Four Takeaways from NAB 2019

OTT, SSAI, and Low Latency Streaming all were hot topics of conversation at the annual show in Las Vegas.

The annual National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show brings together great minds from across the media, television, advertising, and technology industries. This year, JW Player returned to Vegas in a big way with hundreds of meetings, a party worthy of Vegas, and multiple executives speaking.

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Here are our most interesting takeaways from the week.

High Expectations for Low Latency Streaming

One of the main topics of conversation was Low Latency, and specifically Low Latency HLS (LHLS). With the majority of broadcasters looking to stream live content, whether that be breaking news, sports, or awards shows.

The ability to stream with LHLS across all browsers and devices is incredibly important as consumer habits become more and more fragmented. Existing low latency solutions are limited in the devices and browsers they support with LHLS being needed for effective mass-market reach.

This year, JW Player teamed up with Akamai to demonstrate our proof of concept for our LHLS solution and found that many of our current clients and prospective clients were thrilled with the ability to bring some cohesion to this fragmented space.

If NAB is any indication, 2019 and 2020 will be focused on how to bring low latency HLS solutions to the world.

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OTT Continues to Thrive

We continue to see the prevalence of OTT channels - from the launch of Disney+, to Hulu and Netflix thriving. One aspect beginning to pop up more is OTT channels and brands supported by advertising.

Many clients, prospects, and partners that we spoke with saw an opportunity for their content to be streamed for free with the monetization aspect coming from both pre-roll and mid-roll ads.

The technical hurdles include the fractured nature of the current OTT space - between Android, iOS, Roku, and other platforms all having unique technical requirements, getting up and running with a cohesive OTT strategy is both time-consuming and costly.

With many broadcasters looking to embrace the reality that there are no longer “dumb” TVs and audiences still prefer the lean-back experience of a television set, OTT apps seem to be here to stay!

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It’s SSAI for Video Ads

On the monetization side of the show, Server Side Ad Insertions (SSAI) was the main topic of conversation. The ability to maximize revenue, control content rights and stop ad blockers are all incredibly enticing for broadcasters.

However, the challenges of implementing SSAI still remain. The majority of the hurdles we see arise from the fact that digital videos are coming from a web-based approach and are not optimized for connected TVs.

Additionally, for SSAI to work properly, marketers will need to embrace the contextual advertising future. Many targeting requirements are incredibly difficult - if not impossible - while using SSAI.

While we’re bullish on the effect that SSAI will have for both media companies and broadcasters in the long run - there is still a long way to go before it becomes the standard.

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Vegas is a Three Day Town

After a week in Las Vegas, I think next year we may keep it to three days… Just a thought…

Until next year!