No FUD found
Given the dire premonitions from many circles, one would have thought that the mood at this year's NAB convention would resemble a funeral rather than a trade show. With vendors and attendees alike predicting a disastrous show and low attendance, those I talked with prior to the event weren't expecting much positive news. Exhibitors (and the NAB) were really worried that attendees wouldn't make the yearly trek to Sin City.
If feared low attendance wasn't enough to give exhibitors heartburn, many were concerned that those who did show up would be so full of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) that buying anything would be the last thing on their mind.
So what happened?
Well, the sky didn't fall and the world didn't end. Attendees came, they saw, they bought. Now that's the recipe for a successful trade show.
First, there were people at the show. Sure, maybe the numbers weren't as high as in previous years and, as of this date, NAB refuses to release any official attendance figures. They told me, “It takes four to six weeks to get a final figure.” Guess their Ouija board is broken.
NAB's “unofficial” figure was 95,000. You can expect the final number to be around that, probably slightly lower. The “real” number, according to exhibitors, was probably nearer to 85,000, but that's hard to predict with the two new halls and the Sands Exhibition Center still being used. Sure there were lots of “Quantity is down, but quality is up” statements. But the bottom line is that people did show up and everyone, literally everyone, I talked with was pleased. I'd even say there were more smiles per booth than at a clown's convention.
Second, according to Broadcast Engineering advertisers, attendees actually came to buy. Many of those vendors were writing orders on the show floor, and I know for a fact that products were shipped directly from Las Vegas to readers' facilities.
Finally, there were plenty of new things to see, even some genuinely new technology, which we haven't had much of in several years. As an example, take a look at this year's Pick Hit awards. The winners include a wide assortment of technology and solutions; not a single transmitter, but plenty of production equipment. Broadcast Engineering readers are buying into tomorrow's technology.
Most of you know I slammed NAB pretty hard in my March editorial, and they deserved it. However, I give kudos to the show organizers. More exhibitors than in all my years of attending NAB combined complimented this year's show staff for being more helpful than in previous years. While it may have had something to do with the NAB's own FUD factor, it appears the convention staff was more customer-oriented than ever. Good job! Keep it up!
So, after a successful trade show, what more could we ask for? Well, how about more good news? There is further evidence confirming that production and broadcast companies are finally ready to buy and invest in new technology.
Data from the research firm SCRI (www.scri.com) shows a 34 percent increase in planned equipment spending for this year. Combined with a positive trade show, things in the production and broadcast industry appear brighter than only a few weeks ago.
So, could our industry's FUD finally be fading? Frankly, that'd be fantastic.