The Cable Show

INTX Verdict: Still a Cable Show

CHICAGO -- INTX -- The new Internet & Television Expo still looks a lot like a cable show. Or maybe more accurately, it looks a lot like a Comcast show.

Indeed, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) Chairman & CEO Brian Roberts stole the spotlight in the opening keynote session. Then the company pulled reporters off site on day one for an exclusive event; and Comcast news dominated the newswires throughout the conference. (See Comcast Readies D3.1 & RDK-B.)

Despite efforts by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) to rebrand its signature trade show and invite in newcomers, the event was primarily a reminder that the traditional cable industry is shrinking rapidly, and that, merger or not, Comcast is still the main focus of attention.

The NCTA hasn't released attendance numbers yet -- and a spokesperson said it may decide not to do so -- but the show floor felt overly spacious, and the energy level muted. Programmers joined cable operators and traditional cable vendors in the exhibit hall and on stage, but over-the-top service providers, not to mention telecom and satellite companies, were woefully under-represented.

Hulu LLC and Sling TV both participated on one panel relegated to the 9 a.m. time slot on the last half day of the show. An AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) executive presented in a session on gigabit networks. And DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) had a representative speak at the Imagine Park showcase on advertising trends. But there was no apparent evidence of Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) or Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), among others.

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EchoStar Corp. LLC (Nasdaq: SATS) did have a booth at the show to highlight its upcoming Sage smart home platform. But it was so tucked away in a corner that finding it in the easy-to-navigate exhibit hall still required a map.

The most glaring evidence that INTX didn't accomplish its goals was the line-up of main-stage speakers. The one major service provider panel included the CEOs of Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), Cox Communications Inc. , Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) and Charter Communications Inc. -- five well-known cable leaders, zero cable competitors. (See Cablevision Chief Plays the Dating Game.)

And it wasn't much of a nod to diversity either.

The NCTA is right that the Cable Show had to change. Unfortunately, that may ultimately mean it gets swallowed up by a bigger event… kind of like the smaller cable companies who are now on the menu for their larger brethren.

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

Phil_Britt 5/12/2015 | 5:52:20 PM
A Cable Show by Any Other Name... Changing the name means little. The attendees/booth owners need to feel they receive enough value for their investment of time and money. I was on Show Daily staff at Supercomm for six years. Though that show died for a few reasons, one of the major ones was that the costs didn't drop as the industry changed. The show even expanded to cable operators (one time thought of as the anti-Christ) in the last couple of years to try to boost numbers/interest. If operators of this show don't keep attendee/booth costs in line with attendance, expanding to other areas won't be enough to keep this afloat. 
KBode 5/11/2015 | 3:13:37 PM
Re: "Cable" It seems like an uphill climb to try and eliminate the word cable from the vocabulary when you still deliver broadband and TV over coaxial cable. Maybe as the industry inevitably moves to fiber they'll finally be able to sell people on the name change.
Ariella 5/10/2015 | 9:45:04 PM
Re: "Cable" @Kbode it's very hard to get people to change names when they've gotten very used to them. Maybe they should get cutesy about it with a reference like "the music artist formerly known as Prince." I believe even he gave up, though, and went back to using the name Prince.
Ariella 5/10/2015 | 9:42:47 PM
Re: INTX Reflections: sizzle, no steak @hlair

I do wonder when are presenteres going to get the point that audiences do not relish PowerPoint presentations? A couple of years back, I attended a conference and what got the most applause was the announcement that there would be no PowerPoint. Prototypes, on the other hand, I do find exciting as a concrete representaion of what is workable.
mendyk 5/9/2015 | 9:05:24 AM
Re: INTX Reflections: sizzle, no steak Thanks for the very thorough and thoughtful synopsis of the Don't Call it the Cable Show cable show. The don't call them cable companies have a huge amount of legacy baggage that weighs them down, especially compared with new OTT competitors. The biggest and most obvious bag is decades of unsatisfactory customer service. Even if operators are genuinely committed to making customer experience a top priority (which remains to be seen), it will take years to shed the cable guy reputation.
[email protected] 5/8/2015 | 7:10:39 PM
INTX Reflections: sizzle, no steak In general, thought there was a lot of sizzle, but not much steak at the show.

I saw more PowerPoints, and prototypes than actual working systems.

Most common response was that they are in tests and trials. 

My come away impression was that cable operators and industry are in the biggest defensive mode ever.

Thought David Dibble, CTO of Cablevision gets it, with Yahoo background, for many others it was the same old cable with another name

If you run a spell check on intx you get nix, or put an end to; cancel.

James B. Stewart of The NewYorkTimes recently discussed Comcast's abandoned bid for TWC. People Hate the Cable Companies

http://www.nytimes.com/video/business/dealbook/100000003647466/people-hate-the-cable-tcompanies.html?action=click>ype=vhs&version=vhs-heading&module=vhs®ion=title-area ... 

NCTA changed its name to INTX, knowing people love broadband, but hate cable.

 In terms relative to Dr Strangelove, the INTX theme "maybe it's time to stop worrying and love cable."

Flow of convention floor has many positives with intersections focusing on Internet of Things, TV Everywhere, Streaming Media, Gaming, and Navigation.

However there were some "not so fast" moments.

Although the new remote demonstrated by Brian Roberts was impressivehttp://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/05/us-comcast-television-idUSKBN0NQ1MQ20150505

Cable has a tendency to develop things that adds costs, and creates more customer experience issues.

Netflix and Amazon Fire have both developed relative simple smart content management systems, and Amazon has a more than adequate voice control. Their exponential growth, no doubt have relevance to content, features and functions coming at a very reasonable price.


Sound quality not that good on link below - about the 44:12 point I brought up about Netflix and Amazon capturing subscriber viewing habits and Amazon including voice commands at no additional cost. Also raised the question about virtual set top box and use of Smart devices for remote - essentially removing two devices and making it simpler and less expensive for the subscriber.


I got the opportunity to make a point about Netflix and Amazon, adding features and functions at no additional cost; and then ask a question about plans for virtual set top boxes, and using smart devices (iPhone, iPad, etc.) to replace remotes.

I was very impressed with the chief technology officer of Cablevision Systems Corporation, David Dibble. He was on the panel. His background with Yahoo will prove invaluable to Cablevision, and cable.He said in 18 months set top boxes will be drastically different.

There are some hope with new approaches to personalizing TV. Cable has bogged down in past gathering historical data, while social media gets behavioral marketing, and targeted sales for each household member.

Cable is spending millions on upgrading their customer experience.http://www.fiercecable.com/story/comcast-hire-5500-new-workers-spend-300m-bolster-customer-service/2015-05-05

Some suggestions give back more to communities you serve. Mom and pop operators weren't viewed as takers, but givers.

Spend money on things that save the subscriber money – remove the set top box or make it part of the router (per Dibble), make smart devices (iPhone, etc.) your remote, using its audio for commands.

Use target ads to offset content costs.

Throwing more money and people at the customer experience will be passed on to the subscriber. Cable, many times, fails to run analytics on their subscribers; and determine what they really want. They end up trying to sell them a Ferrari to drive to Walmart.


KBode 5/8/2015 | 11:59:58 AM
"Cable" I find the effort to distance itself from the word "cable" to be particularly amusing. Read one article where attendees noted repeatedly they couldn't remember the name of the new conference, so they just kept calling it "The Cable Show" anyway. :)
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