NAB Returns To The Big Apple

NAB Returns To The Big Apple

As the broadcast industry continues to normalize after two years of upheaval from the COVID-19 pandemic, the NAB Show New York returns to the Jacob Javits Center next month. The show, which will run Oct. 17-20 and be co-located with the Audio Engineering Society (AES) annual convention, will bring broadcasters and technology vendors together on both an exhibit floor and in a robust conference program.

The NAB Show New York (NAB NY) hasn’t happened in-person since 2019, although NAB did produce a virtual version in October 2020. With the flagship NAB Show in Las Vegas in April and IBC in Amsterdam earlier this month both making successful comebacks — albeit with smaller audiences than before — vendors are optimistic about the prospects for the compact New York event. And some say NAB NY could be more important this year than in the past, because it gives them another chance to connect with customers who didn’t make the trip to NAB or IBC due to lingering COVID concerns or tight travel budgets.

Before the pandemic hit, NAB had been steadily growing NAB NY since 2015 after taking over the fall show at the Javits previously known as CCW +SATCON (Content & Communications World, co-located with SATCON) the year prior. For the 2022 edition, NAB is expecting around 8,000 attendees and more than 200 exhibitors, compared to 13,800 attendees and 300 exhibitors in 2019.

NAB President-CEO Curtis LeGeyt said that heading into the big spring show NAB had hoped to hit 70% of the 2019 show on both the exhibitor and attendee sides. Obviously, the attendance of 53,458 fell short of that goal, representing just under 60% of the 2019 attendance of 91,460. And the current predictions for NAB NY attendance would represent a similar drop. But he said NAB is focusing on attendee quality over quantity.

“What we heard in our feedback from exhibitors was that there was no drop off in terms of the amount of business that was generated from their contacts at the show relative to what they would have seen in 2019,” LeGeyt says. “That’s what we’re trying to ensure happens here. We’ve got 8,000 to 9,000 attendees and they are the right attendees, and they are there to engage on the show floor, to go hands-on with the products that are the focus of that floor. And that it’s not just people browsing, where it’s not a true business relationship.

“We feel really, really good about where we are right now,” he adds. “And this is kind of a building block from what we did in Vegas in April, as a percentage-wise, building that up slightly for New York, and then following that through for Vegas in April of 2023.”

While the number of exhibitors will also be down from 2019, at press time there were 30 first-time exhibitors for NAB NY, a number that LeGeyt hopes to grow in the next few weeks. “For our first time back in New York, to already be adding new blood is extremely encouraging,” LeGeyt says.

One of those first-time exhibitors is supply chain software vendor SDVI, which had sent executives to attend NAB NY in the past but never had a booth. SDVI Chief Marketing Officer Geoff Stedman says the company had a successful NAB 2022 exhibition despite the smaller turnout, and also enjoyed a strong IBC (though Stedman along with several other vendors cites big delays at Schiphol Airport on the last day of the show that caused some staff to miss their flights home). But he says there are still customers that SDVI is waiting to see.

“The profile of attendees at IBC and NAB still seemed regional,” Stedman says. “We didn’t see a lot of New York people come to Las Vegas. So, we felt like NAB NY was still an opportunity to reconnect with people we didn’t see at NAB or IBC. The big networks either didn’t send anybody, or sent a very skeleton crew, and I can think through some customers that we would normally meet with that we did not meet at NAB.”

Another first-time exhibitor is Bitcentral, which used to exhibit when the show was CCW+SATCON but has just attended NAB NY in recent years. Bitcentral COO Sam Peterson says this year made sense both because of the diminished attendance at NAB and IBC and a couple of corporate initiatives it wants to highlight, including the integration of the streaming platform it acquired in January and deployments of its new Fusion archiving product.

The company is going to send 10 to 12 people, compared to the 25 to 28 it sends to NAB in Vegas, including its streaming media team, traditional broadcast production and playout team and some account executives and sales engineers.

“This was a good year for us to look at what additional exposure would look like for us, especially because we have so many New York-based customers,” Peterson says. “We’ve been thinking about it for a long time, and this was the right year for us.”

Several longtime NAB NY exhibitors also view this year’s show as a unique opportunity given the hangover effect of the pandemic. FOR-A, which will be highlighting a new line of “SOAR-A” software-focused products for ST 2110 networking, didn’t see some key customers at NAB in the spring and is looking for a second chance next month, says Satoshi Kanemura, president and COO of FOR-A America.

“Especially this year’s NAB NY is very important to us,” Kanemura says. “Due to COVID and other issues not so many people came to NAB, and so we really would like to have a dialogue with all the broadcasters and big truck companies on the East Coast, especially in the New York area, the networks and group stations. So, this is a great opportunity to introduce what we have, and we can start communicating.”

Kanemura adds that executives from some major networks such as CBS and ABC were checking out FOR-A’s new ST 2110 technology at IBC, and the company plans to follow up with them in New York.

Paul Shen, CEO of IP transmission vendor TVU Networks, said that IBC was “busier than it used to be,” despite much lower overall attendance than the 2019 show, with strong traffic across all four days. He expects that spirit to carry over to NAB NY, where TVU has been a longtime exhibitor and generally looks to connect with its major network customers. This year it will be highlighting a full range of cloud-based microservices going all the way from acquisition to distribution.

“IBC was very busy, and I’m expecting NAB in New York to be too,” Shen says. “People are more free to come out.”

While IBC and NAB are true international shows that “draw a whole spectrum of people,” Shen says, NAB NY obviously represents a much smaller scale and smaller geographic footprint, with heavy attendance from the Northeast and New York City in particular. And he is fine with that, echoing the sentiment of most vendors.

“It’s been a regional show,” says Van Duke, director of operations for master control vendor Playbox NEO. “Granted, it’s a high-end regional show, I would never deny that. I did close one of my most fantastic deals from that show. And it’s just like any trade show [as a vendor] — if you’re not there, where are you?”

With its headquarters in Princeton, N.J., transmission monitoring and analysis vendor Triveni Digital finds NAB NY a very easy show to participate in, as its executives can just drive into the city. But they are still staying overnight in New York hotels so they can host dinners with clients and avoid traffic issues.

“I mostly see East Coast customers,” says Triveni Digital VP of Sales and Marketing Ralph Bachofen. “But not just the Northeast, there are also folks coming up from Florida.”

Several vendors note that the proximity of the Javits Center to major broadcast and cable networks and the exhibition’s timing in the middle of the week (the floor is open Wednesday, Oct. 19, and Thursday, Oct. 20) make it easy to schedule onsite customer visits as well as booth appointments. That makes for a productive week in NYC despite the high hotel prices.

“You’ve got a great little consolidated group of people right in that city,” says Russell Wise, SVP of sales and marketing for captioning and monitoring vendor Digital Nirvana. “Sometimes it draws a little out of Canada, and then some from Atlanta. It’s been one of those shows where you don’t get overwhelmed with people, but you’re likely to find a couple of golden nuggets. We’ll see. It seems like the appetite for people getting out there is increasing.”

The company will be showcasing its new Trance 4.0 captioning solution and its Metadata IQ metadata generation tool, which automates the generation of speech-to-text and video intelligence metadata from raw news feeds and then allows them to be searchable within Avid’s Interplay content management system. Wise says that Metadata IQ is in the process of being deployed at NBC News.

Wise didn’t make the trip himself to IBC and regretted it, as the show was much busier than he expected, and its booth was slightly understaffed. Ironically, he says Digital Nirvana may be overstaffed for NAB NY, where it is sending 10 people. But he sees value beyond the show floor.

“This will be a place where I get the whole team together, including some key people out of India and executive management, to get in the same room and talk about how it’s going, what they’re seeing and what things we need to do next,” Wise says. “We’re coupling this, making this more of a company meeting plus customers. And we’ll have meetings outside of the convention, obviously with NBC, and a couple others.”

NAB has worked hard to improve the content program for NAB NY, LeGeyt says, snagging high-profile speakers like 2022 keynoters Evan Shapiro and Gordon Borrell and partnering with third-party firms to produce content, including TVNewsCheck’s Cybersecurity for Broadcasters Retreat and TV2025: Monetizing the Future conference and Dan Rayburn’s Streaming Summit.

NAB is also borrowing some content themes from the spring show, bringing over its content “pillars” of Create, Connect and Capitalize as well as the “Experiential Zone” on the show floor. The Experiential Zone, which proved popular with attendees in Vegas, will include a “Content Theater” for keynotes and award celebrations and a “Tech Chat Stage” for product-focused demonstrations and discussions. And a new “Cine Live Lab” on the floor, created in partnership with AbelCine, will highlight the increased merging of technology between digital cinema and broadcast production.

“What we’re trying to make the theme of the New York show, is that while Vegas is focused on forward-looking products and product announcements, New York is really hands-on implementation and how you deploy this new technology in your day-to-day business today,” LeGeyt says.

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