Video services

Another Closing, Another Show

ORLANDO, Fla. -- With the weekend fast approaching, another Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) Cable-Tec Expo is winding down here today. But there are still a few tidbits to share after three days and three nights in steamy, stormy Orlando.

Here's a brief rundown of some notable notes from the show so far...

  • If there's one industry acronym that National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) President and CEO Kyle McSlarrow can't stand, it's OCAP (as in OpenCable Applications Platform). In his keynote address to the convention Wednesday, McSlarrow said he has half-jokingly "banned the use of 'OCAP' at NCTA" because the term blurs cable's commitment to open digital set-top box standards. The NCTA chief prefers using "OpenCable Platform" instead. "I know we in Washington are also guilty of jargon, but this is really a case where the acronym completely hides the ball."

  • Cable media mogul Paul Maxwell knows why no other big MSOs have rushed to Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC)'s aid in the legal tiff over Cablevision's proposed network DVR service. Presiding over Wednesday's CEO panel, he waved off an audience question about the lack of MSO support for Cablevision by asserting that "the content and network guys are negotiating." Making "more noise" about the issue, he observed, is "not the best way" to negotiate. Besides, he noted, "the industry has a long history of allowing Chuck [Dolan] to make noise."

  • Add mobile video to the ever-growing list of potentially competitive alternatives that the cable industry claims not to be even the slightest bit worried about. Asked about mobile video's fitness for going head-to-head with cable, Advance/Newhouse Communications Chairman and CEO Bob Miron argued that the third screen will never match the first screen (namely the TV set). "I don't think taking video with you on the phone is any competition to what we do," he said. "It's an adjunct... It's fine but it's not competition to the main piece."

  • Add Joost and Sling Media Inc. 's Slingbox to that lengthening list as well. Asked about those services' ability to compete with cable, MSO officials and programmers dissed them both, questioning their scalability and economic viability. In particular, the cable guys cast doubt on the potential threat posed by Joost. For example, Bob Zitter, CTO and executive VP of technology of HBO, advised audience members to "recognize that none of these make much money now."

    — Alan Breznick, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading

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