CES breaks attendance record; 2016 registrations will be limited

To keep the crowds under control, next year's consumer electronics extravaganza will be capped, and "enhanced credentialing procedures" will make it harder to attend.

CNET brought its own crowd to CES 2015. CNET

Good news for those International CES attendees who've grown tired of the crowds and long lines for taxis and keynotes.

The annual computer electronics trade show, which broke records this year with 176,676 attendees, will be capped next year at 176,000 registrants, according to the Computer Electronics Association (CEA), the group that runs the Las Vegas event.

CEA announced on Wednesday its first-ever registration cap, as it released verified attendance numbers for CES 2015, which took place last January. CES 2016 is slated for January 6 through 9 next year.

Of the 176,676 attendees in 2015, 48,833 came from outside the US, CEA said. Other records broken this year, according to the CEA, were more than 3,600 exhibitors, more than 2.23 million net square feet of exhibit space and 6,952 media and analyst attendees. CEA also noted that there were 703,602 mentions of the #CES2015 Twitter hashtag during the show with 7.51 billion total potential Twitter impressions.

Turnout at CES is often seen as a barometer for the health of the tech industry, and the 2015 numbers show a steep climb from 2010 when, amid a recession, just 113,085 people attended the show.

But there's such a thing as too crowded, and to ensure a "quality experience," CEA has outlined stricter registration procedures along with the cap.

"With the growth of the consumer technology industry and the parallel growth of the International CES comes an increase in the qualified registrant base for our show," CEA's Karen Chupka said in a statement. "While these individuals are qualified industry professionals, we are reaching space capacity and simply can't accommodate every qualified individual to our show."

The new "enhanced credentialing" system doesn't affect those who attended CES 2014 and 2015. But new registrants or those attending after a two-year absence will have to meet tighter requirements and submit additional eligibility materials. (Click here for more details.)

CEA chief Gary Shapiro noted that the average CES attendee has 33 business meetings to attend, which is all the trickier when maneuvering crowds.

"CES is the world's leading annual innovation event and is setting records across every major category including international attendance," Shapiro said in a statement. "We must always innovate to ensure that CES remains the must-attend event for any professional connected to innovation. These new procedures will help us meet this goal."

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