What Can Attendees Expect at the 2018 NAB Show?

LAS VEGAS—Over the years, the NAB Show has successfully adapted to the rapidly changing demands of the media and entertainment industry. This year is no different.

This means connecting with streamers, gamers, post professionals and, of course, broadcasters. But this year’s annual event has been reorganized to meet all of those needs with a new lineup of sessions, summits and exhibits that seemed unimaginable even a few years ago.

One theme that seems to permeate throughout the new programs is the way in which technology is being used to create better storytellers.

“Effectively using technology is critical to creating quality content,” said Chris Brown, executive vice president of conventions and business operations for NAB. “NAB Show offers inspiration, training and the very latest tools and technologies to help storytellers step up their game and advance their tradecraft.”


The NAB Show is responding to the increasing popularity of over the top platforms with the introduction of the Streaming Summit, a one-day conference that will focus from top to bottom on the culture and dynamics of the streaming media business. What was cutting edge and resourceful 12 months ago—be it ways of monetizing or streaming protocols—may be outmoded and outpaced come this April. The session will address topics like live linear workflows, transcoding, distribution, new business models and technology platforms.

What’s not up for debate: that regardless of the technology and monetization schemes behind the curtain, consumers expect a certain level of quality content and a certain level of quality delivery, Brown said. “As video streaming services continue to gain immense popularity, media and technology companies must evolve to meet the demand for quality content when and where consumers want it,” he said.


NAB has also shuffled around one of the most popular events at the show—its TV, radio and technology luncheons—into two new major events. The first is a new NAB Achievement in Broadcasting Dinner; the second is a celebration called “NAB: We are Broadcasters” Celebration.

The changes were made to better highlight key awards and expose them to a broader NAB Show audience, Brown said, while still highlighting the work the broadcast industry does from a business, creative and community perspective.

Just as the individual broadcast and tech awards did in the past, the new Achievement in Broadcasting Dinner is designed to recognize those individuals and companies who are working to advance the industry through technology, public service and content. At that same dinner, two awards will be presented: the NAB Radio and Television Hall of Fame Award and NAB Engineering and Digital Leadership Award. Game show aficionados may want to brace themselves for this double-whammy award ceremony that will honor “Wheel of Fortune” and its hosts Pat Sajak and Vanna White, as well as “JEOPARDY!” and its host Alex Trebek. All three have hosted their respective programs since the mid-80s, and between them have produced a combined 13,000 episodes.

This year’s NAB Digital Leadership Award will be awarded to Roger Keating, Chief Strategy and Business Development Officer for Hearst Television. The Television Engineering Achievement Award will be presented to Mark Aitken, vice president of Advanced Technology at Sinclair Broadcast Group and Clay Freinwald of Freinwald Technical Services will receive the 2018 Service to Broadcast Engineering Award.

The NAB’s “We Are Broadcasters” Celebration event will include the presentation of several familiar radio and TV awards, including the NAB Crystal Radio Awards and Television Chairman’s Award. Attendees will find them in “the good place” for the Television Chairman’s Award, which will be presented to TV and film actress Kristen Bell.

Those of us who want to hear firsthand what NAB President Gordon Smith has to say will need to re-route the Uber away from the Westgate over to the main stage in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. After that keynote presentation, the NAB Distinguished Service Award will be awarded to ABC co-anchor Robin Roberts.

The NAB is also partnering up with that famous little gold statue guy. This year, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) will present the Technology and Engineering Emmy Awards at NAB. Up to this point, these technical honors had been awarded at the annual CES show. “We couldn’t be more pleased that NATAS has chosen to recognize the industry’s most innovative companies and leading technology minds at NAB Show,” Brown said. “The awards are a natural fit for NAB Show. Many of the winners are regular attendees or among our exhibitor ranks.”


A surprisingly number of new areas will spring up on the show floor this year too. At the Destination NXT Theater, an on-the-show-floor education program In the South Hall, attendees can listen to presentations on distribution, delivery and commerce. In one instance, that will mean getting inside the devoted, chaotic, demanding and progressive head of a sports fan.

One of the events in the Destination NXT Theater will be “The Super-Fan Journey,” which will take a real-life look at the ways that a sport fan flits from social media to video games to OTT to follow his teams. So how does a team or network provide a more targeted, streamlined journey from one hop to the other? The session, manned by staffers from the San Francisco Giants and Minnesota Vikings, will take a crack at answering the question.

Other new spots on the show floor will be the Podcasting Pavilion and the Immersive Storytelling Pavilion, which will look at the ongoing creation and commercialization of virtual, mixed and augmented immersive content. Convention organizers expanded podcasting’s presence at the show to help attendees “capitalize on the medium’s growing popularity and potential,” Brown said.

Away from the show floor, attendees will see five new conferences. In addition to the new Streaming Summit, the NAB is introducing the “Ad Innovations” conference that will look at everything from AI and big data to ad models and new platforms.

And fan engagement comes swinging around again in several new conferences. “Content Strategies for Podcasting” will look at the way podcasting can tap into rabid fan engagement and introduce new revenue streams. Likewise, the new eSports conference looks at this rapidly growing market and the ways in which streaming, media rights and fan engagement tools are helping shape it.

The NAB will also usher in three new networking opportunities, including several new Community Mixers, the new Braindate series of small group conversations, and (for those of us seriously tired of standing up eating a cold hot dog while leaning against a hallway wall) a new Draft House food and beverage area in the South Hall.

For more information, visit www.nabshow.com.

Susan Ashworth is the former editor of TV Technology. In addition to her work covering the broadcast television industry, she has served as editor of two housing finance magazines and written about topics as varied as education, radio, chess, music and sports. Outside of her life as a writer, she recently served as president of a local nonprofit organization supporting girls in baseball.