Coronavirus Cancellations: Everything You Need to Know About How the Outbreak Is Impacting the Global Media-Tech Events Business

(Image credit: Future)

Publisher and event producer Reed Midem on Wednesday announced that it will cancel its upcoming MipTV global TV programming market in Cannes, France, in response to the ongoing outbreak of the novel coronavirus. 

The cancellation also covers offshoot events MipDoc and MipFormats. Reed Midem has also postponed its third annual drama sidebar Canneseries.

“In the current context, many of our clients have expressed concerns about traveling at this time. Rescheduling MipTV in the coming months is not feasible, so the most appropriate course of action is to cancel MipTV for 2020,” Reed MIdem said in a statement. 

Also on Wednesday, Comcast’s FreeWheel Media advanced advertising unit announced that it's postponing next week’s NowFront event for advertisers and media buyers because of the coronavirus situation.

And Fox News on Tuesday began telling the folks it invited to its upfront event that it would not be held as well because of coronavirus-related health and safety concerns.

Also Read: Mobile World Congress Canceled Over Coronavirus Concerns

These were only the latest in a series of coronavirus event cancellations that have impacted the global media and technology business. 

The first major coronavirus event cancellation was Mobile World Congress, the wireless industry’s biggest trade event of the year, which was expected to draw 100,000 attendees to Barcelona, Spain last month. 

Other coronavirus cancellations soon followed. 

Facebook canceled its Global Marketing Summit, which had been scheduled to run in San Francisco March 9-12. Also due to coronavirus, the social media giant also scuttled its annual F8 developers conference, scheduled for May 5-6 in San Jose, California.

Cisco Systems canceled its Cisco Live Melbourne event, which was supposed to take place March 3-6 in Australia. 

Intel canceled its Intel Labs Day, which had been scheduled for March 12 at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts, citing the “ongoing and evolving coronavirus situation.” 

Google made its April 6-8 Google Cloud Next ’20 conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco—an event that attracted 30,000 attendees last year—a digital only affair. Google also canceled its Google I/O developer conference, slated for May 12-14 in Mountain View, California due to coronavirus fears. 

“Over the coming weeks, we will explore other ways to evolve Google I/O to best connect with our developer community,” Google said in a statement. 

Meanwhile, technology research company IDC canceled its Directions conference because of coronavirus, which was slated for March 4 in San Jose, California. IDC is moving forward with a similar event scheduled for March 10 in Boston.

“We have made this choice out of an abundance of caution and believe it is the correct decision given the evolving public health concerns in the Bay Area,” IDC said in a statement. “The potential risk to the well-being of Directions attendees and our staff is something IDC takes seriously.”

Notably, the National Association of Broadcasters said its annual gathering in Las Vegas, slated for April 18-22, is still on, despite coronavirus fears. 

“We are moving forward responsibly with the show. We continue to take our direction from global, federal, and local health officials, like the WHO and CDC, which do not have travel notices or restrictions on public gatherings for the continental U.S.,” NAB said in a statement

Likewise, the Cannes Film Festival is taking a wait-and-see approach. Beyond Cannes,  the coronavirus outbreak has already impacted the global film business, causing the delay of the latest James Bond film installment, for example. 

These are just a few of the B-to-B and B-to-C event cancellations related to the coronavirus outbreak, with coronavirus conference cancellations affecting many other industries beyond media and technology.

An Outbreak on the Verge of Pandemic

Globally, government officials and their relevant health agencies are racing against time stop what is still classified as an outbreak. Coronavirus has, as of March 4 when this story was posted, infected more than 95,000 people in 75 countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates there have been many other individuals with mild cases of coronavirus that have not been accounted for. 

Globally, the death toll tied directly to what is scientifically known as COVID-19--the disease caused by novel coronavirus--exceeds 3,100.

For the first time this week, WHO released an estimated mortality rate for coronavirus, putting the figure at 3.4%. For context, WHO estimated a mortality rate of  2% - 3% for those infected with Spanish Flu during the 1918 pandemic. Typically, influenza has a mortality rate of only around 0.1%.

Unlike the Spanish Flu, which hit young adults hardest, coronavirus seems to affect older people. The mortality rate for coronavirus hovers at only around 0.2% for individuals 39 and younger, increasing to 0.4% for those age 40-49, and to 1.3% for those age 50-59.

COVID-19’s mortality rate climbs to 3.6% for those age 60-69; 8% for ages 70-79; and 14.8% for people 80 and older. 

Underlying health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes are major determiners in the coronavirus death rate. 

WHO has stopped short of calling coronavirus a pandemic and is still using the term “outbreak” to describe the global health situation. 

The outbreak is traced back to Wuhan, in the Chinese province of Hubei, starting in about mid-December. Drastic quarantine measures enacted by the Chinese government have slowed the rate of new coronavirus infections in China. In fact, coronavirus infections outside the country now exceed those in China.

In Italy, the crisis is particularly dire, with the country reporting 3,000 cases and 100 deaths. 

Worldwide, organizations including the Centers for Disease Control are scrambling to gain control of the outbreak, which has already exacted a severe economic toll on a global economy far broader than the coronavirus conference cancellations affecting the media-tech business. 

The race is not only to minimize the current impact of coronavirus in the here and now, but prevent it from being omnipresent scourge that claims thousands of lives worldwide each year, just as influenza does.

Fallout Continues

Since this article's original posting on March 3, there have been many other media event cancellations. See below for additional event updates.

  • The Consumer Technology Association has announced that it's moving CES 2021 in January to an all-digital format. 
  • SCTE/ISBE canceled plans to move forward with Cable-Tec Expo in October after Colorado Governor Jared Polis extended use of the Colorado Convention Center as a temporary hospital facility. 
  • The promotors of IBC have canceled their September Amsterdam event
  • While CableLabs has canceled its 4Front event in June, SCTE*ISBE said it's moving ahead with Cable-Tec Expo Oct. 13-16 in Denver. 
  • Cancellations of live events cascaded after the National Basketball Association announced the suspension of its season. Major League Baseball followed suit, suspending spring training and announcing an indefinite delay to the start of its regular seasons. Meanwhile, NBCUniversal and CW were among the broadcasters cancelling their upfront advertising events. 
  • The National Association of Broadcasters has decided to postpone its annual Las Vegas convention to a still-to-be-determined date. Also, the promotors of videogame conference E3 have postponed their June event.
  • The promotors of annual music and technology event South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, have canceled this year's show. Also, the American Cable Association has postponed its annual ACA Connects event, slated for March 17-19 in Washington, D.C. And the T. Howard Foundation fundraising dinner, set for March 25, has been postponed.
Daniel Frankel

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!