CES Withdrawals Increase as iHeartMedia Cancels Key Event


Updated at 11:30am Eastern

On February 11, 2020, RBR+TVBR offered its first coverage of the COVID-19’s impact on the global broadcast media world. At the time, the report on how the owner of KHTS-FM in Santa Clarita, Calif., Carl Goldman, and his wife and travel companions were among the thousands of quarantined passengers aboard the Diamond Princess in Yokohama, Japan, was questioned by some readers as being too peripheral to the business of broadcast media in the U.S. The pandemic, to these industry figures, was seen as a largely Asian concern.

Nearly two years later, COVID-19 remains a global threat, thanks largely to the Omicron variant. And, with days until CES 2022 commences in Las Vegas, COVID-19 is now placing that mega-conference’s attendees on high alert — especially now that several high-profile companies have withdrawn, including the biggest audio content and distribution company in the U.S.

According to the New York Post, CES 2022 is not in danger of a full-blown cancellation, at least as of Tuesday evening (12/21). The report came just hours after RBR+TVBR reported that NAGRA is adding virtual meetings to its CES 2022 action plan. “As many people are not attending CES, NAGRA is scheduling virtual meetings to share their news,” the portable audio recorder company based in Switzerland said.

By Wednesday morning, the “On The Money” columnists at the newspaper learned that Nvidia, JPMorgan, and PepsiCo are each withdrawing from CES. The cancellation of Nvidia from CES is particularly unsettling, given their traditionally major presence at the technology conference and expo.

For broadcast media, iHeartMedia told the New York Post columnists they, too, will not attend CES 2022.

It is now known that the company’s iHeartRadio “Live @CES” in partnership with Medialink has been scrubbed. In a statement, iHeartRadio said, “We were looking forward to seeing you at our iHeartRadio Live at CES party at Area 15 on Thursday, January 6, 2022 to share a special performance by Swedish House Mafia — but to keep our friends and partners safe during this unpredictable time, we’ve made the decision to cancel the event.”

While unconfirmed, RBR+TVBR hears key iHeartMedia executives will still be in attendance at CES 2022 and that only this event has been cancelled. It marks the second time a radio industry event featuring Swedish House Mafia has been impacted, as it had been the closing performer at the Audacy Beach Festival on December 5 in Fort Lauderdale, only to be removed from the bill less than 24 hours before showtime due to COVID-19 exposure among members of the act or its tour team.

Meanwhile, the “On The Money” team says journalists from CNN, Forbes, TechCrunch, Engadget, MarketWatch, The Verge and The New York Times’ Wirecutter feature are also not planning to attend CES 2022.

The Post report coincides with a CNET story noting that T-Mobile, Twitter and Meta are also withdrawing from CES 2022.

While these high-profile withdrawals are generating headlines, CES 2022 remains a go. As such, the Jacobs Media Strategies “VIP Private Tour” is on schedule for Thursday, January 6 at 2:30pm Pacific at varying costs for clients and non-clients. “Our 90-minute private tours are limited to 15 guests and led by an expert employed by the CTA,” Jacobs Media says.

From 5-7pm Pacific on January 6 is the CES 2022 Radio Reception, located at the Bellagio Las Vegas Resort & Casino. The invitation-only event is co-presented by Radio Ink and Radio + Television Business Report in partnership with Beasley Media Group, QUU, Xperi, Benztown and vCreative.

CES requires proof of vacination.