As Expected, CES 2022 Attendance A Fraction Of Pre-Pandemic Throngs

January 10, 2022 by Dave Haynes

No one will be surprised to learn last week’s CES didn’t draw anywhere near as many attendees as it was doing prior to the pandemic, but what’s arguably surprising is that some 40,000 people DID go – given the way omicron is spreading like mad everywhere.

Of those 40,000 or so, there were 1,800 global media attendees and about 12,000 of the attendees came from outside the U.S. – dealing in many cases with tests to leave and enter countries, cancelled and delayed flights,  and all the stuff that now makes business travel even less of a treat.

JUST before COVID-19 became a constant thread in our lives, the CES show in January 2020 went off with roughly 170,000 attendees, so the number was about 1/4 of what would be expected in normal times.

As noted last week, I didn’t see much online from PR or on-site press coverage to suggest not being there was a big miss. It is a show for consumer products, with some crossover into professional products. It’s fun to see all the new gadgets and latest attempts at differentiating premium TVs, but unless in normal years you get access to the invite-only whisper rooms and suites of the big vendors, where R&D work may be shown, you’re not likely going to see all that much that’s critical to your digital signage job.

AV industry consultant David Danto has a good, very measured summary of his thoughts from attending in person last week. He mentions some interesting things – like directional sound – but kinda reinforces my view that given what I follow and write about, I didn’t need to be there.

CES will return to Las Vegas a year from now, Jan. 5-8, 2023. The attention now turns to NRF, the big retail show set for next week in New York City, and then ISE at the very start of February. Both are still on, but will doubtlessly see smaller crowds and fewer exhibitors.

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