The NAB show may be a ways away (conferences will take place April 6-11, and exhibits from April 8-11 at the Las Vegas Convention Center), but we’re intrigued by the hardware trade show’s recent move toward focusing on content (the tagline is now “Where Content Comes to Life”).

The Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) is one of the most powerful lobbies in the U.S. and the most important association for the TV broadcast industry (similar to the Motion Picture Association of America for the film industry).

We caught up with Jason Stookey, vp of Sales for NAB, to find out more about how the show will cater to content companies at the 2013 edition.

1. Is NAB shifting its focus away from hardware and onto content instead?
By no means are we shifting away from hardware. Our strategic goal is about moving forward and growing the show, and that’s being driven by the proliferation of multi-platform content distribution.

Given the audience that attends NAB, and NAB’s membership constituents, we have an ingrained audience that we should be engaging.

By no means are we going to be another NATPE or MIPCOM, but we can help facilitate sales of content in the electronic space and help capitalize upon that. Having said that, we recognize that Sony Pictures can pick up the phone and clear a show in 90 percent of the market with five phone calls, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t more opportunities to provide them.

We also have a strong international brand, which we think we can leverage to get international distributors and content creators to NAB. We should be able to get some reasonable traction. It is an area of growth for us.

We know a lot of players are coming to Las Vegas who don’t set foot on the show floor because they’re not interested in hardware. We want to capture them and give them some added bonuses.

2. How will you cater to content companies?
We’re not going to sell exhibit space around this. We’re trying to create an intimate, off-campus venue where people can get together and network. We’ll do it at the Wynn and the Encore, using suites or meeting rooms at the properties.

We know anecdotally that people are not going to the convention center, and we want to go to them instead of pushing them to come to us on the floor.  They are the customers, we’ve gotta go where they are.

We’re going to have a networking event — a low-key affair — on the first night. Last year we did a more formal dinner and feedback showed that people want something more casual.

We’ll also be having a small golf tournament on Tuesday morning. It’ll be an intimate, upscale, off-campus aggregation of folks from that community.

3. What are the goals for NAB’s 2013 edition?
The goal is to establish ourselves as a viable venue for the selling of content, whether it’s the traditional selling of shows or selling of digital content vis a vis companies like Netflix and Hulu. There’s not really a home for that, especially on the digital side, and we want to help facilitate those kinds of deals.

4. Why is now a good time to revitalize the content side of the market?
Audiences are very fragmented across the board. Sure, if you’re selling content to a mobile platform, your business development guys are probably selling all year long, but NAB also seems a logical place to do that.

Appointment television is dead, and the consumer is dictating how they want to see their content. We attract companies that help facilitate that “anywhere, anytime” environment, so we’re taking advantage of that. While NAB is known for equipment, I like to say: “This is not your father’s NAB anymore.”

5. NAB will be attending MIPCOM. What are the reasons/plans for that?
We went there last year in an exploratory way, and we think we have a better story this year.

We’re going to be observing and securing feedback from key players. We won’t have a booth or meeting room. We’re going to walk the show floor and try to get an understanding of participants’ needs and wants, and make sure we’re on point with our vision.

MIP has a distinctive purpose, and by no means are we thinking of going after that.

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