NAB 2009: Quantel Pulls Out of NAB Show

U.K.-based editing and effects supplier cites high exhibition costs in difficult economy

Quantel, the U.K.-based editing and effects supplier that has been trying to gain market share in the U.S. broadcast news market, announced Wednesday that it won't be exhibiting at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas this April.

The company, which enjoys a firm footing in high-end post-production and which has been promoting new stereoscopic 3D production technology, cited the high costs of exhibiting at the NAB Show against the general economic malaise in explaining its decision.

"It's not a decision that we've come to without a great deal of thought," said Quantel CEO Ray Cross in a statement. "However in the current general economic climate, we quite simply can't justify the $1million+ investment that exhibiting at NAB would require. This year we're being prudent; I'm sure our customers are too."

Quantel's departure is consistent with the state of flux that NAB's post-production area has suffered in recent years. Last year, editing and storage giant Avid skipped the NAB show, though it did conduct off-the-floor events in Vegas. Archrival Apple also skipped exhibiting at NAB '08. While Avid has announced that it is returning to NAB this year, Apple's plans for the show remain unclear. Though some network sources speculate it may return, it is not listed as an exhibitor today.

Overall attendance at NAB is expected to be down this year, say both broadcast and station engineers, as the broadcast industry faces what may be its most challenging quarter ever due to the dropoff in automotive and financial advertising. Some engineers say they are making vendors come to them as a substitute for making the trip to Vegas.

For its part, Quantel said the roadshows it has been conducting globally over the past year have proven to be an effective way to spend time with customers, and that the company will continue to conduct road shows and make regular customer visits going forward. CEO Cross added that Quantel will focus its resources in 2009 more on product development than marketing.

"We are busy working on new projects for major customers around the world at the moment and are progressing exciting new developments such as V4.1 and beyond, RED workflow, Stereo3D, Dino and FCP server integration to name just a few," said Cross. "Not going to NAB in this challenging year will allow R&D to focus fully on delivering for our customers. This year delivery, not marketing, comes first."

The departure of Quantel is disappointing, says NAB spokesman Kris Jones. But overall, sales of exhibit floor space for NAB 2009 are tracking on a similar pace to last year, when the show had over 1600 exhibitors and 900,000 net square feet of floor space, says Jones. Besides the return of Avid, NAB 2009 also welcomes new exhibitor Electronic Arts, the first video game company to exhibit at NAB, as well as returning large exhibitors Harris, Sony, JVC, Panasonic, Canon, Dolby, Evertz, Vitec Group, Thomson and Ross Video. This year's show will also address the buzz over 3D HD with a "3D Pavilion" featuring a giant 3D HD display from Philips.

"From our perspective, in these tough economic times a show like NAB can be a big benefit [to broadcasters]," says Jones. "It's an all-in-one-stop play to learn about new technology."