Editorial: 3 Observations from the 2023 NAB Show Floor

Ross Video Booth at 2023 NAB Show
Ross Video had a major presence in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. (Image credit: Mark J. Pescatore)

The NAB Show celebrated its 100th anniversary in Las Vegas this week, and there was plenty to see. While foot traffic seemed a bit hit-or-miss on Sunday, the Monday and Tuesday crowds seemed larger, more consistent, and I daresay bustling. Here are three takeaways from my time on the show floor.

1) Don’t believe your eyes.

VR is taking over the world. Maybe.

LED walls were everywhere on the show floor. For me, it harkened back to the early days of HD at NAB, when suddenly everyone had an HD display at their booth to show they were part of the new trend. Sure, there was still plenty of greenscreen on display at the Las Vegas Convention Center, but VR was definitely this year’s “shiny new object.”

LG VR at NAB 2023

LG had a live demo of its VR capabilities, allowing NAB attendees to look behind the curtain at its technology. (Image credit: Mark J. Pescatore)

Among several VR demonstrations across the show floor, FOR-A had a particularly vibrant LED display in its booth. Last month, the company announced a strategic partnership with Alfalite, a Spain-based LED panel manufacturer, to market its screens in select areas. Absen also had some jaw-dropping large displays. If NAB was any indication, prepare to experience VR nirvana at InfoComm in June.

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So why the maybe? As you might expect, cost may derail the plans of VR adoption for some. A video wall is not an inexpensive investment. Customers may have grand plans for virtual production for corporate studios, broadcast studios, houses of worship, and other installs, but they may balk at the equipment, installation, and power consumption costs.

Panasonic VR at NAB 2023

Panasonic demonstrated a projector-based alternative to VR. (Image credit: Mark J. Pescatore)

Panasonic Connect had a clever alternative (that is yet to be named) at its booth. They had three projectors working through its KAIROS system to create a virtual set. Was it as stunning in real life as the massive wall from Vanguard LED Displays a few rows over? Of course not. But on camera it looked just fine—and the projector solution means no moiré issues, lower power consumption, and lower equipment costs.

And there’s one more important note: Someone has to create the virtual reality for your VR setup. Whether it’s a sports stadium or the Rocky Mountains or even outer space, stock images will only take your background so far. If VR is going to succeed in the long term, customers are going to need access to talented graphic artists. To me, it feels like yet another avenue for managed services (read: ongoing revenue streams) for integrators.

2) Ross Video is huge.

I know what many of you are thinking: Well, duh.

Fair point.

I’m not saying that Ross Video wasn’t big before—I’m saying that through its recent acquisitions, expansive product offerings and solutions, and overall business strategy, Ross has reached the rarefied air of a company that is literally setting the direction—and raising the bar—of the production, broadcast, and Pro AV industries.

During the company keynote on Saturday, David Ross, president and CEO, said the company has experienced 31 years of consecutive growth. Through its strategic acquisitions, Ross now has a nearly 200,000-square-foot global manufacturing footprint and around 1,500 employees (about 280 of whom were at NAB Show). I talked with Ross briefly at the event, and he said the company is “the equivalent of 20 companies in one, all of them working together.”

What I saw at their keynote event was a growing, dynamic company with a plan. What I saw on the show floor was a large chunk of exhibit hall real estate that was buzzing with activity. What I see from the company is innovation, quality, and leadership.

So, I’m going on the record: Ross Video is now a cornerstone of our industry.

3) Industry trade shows are going to be just fine.

Behind the undeniable joy on the faces of reunited NAB Show attendees last year, there was some trepidation from organizers and exhibitors: If we build it, will they come? Well, they did, even if they didn’t break attendance records.

For its centennial show, the National Association of Broadcasters announced 65,013 registered attendees, including 17,446 international attendees representing more than 160 countries. That’s roughly 20% more than the 52,468 registered attendees from last year. There were also 1,208 exhibitors spread across the West, North, and Central Halls of the LVCC. Yes, attendance still falls short of pre-pandemic numbers, but it’s definitely trending in the right direction.

Mark J. Pescatore
Content Director

Mark J. Pescatore, Ph.D., is the content director of Systems Contractor News. He has been writing about Pro AV industry for more than 25 years. Previously, he spent more than eight years as the editor of Government Video magazine. During his career, he's produced and hosted two podcasts focused on the professional video marketplace, taught more than a dozen college communication courses, co-authored the book Working with HDV, and co-edited two editions of The Guide to Digital Television.