So…did CONNECTIONS and NCTA Connect this Year?

I wanted to (finally) take a few minutes to share some industry event thoughts:

The Cable Show (“NCTA”), Boston

In the twilight hours of the 3-day event, I finally had some unscheduled time (having spent most of my waking hours meeting cable execs in LG’s nearby demo suite), allowing me to have a 90-minute self-guided tour.  My observations:

  • NCTA was noticeably smaller than I remember from years ago in Vegas, seeming to publicly proclaim consolidation! – as providers (e.g. TWC/Insight) and suppliers (e.g. Cisco/NDS) shrink in number.
  • The Cable Guys have shown remarkable agility in the past 12-18 months, reinforcing their value to many tablet-owning subscribers as the first wave of the 2-screen tsunami subsides.
  • MSOs are really not too worried by competitive OTT services – as 5-year plans will prevail, retaining subscribers with TV-Everywhere authentication, new home gateways, and slow-moving CE deals.

Parks Associates’ CONNECTIONS / TIA, Dallas

CONNECTIONS and TIA offered a slightly different  perspective on the convergence of Connected CE, service providers, and cloud services:

  • AT&T and Verizon said service providers should embrace the “BYOD” (Bring Your Own Device) trend as the Connected CE market grows from 6B to 13B devices over the next 18 months.
  • M2M or “Internet of Things” talk seems to be gaining momentum as home monitoring and control services are deployed, and CE devices add more sensors tied to analytics engines in the cloud.
  • The “Connected CE as the STB” panel focused on having 1 STB/home within 10 years, and the need to “follow the money” of measured delivery and consumption of content and advertising, rather than “hobbies”.


No earth-shattering announcements and no revolutionary product launches. That said, I did sense early indicators that Pay TV operators are coming to terms with tempering their leased equipment business (much like Ma Bell did years ago). In-home network demarcation will be needed (iNID?) but MVPDs will hopefully prepare their subscribers soon for “BYOD” , enabling mainstream consumers to enjoy familiar, high-quality Pay TV on more innovative devices. If all goes according to plan, a rare win-win may be possible – in the coming years.

Back from Hollywood…

I had a very interesting day last week at Variety’s Venture Capital and New Media Summit, an event designed to increase awareness of the burgeoning entertainment-tech scene in Hollywood. Kicked off by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the 1-day event provided ample opportunity for attendees to debate how new cloud services and devices could either disrupt or augment longstanding media businesses.  The general sentiment expressed, both publicly on panels and in private conversations, was that new opportunities were definitely being created, but the inertia of highly-profitable legacy business models might promote the status quo for a few more years still.

And so, in addition to enjoying the great venue at the Sofitel in Beverly Hills, most of the entertainment, technology and VC execs I chatted with were focused on measuring social media, building teams with great talent, and searching for that “next big thing”.  Check out some of the executive perspectives (including mine) published in the Variety Magazine story, “Coin Still Flows to Tech Set” by Hillary Atkin.