Sports Community Dominates NAB Show Traffic

By Carolyn Braff

While the NAB Show has been the domain of news broadcasters for many years, the 2009 exhibit floor was dominated by the sports community” which was good news for many exhibitors.

“I’ve been surprised by just how many of the customers that we’ve seen have been related to sports,” says Steve Stubelt, director of sales and marketing for Sony Solutions. “Two years ago, NAB was all about broadcast, but more and more, it is our sports customers that are becoming a much bigger part of our business.”

Sony’s sports focus is helping many venues transition to high definition, and the company has created a dedicated sales organization just for arena customers. The Sunday prior to the show’s opening, Sony announced that the Dallas Cowboys are outfitting their new stadium with Sony products, and agreements with the New York Yankees and Cincinnati Reds were announced at earlier shows.

“One of the great things about this [NAB] show is that, as all of the projects are out there and moving forward, the booth has been full of sports teams,” Stubelt says. “It’s really indicative of the amount of activity that’s going on in sports related to the HD migration.”

A similar amount of sports activity passed through the Panasonic booth, from both professional and collegiate ranks.

“We’ve had a lot of sports teams come through, because so many stadiums are being built all over the country,” says Domenic Cicchetti, education business development manager for Panasonic. “These teams are all either building control rooms or going to go HD, doing either clean builds or stadium upgrades, and they are all coming by our booth to check out our offerings. Our booth is fairly busy with sports customers.”

Panasonic is working with a number of college athletic programs to integrate P2 into their video workflows. Having full compatibility with coaching-analysis software from DVSport and XOS also brought a number of college customers into Panasonic’s Central Hall booth.

After opening the show with an announcement that Harris Corp. will outfit the Orlando Magic’s new Orlando Events Center with 1,100 digital-signage displays, Harris saw steady sports traffic through its booth during the NAB Show.

“I think the signage business is maturing,” explains Harris Morris, VP/GM of media and workflow for Harris. “Teams are starting to get their heads around how you can use this technology in really compelling ways to enrich the fan experience, as well as to do things like advertise your in-house concessions. The presence of these screens really allows you to brand the facility, and we’re seeing a good deal of demand for them.”

Although the bulk of the sports business at the show was focused on upgrading arenas to high definition, vendors are confident that, in terms of developing sports teams as customers, the upgrades are only the beginning.

“It’s very hard to stay state-of-the-art,” Stubelt explains. “As soon as you are, the state of the art continues to move forward. Over the next five years, the HD upgrade will occur, but we’ve partnered with Daktronics, and they will make a higher-quality LED board between now and then. There will always be a need to advance to the next level, to provide a better user experience with more control and a larger use of video.”

“When you start looking at the landscape of arenas and stadiums out there, there are a lot of them that are still analog or standard definition,” says Rich Zabel, VP of sales for Harris. “I think these upgrades are going to continue for at least the next 10 years, and then digital signage is going to be the next big change.”

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