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NAB Show 2022: Graham Media Group CEO Emily Barr Sets Convention Expectations

(Image credit: Graham Media Group)

B+C is checking in with broadcasters about their expectations for this year’s NAB Show, scheduled for April 23-27 in Las Vegas. Senior content producer Mike Farrell spoke with Graham Media Group president and CEO Emily Barr about her outlook for the convention. An edited transcript follows. 

What are your plans for attending the show this year? Is this bigger or about the same size as you have done in the past?

EB: We have a whole complement of individuals attending, this would include our general managers, our director of technology, our IT directors and several of our attorneys.

It’s about the same size as we would have normally sent back pre-COVID. We’ve always sent a pretty good sized contingent of people to NAB, because we’ve always believed it was a great venue for us not only to attend and see what’s going  on in the industry, in terms of equipment and other things going on, but it’s also great for us to get together there. For example, our directors of tech and IT personnel have a meeting all day Sunday, the first day of NAB. They meet and they have presentations from various  vendors and things of that nature. So they have a full meeting that goes on all day, and then they fan out and go to the show itself.  

This is by some considered to be a more deal-oriented show than other conferences. Would you agree?

EB: It’s a very interesting show because it has a lot of different layers. You have the underlying layer of all the technology, but over the years there have been another couple of layers of complexity to the show. You have bankers and hedge fund managers and people like that who are interested in our industry and they tend to attend; you have people on the research side -- whether it's Nielsen, ComScore or any of the many new entrants on research; you have programmers syndicators that sort of group that attend. I think what it is, is a perfect place for everyone to come together and assess not only what is happening right now, but what looks to be coming up in the future in terms of the broadcast industry.

How do you feel about the way the show has been restructured around three pillars -- Create, Connect and Capitalize?

EB: I think the show has morphed into a much more sophisticated, nuanced kind of show that allows a variety of people from across the spectrum to come together and get something out of it. In the old days, it was really about going to see the trucks and the antennas -- that’s all still there to some extent -- but now we’re really looking at  content development, we’re looking at a lot of digital technology and we’re understanding how different parts of the industry can work together. To your point about there is some deal making that goes on, whether it’s looking at new entrants into the business and saying I’d like to do a deal with this company or I would like to maybe invest in this company, there's a lot of different layers and I think that’s what makes the show really valuable. 

Any ideas or hopes of what you want to accomplish at the show?

EB: I want my folks to feel reinvigorated and excited about the future, whether that’s ATSC or new ways of delivering content, or digital production, whatever it may be I want them to feel excited and have that sense of discovery you get when you’re with other people that understand what you do and then there’s that ‘A-ha’ moment. I’m hopeful that we’re going to experience some of that. 

I think we all need the camaraderie and the gathering together that we’ve just missed. Zoom has been extremely beneficial  for all of us to get us to this point, but now I feel that we’ve finally gotten over the hump. COVID’s not going to go away, but we have a lot of tools to manage it and to keep it at bay and I hope that we utilize them in such a way that we can start to really truly live our lives again And this is one big step in doing that on the business level. 

Any technology you’re planning on exploring at the show?

EB: We’re very much engaged with ATSC [NextGen TV], three of our stations are up and running, so I think we’re going to be curious about what some of the tech companies are going to present and show us. We’re always looking for ways to be more efficient with news gathering. For me, it’s about listening not only to the content producers, but the content distributors, so we understand how we fit in on the local side when it comes to streaming and that sort of thing.

(Note: B+C parent Future US Inc. produces the NAB Show Daily at the convention, under contract with NAB.) ■ 

Mike Farrell is senior content producer, finance for Multichannel News/B+C, covering finance, operations and M&A at cable operators and networks across the industry. He joined Multichannel News in September 1998 and has written about major deals and top players in the business ever since. He also writes the On The Money blog, offering deeper dives into a wide variety of topics including, retransmission consent, regional sports networks,and streaming video. In 2015 he won the Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Profile, an in-depth look at the Syfy Network’s Sharknado franchise and its impact on the industry.