The Consumer Electronics Association describes its International Consumer Electronics Show on Jan. 11 as the "world’s largest technology tradeshow." Boasting some 2,700 exhibitors and 150,000 attendees, CES is nothing if not large.

As for it being a technology show, however, note that the word "content" figures prominently in the tag line for this year’s 40th anniversary event ("Content, Technology and Everything In Between.") Last Friday, the CEA issued a release listing a raft of celebrities who will be on hand in Las Vegas this week.

Notwithstanding the dawning world of user-generated content, it would appear that well-known names from sports, music and the big screen still have a role to play in drawing both traffic to one’s booth and eyeballs to your portable display device. In any case, the organizers of this mega-show, which features more than 175 conference sessions – including eight "SuperSessions" with execs from government, business and technology – are underlining a "content is king" message long embraced by their counterparts in the cable industry.

Not to say that technology is missing. Many of these celebrities, after all, are appearing on behalf of technology vendors. For instance, Gene Simmons, legendary bassist and lead singer for KISS, is making a cameo stop on Wednesday at Coby Electronics, whose portfolio includes DVD players, TV sets, personal media players, portable audio devices and more. Not surprisingly, Kyle Busch was scheduled to deliver on Monday for his NASCAR sponsor Delphi, designer and manufacturer of automotive components, including audio and entertainment equipment.

The headline names convey an air of prosperity, and the CE industry indeed has been flourishing. Last year, the CES predicted 8 percent growth, but hit 13 instead. This year, the group foresees 7 percent growth, which would bring factory-to-dealer sales of consumer electronics to more than $155 billion.

For its part, the cable industry remains more than politely engaged in CE trends. "We are always excited to see the latest in innovation," Time Warner Cable CTO Mike LaJoie said in response to a question about what he would be looking for at CES. "We are always looking to provide our customers with new products and services that interest them and meet their entertainment and information needs." ET up next As for how cable can provide unique answers to consumer demands for increasingly customizable and device-shifted content, some of the discussions slated for the SCTE Conference on Emerging Technologies are likely to suggest network-specific answers. (See this week’s Engineering News for an outlook offered by SeaChange International SVP and Chief Strategy Officer and SCTE Chairman Yvette Gordon, who will be moderating a panel at the Jan. 24-25 conference.)

Pay attention because, if past ET’s are any indication, the gathering of cable strategists two weeks from now in Houston likely will include many references to what transpires this week in Las Vegas. Likewise, momentum from some technologies exhibiting strength at CES will carry into the NCTA’s Cable Show in early May, slated this year for Las Vegas, as well.

The NCTA event, for instance, has for several years now accommodated vendors keen on strengthening the relationship between game consoles and applications and cable’s technical infrastructure. Sunday’s announcement by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates in his CES keynote address that Microsoft TV IPTV Edition software had integrated with the Xbox 360 console provides an impetus, albeit competitive, for anyone wanting to advance that agenda. – Jonathan Tombes

The Daily

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