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Everything we know about: Coronavirus and the Media Tech industry

TVBEurope breaks down what the virus means for the media tech industry

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is currently dominating headlines and disrupting global affairs amid fears of the virus being further broadcast. With the virus now confirmed by the World Health Organisation as a pandemic, TVBEurope breaks down what it means for the media tech industry.

How are international trade shows being affected?

NAB has now announced that the April show in Las Vegas will not be going ahead. CEO and president Gordon Smith released a statement around 18:00 GMT on 11th March officially suspending the event while it seeks alternative options later in the year. One of those options could well revolve around its co-located October show in New York (with AES).

Gordon Smith’s statement in full:

Dear NAB Show community,

As you know, we have been carefully monitoring coronavirus developments both domestically and globally over the past few weeks.

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. 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.

For nearly 100 years, NAB Show has provided superior value and the best possible experience for exhibitors and attendees. 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.

We are still weighing the best potential path forward, and we ask you for your patience as we do so. We are committed to exploring all possible alternatives so that we can provide a productive setting where the industry can engage with the latest technology, hear from industry thought leaders and make the game-changing connections that drive our industry forward.

I want to stress that despite our disappointment at how this year’s Show has been impacted by global public health concerns, we are more excited than ever about the future of NAB Show and our relationship with you.

We are grateful for each and every member of our Show community. It is your passion for the industry that makes NAB Show a success year after year, and it is that same passion that will drive us into the future as we look ahead to new possibilities later this year and beyond.


Gordon Signature.png

Gordon H. Smith
President and CEO

NAB had previously stated that the show was due to go ahead on 18th-22nd April in Las Vegas, but that it was “closely monitoring” the virus. The organisers were following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines around cleanliness and ensuring medical care is readily accessible. However, after a slew of high profile exhibitors such as Avid, EVS, and Ross Video declared their intention to abstain from exhibiting, it was only a matter of time before NAB made its anticipated announcement.

AJA Video Systems became the first major vendor to pull out of the show, “out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of our employees and partners worldwide.”

Nikon followed suit, calling health and safety the company’s top priority. “We will continue to closely evaluate our travel policies, programmes and activities to mitigate risk,” the company said.

TVU Networks announced it is working with show organisers on a “virtual presence” after deciding not to physically attend the show.

Adobe and Ross Video then said they will not be attending NAB. Ross Video CEO David Ross said: “We are developing contingency plans and will be virtualising many elements of the show to ensure that our customers still learn about everything new from Ross.”

Avid also confirmed its withdrawal from the show. CEO Jeff Rosica said: “While these were difficult decisions for Avid, and for me personally, we feel strongly that helping stop the spread and severity of the COVID-19 virus is not just the job of governments and healthcare providers, but the responsibility of every individual, organisation and corporation around the globe.”

Red Bee and EVS were next to pull out of NAB, both saying they would explore alternative ways of introducing their product offerings.

In Singapore, BroadcastAsia has been postponed. Originally meant to take place in June, the ConnecTechAsia expo will now run from 29th September to 1st October.

The Photography Show and The Video Show were also postponed, and will now be held on 19th-22nd September 2020 at the NEC, Birmingham.

And CABSAT, which was due to take place in Dubai from 31st March to 2nd April has been postponed to 26th-28th October.

What impact has the virus had on broadcasting of major sporting events?

The Premier League, EFL, FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship have collectively agreed to postpone the professional game in England until at least 3rd April.

The Australian Grand Prix has been cancelled. Bahrain and Vietnam Grand Prix are also expected to be cancelled.

Italy has ordered all sporting events to take place behind closed doors until 3rd April, including 32 Serie A football matches and the Six Nations rugby clash between England and Italy. Sky Italia tried to make the Derby d’Italia available for fans on free-to-air TV but were prevented over rights issues.

Spain’s LaLiga has announced the next two weeks of matches, starting from 12th March, have been postponed. The league took the decision after Real Madrid sent all of its football and basketball players home to self-isolate after a member of the Spanish club’s basketball team tested positive for the virus.

The Six Nations match between France and Ireland has also been postponed, though Wales’ game against Scotland is currently planned to go ahead on 14th March.

Japan’s Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto said the Tokyo Olympics could be postponed. “We are doing all we can to ensure that the Games go ahead as planned,” she added.

WARC noted that cancellation of major sporting events could deal a heavy blow to TV growth.

Which other sectors have been hit by the coronavirus?

UK broadcasting union Bectu has raised concerns on behalf of freelancers who may need to self-isolate. The body has contacted the government to ensure it lobbies insurance companies to cover any lost earnings.

“Freelancers should not be missing out on pay because of the coronavirus,” said Bectu head Philippa Childs. “This could hit Bectu’s freelance members particularly hard. Unlike employees who receive contractual, or Statutory Sick Pay, many of these workers will lose thousands of pounds.”

Meanwhile, Wall Street analysts called Netflix “an obvious beneficiary if consumers stay home due to coronavirus concerns,” citing 0.8 per cent share growth.

Tech giants such as Facebook and Amazon could also benefit, apparently immune even to health crises.