By Chuck Ross
Last spring, when the folks at the NCTA were doing their debrief about the just concluded Cable Show in Los Angeles, NCTA President Michael Powell had an epiphany: They needed to reimagine the Cable Show because the business of the association’s member companies had changed.
Says Barbara York, NCTA’s senior vice president of industry affairs and NCTA’s longtime top executive running its annual convention, “It became clear that the product lines of our members are so broad and so diverse that just saying we were a cable show meant that’s what we focused on, instead of broadband, which is operators’ primary revenue stream now.”
So what to call the reimagined show?
York continues, “We went back and forth with several names, and Internet seemed to be better than broadband. The word Internet offers the potential of what the future will hold. Broadband is too specific, and defining ourselves by a particular technology made no sense.
“NCTA is operators and programmers, and that’s the great programming our member companies produce and have produced. So that’s why we came up with INTX: The Internet & Television Expo as the show’s new name. We presented the new name to our board in September and it was a unanimous vote to adopt the new name for the show.”
Indicative of how radical this year’s reboot of the Cable Show is, consider this: It’s the first time in 64 years that the NCTA’s annual convention will not primarily focus on what has traditionally been known as “cable TV.” Back in the day, there were a number of regional cable shows, so the NCTA gathering was known as the National Show.
That ended in 2002, with the demise of the last of the giant regional confabs, the Western show. From then on the NCTA’s annual convention was known as the Cable Show.
But it’s not surprising that NCTA would reboot its annual gathering, considering that NCTA itself has evolved over the years. Known originally as the National Cable Television Association, NCTA in recent years has stood for the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.
York notes that a number of companies outside of what has generally been considered the cable industry will be in Chicago at INTX next week. These include AT&T, Verizon, Google, Dish and Echostar, Vimeo and Full Screen, to name a few. Folks from Twitter will be there, as will managers from Amazon.
So far though, it doesn’t look like Netflix is coming.
York was at TCA this past January, meeting with a number of TV critics to tell them about the reboot. “We’d love for them to come and see a broader offering than what they see on traditional TV,” York says.
Ultimately, she says, “The goal is for INTX to be one of the destination shows for the digital economy.”
Indicative of how serious York and other NCTA officials are that the smartest thing they can do is broaden their national show with new meaningful content to reflect its new name, INTX has partnered with Re/code, the independent tech news site run by former Wall Street Journal veterans Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, to provide some of the content for the show.
Coincidentally, Re/code, on its website, provides this description of itself: “Because everything in tech and media is constantly being rethought, refreshed, and renewed, Re/Code’s aim is to reimagine tech journalism.”
Says York, “On the first day of INTX Michael Powell will be interviewed by Kara Swisher. Michael has no clue what questions she will ask, and he’ll have to answer. We are doing this because we here at NCTA believe we’ve got the right industry, the right product, the right direction, and, hopefully, the right show to tell everybody that story.
To learn more about INTX, which will take place at Chicago’s McCormick Place West next week from May 5 through May 7, please click here.