In anticipation of IBC, Comrex Sales Director Chris Crump sat down with Radio World to discuss trends and new developments.
How has business been for the company since last year’s IBC Show?
Chris Crump: Economic uncertainty typically follows a U.S. presidential election and this year has certainly been no exception. The ripples are felt globally. Business has been steady but the relative strength of the U.S. dollar and the guarded spending of customers in Europe and in the U.S. has impeded sales growth. We keep on hearing that flat is the new up. And I’m hearing this from the majority of my colleagues throughout the industry.
What are you hearing from your customers about their business outlook this year? In what areas should we expect growth or the most interesting projects?
Crump: The second half of this year has really picked up and that’s a tremendous relief to all of us. Our customers are genuinely enthusiastic about our new product offerings and it dovetails very nicely with their need to find new ways to reach their ever-evolving audiences. I feel like both broadcasters and equipment manufacturers are looking forward to growth in our industry as we leverage new communication platforms like social media and digital in ways that will continue to enhance terrestrial broadcasting.
Is the IBC Show a good investment?
Crump: IBC is a substantial investment, much like NAB is in the spring. Attending IBC is important each year to get face time with our overseas dealers. Exhibiting at IBC show is something we typically do when we have important new product introductions that we want to share with our European customers and dealers. With the release of two new products this year, attending IBC 2017 is necessary.
What new goodies will your company be showing? Why should attendees visit stand 8.E75?
Crump: When we introduced our Access line of IP audio codecs in 2005, we felt very strongly that it would be a significant player in the market and the past decade has proven that out. Some of the largest broadcasters in Europe depend on our Access 2USB Portable and Access Rackmount codecs every single day. Earlier this year we introduced our new Access NX Portable IP audio codec. It has been redesigned to the very core and given a completely new user interface. We have just begun shipping units and the response from customers is outstanding. We are really looking forward to sharing it with customers and dealers at IBC.
Our new Opal IP Audio Gateway is another new product that has created a lot of excitement and anticipation with customers. It relies upon common web browsers on smartphone or computers to connect to a broadcast-quality hardware interface in the studio. It delivers high-quality audio with very low delay.
These products are going to keep our stand in Hall 8 (8.E75) very busy throughout the show. Our LiveShot IP video codec, which has experienced very strong growth in Europe, will also be on display.
Codecs look to be a mature piece of equipment, what new technology is next on the horizon — where do codecs go from here?
Crump: Mature implies old. I think I would prefer to refer to codecs as proven. Hardware audio and video codecs, especially IP-based devices, are relatively young and continue to evolve. There’s a lot of room for improvement of the user experience and reliability and new technological developments in processors, encoding and transport allow us to continually innovate. Visitors to our stand at IBC will see that evolution in our new Access NX Portable.
You’ve been active in the codec market for years. What’s the biggest problem or challenge facing users in this segment right now?
Crump: It’s difficult for broadcasters to have to deal with the sea of choices when it comes to audio or video over IP delivery. There is a lot of information to consider, marketing jargon to wade through, features to evaluate and technical limitations to understand. There is an equal amount of misinformation as well. It’s a daunting task for users in the field. We can only hope to help provide some clarity for customers and potential customers. Our development, support and marketing teams strive for this every day.
You’re a show veteran, what’s your favorite thing about the IBC show?
Crump: I have several favorite things about IBC. For the past couple of years, I’ve been riding a bike to the show every day. I love that. Oh, steamed mussels are in season also. We are really lucky to work with so many talented and genuinely kind people in our industry. IBC is a great opportunity to catch up with our friends overseas in a beautiful city.