By GORDON SMITH
SPECIAL TO THE LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

The 2015 NAB Show, the world’s largest gathering of media and entertainment professionals, celebrates its 25th consecutive year in Las Vegas this week. Your city has been a gracious host over the years, and our attendees have enjoyed the warm hospitality shown to us.

This year’s NAB Show is shaping up as one of our best ever. Upward of 100,000 attendees from around the globe have joined us, with nearly a third coming from outside the U.S. Attendees are exploring 1 million square feet of exhibit space featuring products and services from more than 1,700 companies, including 244 exhibiting for the first time. Add an impressive display of prominent speakers, panelists and honorees, and it is quickly apparent why the NAB Show is the “can’t miss” convention for the Hollywood post-production community and other movers and shakers in the media content world.

The NAB Show is exploring innovations and technologies that are changing how consumers receive content. Case in point: Our first-ever Aerial Robotics and Drone Pavilion, where dozens of aerial robotics companies are demonstrating their wares. Broadcasters view drones as an innovative way to cover breaking news in hard-to-reach locations; this show is the premiere venue for education on utilizing unmanned aerial devices as a journalism tool for the 21st century, while respecting public safety and privacy concerns.

This year, NMX (New Media Expo) is co-located with the NAB Show, with thousands of bloggers, podcasters, streamers and other new media creators in attendance as the convention explores the changing ways conversations are being shaped online.

We’re also excited to once again host SPROCKIT, which pairs start-up entrepreneurial ventures with industry-leading companies. Thirty new SPROCKIT companies have joined us this year in hopes of jump-starting their businesses.

Of course, no NAB Show is complete without exhibitors showcasing the newest developments affecting consumers’ multimedia experience, including the latest in Ultra High Definition television, HD radio, interactive TV and radio applications, and cutting-edge production equipment.

A glimpse of the NAB Show floor also demonstrates the unmatched resiliency of broadcasting. Even with a dizzying array of programming options now available to consumers, local radio and TV stations remain the preeminent platform for distributing content most valued by Americans. More than 240 million Americans listen to local radio each week, while 90 of the weekly top TV shows are on broadcast TV.

And broadcasters are not resting on their laurels.

Broadcasters have long been a leader in online video, with networks such as ABC, NBC and Fox launching services such as Hulu. Recently, CBS launched All Access, an online service providing live and on-demand content that has gained more than 100,000 subscribers in just a few months. Locally, many television stations, including those here in Las Vegas, live-stream local news and emergency programming to reach viewers on the go.

Let’s also not forget that television and radio stations’ websites are often the most trafficked sites in local communities, and broadcasters across America have launched apps making it easier to receive breaking news on smartphones.

On the audio side, broadcasters recently partnered with Sprint to roll out the NextRadio app, giving listeners access to local radio stations on their Smartphones. The app uses a chip already in Smartphones to receive broadcast signals — so listeners don’t dip into their data plan — and pairs it with interactive content such as album information.

The NextRadio app has been downloaded 2 million times and received rave reviews. We want to educate the public about the value of radio chips in Smartphones, which is especially useful during emergencies when cell service and Internet connections become unreliable.

In addition, millions of radio listeners have used the iHeartRadio app, which provides access to the live online streams of hundreds of local radio stations across the country. This service provides listeners with more control over their music programming, while still connecting them with local news and information from their hometown radio stations.

Broadcasting remains the King Kong of content, and this week’s NAB Show is once again the showcase for highlighting where content comes to life. That’s why the world always comes to Las Vegas in April!

Gordon Smith is president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Broadcasters.

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