The annual NAB Show officially kicks off in Las Vegas on Friday with the startup of on-site registration.
Technical conferences and production and workshops get underway on Saturday morning, and exhibits open for a four-day run beginning on Monday.
Dennis Wharton, executive vice president of media relations at the NAB, said that even though attendance was expected to be down somewhat from last year, he still expected that it would be a great show.
“We’ve got more than 1,500 exhibitors coming,” Wharton said. “And we’re expecting a huge turnout from the international audience. Avid is back and we have more than 100 first time exhibitors, including MGM Studios.” Wharton said that the NAB had recently conducted a survey of those signed up to attend the show, and despite the current rough economic times, the outlook was very promising.
“This was really good news,” Wharton said. “Our survey showed that 80 percent of attendees were planning to make purchases from the show floor. It’s really good news for the exhibitors. We call it our own private economic stimulus package.”
Wharton said that recent shows had each generated an estimated $50 billion in floor sales and that he was equally encouraged about projected sales levels this year’s NAB Show. While he was not as upbeat about attendance numbers, Wharton still expected a high turnout.
“We’re one of the top five shows in the United States,” he said. “And while we may not hit the number that attended last year, we’re still expecting large numbers of people. The serious players will all be there.”
Wharton would not comment on show registration figures just now, saying that he preferred to wait until on-site registration was complete, as last minute “walk-ins” tend to swell attendance numbers. However, the pre-show survey indicated that 23 percent of those pre-registered are attending the show for the first time, indicating a broad interest in the event.
He also commented on the increasing diversity of NAB Show attendees. “This is the one show on the planet where the key decision makers and key players—not just broadcasters, but also cable, Internet and other media—are all at the NAB Show every year,” Wharton said. “Actually now only about 20 percent of our attendance comes from the broadcasting business. We have tens of thousands from all walks of life attending because we have moved beyond the broadcasting business. We’ve expanded to new competitors and that’s why you have all those different businesses and their products on the show floor.”
The NAB Show continues through Thursday, April 23.