NAB Notes: OTA DVR roundup edition

Luc Tomasino, TabletTV CMO, describes his product at the NAB Show.

Luc Tomasino, TabletTV CMO, describes his product at the NAB Show.

I’ve about recovered from the annual National Association of Broadcasters Show in Las Vegas, held this week. Its organizers announced that over 100,000 people attended this year, a slight increase over last year, but the general mood was just a little quieter.

Before the show opened, Multichannel News hit the stands with a cover story on over-the-air TV: Threat From the Skies. You should read the whole thing, but the main idea was that pay TV should be concerned about OTA, especially OTA DVRs such as TiVo’s Roamio OTA and Channel Master’s DVR+, which is pictured in the article.

Despite this heightened awareness, not much actually happened with those OTA DVRs. The DVR+ displayed some recent integrated online video sources in its program grid, but Channel Master representatives expected to have bigger news in a few weeks. Simple.TV didn’t make a public appearance, although news came during the show that it had raised another $5.1 million. Tablo issued a press release that said it was trying to lure regional broadband operators to add its service. TabletTV hosted a conference session for low-power TV broadcasters to point out that in an OTA program grid, the LPTV listings are just as prominent as the full-power guys’.

There just wasn’t much news from this group in Las Vegas, but I expect to hear a lot more soon.

Other notes:

  • NAB President Gordon Smith’s keynote was genial and relaxed. For example, he said that in contrast to cable TV news, local TV news is important because it’s “where Americans turn when they want just the facts with no yelling, screaming and finger-pointing.” Smith is a sharp guy celebrating five years of satisfying the disparate audiences within the association, but this particular speech sounded a lot like a fireside chat from SCTV’s Mayor Tommy Shanks.
  • Features of the next-generation broadcasting standard, ATSC 3.0, found their way into several exhibitors’ displays, which demonstrated text-based emergency alerts, seamless mobile reception, 4K resolution, and many other wish-list items. What’s still uncertain is exactly which of those features will be included in the finalized version of ATSC 3.0, which will then require a whole new generation of TV sets to view it. Expect at least another decade with the status quo.
  • Camera drones were a big topic of conversion and demonstration. Brian Holl, VP of Strategy and Outreach for the Small UAV Coalition, showed off a small multi-rotor flier and discussed the FAA’s rules against commercial use of such devices. Holl said that his organization is focusing on Congress to change the law to allow responsible piloting of camera drones. While it might not happen soon, Holl believed that it was inevitable; as he put it, “Technology always wins.”