The National Association of Broadcasters convention, NAB Show 2021, slated for Oct. 9-13 in Las Vegas, lost several big exhibitors this week as companies grapple with the challenge of in-person gatherings as COVID-19's spread continues.
As Future site TV Tech has reported, Sony Electronics said on Tuesday it would withdraw from in-person gatherings in October, including NAB Show and InfoComm. "While these events are an important forum to reach our customers and introduce new products, this is a choice we made to ensure we’re putting our employees’ and our partners’ health and well-being first," Theresa Alesso, president, Pro Division, Sony Electronics said in a statement. Sony said it planned to hold a press conference in conjunction with NAB on Sunday, Oct. 10, at 9 a.m. PT/noon ET.
After Sony said it was pulling out, Ross Video said it was withdrawing from the convention, citing "the challenges posed by the fluctuating public health situation in Nevada (and elsewhere around the world), travel restrictions into the USA, logistics and general uncertainty among exhibitors and potential attendees." Ross said instead it will share new product announcements during a Ross Live series of online broadcasts.
Then came word from Panasonic and Canon that they, too, would not be participating live at NAB Show. Canon also pulled back from InfoComm, slated for Oct. 23-29 in Orlando, Florida. (Update on Sept. 14: Brainstorm also will not be exhibiting, TV Tech reported.)
Before the pullbacks, NAB had been expecting to welcome more than 600 exhibitors back to Vegas for NAB Show, which went virtual in 2020. The 2021 broadcasters' convention was pushed back from the typical April timeframe to October in hopes the pandemic would have abated sufficiently by then. The delta variant, though, has caused COVID cases and hospitalizations to spike around the country, especially in states where vaccination rates are low. On Friday, the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers converted its October convention, the Cable-Tec Expo, to an online gathering because of travel and health concerns.
In response to the Sony pullout, Ann Marie Cummings, senior VP of communications at NAB, told TV Tech: “Sony is a valued partner, and we respect this difficult decision. We look forward to continuing to work with them to reach the NAB Show audience both in person and virtually. Recognizing that NAB Show is an economic engine for our industry, we are committed to delivering a productive in-person experience and have taken important steps to prioritize the safety of our community, including requiring proof of vaccination. We are pleased to host more than 600 exhibiting companies, ready to meet with buyers and get back to business in Las Vegas.”
NAB later pointed to a video presentation (which can be viewed here) in which NAB CEO Gordon Smith said about the convention: "This Show will be unlike any other in our history, as it has certainly been a unique year. Our audience size and scope will reflect those most passionate and eager to reconnect, creating a strong and productive experience for all who are able to join us. The 2021 NAB Show is a beacon… a marker for our industry…one that will invigorate and guide us into 2022 with a new level of momentum. It will be the largest and most significant event for broadcasters and the entire media and entertainment industry. This event has always been an economic engine of our industry, and we are excited to welcome over 600 exhibitors who are ready to meet with buyers and move this business forward."
Future, which owns B+C, Next TV and TV Tech, is an NAB Partner and produces the NAB Show Daily.
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