The National Association of Broadcasters has decided to move the 2021 NAB Show from April to October of next year.
President/CEO Gordon Smith broke the news in an announcement to the industry. The new dates are Oct. 9 to 13, 2021, in Las Vegas.
Also announced: the 2021 fall Radio Show will be held concurrently in Vegas.
The question of what NAB might do in 2021 with the huge spring event — after cancelling it in 2020 just a few weeks before the show in the face of COVID-19 — has been a pressing and closely watched one as the industry moved into autumn for the Northern Hemisphere and as organizations began planning next year’s travel (or lack of it) without clarity on when the world health situation would ease.
The decision affects a lot of people. Registration at the most recent physical NAB Show in 2019 was reported by the association at around 91,460 people, more than a quarter of them from abroad.
Smith said NAB was aware of “a good deal of reluctance around participating in large events in the first half of next year.” He wrote that the pandemic “remains a significant threat and the evidence suggests it will be well into next year before it could be under control in the U.S.”
He said NAB also had concerns “around being able to deliver the type of event in April that will not only drive results, but one that can be produced safely for all involved and without significant limitations on the experience.”
“On the plus side, the 2021 Radio Show will co-locate with NAB Show in Las Vegas, as will NAB’s Sales and Management Television Exchange; and there is opportunity to add additional partner events.” (Next year’s Radio Show had been slated for New Orleans.)
An NAB spokeswoman told Radio World that the following year’s spring show schedule is not affected; that convention is scheduled for April 23-27, 2022.
Smith didn’t mention other shows by name but wrote, “We have done our best to avoid direct conflicts with other domestic and international events, and have reached out to allied organizations and partners to both share our thinking in advance and to offer to work collaboratively toward turning this into an opportunity for all.” The IBC Show is another large event around that time of year; it is slated next year for mid-September.
Earlier, planners of another big Vegas show, the 2021 CES, announced that their event this coming January would be held virtually
Also today, Chris Brown, NAB’s EVP of conventions, wrote to exhibitor partners, “We did not make this decision lightly and we’d like to thank you for your continued support and guidance over the last few months as we considered your feedback while also monitoring the ongoing health and safety concerns around the fight to contain the pandemic in the U.S., the projected state of the economy and travel restrictions around the world.”
The full text of Gordon Smith’s announcement is below:
Dear NAB Show community,
I hope that you and your loved ones are well and staying safe. Although we truly miss seeing you in person, it has been fantastic to observe the industry come together in many ways to work through these challenging times, and it has been our pleasure to do our part to create connections via our new digital initiatives.
As we look ahead to 2021 and beyond, our top priority is to deliver a successful NAB Show. We recognize the vital role NAB Show plays as a driver of innovation and an economic engine for the global media and entertainment industry. With that in mind, it is critical we act on your behalf and in a way that will best serve the long-term interests of the industry. We have worked diligently over the last few weeks and months monitoring a range of variables, including health and safety concerns, economic indicators, industry developments and travel restrictions, to gain an understanding of overall trends and future conditions for holding a major event in 2021. We have also reached out extensively to the show community to collect feedback.
Through all of this we have witnessed growing concern and uncertainty over what the next six months will bring; enough that there appears to be a good deal of reluctance around participating in large events in the first half of next year. The pandemic remains a significant threat and the evidence suggests it will be well into next year before it could be under control in the U.S. We also have our own concerns around being able to deliver the type of event in April that will not only drive results, but one that can be produced safely for all involved and without significant limitations on the experience.
Taking all of this into account and in the interest of supporting the business, health and safety concerns of our show community we have decided to move the 2021 NAB Show, previously scheduled for April 11–14, to October 9–13, 2021 in Las Vegas.
With any difficult decision, there are trade-offs. Moving NAB Show to October means we are considering alternative 2021 dates for NAB Show New York, held annually in October. On the plus side, the 2021 Radio Show will co-locate with NAB Show in Las Vegas as will NAB’s Sales and Management Television Exchange; and there is opportunity to add additional partner events. Beyond this, we have done our best to avoid direct conflicts with other domestic and international events, and have reached out to allied organizations and partners to both share our thinking in advance and to offer to work collaboratively toward turning this into an opportunity for all.
With a new date set for the 2021 NAB Show we are looking at the entirety of the calendar next year with fresh eyes. We plan to continue bringing the industry together in a number of ways. In the short-term, we are excited about the online events planned for next month – the Radio Show (October 5–9) and NAB’s Sales and Management Television Exchange (October 14–15). These signature events, combined with our virtual NAB Show New York (October 19–29), offer dynamic content and engagement opportunities all month long to bring the industry together to restart, reengage and refocus.
We are also committed to creating new and meaningful experiences to engage and connect with you throughout the year on NAB Amplify. This dynamic, year-round digital platform will extend the impact of NAB Show throughout the year by providing opportunities for networking, discovery and education.
Since the early stages of the current global crisis, we have done our best to balance our decision-making with the long-term interest of NAB members and the wider media and entertainment industry. We have not made this decision lightly and have relied on a great deal of feedback from the NAB Show community. We are grateful to our stakeholders and partners for engaging with us and supporting our decision. Amidst all of this, we have been reminded of what a great industry we serve. As always, we look forward to working with you to provide vital events and services to support these efforts, and to invigorate and propel the industry forward.