Friday, September 30, 2016

NCTA Kills its National Convention (Name Change Notwithstanding)

As someone who has spent about 30 years in and around telecom and cable TV industry events and media, I can attest that when events come and go, or media come and go, it tells you something about change in the industry.

For 65 years, U.S. cable TV executives have met annually at an event formerly known colloquially as “the national show.” That event in recent years was renamed INTX. But INTX now is going away, cancelled by the NCTA.

“We believe large trade show floors, dotted with exhibit booths and stilted schedules have become an anachronism,” said NCTA CEO Michael Powell.

Contemporary venues emphasize conversation, dialog, and more intimate opportunities to explore and interact with technology,” said Powell.

Left unsaid was that, over the past decade or two, it had become less important for buyers or sellers to be there. There simply were fewer buyers, so sellers could work with them directly. And anything of any importance already was known before any particular edition of a trade show. There was, in the colloquial, increasingly no news of any consequence.

Also, with the maturation of the business model, a convention once driven by programmers had become a venue mostly driven by technology firms. But there are other venues for technology.

Also, at a time when every part of the telecom business has become more competitive, and every segment is trying to wring costs out of its business, executives had to question whether the outcomes from spending money to attend that annual event were producing outcomes commensurate with investment.

At the same time, though it continues to use a technology platform that is specialized and distinct, cable TV operators now are part of the broader communications business. And there are lots of venues for that industry, nationally and globally.

As the global industry continues to consolidate, other segments of the industry are going to rationalize as well.

Effort, time and money spent “intra-industry” are less important than investments inter-industry, given the loosely-coupled nature of the communications ecosystem, which in turn has become part of the broader Internet ecosystem.

It has been a good 65-year run. But too many things have changed.

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