“The industry is growing dynamically, and so is the Cable Show,” said Kyle McSlarrow, president-CEO of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. Anticipation is high that the 2007 Cable Show at Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, May 7-9, will be one of the best in the 56-year history of the show.
The Cable Show is where cable and telecommunications executives make things happen. It showcases suppliers, unites partners, fosters collaboration and inspires learning.
“The convention is really the largest gathering for the cable industry. It provides a whole marketplace for the exhibitors, and you can see the best of cable technology as well as the best in cable programming and the best in cable systems,” said Barbara York, senior vice president of industry affairs for the NCTA. “Then you also have this wonderful meeting of minds that exchange information in the sessions that continues to propel our industry so much further than our competition. It works on so many different levels that it’s just lovely.
“We’re getting very good response rate from everyone for this year,” she added. “This is the first time in 20 years that we’re in Las Vegas. People are really looking forward to coming.”
It isn’t just the location that has the cable folks excited; it’s the plethora of events, sessions and exhibits planned. “There are many programs that we’re excited about,” said Ms. York. “And we continue to be very pleased and very happy with the show. We’ll have 295,000 net square feet of space — it’s the largest show in the cable industry. This year’s committee has just gone overboard with 88 different sessions on every subject under the sun. It’s two and a half fully packed days that promise to be fabulous.”
“The Cable Show draws from the very highest levels within the industry,” said Mark Fellows, VP of industry affairs for the NCTA.
In fact, participants this year include a who’s who of cable industry leaders, among them Jeff Bewkes, chairman, entertainment & networks group, Time Warner; George Bodenheimer, co-chairman, Disney Media Networks, and president, ESPN & ABC Sports; Glenn Britt, president-CEO, Time Warner Cable; Stephen Burke, president-chief operating officer, Comcast Corp.; Peter Chernin, president-COO, News Corp.; Philippe Dauman, president-CEO, Viacom; Pat Esser, president, Cox Communications; Michael Fries, president-CEO, Liberty Global; John Lansing, president, Scripps Networks; Robert Iger, president-CEO, Walt Disney Co.; Richard Parsons, chairman-CEO, Time Warner; Brian Roberts, chairman-CEO, Comcast Corp.; Tom Rutledge, COO, Cablevision Systems Corp.; and David Zaslav, president-CEO, Discovery Communications.
In addition to the myriad sessions on subjects ranging from the growing role of information technology to adapting content to mobility, public policy, operations and marketing, two areas have been generating intense interest. “One is very much debuting at this year’s cable show, the first ever OCAP Developers Conference,” said Mr. Fellows. “This program is an opportunity for people to sit down and figure out how [the OpenCable Applications Platform] is going to be employed as cable rolls this out this year. We think that there’s a community that’s really going to build around this platform, and we thought this was a great opportunity to engage the development community at large. As our partners in cable would tell you, there are hundreds of thousands of people qualified to write applications for this platform.”
The conference aims to build awareness of OCAP beyond cable operators and programmers involved in it, such as developers writing Java applications who haven’t put digital TV at the forefront of their thinking, he added. “It’s everything from MSOs talking about deployment strategies to cable outlets getting updates on ETV roadmaps to programmers who’ve been working together with toolkit folks to actually launch the applications.” The event will feature networking opportunities as well as a chance to see the latest applications in an interactive pavilion.
Gaming is another hot topic at the convention, with the Games Initiative getting a new format at the Cable Show. Mr. Fellows explained, “If you boil it down, people who make video games are interactive entertainment content owners and cable operators are distributors of content. So if you thought nothing past that, it makes sense for them to sit down. About three years ago in San Francisco we launched Game.Net, and it really generated the momentum as we went into Atlanta to bring more mainstream video game executives to the show. It was more of a show-and-tell in Atlanta with a very large pavilion on the floor and a series of educational tracts that were woven into the overall agenda of the show.
“This year, we’ve had the benefit of another 12 months of relationship building, and we’ve partnered with the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences, the group that is, in essence, the Emmys of the game world. Jointly we’ve come up with just an incredible lineup of those game industry and cable industry speakers who are, among other things, going to talk about where their businesses are today,” including the potential for digital distribution for video games with promotional opportunities with cable operators. The event, which runs a day and a half, kicks off Tuesday at noon. Also scheduled is an invitation-only tour of the exhibits floor for the gaming industry.
Mobility is another important topic of discussion at the Cable Show. “We’re partnering with iHollywood to do Mobile Bootcamp,” said Ms. York. “It’s a short, one-day program on anything and everything related to wireless and mobility. But that isn’t the only place in the show where it will be addressed. Mobility will be sprinkled throughout the Cable Show in a ton of sessions, because video, voice, data and wireless is the quad-play in the cable industry and that’s what you’ll see front and center all over the show. On the floor, in the sessions, it’s what people will be talking about.”
More than 15,000 cable professionals are expected to attend the 2007 Cable Show, and they plan to get the most from the experience. “The thing that creates interest on my part year after year is the technology side of the business, because it’s something that’s always changing,” said John Bickham, Cablevision Systems Corp.’s president of cable and communications. “New companies are coming into it providing unique pieces of software and hardware every year, so when I go to the show, one of the things I really enjoy doing is walking the floor and visiting with some of the newer technology companies, as well as the older, established companies. I like to see what’s new and hot.”
Alicin Reidy-Williamson, MTV Networks’ senior VP of corporate responsibility and public affairs, also expressed interest in walking the floor, but not to peruse the technology. “We have the nonprofit organizations at booths this year, and NAMIC (National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Cable), of which I serve as board chair, will have a booth on the floor. That’s a really great way of letting everyone know about these organizations of value. That’s really terrific and promotes diversity in the cable industry.”
“Our survey results show three things: Exhibits are always the No. 1 favorite; sessions and networking go back and forth between No. 2 and No. 3,” said Ms. York. “Those are the three main reasons people come. They really enjoy themselves because all three factors are covered extraordinarily well.”
CABLE SHOW ’07
What: Annual conference of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association
Where: Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Las Vegas
When: May 7-9