NAB Show 2022: Hearst Television President Jordan Wertlieb Sets Convention Expectations
Broadcasting+Cable has been checking in with various broadcasters about their expectations for this year’s NAB Show, April 23-27 in Las Vegas. Senior content producer, finance Mike Farrell recently spoke with Hearst Television president Jordan Wertlieb. An edited transcript follows.
B+C: What are your plans for attending the show this year?
JW: We’re going to be bringing in the largest contingent we ever had to the NAB Show. We’re going to be bringing all of our chief engineers from each of our stations, our corporate engineering staff and a lot of our corporate executive team. We’re going to be bolting onto group meetings on the back side of the show, but we are going to bring all of our chief engineers to the show.
B+C: Some people have said the NAB Show has a different vibe than other conferences, that there’s the opportunity to meet people on the floor and strike longer-term relationships. How do you feel about that?
JW: I agree with that completely. I think that relationships, partnerships, ideas, that is common at the NAB Show. I certainly will take meetings with people from the finance industry, certainly our technology vendors, other broadcasters, a lot of focus on NextGen TV and working with the Pearl Group. I do think the NAB Show has got a very large footprint beyond the show floor for the attending executives.
B+C: There’s a different structure this year to the show, especially the three pillars Create, Connect, and Capitalize. Is that a nod to how much the industry is changing?
JW: I think the NAB always does a good job with regard to the themes, to capture the zeitgeist of the industry at the time. I think connection right now is critical. That’s really multilayered. It’s reconnecting people, but it’s also connecting our content to all the different audiences and platforms. Audiences have so many different choices of content, but they also have so many different choices of content sources. So connecting all those different sources I think is really important for broadcasters going forward. Every research study shows that broadcasters, their local content is some of the highest demand content in the marketplace. But they’ve got to make sure they’re contemporary on delivery mechanisms.
B+C: It also has to be good just to be able to interact personally with colleagues after two years of isolation.
JW: I think this show is going to be a huge celebration of re-engagement. We are back at our normal attendance throughout Hearst. We had come back in the fall, and then took a break during omicron, but now we’re back in full again. Having just experienced my own management meetings with my leadership, the energy and the excitement of people being together was palpable. I can only imagine what it’s going to be like in Las Vegas when you get thousands and thousands of people together who haven’t seen each other for two years.
B+C: Are there any ideas or hopes of what you want to accomplish at the show?
JW: I don’t go into these shows with an agenda of what to accomplish, other than to see as many people as I can, learn as much as I can, and come out of it better prepared for the remainder of the year and the next few years.
I applaud the NAB for working through the pandemic as they have, focusing on getting this show to being everything it can be. The transition from [former NAB president and CEO] Gordon [Smith] to Curtis [LeGeyt, current NAB chief] has been seamless, I think the opportunity at the show to acknowledge Gordon is long overdue. I think the industry has circled the NAB Show as its reemergence from the pandemic. ■
Broadcasting & Cable Newsletter
The smarter way to stay on top of broadcasting and cable industry. Sign up below
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.