The late-April NAB Show is the latest media and entertainment conference to be put on hold over concerns with the growing spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), with NAB president and CEO Gordon Smith announcing March 11 that the show would be postponed or possibly canceled all together.
“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,” he said in a letter to the NAB community. “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.”
NAB joins a long list of major tech conferences to be canceled or delayed due to concerns over COVID-19 — which has been declared a pandemic and killed nearly 5,000 people worldwide — including Mobile World Congress, SXSW, E3, Google I/O, Adobe Summit, Facebook F8, IBM Think and Dell World
NAB had previously announced hopes to go on with the show, which draws 1,600 exhibitors and 90,000 attendees, by adding more safety measures, working with the Las Vegas Convention Center, the airport authority, and area hotels and resorts to coordinate safety procedures, and ensuring medical care is readily accessible to address immediate health concerns.
But in the days leading up the cancellation, major exhibitors, including Adobe, Avid, Nikon and more, had announced they would not attend NAB due to concerns around the virus, and news emerged that a much smaller biotech conference in Boston in February led to the COVID-19 infection of 70 people. Additionally, two people who attended the RSA cybersecurity conference in February tested positive for the virus as well.
“For nearly 100 years, NAB Show has provided superior value and the best possible experience for exhibitors and attendees,” Smith said. “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.”