Drawing tens of thousands from all over the world

The first thing to note about the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) is the numbers, because they are big. In total, around 50,000 media professionals from more than 150 countries flock to Amsterdam every year for the conference, one of the world's biggest media and broadcasting events. A global destination which brings together stakeholders from every part of the industry, it is now one of the world's most influential media, entertainment and technology shows.

Offering sessions speeches, presentations, demonstrations, screenings, product launches and insights into the latest technologies, each year the event sees hundreds of delegates and speakers shape the future of the industry. I amsterdam sat down with IBC CEO Michael Crimp a while back to find out more about the conference, and why its chosen Amsterdam as its home since 1992.

Shark at IBC

This year the conference will focus on showing how new technologies are made, from inception through research and development to ground-breaking applications and products. Only the freshest, most cutting-edge ideas and innovations are showcased in the specially-curated exhibition Future Zone, where you can expect to see everything from ultra-wide vision, 3D audio and immersive experiences to the next generation of virtual-, augmented- and mixed-reality systems and live special effects in a pop-up studio. 

One new addition to Amsterdam's transport infrastructure that helps IBC is the €3.1bn Noord/Zuidlijn, which runs from the northern part of Amsterdam past the conference's base at RAI Amsterdam to Station Zuid. The new metro line makes travel between the city’s busiest transport exchanges and business centres much quicker and more efficient - especially, for internationals visiting the city for IBC, between Central Station and RAI Amsterdam. 

Can you explain what IBC does?

Photo: Michael Crimp

“IBC is a partnership of six industry bodies that represent the visitors to the convention and the exhibitors. Most of them are charities – organisations such as the Royal Television Society. It’s part of our ethos that we’re organised by the industry, for the industry. It covers every aspect of the creation, management and delivery of news and entertainment content on all forms of electronic media.

The simple way to look at it is that you have four screens – a mobile device, a computer screen, a TV screen and a cinema screen. But all of these are capable of receiving rich and interactive content. Our job is to make sense of how those devices can be used to receive rich entertainment and news media. Amsterdam and Hilversum are a huge hub for the international broadcasting industry."

What has kept you coming back to Amsterdam for almost 30 years?

“The initial attractions are still there. It is a very open and multicultural city; it has got fantastic international connections. The language of our business, and one that is spoken very widely and very well in Amsterdam is English. The RAI is a well-positioned facility with a good team of people, and the City is working hard to understand that we’ve got a long-term sustainable business and we want long-term relationships.”

How important is that for IBC?

Big Screen at IBC

“What we look for is the best event base. People come from over 150 countries, so for us it’s about having the hub that can provide the best venue, the best support, the best facilities - and Amsterdam has always managed to provide that.

Amsterdam is a fantastic city. It’s like a big village, it’s got a fantastic atmosphere. Our heart is in Amsterdam and we’ve got good relationships. It is important that we keep our business head in alignment, and that just requires an open conversation, which is very easy to have in Amsterdam.”

How important is it to be able to work with a host city?

“There has to be a lot of planning and forward negotiations. You have to have so many more trams and buses and free passes and everything or the place will come to a halt.

We spend tens of millions of euros in that one week, so it’s important for an economic reason, however it’s also important that the Amsterdammers and IBC feel part of it. But we’ve grown up together – when we first came to Amsterdam, attendance was 8,000 to 10,000; now it is more than 50,000.”

Do you get much free time when you are here?


“I make free time. Everyone who comes to IBC – we’re not the sort of people who sit in the hotel, we’re out connecting with our stakeholders and meeting new people. It’s a part of the ethos of the entertainment business.

But Amsterdam is not that big and I would advise people to get a map and have a wander around. The mixture of art, culture and café life is worth experiencing on foot. We bring many students and hire in a load of bikes and that’s how they get around. We feel very close to the city of Amsterdam and we enjoy being there. It’s part of our DNA now.”

Find out more about Amsterdam's media and broadcasting sector.