As many radio broadcasting companies – and the stations they own – move into the time of year unaffectionately known as “Budget Season,” our attention turns to 2019 and what the new year holds for all of us.
We still have Q4 to go, of course, and lots can and will happen. But this has already been a tumultuous year for radio – sales and acquisitions, bankruptcies, partnerships, promotions, innovations, firings, and the inevitable passing of colleagues.
At Jacobs Media, this is a special time of year for us. We're in the midst of planning two big tech initiatives – the launch of Techsurvey 2019, coming off last year's record year where 567 stations and 64,289 respondents even surprised us. It's a strong indicator broadcasters are hungry for insightful information about their audience, media habits, and technology at a time when so much is in flux. As budgets are being drawn up for the new year, knowing what to invest in – with both human and financial resources – has never been more important for radio companies.
We will have registration information ready to go next week for TS 2019, and we hope you'll be able to participate as a stakeholder. We're going to be investigating important audience trends, including the growth of the smart speaker space, video gaming, podcasting, video, mobile, and social. As always, we have a lot of ground to cover, but with 15 years of tracking data, our tech story is more amazing with each passing year.
The other initiative is our third annual Jacobs CES Tour, set to take place right after the new year in Las Vegas. Feedback from our previous tours has been stellar, and we're excited to once again take senior radio broadcast executives through the maze that is the Las Vegas Convention Center at CES. But CES is bigger than that, occupying several casino hotels with features like Eureka Park and C Suite. With 180,000+ excited, energized innovators on hand, it's always a special way to kick off the new year.
In case you don't know about our tours, they're small (max: 15), they're private, they're two hours in length, and this year our guide is the former Chief Economist for the Consumer Technology Association, Shawn DuBravac (pictured right).
Shawn is the author of “Digital Destiny,” and has brilliant insights – and the ability to communicate them in a clear, relevant, and entertaining way – about the path of technology and its impact on the media business. He will also be joining us to host our private dinner – co-hosted once again by Erica Farber and the RAB – the evening before the tour where he'll lead a conversation about how radio companies can proactively face the future while maintaining their traditional value.
As Jerry Lee told me a few years ago, the reason he's attended 50 CES events is simple:
“I don't want to miss the future.”
I can't express it any better than that. When you attend CES, it's not just about the hottest drones, VR goggles, or smartphones. What I've learned this past decade at this bigger-than-life event is that it's about taking in the whole experience and identifying the trends that will impact our lives – and our radio stations.
We're still mapping out the tour stops for 2019, but I can tell you there's a strong likelihood we'll be visiting an automaker (or tw0), we'll stop by Google and Amazon to learn the latest and greatest about their smart speaker initiatives, we'll experience AR and VR, and of course, we're looking forward to the next generation of transportation and mobility, and the impact of 5G. That probably means a stop at Verizon.
5G may or may not be part of your lexicon – yet – but it will be very soon. It was an important topic on our tours last year, and we expect now that 5G service is being launched in Indianapolis, Sacramento, Houston, and L.A. by Verizon, it will become tangible to millions of us.
Here's their introductory video that is worth your time. It begins to map out how 5G will change our lives – at home, in cars, and in the workplace – yes, the key radio listening locations.
Sometimes people have trouble getting their heads around exactly why 5G will be a game-changer in our lives. It just sounds like the next incremental step above 4G, which followed 3G.
But there's nothing gradual or subtle about the hype change in data speed that will become our standard in just the next few years as 5G begins to roll out around the U.S. The chart below gives you a much better sense of just how powerful 5G will be – and it how it will change our media habits and the ways in which we live our lives.
In the 3G days, downloading a 2-hour movie took more than a day. With 5G, that same film shows up in the blink of an eye. And that changes everything.
5G's impact won't be just about watching “Deadpool 2” or “Game of Thrones” while we're waiting to have our teeth cleaned. Its impact will be more far-reaching and culture shaking.
You're read a lot about the Internet of Things the past few years – a term you frequently hear bantered about all over CES. Simply put, it's where all these smart devices – from cars to homes to phones to security systems to hospitals to businesses – “talk” to each other. It requires a lot of speed and bandwidth to make all this possible, and that's where 5G comes into play.
Cars are at the center of the 5G revolution. They're a moving gadget in the 5G ecosphere (along with people), and their ability to connect with pretty much everything in our lives is key. And the automakers are engaging, investing, researching, and imagining how their vehicles will become even more valuable in a 5G future. Data, of course, is at the heart of it. You're hearing more and reading more about how car companies are focusing on unlocking and applying the data that is embedded in new vehicles, and its ability to track who we are, where we drive, and what we buy.
5G will also make the promise of “smart cities” and “smart mobility” a reality, especially as autonomous vehicle technology matures. We've seen compelling demos the last couple years at CES, and we expect more of the same this January. This quantum leap into a faster, connected future is bigger than any one gadget.
And that's why CES is a must for us every January – and we hope you can join us. We're running two tours this year, and the second one has just a handful of slots still open. We'd love to share the learning, experience, and good times with you.
In the meantime, we'll be previewing what's new and next at CES in the coming weeks. And making our usual investment in a new pair of walking shoes and portable phone chargers.
For more info on our tour and CES, contact Paul Jacobs here.