As readers of this page know, we think there’s plenty to like about NCTA under Kyle McSlarrow, from the spanking new headquarters to the understated but firm tone that cable’s lobbying has adopted.
A few weeks ago we found another reason to gloat. In the run-up to the final summer CTAM, NCTA unveiled its own marketing stunt. By the standards of CTAM chief Char Beales (page 18), NCTA’s early summer fling was a hit.
It was easy. NCTA invited FCC officials, congressional staff and trade hacks to its nearby Capitol Hill headquarters for an Open Cable Showcase, touting the wares and potential of 22 cable vendors and programmers. More than 200 came. While many of the tech goodies were seen at The Cable Show in Las Vegas, new travel restrictions meant few FCC or congressional staff made it to Las Vegas.
It was manageable. Face it, how many of us had time to visit 22 tech exhibits in Vegas?
It was comprehensible. NCTA’s displays were relatively small and exhibitor reps were patient with nontechnical attendees. Plus, Time Warner Cable’s SVP, strategy & development, Kevin Leddy and Comcast SVP of strategic planning Mark Coblitz made helpful remarks before "the floor" opened. Leddy presented basics, saying if developers designed apps with OCAP middleware, the apps would work in a spectrum of cable boxes. We liked the phrasing of Panasonic’s Rajesh Khandelwal, who referred to OCAP as "a national footprint for innovation."
And what OCAP enables was great. The Weather Channel’s interactive app (see photo above) allowed us to use the remote to gather weather data on the TV screen. ESPN’s demo (also above) let us bypass items on its sports ticker so we could jump to scores/news of our favorite teams.
To be clear, NCTA is not in the habit of marketing cable’s wares. While this event was aimed at educating, not marketing, the fact that it was held at all is an extremely welcome development. Some 200 pairs of staffer hands were able to touch the potential of interactive cable, mixing policy with practice. Here’s hoping Open Cable Showcase was the first of many such events.