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By Helen Weedon, Managing Director, Radical Moves 

This year marks the 20th anniversary of my time in the M&E industry so it may surprise you to learn that this was my first ever NAB. It was certainly met with shock from everyone I mentioned it to during the event. Having supported it from the sidelines for so long, it was great to finally make it. 

So, what did I learn from my first NAB? 


I first visited IBC in 2004 back when I was in-house at Dolby and I’ve been going every year since (bar one year when my son arrived, and some mild inconvenience called covid). So, of course it is only natural to compare my first NAB with all those years walking the halls at IBC. And to be honest in many ways they are pretty similar. Once you are in the halls, you could be mistaken for thinking you are actually at IBC. There are many of the same companies exhibiting and much the same trends and themes emerging. NAB is in many ways a continuation from IBC and in other senses an indicator of what we can expect in September. 

It did however feel somewhat calmer than IBC, perhaps because of how things were spread out. Indeed, trying to navigate between South and West was a challenge in itself. I am so used to wandering between halls at IBC where I spend most of my time between 1, 5, and 6, all of which are pretty close. Of course, with the temporary closure of North, the distance is further than ever. That said, the Tesla loop made navigating between them fairly pain free and on the last day, typically, I did discover a somewhat long, but otherwise convenient indoor walkway connecting Central and West.

Trending topics include AI, fan engagement, and sustainability

The trend wall was an interesting addition to the show floor and it seemed to mostly reflect many of the conversations happening around the event. I looked at it several times over the course of the few days (well it was very close to the UK pavilion and access to British tea), and AI was far and away the clear winner in terms of trending topics. It is not really surprising given the huge impact it is already having across every part of the industry, and the potential for it to influence even more. This was also reflected in many of the conversations I had. While many people see AI as an opportunity to be embraced, I think everyone would agree it needs to be done with a certain amount of caution to ensure human intervention. Indeed, on the flipside of the coin, we are seeing a growing risk of AI-generated content being used to fulfil an agenda, and technology that can unmask manipulated content will be more important than ever.

Whilst not as overwhelming as AI, fan engagement also featured high. The sports market has undergone a significant transformation over recent years, partly due to the restrictions under covid, but more recently due to evolving viewing habits. In particular younger viewers are less likely to consume longform content, whether sports or other genres. This means sports bodies and broadcasters need to find new ways to engage fans, both in the stadium and at home. While XR wasn’t dominating, it did make an appearance and I’m certain it will have a role to play in enabling a new generation of fan engagement, especially as devices become more attainable.

I am reassured to see that sustainability also featured highly. We are beginning to see more companies citing sustainability as part of their USP and conference producers are including it as a big part of the conversation. The Media Technology Sustainability Series is making great strides to ensure the topic received the airtime it deserves. At NAB, this included a training session and a stamp of approval for sustainable exhibitors. There is of course a long way to go to make our industry sustainable and it is going to require a collaborative effort to get there.

We also asked a few people around the show about the trends they were witnessing, which you can view here:

Las Vegas is something else

I have to admit when it comes to Las Vegas itself, I wasn’t sure what to expect. From the tales over the years, I was expecting a mad place, and I wasn’t disappointed. From arriving at the hotel and walking through the casino to get to reception to watching a massive screen in the street and people shooting past on a zip line, it is a crazy, yet fascinating place to be. Before I went, I was told I should try and see a show and I’m so glad I took the advice. Experiencing my first ever cirque du soleil was amazing and I would definitely recommend anyone going to Las Vegas to take the time out to see it.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my first NAB. It is always great to get out there and meet our clients, the media, and industry friends, as nothing quite replicates that in-person interaction. I’m sure I’ll be back and in the meantime, we had better start getting ready for IBC!