A Big 2021 Schedule Change For NAB Show and Radio Show


In a letter sent midday Wednesday to the “NAB Show community,” the National Association of Broadcasters officially shifted the dates of its annual conference and expo in Las Vegas from mid-April to mid-October 2021.

At the same time, the 2021 Radio Show, a co-production of the NAB and the RAB, will be co-located with the NAB Show.

The 2021 NAB Show was originally scheduled for April 11-14. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to make large-scale events impossible, the association acted to move the event to 13 months from now.

The new dates are October 9-13, 2021.

But, NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith said in his letter, “With any difficult decision, there are trade-offs.”

Moving the annual NAB Show to October 2021 means the NAB is considering alternative 2021 dates for NAB Show New York, held annually in October.

Then, there is the Radio Show. Some in the industry have questioned why it needs to stand alone and how it could be merged into the bigger Las Vegas affair. They’ve just gotten their wish.

“On the plus side, the 2021 Radio Show will co-locate with NAB Show in Las Vegas as will NAB’s Sales and Management Television Exchange; and there is opportunity to add additional partner events,” Smith said.

Beyond this, he added, “We have done our best to avoid direct conflicts with other domestic and international events, and have reached out to allied organizations and partners to both share our thinking in advance and to offer to work collaboratively toward turning this into an opportunity for all.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic causing a wholesale rethink of large-scale events in the coming months, the NAB in June offered an “update” on its plans with the RAB for the 2020 Radio Show and subsequent events.

This saw the cancellation of the 2020 affair, originally scheduled for Sept. 13-16 in Nashville, and the 2022 Radio Show will make up for this nixed event, with the dates already established of October 5-7, 2022 in Nashville.

The 2021 Radio Show, however, is a loss for the Big Easy. It was scheduled for Sept. 21-24 in New Orleans, and there is no word at this time if a 2023 rescheduling will be in the works.

Elaborating on the decision to shift the NAB Show to autumn from the spring, Smith said, “As we look ahead to 2021 and beyond, our top priority is to deliver a successful NAB Show. With that in mind, it is critical we act on your behalf and in a way that will best serve the long-term interests of the industry. We have worked diligently over the last few weeks and months monitoring a range of variables, including health and safety concerns, economic indicators, industry developments and travel restrictions, to gain an understanding of overall trends and future conditions for holding a major event in 2021. We have also reached out extensively to the show community to collect feedback.”

Through all of this, the NAB witnessed “growing concern and uncertainty” over what the next six months will bring — “enough that there appears to be a good deal of reluctance around participating in large events in the first half of next year.”

Smith added, “We also have our own concerns around being able to deliver the type of event in April that will not only drive results, but one that can be produced safely for all involved and without significant limitations on the experience.”

With a new date set for the 2021 NAB Show, the broadcast media industry’s biggest lobbying voice is looking at the entirety of the calendar next year “with fresh eyes.”

Smith concluded, “Since the early stages of the current global crisis, we have done our best to balance our decision making with the long-term interest of NAB members and the wider media and entertainment industry. We have not made this decision lightly and have relied on a great deal of feedback from the NAB Show community. We are grateful to our stakeholders and partners for engaging with us and supporting our decision. Amidst all of this, we have been reminded of what a great industry we serve. As always, we look forward to working with you to provide vital events and services to support these efforts, and to invigorate and propel the industry forward.”