? Are they a media company? Entertainment? The answer is all of the above, and you could say the same about YouTube or Amazon. PS: How can professionals working in these three markets best poise them- selves to be prepared to welcome and capitalize on this trend? CB: This is a tough question. I’d say on the general side, you have to be open-minded. You have to be willing to understand the other sides of this. If you’re coming at this from a traditional media perspective, I think you’ve got to be open to understanding the technological side of things – where those people are coming from, both from a strategy perspective and a technology perspective. How is their technology having an impact on you? Even if it doesn’t seem like part of your world, the reality is that it is, in some way, shape, or form, so be open and take the time to understand what’s happening. For [NAB members], the important part is talking to other people. Invite that dialogue across these platforms and don’t isolate yourself. That’s why our show sits at this important intersection, because we bring people from all of those sides together in one place and give them an opportunity to talk and figure things out. Out of that comes more opportunity, and if nothing else, you walk away with a better understanding of the competitive environment. PROFESSIONAL SOUND 9