Tradeshow retools as industry evolves
As mobile video, smart phones and other digital media are poised to revolutionize the way entertainment is consumed, NAB is tweaking its brand to take advantage of the changing marketplace.With an unapologetic stretch, the National Assn. of Broadcasters is broadening its scope from content creation to programming dealmaking — an area traditionally NATPE’s turf. But NAB’s convention chief, Chris Brown, says the thematic changes are simply logical evolution and not a display of manifest destiny. Brown adds that NAB’s strength has always been technology, which he calls the tools of the trade. “Over time, all of these technologies converged — you have entertainment, IP, communications technologies all coming together. And in the final analysis, they really represent content platforms.” It’s a continuum, he says, “from first capture all the way through management, content commerce, distribution, delivery and finally consumption by the consumer. We may be the NAB, the National Assn. of Broadcasters event, but today broadcasting has a different definition — it’s really about distributing content across all platforms; across four screens if you will. “And this is why we changed our theme this year, shifting a bit more of the attention toward the idea of it being about content creation and delivery.” Up to now, NAB’s purview has fallen between the hardware side and the programming side, as represented respectively by CES (the Consumer Electronics Show, produced by the Consumer Electronics Assn.) and NATPE (National Assn. of Television Program Executives). But NATPE’s shift away from its role as a syndication market convinced NAB the time was right to fill a market gap. Brown explains: “We’ve had more and more attendees looking for new content or opportunities to showcase their own content. So our shift in theming and the synthesis all around the content side of the equation is a natural evolution.” Despite the increased overlap, Brown says there is room enough in the marketplace for all three conferences to succeed — at least for now. “Everyone will evolve, and there will still be overlaps. But ultimately you’ll see some shaking out, which will certainly be driven by our marketplaces — the audiences that we represent.” Despite rumblings that NAB’s move into program dealmaking has raised a few eyebrows at NATPE, the latter’s prexy-CEO, Rick Feldman, responds with a verbal shrug. “As an ex-broadcaster, I think NAB represents their constituency well, and I wish them the best.” That constituency continues to grow. And Brown believes NAB’s scope and sheer size — with 110,000 attendees expected this year and 1,600 exhibitors taking up 900,000 square feet of space — position it well for the future. But Brown admits there’s a danger of becoming too big. “It’s something we grapple with all the time. At some point it does become a real challenge to get to the people you want to get to and to stand out in that type of environment. “We very much want to make sure we don’t stray too far in going into areas that may be related but only tangentially,” such as digital music, “and confuse what we stand for and how people view our show. “We understand we have to be focused on communities and … make sure we are providing them with a complete experience across the education side, the floor side and the networking side.”
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