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THE MORNING BUZZ: VSDA Show Should Get Things Done

15 Jul, 2002 By: Kurt Indvik

This week the home video industry gathers for Home Entertainment 2002, hosted by the Video Software Dealers Association in Las Vegas. (The event is produced by Advanstar Communications, publisher of this magazine.) While we can certainly expect the weather to be hot, the event itself promises to be a cooler affair than in years passed. The caveat here is that this is, to a fair extent, by design. The question to be answered is, will the participants embrace this “new and improved” version of the long-standing convention?

Gone are the days of the massive trade show expo hall, with towering, multi-level booths swarmed by retailers itching to get an autograph from a movie star or a T-shirt. While there is an expo hall at this year's show, it is decidedly smaller in size. Retailers looking to get nifty studio tchotchkes, however, will come away from the floor empty-handed, since the studios have opted this year to take advantage of the new “Exhibit Suites” format introduced for this year's show. Organizers for the event have determined that the trend in the industry for the past several years has been more toward serious business meetings between suppliers and key customers, as opposed to the wild and often frenetic “trade show” environment of the past. This is a trend one is seeing in many industry trade shows inside and outside of the entertainment/media industries.

Yes, there will be celebrities and parties. Sylvester Stallone and George Carlin will accept awards, and there will be an autograph table on the show floor (though it's a decidedly smaller list than in past years). And while there will be plenty of networking receptions and parties generated by the convention itself, it seems many of the studios are eschewing the after-hours parties and other extra events that have surrounded this convention in the past. Make no mistake; this is a decidedly more business-like affair than in the past.

Besides a focus on building a more business-like atmosphere for this year, organizers have also built “tracks” for content to cram as much information into three days as possible. Certainly, DVD is the axis around which this industry is turning now, and a full track devoted to all things DVD should attract a fair number of attendees. I am also very interested to check out the “Filmmakers of Tomorrow” track, which will not only debut some 13 films by independent filmmakers, but offer sessions to help retailers understand how they can profitably play their role in exposing their customers to great films that don't necessarily gross millions at the box office.

It won't be business as usual at this year's VSDA show. The intent is that business gets done.

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