At NAB Show, An Anxious Hunt For Efficiencies

Last week’s NAB Show thrummed with broadcasters keen to arm themselves for a rocky 2025.

LAS VEGAS — The broadcasters and vendors gathered here weren’t on the casino floor, but still they were wearing their poker faces.

By all conventional thinking, the mood at this year’s NAB convention ought to have been buoyant, 2024 being both a political and an Olympics year. But looming behind whatever windfalls may ultimately come from both were visions of a much darker 2025. Broadcasters walked the exhibition halls facing an imminent prospect of bleeding from a thousand cuts — fragmentation, diminishing retrans, aging and retreating audiences and struggling spot sales among them.

Little wonder many of them looked more like Caesar outside the Senate encircled by knife-wielders than happy gamblers striding out of Caesars Palace, pockets bulging with winnings.

So, across the Las Vegas Convention Center, where the world’s largest broadcast convention continued its post-pandemic rebound last week, there were plenty of requisite beaming smiles, but the eyes spoke differently.

Strict budgetary discipline was much in evidence. Efficiencies topped broadcasters’ priorities, and vendors were ready with promises of smarter, leaner workflows and scalable technologies to help them realize that, along with more radical potential via generative AI. And as broadcasters eagerly scanned the horizon for any potential new venue streams that might staunch their losses, promises of more robust digital and streaming revenue also percolated through the show.

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