Friday, April 9, 2010 | 3 a.m.
An estimated 85,000 people will be in Las Vegas through next week for what usually is the city’s third-largest annual convention, the National Association of Broadcasters.
Three-D television technology is expected to generate the biggest buzz at the 2010 show, which runs April 10-15 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority estimated the show would generate $133.6 million in Southern Nevada. The city’s hotels have reported heavy booking patterns in the weeks leading up to the show.
The show is an economic boon to the broadcasting industry as well. Dennis Wharton, executive vice president of media relations for the Washington-based National Association of Broadcasters, said the show, which will have 1,500 exhibitors — 200 new this year — generates $30 billion in sales and leads.
Wharton said the organization is being cautious with its attendance estimates and is hoping to announce a larger turnout once the show begins. In previous years, more than 100,000 people show up.
“We’re cautiously optimistic because while we’ve estimated 85,000, the industry has seen a real rebound in advertising revenue for radio and television in the last several months, so we’re hoping that translates into a larger turnout,” he said.
About 84,000 people attended the show in 2009, a number driven down by the recession from 2008’s 105,000 conventiongoers.
Another reason for optimism on the turnout this year is the association has been hyping Las Vegas’ discounted hotel rates. The association’s housing management partner, Expovision, says this year’s rates are 20 percent below 2009’s level and 40 percent below 2008’s rates.
“Increasingly affordable hotel prices, combined with more flexible registration packages introduced this year further bolster the NAB show’s already strong value proposition,” Chris Brown, executive vice president of conventions and business operations, said in statement. “Hopefully these factors will allow even more people to experience the world’s greatest event for the digital media business.”
Wharton added the association likes Las Vegas because its resorts “offer a price range for everyone, whether you want to stay at Circus Circus or Wynn, Encore or Bellagio.”
“Vegas has always been a warm venue for NAB, and it’s one of the reasons we’ve been coming here for many, many years,” he said. “It’s one of the few cities that can accommodate the size and scale of the NAB show.
“The international guests really love the night life in Las Vegas. And, frankly, we’re expecting a good turnout from the East Coast because we’ve had such a tough winter,” Wharton said. “I got pretty tired of looking out my window and seeing 40 inches of snow on the ground here in Washington, D.C. So we’re looking forward to enjoying the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas as well as sneaking in a round of golf.”
The National Association of Broadcasters has met in Las Vegas since 1991. The convention, first held in 1923, originally came to Las Vegas in 1975, meeting 10 times here through 1991 when the city became its permanent home.
The convention, the world’s largest electronic media event, attracts huge numbers because it draws from all facets of the industry — TV stars, content providers, technology whizzes and broadcast engineers. It also draws from all channels — terrestrial and satellite radio and television to cable TV to online broadband content and mobile TV.
The convention also has a large international presence with 25,000 delegates expected from outside the United States. Wharton said the event is the largest international trade show in the world based in the United States and key players regularly attend from South Korea, France, Belgium and Bavaria. This year, China and Israel will be represented for the first time.
Although several technical sessions are on the agenda, it’s the content niche that grabs the biggest headlines. The show’s tagline, in fact, is “where content comes to life.”
Recently made movies and television shows have helped 3-D expand exponentially in the last year, and Wharton thinks that technology will be one of this year’s highlights.
“Three-D is going to be huge,” he said. “With ‘Avatar,’ ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ and other films having done so well, I think it speaks to the future business opportunity for 3-D television and film. ESPN has even announced that it is developing a 3-D sports channel.”
The creators of “How to Train Your Dragon,” from DreamWorks Animation SKG will give a behind-the-scenes look at the recently released animated film.
Hiroshi Yoshioka, who oversees television, digital imaging, home audio and video businesses as the No. 2 executive for Japan’s Sony Corp., is expected to address global and U.S. consumer demand for 3-D technology and the company’s vision for the future of 3-D for consumers and professionals in his April 12 keynote address.
An April 13 panel will address filmmaking in outer space with 3-D IMAX technology and the Hubble telescope. And, ESPN will detail its S3-D technology — stereoscopic 3-D — in an April 12 panel that will include the network’s plans to broadcast the 2010 World Cup in 3-D.
Other highlights of this year’s show:
• Gordon Smith, who was appointed president of the association in September and took office in November, will make his first State of the Industry address for the more than 8,000 station members. Smith, a former two-term U.S. senator from Oregon, took over for Chief Operating Officer Janet McGregor, who was serving as acting president since the resignation of David Rehr in May.
• Julius Genachowski, Federal Communications Commission chairman, will deliver a keynote speech April 13. Genachowski is expected to discuss a national broadband plan that would deliver signals to all unserved areas in the United States by 2020.
• Emmy award-winning actor Michael J. Fox, a Parkinson’s disease research advocate, will be honored at the opening event as the recipient of the distinguished service award that recognizes individuals who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the broadcast industry.
• Emmy-nominated actor Jim Parsons of the CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory” will receive the 2010 television chairman’s award at a luncheon April 12. At that event, NBC Sports will be inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame. Emmy award-winner Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Universal Sports & Olympics, will accept the award on behalf of the network.
• Comic book writer Stan Lee, creator of Spider-Man, X-Men and the Incredible Hulk, will speak April 14 on developing content for multiplatform distribution. In another multiplatform panel the same day, former Las Vegas resident and UNLV alumnus Anthony Zuiker, creator and executive producer of the “CSI” franchise, will talk about blending traditional TV with evolving multimedia platforms for his crime scene series.
• Matthew Weiner, creator and executive producer of the award-winning AMC drama “Mad Men,” will discuss the series as part of a conversation moderated by Cynthia Littleton, deputy editor of Variety, on April 13.
• Texas radio personality Ron Chapman will be inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame during a luncheon April 13. Nationally syndicated radio host and satirist Phil Hendrie will be the keynote speaker at the luncheon.