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NAB NY is looking good, but faces challenges [Opinion]

3 minute read


Late last week journalists received an update from NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith regarding NAB 2020 and forward. But what do these announcements really mean for the show? Ned Soltz offers some further analysis on the revamped shows.

While I and numerous others encouraged NAB to cancel the 2020 Las Vegas show earlier in the COVID-19 outbreak, NAB waited as long as it possibly could and ultimately made the wise decision. And even had NAB management not made that decision, the shuttering of venues and reduction in transportation would have ultimately made the decision. It wasn’t taken lightly nor did those of us who advocated for cancellation take it lightly.

Many vendors have already announced virtual press briefings for us to have the info ready for our readers as soon as releases are made official.

But with the Gordon Smith letter, we see that NAB will launch NAB Show Express targeted for April 2020. It promises to include product announcements and demos as well as some interactive possibilities. This obviously will be a massive undertaking but tech companies will be up to the job and we look forward to an exciting virtual show. It is too early to predict how virtual shows will ultimately affect the physical show space—and this is across all business sectors. I predict it to be a massive success and in fact a real boon for the hundreds of thousands who do not attend NAB to have a taste of the excitement of community.

And one more parenthetical opinion—perhaps we may see an uptick in trade show participation once we no longer need to self isolate. We’re not cats. We are socially-connected beings who now with a forced reliance on technology for social connectivity appreciate all the more our basic interconnected needs. I’m looking forward to being pushed, jostled and elbowed gathering around a live demo of a cool product.

The challenge

Smith also promises an enhancement of NAB’s October show in New York, noting NAB’s discussions with exhibitors to step up their presence in NYC.

Now this could present more of a challenge. Since acquiring the show and renaming it NAB New York, it has faced a number of challenges and these challenges will hopefully be addressed going forward into an enhanced NYC show.

The first of these is space. Las Vegas Convention Center has 2 million square feet of exhibit space (not counting the new 600,000 square foot addition nearing completion). Add to that an existing 250,000 square feet of meeting space.

By contrast, New York’s Javits Center currently offers 840,000 square feet of exhibit space with 103,000 square feet of meeting and breakout space. A planned 1.1 million square foot addition will add another 500,000 square feet of exhibit space but it is not scheduled to open until sometime in 2021.

Hotel capacity

Without citing more statistics, it is also important to note that New York and environs lacks the hotel capacity of Las Vegas, where 90,000 show-goers are outnumbered by tourists. And ever tried to book a NYC hotel? Fagettaboutit. And alas who knows what the restaurant scene will look like this fall.

Another challenge faced by NAB New York has been the proximity by a week to the more popularly-attended pro and consumer PhotoPlus Expo. With the convergence of the photo/video worlds, there have been vendors who chose to exhibit at PhotoPlus for obviously greater potential booth traffic. Furthermore, NAB New York had been held in conjunction with the AES Expo in part of the Javits space. AES this past year just from my own observation seemed to attract more vendors and participants. Finally, vendors are stretched thin by IBC the month before in Amsterdam. In recent years, IBC profile has been raised with more product announcements and a more global reach.

Now it’s not insurmountable for NAB to mount an expanded show. Change the date. If vendor participation is projected to exceed available Javits space, secure multiple NYC venues. Many of us remember when NAB and Comdex used the Sands Convention Center. It can be done.

It may be a little ambitious to anticipate that New York in the fall can be Las Vegas in April. There is, after all, a reason why large shows choose LV. It simply is the most capable location. Still, there is significant room for enhancement of NAB New York and I strongly encourage creative ways to make it happen even with my caveats.

Fingers crossed

The effort is admirable. I first of all hope that by October we can actually congregate in large groups. And taking the optimistic position that it may be possible, I trust that the pent-up needs that we have as people to connect can attract exhibitors and attendees.

Let’s be optimistic and I’ll look forward to greeting you on home turf complete with my recommendations for the best pizza in the 5 Boroughs and Jersey. But if you eat your pizza with a knife and fork, I’ll pretend not to know you.

Tags: Business