Audio Description, ASR, and Media Localization: Takeaways from NAB Show 2023

Apr 26 2023 VITAC

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VITAC again would like to thank everyone who took the time to meet and visit with us at this year’s National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show in Las Vegas.

This year’s show attracted 65,000 attendees, an increase of more than 12,000 visitors over the 2022 show. It included 17,446 international attendees from 165 countries and featured more than 1,200 company exhibits.

Our team had a terrific time on the show floor, sharing information about all our captioning, subtitling, audio description, transcription, and dubbing services and learning about the newest innovations and solutions in media, entertainment, and technology.

Covering broadcast, cable, streaming, and satellite TV, film, radio, production, and post-production, NAB always is a great way to catch up with clients, make new connections, and chat with industry colleagues.

Read below for a few of our show observations and takeaways.

Audio Description. There continues to be rising interest in audio description services and how broadcasters can incorporate more described content into their programs and live events. Questions on the show floor included the types of description available, the items that can be described, and whether audio description can be done for live programming. (Yes, it can. In fact, VITAC and our accessibility partner, Audio Eyes, provided live audio description for the Oscars, Tonys, Grammys, and Screen Actor Guild Awards.) The Federal Communications Commission also recently proposed expanding audio description regulations to all 210 designated market areas in the US, meaning the service likely will be used by even more people in the coming years.

Generative AI. There was the expected chatter on the NAB Show floor around generative AI (think ChatGPT or Japser) and how to separate the hype from its usefulness – where it fits in the creative process and how it can automate workflows – in the media and entertainment industry. Discussions on how generative AI could help M&E companies focused on a few different areas, including content creation, production, and management, enhancing/personalizing audience experiences, and bringing in more advertising and subscription dollars.

Multi-language Services. There was a lot of interest in multi-language captions, dubbing, and media localization services as broadcasters, producers, and streaming platforms seek ways to connect with new, international audiences. We spoke to several people about live multi-language captioning and subtitles and how they can help content reach international audiences in real time. In addition to English captions, VITAC offers live human-generated captions in Spanish, French, and Portuguese, including same-language captions (Spanish to Spanish, French to French, and Portuguese to Portuguese) and translated captions from English to these languages. We also offer automatic live translations in more than 100 languages.

ASR. Automatic Speech Recognition once more was a big topic with many looking to learn more about ASR’s accuracy and custom formatting options as well as inquiring about the service as a failover from live human captioning. Our ASR demo garnered a lot of attention and interest in our new automatic captioning solution, designed specifically for media and entertainment clients.

The Metaverse. Once regarded only in terms of sci-fi novels, discussions around the ‘metaverse’ picked up steam as broadcasters, video game manufacturers, and content creators look for new ways to engage viewers and transform the industry. The metaverse is an emerging digital space that uses virtual reality, augmented reality, and other internet technology to enable people to have lifelike personal and business experiences online. Proponents say that the technology could enable a production company to view, manage, and interact with ongoing projects regardless of where they are happening or serve as a tool to create virtual sets for filming. Companies also are eyeing the potential for branded virtual spaces within the metaverse, promoting products, services, and information or tailoring it to meet a particular audience’s interests.

FAST TV. FAST channels – “Free Ad-Supported Streaming Television” channels like Pluto, Tubi, and Freevee – continue to grow as revenues in the US hover around $4 billion and are projected to triple over the next five years. Discussions on the show floor included strategies for growing the global audience for free, ad-supported TV and how to effectively utilize targeted advertising.

NextGen TV. FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced a new public-private initiative led by the National Association of Broadcasters to guide future steps in “NextGen TV.”

NextGen TV – also known as ATSC 3.0 – is a hybrid over-the-air and broadband-connected TV that offers 4K ultra high-definition video quality, improved sound, and mobile reception. It enables local TV stations better personalize broadcasts with information and interactive features and more targeted information.

The “Future of TV Initiative” would lay out a roadmap to transition ATSC 3.0 and include three working groups focused on consumer perspectives, the transition to ATSC 3.0, and post-transition rules.

Additionally, a coalition of the major U.S broadcast companies – Comcast NBCUniversal, Sinclair Broadcast Group, and the Pearl Network Consortia – showed off new NextGen TV accessibility features, including enhanced audio description support.

The enhanced audio enables the audio description track to be delivered with the same high quality as the primary audio track. The enhanced accessibility features highlighted included full Dolby immersive sound in English and Spanish with audio description and Voice+ to increase the intelligibility of the foreground announcers’ voices over the program content.