Crossing Borders: NAB’s Jason Stookey

The NAB Show had more than 25,000 international attendees—more than a quarter of its total audience—at its 2013 event, but organizers are now striking partnerships in other countries to expand their reach even further.

Most recently, the National Association of Broadcasters has announced that it will collaborate with the Brazillian Society of Television Engineering and its convention, the SET Expo, later this year. Last year’s SET Expo drew more than 10,000 attendees and 300 exhibitors to Såo Paulo, Brazil.

Jason Stookey, vice president of sales for the NAB Show, explains how the group is targeting markets for expansion and how they plan to measure success.

Expo: South and Central America have become popular destinations for trade shows that are looking to expand internationally. Why was this market, and Brazil specifically, the right place for NAB to be?

Jason Stookey: We’ve had a long-standing relationship with SET on the association side going back several decades, sharing technical papers and other information. Over the last 10 or so years though, through our relationship with the [U.S.] Department of Commerce, we’ve seen Brazil become one of the largest international delegations that come to the NAB Show every April. [Editor’s note: Stookey says the Brazilian delegation tops 2,000 attendees.]

There are several reasons for that. One is that the world’s largest broadcaster, TV Globo, is based in Brazil. Their purchasing power alone for broadcasting knowledge and equipment is a huge factor.

The other thing that drives sales across the entire broadcast industry is big, live events. In Brazil, with the World Cup is coming up this year, and then the Olympics in 2016, it’s a huge hub of buying activity in our space.

Expo: The NAB Show says it will host several educational sessions and a booth at the show, and has pledged to provide logistical support for SET Expo. How closely will your team be working with SET?

Stookey: Those are the major highpoints, but we’ll be selling an NAB Show-branded pavilion. We’re still working out the details on that, but we aren’t selling a country pavilion, it’s going to be a technology-oriented pavilion and we’re trying to narrow down which category makes sense. That will be sold by the NAB staff.

We’re also going to be responsible for programming three conference sessions at the event, which dovetails with [former U.S.] Senator [Gordon] Smith, our CEO, who keynoted there last year about global broadcasting trends.

Expo: How will you gauge the program’s success?

Stookey: It’s three-fold. We’re not doing this as a hobby, we do want to generate revenue off of this, but if we can, worst-case scenario, make this a cost-neutral marketing proposition where we can sell some exhibit space in there and offset some of the international marketing expenses that we deal with in the Brazilian market, I think that would be good.

If we can drive even greater attendance back to Las Vegas, that would be a huge success. Also, seeing what type of turnout we get to the conference sessions and how well they’re received. Those are our basic three metrics for success.

Expo: This partnership comes on the heels of a similar deal the NAB Show signed with CABSAT in Dubai last month. Do you have any other international programs planned?

Stookey: This is all part of a strategic plan. We just did a soft launch on our website of a new brand called NAB Collaborative. The rationale for creating it is that we know our customers don’t want brand new events—we’re not going to be creating brand new, organic events. Where possible, we think we can team up with leading shows in other markets to enhance overall value of those events.

We’re not pigeonholed into how we’d create a relationship either. For example, with CABSAT, we’re assisting with the conference programming, leveraging our industry contacts to bring over key speakers to their event to bolster the value proposition there. That gives us visibility in the Middle East where we want to pull more attendees from.

It also, again, relates to live events being a catalyst for sales in the broadcast industry—the World Cup will be in Qatar in 2022 so there’s going to be an upswing in that market. To bring brand awareness to that community and show what we offer was part of the rationale there.

The other event we partnered with is Mobile World Congress [in Barcelona, Spain]. [With them], there was a natural connection between the two events that wasn’t necessarily competitive.

But the overarching strategy for everything we’re doing is to drive traffic back to the “mothership” in Las Vegas [the NAB Show itself]. The success will be measured by what type of upticks we see in international attendance, whether we’re able to drive more exhibit sales out of it, and whether we’re able to diversify some of our revenue streams by selling exhibit space or sponsorships or conference passes at some of these events. It’s a strategy that we have in place for ’14 to hopefully expand upon that where we can find partners to do so.

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Posted by Michael Rondon

Michael Rondon is a senior editor for Expo. Reach him @Mike_Rondon or View all articles by Michael Rondon →