Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Broadcasters Need To Connect To Connected Cars

Left to right: Caroline Beasley (Beasley Media Group CEO), Joe D’Angelo (Xperi SVP of Broadcast Radio), John Ellis (Author, Futurist and Founder of Ellis and Associates), Steve Newberry (NAB EVP of Strategy Planning and Special Projects),and Ben Rosenberg (BBC Senior Distribution Manager).

Broadcast TV’s future in the connected car may come into focus for a while yet, but that shouldn’t keep the industry from closely collaborating with auto manufacturers to shape that future.

TVNewsCheck report for now radio — not television — is on the front lines of such discussions with auto OEMs from a panel sponsored by the NAB here on Tuesday. For radio, the stakes continue to grow as more connected auto models roll out. Caroline Beasley, CEO of the Beasley Media Group, said that 70% of her stations’ listening came from inside of cars, despite being available on multiple platforms and devices.

That statistic alone should drive an active conversation with OEMs, she said, and it’s a conversation she’s helping to steer as co-chair of NAB’s board along with the efforts of an auto committee within the group.

“We need to be at the table today with OEMs to help craft the vision going forward,” Beasley said.

Steve Newberry, EVP at NAB, said those conversations with the auto industry began in earnest just over two years ago. The talks have continued apace on both the connected and autonomous auto fronts because “the broadcast industry can’t stick its head in the sand” on either, he said.

Of course, the connected car is equally about the one-to-one paradigm. Ben Rosenberg of the BBC’s distribution and business development division said the British broadcaster, which has been running some early 5G trials, is exploring how to work in both modes.

Toggling between individualized content and content for the masses will require changes in the content itself, Newberry added.

“I don’t think broadcasters are going to continue producing the exact same products you’ve come to expect,” he said.

Content notwithstanding, a more existential question emerged as to why broadcasters should need to foster collaborations with auto OEMs at all. After all, most of their consumers are already walking around with perfectly well-connected smartphones wherever they go, including their cars.

To that, Joseph D’Angelo, SVP of broadcast radio at Xperi, said it’s important to remember that cars are built globally, and consumers in different markets may not have the unlimited data plans and cutting-edge smartphones that are more common in the U.S.

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