The hardest part is over. After a COVID-19-induced hiatus, NAB Show got back to business last year in Las Vegas. Now, as the organization celebrates the show's 100th anniversary, the National Association of Broadcasters is hoping to build on that momentum in mid-April. In an exclusive interview, Chris Brown, executive vice president and managing director of NAB Global Connections and Events, shared his thoughts on last year's return and what attendees can expect in 2023.
SCN: NAB Show’s 100th anniversary is quite the milestone. How will you celebrate at the show?
Chris Brown: As we commemorate 100 years since the first NAB Show in 1923, we are offering opportunities for attendees, exhibitors, and other stakeholders to share their memories, engage online and onsite, and connect via a range of networking opportunities.
We launched a website that provides an interactive journey through NAB’s history with a timeline detailing landmark achievements, moments in broadcasting and at NAB Show, along with image galleries, broadcasters’ stories, and a digital NAB Hall of Fame detailing radio and television legends inducted throughout the years.
We also kicked off “Share Your Story,” a community campaign, encouraging individuals to share special memories, serendipitous moments, or remarkable stories about broadcasting and NAB Show. Additionally, we are planning registration incentives, contests, special events and activations, and recognitions of exceptional past NAB Show participation.
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Above all, we are focused on creating a vibrant marketplace as well as programs and services that deliver substantial direct value to our community. This centennial year more than ever, we are striving to create meaningful connections that educate, spur innovation, facilitate partnerships, and drive growth for the industry.
SCN: Last year’s NAB Show was about getting back together after a three-year hiatus. Looking back, how successful was the show?
CB: It was an incredibly successful event, far exceeding expectations on every dimension. The NAB Show community is highly passionate about what they do. This is their opportunity to come together to see, feel, touch, get inspired, and soak in the industry—and above all reconnect with old friends and make new ones.
NAB Show is where that all happens. And this dynamic led to nearly 55,000 industry executives coming together for the show in April. They represented every facet of the media and entertainment landscape—business, technical, and creative—and came from every part of the world, with over 25% from outside the U.S. What we witnessed was a euphoria at being able to finally come together in person. With the memory of that experience, we are expecting the total attendance number to jump to 70,000 or more this year.
More and more, the show is bringing the right people together—those who are coming to do business and engage in true knowledge exchange, and those who are on a mission and serious about their participation. Last year, this made for one of the most productive shows in recent history, with a higher buyer-to-seller ratio than we have seen. The show’s nearly 1,000 exhibitors, including the leading technology product and service providers in the business, were especially pleased. The show received the highest satisfaction scores from these companies in its history.
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By and large, trade shows are coming back strong as pandemic concerns subside and people get back to doing business in person. We are encouraged about what’s to come.
SCN: Like last year, the exhibit hall will open on a Sunday. What has been the reaction from attendees regarding the weekend start?
CB: Last year, we opened the show on Sunday for the first time, versus the traditional Monday opening, and we closed on Wednesday instead of Thursday. This was implemented to make participation easier for those involved in live and other studio production projects, as well as those who may find it difficult to get away during the week or want to minimize time away from work. The feedback we received on this new schedule was overwhelmingly positive, and we think it will continue to help boost attendance and maximize exhibitors’ time with customers.
SCN: How will NAB Show be organized this year?
CB: We will be carrying forward the organization we introduced in 2022, with all aspects of the show tied to a set of uniquely curated content pillars. The three core pillars, or destinations—Create, Connect, and Capitalize—reflect how the industry works and make it easier for every attendee to navigate the show and find what is most relevant to them. Both the show floor and the educational programs are organized around these themes.
A fourth area is Intelligent Content, which is all about data and the enormous influence it is having across the content creation and distribution chain. Programs and exhibitors tied to the Connect, Capitalize, and Intelligent Content pillars will be located in the West Building of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Create will be featured in the North and Central Buildings.
SCN: Walking the show floor is always good exercise for systems integrators (in more ways than one), but what other attractions should be on their radar at this year’s show?
CB: Given the way the industry has evolved, systems integrators have had to extend their services to match advances in technology and the broadening needs of their customers. It is no longer just about connectivity, interoperability, and networking. The needs of media companies extend to the full range of production and content creation tools, and there is no event that covers that end of the content lifecycle more thoroughly than NAB Show. Virtually all the leading players and the newest technologies on this side of the business will be at the 2023 NAB Show.
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Integrators will also benefit this year from the return of many of the leading AV display companies, including Roe Visual, LG, Vanguard Displays, and Planar. And there are special exhibits that focus on workflows that should be of interest to integrators. The best example of this is the IP Showcase, returning with education and demonstrations on the latest in IP integration.
Finally, an area of the show that deserves some focus is the Intelligent Content space in the West Hall. Advancements made around AI, machine learning, data science, and analytics will be featured here. These technologies help integrators learn how to design, prepare, and build smart, cost-efficient, and sustainable facilities for today and tomorrow.
SCN: Every NAB Show has its own buzz. What do you expect to be the hot topics on the show floor in 2023?
CB: There are some unique developments impacting the media and entertainment business. On the broadcast side, for example, NextGen TV in the U.S. (ATSC 3.0) is steadily advancing as there are more stations, more receivers, more viewers, and more new opportunities around better picture, sound, and interactivity to drive engagement. 5G production techniques, particularly around live events, is another growth area, and when combined with cloud workflows, it borders on revolutionary in terms of how broadcasters can source, produce, and publish their content.
And there is no doubt, streaming media—whether it be audio or video, ad supported or subscription, live or on-demand, via handheld remote or voice controlled—is an exciting and growing way broadcasters and media companies are reaching consumers.
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On the production and post-production side, virtualization and remote production tools continue to drive new dynamics, as do advances in VFX technology via game engine technology and exciting tools like “volume” screens. Another growing trend is the way that tools, traditionally leveraged exclusively for high-end cinema production, are now finding adoption with content creators across broadcast, enterprise, and more creative communities; this is a focus of our new CineCentral area on the show floor
There is a lot of buzz around the Metaverse, Web3, AI, and data-driven personalization. New immersive content experiences are imminent, from pure AR/VR or mixed reality variations to the full-blown promise of new digital worlds with users as the central character.
And we certainly see data as a critical driver for the future. Data allows content creators to produce content that the consumer wants, and to serve it up when the consumer wants it. It allows broadcasters and other media players to target and contextualize advertising, so advertising becomes a more seamless part of the content experience. It is powering more efficient production and post-production workflows. Understanding the power of data and how it can be put to use now and in the future is what the Intelligent Content area at NAB Show is all about.