NAB Pulls Plug on April Show

The National Association of Broadcasters has pulled the plug on its April NAB Show.

The show will not be held in April, but NAB is considering its options for a future date.

NAB EVP Dennis Wharton said that one possibility could be to beef up the NAB Show New York in October (Oct. 21-22), though also potentially a summer show in Vegas if the virus threat has been mitigated and if NAB could get buy-in from exhibitors. He said NAB would be having those conversations with stakeholders over the coming days to determine their appetite for various options.

The Broadcasters Foundation of America said it has suspended its planned annual breakfast and charity golf tournament. Both were held in association with the show.

Dear NAB Show community,

As you know, we have been carefully monitoring coronavirus developments both domestically and globally over the past few weeks.

In the interest of addressing the health and safety concerns of our stakeholders and in consultation with partners throughout the media and entertainment industry, we have decided not to move forward with NAB Show in April. We are currently considering a number of potential alternatives to create the best possible experience for our community.

This was not an easy decision. Fortunately, we did not have to make this decision alone, and are grateful to our NAB Show community for engaging with us as we grappled with the rapidly-evolving situation. This Show is as much yours as it is ours, and it is important to us that we move forward together.

For nearly 100 years, NAB Show has provided superior value and the best possible experience for exhibitors and attendees. We knew that if we could not deliver on those expectations, we would not move forward. More importantly, keeping the community safe and healthy is NAB’s highest priority; therefore, we are deferring to the developing consensus from public health authorities on the challenges posed by coronavirus.

We are still weighing the best potential path forward, and we ask you for your patience as we do so. We are committed to exploring all possible alternatives so that we can provide a productive setting where the industry can engage with the latest technology, hear from industry thought leaders and make the game-changing connections that drive our industry forward.

I want to stress that despite our disappointment at how this year’s Show has been impacted by global public health concerns, we are more excited than ever about the future of NAB Show and our relationship with you.We are grateful for each and every member of our Show community. It is your passion for the industry that makes NAB Show a success year after year, and it is that same passion that will drive us into the future as we look ahead to new possibilities later this year and beyond.

Gordon H. Smith
President and CEO

The World Health Organization has declared the virus a pandemic. 

An industry source confirmed the cancellation would be a "significant financial hit" for the association, which was anticipating close to 100,000 attendees. NAB had no comment on what its financial exposure was versus insurance on the show.

According to NAB, 96% of the exhibitors were still planning to attend the show, which brings together close to 100,000 attendees and participants from around the globe, with the majority of the 4% no-shows Chinese firms under travel restrictions.

But one of the pullouts was Burlington, Mass.-based Avid Technologies, which had announced that in response to the coronavirus outbreak, it is canceling its participation in all conferences and trade shows for the next 60 days.

Video tech company Harmonic praised the move.

"In view of the rising concerns surrounding COVID-19, Harmonic fully supports the NAB's decision to cancel the 2020 NAB Show in April," said the company in a statement. "The safety of our employees, customers and partners is of paramount importance to us. While we will miss the opportunity to connect in-person, we will take advantage of virtual communications to showcase our cloud-based video streaming platforms and vital service continuity capabilities, connecting with our customers and partners through Harmonic Live CONNECTION digital events worldwide."

Photos via

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.