The Week in Geek: NAB and Beyond

By Jonathan Blum and Seth Elkin

Sifting through the news from the NAB Show, there is one company that stands out, at least from the geek’s perspective. Apple. Steve Jobs’ little venture has firmly planted itself as a presence in the television business, both for consumers and producers. The company now offers very professional-grade post-production tools like Final Cut Pro, their media server products and their excellent HD compression codecs. And, of course, the company controls significant digital consumer assets with iTunes, the iPod and now Apple TV.

When you combine all of those with the new, less-expensive generation of small HD cameras, the calculus for producing live TV is slowly but surely changing. Apple’s systems are significantly different from traditional dedicated big-iron TV hardware — they don’t have the same power and weight — but you ignore what those hipsters are doing with Apple at your peril. Steve Jobs is not only the largest shareholder at The Walt Disney Company, he is the Walt Disney of our times. He is rarely denied.

Perhaps the biggest single broadcast story coming out of the NAB Show is that local TV channels should start showing up on cell phones within the next 18 months. both the broadcaster and the cell phone operator make money. And since the technology will extend the standing in and out of market sports broadcast model, the sports leagues will probably demand their cut. And producers will have to adapt.

And lets not forget the continuing development of HD Radio. The FCC recently gave the service a final round of approval and Arbitron is starting to offer data that tracks HD Radio usage. Models proliferate and prices are dropping. As it begins to penetrate, HD Radio will offer a slew of interactive services for sports broadcasters. There will be more space for local sports content. An All local sports on radio series of mini-networks is not beyond the realm of possibilities. And that ignores advanced services such as location-based traffic and weather info. What pro team wouldn’t want a branded interactive traffic radio service designed for fans as they’re leaving the stadium?

In other tech news, mark your calendar for the Home Entertainment Show, May 11-13 in New York. If you want to see the latest ultra-high-end TVs, this is the place to be…New high-speed digital camera from Vision Research. 2,000 frames per second for less than $30K… Samsung supporting Blu-ray and HD DVD…200 GB of portable storage from Toshiba…Competitors criticize
Google-DoubleClick deal.

And finally, not-so-great moments in New York Jets draft history.

Don’t say this does not make you wince.

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