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Crimp: It made sense to move IBC to December

IBC CEO Mike Crimp talks to TVBEurope about why the event's organisers have taken a "calculated risk" to move this year's show to December, and why they expect it to be a primarily European event

IBC CEO Michael Crimp says the decision to move this year’s show to December has been taken following a “shift in sentiment” for the event to go ahead later in the year.

He tells TVBEurope that as well as surveying attendees, IBC spent time talking to¬†exhibitors to ask for their opinion. “There was a slight preference for December or people didn’t mind either way. I think it’s a big shift in sentiment from earlier in the year and I think that sentiment is underpinned by, quite frankly, common sense. They’ve seen it makes sense to move to December,” he explains.

Following last year’s cancellation, this will be the first year IBC has been held outside of September since 1992 when it moved to Amsterdam from the UK and had to settle for a slot in July.

The decision to hold this year’s show in December was also led by discussions between IBC and the RAI. “We had to negotiate with our friends at the RAI to actually hold two slots and the fourth quarter is really, really busy for shows,” says Crimp. “It’s only because of the prestige of IBC that we were able to get them to hold those two slots because everyone recognises that it will be better to have the later date if necessary, rather than risk not having an IBC.”

Plans for exhibitors

IBC took the decision to announce the change now as the terms and conditions of IBC’s contract with exhibitors means that they have to up their level of commitment to the show at the beginning of June. “We wanted to give them time to be able to consider what their options are before we reach that day. So after all of the consultation with our stakeholders and vendors, the beginning of June was really the latest date we could have made the announcement in order for them to not waste money following two scenarios,” explains Crimp.

There may be some who have changed their mind and our commercial director Steve Connolly will have a really sensible conversation and will be fair and transparent with everybody, as we already are. But there won’t be any surprises because we’ve said this all the way along that we were looking at the two sets of dates.”

IBC had previously announced that this year’s show would be reduced by one day, with the exhibition taking place over four days and the conference element over three. “That will remain the same. The number of halls and exhibitors will remain the same,” says Crimp.

“We do have a change which I can’t quite announce to you yet, which will be around the content programme, we’re going to do some different things with the content programme so that it’s more accessible to people who aren’t able to get there,” he teases. “To give you a hint, normally there’s premium content at IBC that you have to pay for, and can only see in the flesh, and then there’s other content, which you can just go up and see on a stand or in the conference rooms. This time, we’re looking to make sure that we get as much of the content to as wide an audience as possible, so when the content programme is announced there’s quite a shift there, and we’ll be releasing that in the next couple of weeks.”

A calculated risk

Of course all of this is dependent on attendees being vaccinated, and no new spikes in Europe this winter. What happens if things don’t go to plan, could the show be cancelled completely? “I think on the vaccine programme the EU, UK, US, seem to be doing better than others. We think that for IBC to be a success this year it will be a primarily European event,” Crimp admits. “We have taken a calculated risk, but the evidence seems to be that the vaccination makes it a less serious disease at this stage. And the evidence therefore feeds into the idea that the longer we go, the safer it will be. If IBC was unsafe to hold then we’ve always said we wouldn’t hold it. But we would need really clear evidence if that was the case.”

Finally, with the move to December, can we expect this year’s IBC to have a festive feel? “We’re up for all that and actually we’re already talking to the city about what we can do to have that extra bit of Christmas fun around it,” says Crimp.