Technology Convergence: Interview with Steve Conolly, Director of IBC Show

Steve Connolly, Director of IBC, shares his insights, from the involvement of the global media community to key technological trends, the convergence of industries, and the crucial role of lighting, audio, and AV technologies. Additionally, he anticipates a larger and more diverse IBC2024, focusing on AI, streaming, virtual production, and sustainability.


What is your opinion on this year's IBC Show?

IBC2023 was a great success; it was fantastic to see the lively atmosphere and a true sense of energy and normalcy at the fair, where creative, technological, and business communities came together to collaborate, learn, network, and discover new opportunities. The face-to-face element of a fair like IBC is crucial, empowering the industry to conduct business in person and explore innovation up close with new technologies driven by artificial intelligence and the cloud. We felt an incredible buzz on the fairground as the global media community gathered once again to shape and implement the future of media and entertainment (M&E).

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What are your thoughts on visitor and exhibitor attendance this year?

We had a very solid participation from the global media community, with a total number exceeding 43,000 attendees from 170 countries and over 1250 exhibitors. Not only did all the major brands and exhibitors return, but 2023 also marked the debut of many other significant industry players, such as IMAX and LG Electronics. We also welcomed a variety of innovative exhibitors for the first time at IBC this year, coming from various media technology verticals, including AV pioneer Brompton Technology, bringing new and exciting energy to the fair.

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What were the main technological trends and themes highlighted at IBC2023?

IBC is a hub for technological pioneers and business leaders to gather and have critical business conversations. Profitability and monetization security in a challenging macroeconomic landscape are a huge focus right now, so, with this in mind, we saw a lot of debate and innovation around launching business models and discovering new ways to enhance revenue while driving cost efficiencies. Trends such as artificial intelligence, 5G, cloud adoption, and hybrid solutions, immersive technologies, and esports were also hot topics at the fair, along with an increased focus on sustainability, as industry leaders explored how to maximize energy efficiency in media workflows, showcasing best practices and new sustainability initiatives.

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What is your opinion on the convergence between broadcasting and adjacent industries, and how do you think it affects the industry and events like IBC?

As broadcasting and other media technology industries continue to converge, IBC will continue to act as an incubator to foster cross-sector innovation. It's an exciting time for us as it allows for a more dynamic and thrilling fair with new suppliers and speakers, such as extended reality pioneer Marco Tempest, who was this year's keynote speaker.


At IBC2023, we observed the continued growth and advancement of virtual production technologies, with a wide range of cutting-edge solutions showcased at the fair. With a notable increase in the number of LED volume and screen providers, the convergence of professional AV and broadcasting was front and center at the fair, as exhibitors demonstrated collaboration between various providers to showcase stunning full virtual production and extended reality (XR) workflows.


This convergence is a key element within the Accelerator Media Innovation program, bringing together major media brands and technology companies from across the technology industry to enable accelerated collaborative innovation addressing some of the complex challenges of transformative new technologies. Exceptional projects were presented at this year's fair that extended into the realms of cloud, 5G and telecommunications, and immersive technologies driven by XR.


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Broadcasting spaces are becoming increasingly complex. What role do lighting, professional audio, LEDs, trussing, and rigging play in current productions? What is their contribution at IBC?

IBC has always celebrated all corners of the broadcasting and media community, but this year, more than ever, we've seen increased participation and growth within the audiovisual industries. This natural convergence complements modern productions today as the lines between AV, IT, and traditional broadcasting blur more and more. While video has been the traditional focal point of media production, we are witnessing very exciting innovation from exhibitors in lighting, sound, and set design that are capturing the attention of many involved in live events and TV and film production.


Is there anything else you would like to tell us about the IBC programs? What do you expect the fair to look and feel like next year?


This year's content agenda was built around three fundamental pillars: transformative technology, changing business models, and people and purpose, with IBC2023 serving as a catalyst for positive change within the media and entertainment sector. Looking ahead to IBC2024, with the expansion of Hall 14, we can anticipate a fair that will not only be larger in scale but filled with more diverse technology and even broader industry participation. We will also see more focus on growing opportunities in areas including artificial intelligence and machine learning, new monetization models in streaming, virtual production, and workflow automation, as well as a continued emphasis on diversity, inclusivity, and sustainability. We are already very excited about IBC2024 and look forward to seeing many of ISP Audio & Light Magazine readers in Amsterdam.


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