CES has a well-deserved reputation as the place to see new technology and engage with those creating that technology. Broadcasters’ content is reaching our audience on an increasing number and variety of devices. Therefore, it is ever more important to witness for ourselves the changes occurring in the consumer technology marketplace.

Ford at CES

The digital dashboard will be a focus for broadcasters at this year’s CES

What to expect?

CES is a great place to explore “the range of the possible” in new consumer electronics devices and services. Not everything shown at CES will actually find its way into the retail marketplace. But it’s a great venue for manufacturers to try out ideas and get reactions from the industry about what is most likely to capture the attention (and dollars) of the American consumer. The major keynotes are a case in point. They are generally free and give insight from high-level executives at well known mega-corporations about what they are focused on for the present and at least the near future.

Of course, CES is also the place where you can get a first look at the new products that definitely will make their way to the marketplace soon. Some of the developments to look for at CES 2017 include:

  • Developments in the automotive industry
  • The evolution of virtual reality
  • New display technologies
  • Possible ATSC 3.0 demonstrations (watch for announcements)
  • Changes and developments in the IOT space

Planning your trip

For newcomers, CES can be completely overwhelming, but advance planning can moderate the madness. The best bet is to do some research in advance of the show. The CES website is fairly complete and should be the first place to put together a floor plan. Just diving in and wandering is not a good idea unless you have vast amounts of time to match the vast amount of floor space covered by the exhibits, as well as the stamina and shoes appropriate for walking on concrete for long distances.

New attendees may want to cover the exhibit floor and attend all the conference sessions, but inevitably there is never enough time for both. You should allocate about 3 – 4 days. In that time, you won’t be able to see everything that is available, but you would be able to cover a plan that you have created.

“Broadcasters will need to expand their horizons and explore innovations they cannot experience at typical industry gatherings.”

The daunting size and scope of CES has led a number of experts to take on the role of CES tour guide. Perhaps the best known, Shelly Palmer, was dubbed by Re/Code as the “The King of CES Tour Guides.” This year radio executives can look forward to their own tailored tour. Fred Jacobs, owner of Jacobs Media, will be leading these tours. “We’re excited about our first ever Jacobs CES CEO Tour,” he said. “In attendance we’ll have a dozen C-suite radio execs excited to experience CES for the very first time.”

Jacobs is promising that the attendees will see the latest and greatest in digital gadgetry, but he notes, “The real deal is learning how the technology impacts the radio business, and how broadcasters can benefit from what’s next. CES is about being at the nexus of innovation – milling around with 170,000 enthusiasts in an atmosphere that is both optimistic and electric.” Jacobs concludes, “For radio to succeed in a rapidly changing environment, broadcasters will need to expand their horizons and explore innovations they cannot experience at typical industry gatherings.”

Tips from the veterans

Veteran CES attendees may only go to the exhibit floor and any outside meetings they’ve set up in advance. They spend most of their day on the floor walking and talking to the newest and greatest exhibits. While many of the exhibits are in the north, central, and south halls of the LVCC, you should set aside time to explore the innovation area located at the Sands Expo Center (attached to the Venetian) as well as check out the other exhibit venues outside of the LVCC.


Also at CES, the National Radio Systems Committee (NRSC), a technical standards-setting organization co-sponsored by NAB and CTA, will be holding meetings starting at 1 p.m. PST on Thursday, January 5, 2017 in room S105 of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Three NRSC groups will meet there: the AM and FM Analog Broadcast (AFAB), Radio Broadcast Data System (RBDS), and Digital Radio Broadcasting (DRB) Subcommittees.

Any radio broadcasters planning to be at CES are encouraged and welcome to attend these meetings. For more information on the NRSC, including information on joining, please contact David Layer at NAB.