Digital Studio catches up with Frederique Maurell, show director for CABSAT 2018 ahead of the 24th installment of the trade show.
Digital Studio: What are the main highlights of this year’s show?
Frederique Maurell: The content for delegates at CABSAT 2018 can be divided into three distinct pillars: Studio, satellite and the content marketplace. Between these, the show offers a 360 degree view on the state of the industry from the creation of content up to its consumption. Professionals in the field will have access to new source materials as well as have the opportunity to train in new techniques allowing them to keep abreast of developments in the industry. This year, we have worked closely with key industry associations and leaders to present vibrant content throughout the three days. The IP theatre hosted by IABM on the first day, delegates will hear from industry leaders at the Content Congress. CABSAT has also commissioned an industry report from Ernst & Young which be exclusively accessible to the delegates attending Content Congress.
DS: Has DWTC introduced any new features around the main exhibition hall?
Maurell: One of our top priorities for the show, as it has been for the past 23 years, is to provide a hub for industry experts to explore the latest tech, buy and sell the latest equipment, and tap into the wealth of content hosted by the conference speakers. The IABM IP Theatre will deliver a non-stop series of presentations on day one of CABSAT. Sessions will cover the full gamut of knowledge for real time IP production and intra-facility distribution, catering for those considering IP for the first time through to those who have already embraced it. Visitors will hear about the rapidly increasing number of real world IP deployments from broadcasters and media providers who have already adopted IP signal flows. They will also learn about the business and creative benefits of IP, and how these advantages can be applied to their own operations.
Another new edition for the show, and a feature that will solely target content creators and end users of AV equipment will be the ‘Script to Screen in 48 Hours’, and will offer students and young professionals exclusive training, film maker and investor networking events, and UAE film location tours. The initiative will also task teams to create, write, film, edit and produce a short piece of content onsite that will be judged by a panel headed by Martin Gaiss, Former SVP content at 20th Century Fox. Prizes will be awarded to the winning teams on the final day of the show.
DS: Which technologies does DWTC expect to dominate the exhibition this year? Are there any particular exhibitor’s your particularly excited to be introducing this year?
Maurell: We’re excited for some of our newcomers this year as a host of new technologies will be showcased.
The TiVo Corporation will be exhibiting their voice controlled DVR, the TiVo BOLT VOX. These are the first TiVo DVRs to include a voice remote control, which allows users to search across live TV, DVR, video-on-demand and online streaming services just by speaking. ARISTON Studio and telecom solutions will display Studio applications and audiovisual systems along with their latest innovative case studies in the field of broadband and telecommunications. Additionally, there will be some exciting news from our regular participants at CABSAT as well.
The Eutelsat Communications has acquired NOORSAT, one of the leading satellite service providers in the Middle East, from Bahrain’s Orbit Holding Group. The acquisition of NOORSAT will allow Eutelsat to strengthen the long term commercial development of its market-leading video positions in the Arabic world and increase its direct access to end-customers, facilitating stimulation of High Definition TV take-up and the upselling of incremental video services.
Al Yah Satellite (YAHSAT) Communications Company plan to launch their third satellite in the first half of 2017 to expand broadband operations in Africa and Brazil. They also announced the successful trial of a 50Mbps in-flight connection which is the result of a partnership between YAHSAT, du, Etihad Airways Engineering, Hughes Network Systems and Carlisle Interconnect. The high-speed broadband offering will be available for airlines within the next 12 months.
DS: Tell me more about the keynote speakers at this year’s conference? What issues will dominate the agenda?
Maurell: There will be a diverse set of themes at this year’s Content Congress, and speakers are set to discuss critical attention to the increasing role of new technologies such as metadata, content storage, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, and how to monetize social media content. The growth of the Arabic content sector will as play a large role in the conferences with a host of speakers sharing their insights. Adam Khwaja, Creative Director, Cartoon Network Studios Arabia; Khulud Abu Homos, Chief Executive Officer, Arab Format Lab; and Mido Shaban, Executive Director, Entertainment and Commissioning, CBC Egypt, to name a few.
More than 40 speakers are set to share their insights during the Content Congress, representing industry heavyweights such as Facebook, BBC, iflix, Rotana Media Group, Turner Studioing, Cote Ouest, Cairo News Company and FremantleMedia. Similarly, SATEXPO’s line up will include high level speakers across Studio, telecoms, aviation and maritime sectors with the keynote being delivered by HE Dr. Eng. Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency
DS: Streaming video subscription service providers and OTT players are completely changing what it means to be a Studioer in the Middle East. How are local companies standing up to the challenge of major international OTT players entering the market and producing content?
Maurell: The cable and satellite industry has experienced a multitude of changes and challenges brought on by the dawn of a technology-driven society. Between competition from new industry players offering over the top services and video on demand content, to the adoption and integration of these services by existing and established organisations, companies have been forced to make changes in order to stay relevant in the industry.
DS: Do you think the advent of the likes of Netflix/Iflix will spark an increase in the quality and quantity of local content production?
Maurell: We have already seen the knock-on effect following the introduction of streaming services such as Netflix. Local and regional service providers have had to change their business models and adapt the way they package their content in order to stay relevant in an industry that is being dominated by new technology. We’ve seen this happen with OSN, who have adopted OTT services in order to deliver on-demand content to a wider audience.
DS: Augmented reality and virtual reality dominated much of the agenda at GITEX this year. Do you think it will be similar at CABSAT?
Maurell: Artificial Intelligence is indeed a critical topic as the industry looks at the new technology to drive audience engagement and customer connectivity. ‘Big data’ is changing not only the way Studioers reach their audiences but also providing invaluable insights into leveraging these platforms to drive revenue generation. A whole afternoon at the Content Congress is being dedicated to these developments and issues in order to bring everyone in the industry up to speed on the latest trends.
DS: What were the reasons that CABSAT was brought forward this year from its usual time in March?
Maurell: We have brought the event forward from March to January 14-16 for the year 2018 due to the timing of other major international shows as well as Ramadan moving forward in the calendar in the coming years. The show will be hosted at the new Za’abeel Halls 1-6 facing Happiness Street, formerly known as Al Saada Street. Dubai World Trade has invested significant capital in infrastructure surrounding the venue including a service road, LED signage, restaurants and cafes both on the concourse and within the halls. The organiser also hopes that a new multi-storey car parking with spaces for 2700 vehicles will be open in time for the next event.
DS: What sort of visitor numbers is DWTC expecting over the course of the three day show? And how many exhibitors will there be?
Maurell: Last year, the show attracted over 13,000 attendees from 133 different countries, and exhibitors on the show floor displayed more than 900 different brands. With a burgeoning regional cable, satellite and Studio industry set to be worth over US$15 million by 2021, we are expecting similar numbers for 2018’s edition.
DS: Are there large international pavilions at this year’s show, and if so from where.
Maurell: We hosted several international pavilions at the show from countries such as Australia, China, France, Germany, Spain and the UK, and their exhibiting companies came in full force, showcasing cutting-edge technology and solutions in the Studio and satellite industry. 2018’s edition of CABSAT is already shaping up to be a show with a healthy international presence.