Massive CES Tech Show Moving Entirely Online Next Year

By Alan Wolf, YSN

CES, one of the world’s largest trade shows, is following AVB’s lead by moving the confab entirely online this winter to prevent the further spread of coronavirus.

The massive event, which sprawls across Las Vegas each January, is an acronym for Consumer Electronics Show and has long been the must-attend event for retailers, manufacturers, media and other tech-industry movers and shakers from around the globe.

Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), the powerful industry trade group and producer of CES, said the switch to an all-digital format was the right call for the industry, the nation and the world, given the ongoing pandemic.

“We concluded it is simply not possible to safely gather over 100,000 people indoors with a raging COVID-19 virus and no real hope for a tested and widely available vaccine by January,” he wrote in a LinkedIn post. “The world does not need more COVID-19 cases, and we decided we would do our part by ensuring we are not helping spread the disease.”

The decision represents an unparalleled upheaval for the show, which drew over 171,000 attendees, 4,400 exhibitors and covered some 2.9 million net square feet last January. Over the last 50-plus years, CES has grown to encompass a host of related industries, including appliances, health, travel and automotive, and has served as a showcase for such bleeding-edge technologies as robotics, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, 8K TV and 5G connectivity.

CTA said the new virtual format will “allow the entire tech community to safely share ideas and introduce the products that will shape our future,” and provide a front-row seat to the show’s traditional keynotes, conferences, meetings and product launches.

The switch to an online-only show follows AVB’s decision to move the BrandSource 2020 Convention entirely online. The call was made last month after long and careful deliberation by AVB’s Senior Leadership Team (SLT), which considered such factors as travel and exhibit center restrictions; guidance from national and local officials; and overwhelming feedback from members and manufacturers.

As AVB Chief Marketing Officer John White remarked, “We weren’t going to let a global pandemic stop us from moving forward and helping our members find ways to keep business going in the safest, most effective ways possible.”

Also following suit is CEDIA Expo, the leading tech event for custom integrators, which traded its annual on-site show for a completely virtual experience in September.

Meanwhile, the Kitchen/Bath Industry Show (KBIS), the CES of the major appliance industry, is still preparing for an on-site event this February in Florida, currently a coronavirus hotspot, and said it doesn’t foresee any changes in show format or scheduling at this time.

CES 2021 is set to run online Jan. 6-9, 2021 and is expected to return to Las Vegas the following year. Those interested in attending the virtual event can sign up here to be notified when registration opens this fall.

BrandSource, a nationwide buying group for independent appliance, mattress, furniture and CE dealers, is a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc.