NAB 2021 is over

Organizers cancel in-person convention amid big name cancellations

Kathleen Maher

The situation for a live NAB began to look bad as the Delta variation began to rampage across the US and especially across red states. The conference was to be held on October 9–13, but we certainly weren’t too worried about making reservations.

Several significant exhibitors have announced plans to give NAB a pass this year. The first to officially pull out was Sony, which traditionally takes up about an acre of trade show floor real estate and so did Canon, which likewise makes a big annual commitment to NAB. Both companies have also pulled out of Infocomm, which was coming up in Orlando, Florida, October 23–29.

The cancellation began to add up over the last week including Panasonic and there was a lot of informal chatter about others who would not be showing up … more camera companies and, weirdly, Apple. Apple hasn’t been to NAB in years but they had appeared on NAB’s list of attendees and then quietly disappeared. NAB relies heavily on equipment manufacturers and it was the camera vendors who were signaling their hesitancy. Panasonic and Ross pulled out and the smart money was on Black Magic pulling out, since the Australian company already has a long haul in the first place. They let their competitors do it for them.

Las Vegas did itself no favors. The mayor, Carolyn Goodman has tried to pretend Covid was no big thing and was rewarded with a light case herself and recognition for her city as one of the worst US cities for Covid transmission.

The show gets about 100,000 attendees, on a good year. It has a large international component, and it occupies a huge amount of space outdoors and indoors for such things as lighting rigs, video trucks, antennae, cameras, and camera equipment. It also has multiple well-attended events including Sony’s huge press and customer events, Avid’s press and customer event, organization gatherings, and all sorts of ritualistic nonsense masquerading as parties.

It’s pretty likely that the NAB organizers were worried as soon as Delta made an entrance. Recently, the organization issued a requirement for proof of vaccination and said they’d be making updates according to CDC requirements.

The show announced its cancellation on September 15, 2021, with a message from Executive Vice President Managing Director of Global Connections and Events at the National Association of Broadcasters, Chris Brown, which said:

For more than a year we have worked tirelessly to bring our industry together safely in Las Vegas at NAB Show. Unfortunately, the pandemic and surge of the Delta variant has presented unexpected and insurmountable challenges for our global community.

As we have always kept the best interest and safety of the industry as our priority, it has become apparent in the face of these challenges that we can no longer effectively host NAB Show or our co-located events, the Radio Show and Sales and Management Television Exchange, in person.

NAB Show is the premiere destination for the media and entertainment industry and we will not move forward with a show that delivers anything less than the excellence our community has come to expect and deserves from us.

While we are disappointed that we will not be together again in person next month, we look forward to converging in Las Vegas at the 2022 NAB Show, April 23–27, 2022, to reignite our passion for our business and focus on a bright future ahead.

Stay tuned for details regarding virtual options for accessing select 2021 NAB Show content through NAB Amplify.


What do we think?

The situation is also looking bad for Infocomm, which is coming up October 23–29 in Orlando. Sony and Canon have also pulled out of that show. The Infocomm health and safety page on their website suggests they’re still going on with the show, but they are asking proof of vaccination or a recent Covid-19 test.

The International Broadcast Convention is promising to go on with the show starting December 6 in Amsterdam. Masks will be mandatory. We kind of wonder if they will let Americans in.     

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