Covid-19 woes prompt NAB, SCTE to cancel in-person fall events, go virtual

Virtual events continue to grow as pandemic lingers

A pair of industry shows in the U.S. have decided to pull the plug on their in-person events this year and go virtual, citing concerns around Covid-19’s Delta variant.

The NAB Show has seen several major exhibitors withdraw from the conference in Las Vegas, one that already had been moved from April to October.

NAB said it believed it could “no longer effectively host NAB Show or our co-located events… in person.” It said the decision was made with the “best interests of the industry in mind.”

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Current plans have the 2022 NAB Show scheduled for April 23-24.

SCTE says 2020 virtual event saw 2X attendance

Along with the broadcasters’ show, a major cable industry show also announced it won’t be going forward with its in-person event.

It’s the second year straight that the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) will hold its SCTE Cable-Tec Expo virtually.

Mark Dzuban, SCTE president and CEO, said the cable “industry rose to the challenge over the past year and a half to keep the world connected safely throughout the pandemic. We are continuing that pledge now.”

Dzuban said that last year’s virtual Cable-Tec Expo saw “the largest level of engagement we have ever seen.” The 2020 virtual event attendance was twice the 2019 in-person crowd.

The organization is still developing plans for this years virtual event and will release a schedule soon.

NCTC also goes virtual in 2021

Late last month, the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC) and its partner in the annual Independent Show said that show, too, would be virtual.

“While our plan was to finally meet in-person, it has become more and more clear that it was not the responsible thing to do,” NCTC CEO Lou Borrelli said.

The online event will stream Oct. 5-6, window that had been reserved for the in-person show. Organizers said it already had been planned as a hybrid event, making that much simpler to move 100% online.

The bottom line

The continued existence of Covid-19 and its multiple variants continues to make doing business “traditionally” difficult.

Even as other segments of the economy – like the performing arts and sports – tiptoe back to in-person events, there’s an air of uncertainty.

Already, NFL and NCAA football teams are seeing Covid-19 outbreaks occurring, some severe enough on the college level to produce forfeits and schedule changes.

Is Covid likely to be as unsettling as it was a year ago? The numbers globally continue to be problematic and travel restrictions are being considered – and implemented – in some regions.

The smart play? Plan for the worst, take the best when you can, and leverage virtual in either case.

The music industry found, for example, that virtual concerts could, in fact, produce significant revenue.

It also found that a virtual event also reached a larger audience globally with a single performance than and single in-person concert could.

A survey of consumers who attended a virtual concert last year, showed 78% expected to attend at least one more virtual concert this year… in addition to more live events.

So, make your plans for in-person events, concerts and the like… then cross your fingers.

Or, commit to expanding and honing your virtual events and reap the benefits.

Jim O’Neill is Director of the Strategic Consulting Practice at Brightcove, as well as Brightcove’s Principal Analyst. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn