NAB Show notes 20,000 registrations for 2022 trade show

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The NAB Show appears to be making a slow comeback after two years off from the coronavirus pandemic.

With about seven weeks until the opening of the 2022 NAB Show, the conference has about 20,000 registrations and 700 exhibitors lined up, well below the pre-pandemic numbers, even as the organization continues to process signups on both fronts. The show would not clarify to NewscastStudio if the registration number included exhibitor personnel, press covering the show and other non-public attendees.

“It’s been a challenging year plus for us and we’re excited now that things seem to be really moving in the right direction… On the registration side the momentum is really picking up,” said National Associaton of Broadcasters’ Chris Brown during a recent podcast where he revealed the registration data.

Brown optimistically noted he thinks registration may top 60,0000 to 70,000 attendee registrations by the time the show opens. Internal numbers reviewed by NewscastStudio and presented to potential exhibitors, however, forecast between 50,000 and 60,000 attendees.

NAB Show, in a statement issued to NewscastStudio, noted it was too early to project registrations – while the organization continues to project registrations to its internal and sales-focused audiences. 

The projected attendee number was also used as the basis for setting costs for floor space inside the Las Vegas Convention Center, with the dollar amounts similar to 2019, according to multiple exhibitors who wished to remain anonymous due to fear of retribution from NAB. 

The 2019 NAB Show saw a total attendance of 91,921, according to the show’s demographics report. Of this figure, 27% – or 24,896 attendees – were exhibitors and their related personnel with 69% – or about 63,425 – classified as “buyers” (the term NAB uses for the general public at the show).

If these percentages are true for this year’s registration, that puts “buyers” at this year’s event closer to 14,000. Brown also noted in the podcast that roughly 20% of the current registrants are from outside of the United States.

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Back in 2019, the last show before the pandemic, 1,600 exhibitors were reported. Brown also noted during the podcast this year’s show may reach 1,000 exhibitors, but with the NAB Show not utilizing the upper or lower South Hall this presents some potential logistical challenges if too many late additions occur.

Changing Focus

Companies, such as Avid, have already opted out of this year’s gathering with others planning significantly reduced footprints. A NewscastStudio survey, released in early February, saw only 32% of respondents agree or strongly agree they would plan to attend a broadcast-related trade show this year.

Many end users have already found other ways of researching and vetting potential products, such as through roadshows, virtual events and smaller, focused gatherings – such as with Sports Video Group, TVNewsCheck or HPA. 

NAB Show 2022 abandons “The MET Effect” branding – which stood for media, entertainment and technology – in favor of a more business-focused theme of “Create, connect and capitalize.” With this new theme comes fewer sessions focused on Hollywood and big-budget productions, such as the 2019 panel looking at “Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse” and “Captain Marvel.”

The show notes this new theme will be part of a reimagined show, however, it’s unclear how it has been reimagined aside from the show’s reduced footprint and new show floor education areas. NAB is also highlighted the newly opened West Hall and LVCC Loop tunnel as part of the reimagining.

“We have all along been pointing towards coming back with a bang and that’s the whole idea this year,” said Brown about the new content and education at the event. 

It’s likely that the trade show business will be forever changed and need to adapt in creative ways — many companies who felt in person meetings were vital for making buying decisions and networking saw that it was still possible to do those things remotely. 

The annual gathering generated $47 million in revenue for the National Association of Broadcasters in 2019 according to the nonprofit’s 990 filings, with $20 million in reported conference expenses. The organization, for comparison, collects roughly $15 million in membership dues each year.

NAB Show Health and Safety Protocols

Many businesses are also still discouraging travel unless necessary even as coronavirus cases dip and mitigation measures relax. 

The NAB Show has also yet to announce its final health and safety policies on masking and vaccines for this year’s event.

“Right now, we are a vaccination-required event, meaning you have to have been vaccinated and show proof of vaccination to gain entry,” said Brown, who noted the requirements may “evolve” in the coming weeks.

“This is something that is going to evolve as the situation changes,” said Brown during the podcast interview. “On the mask side of the equation… We are now mask recommended but not required. I expect that will stay in place through the show.”

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