Bean counters haven’t found a way to measure fun or enthusiasm. Yet those words, plus energy and optimism, were the most often-used descriptors for NCTA’s National Show earlier this month. Who knew this year’s convention would be the most optimistic one since the heady days of the dot-com boom? A hint came the day before it opened. On the floor, NCTA’s Broadband Home showpiece was packed with VIPs excitedly playing with its bells and whistles. NCTA president/CEO Robert Sachs was beaming as he watched Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) testing the treadmill, connected via broadband video to an aerobics instructor across the country. That optimism flowed through the show, whose panel sessions and parties seemed livelier than conventions past. Even attendees at Wednesday morning’s NAMIC breakfast were upbeat, despite the early hour (7 a.m). The show floor, slightly larger than last year, was littered with impressive tech, from the Digeo-supported Motorola box that can play DVDs to the Scientific-Atlanta 8300 box, which can support up to three TV sets.The show’s optimism was related to MSOs’ moves forward with all-digital platforms, which will enable apps giving cable an advantage over competitors, from VoIP to VOD to HDTV. Perhaps the most obvious signs of optimism came from the floor displays themselves, replete with booth bunnies and swag. Disney gave away plush toys. ESPN brought sports celebrities, including Patriots’ QB Tom Brady. Fuse featured a concert with talent-less but lovable singer William Hung. Even Reality Central got into the act, sporting one of the most crowded booths with its Survivor stars. Other signs of optimism: Attendance was up, and there was a long line of cable channel hopefuls seeking carriage. Then there was the nightlife, which didn’t disappoint. In addition to CableFAX Daily’s well-attended Faxies Awards reception, Court TV and MTV were responsible for more than a few hangovers with their respective ’80s party and Al Green concert on successive nights.

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