It’s tempting to write about how much has changed since the last time cable held its annual show in Las Vegas, some two decades ago. But that’s best left to the Cable Pioneers, the people whose often courageous actions assembled the framework of the industry that we are fortunate to be part of today. That so many of them are still with us makes their yearly reunion at The Cable Show a treat.
It’s also difficult to avoid drawing a comparison between Las Vegas’ gaming industry and the game of chance that the telecommunications sector has become, with its changing alliances, the rapid movement of content between platforms, the on-demand phenomenon, the apparent march of eyeballs away from television screens and the ultracompetitive nature of the beast (although the FCC doesn’t yet understand this). "I’ve been in this business for years and I feel I know less about how it will all turn out now than I did 20 years ago," C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb said the other day. Coincidentally (or not) it was the same day The Wall Street Journal reported that Time Warner execs are debating changing their bet on cable in the face of Web competition.
The optimists retort that every business is somewhat of a gamble and that cable’s fundamentals are excellent. CAB chief Sean Cunningham, preparing to merge his group’s annual conference with The Cable Show, adds that cable continues to be an excellent conduit to sell products to consumers (page 6).
On page 8 co-chairs Pat Esser and George Bodenheimer discuss The Cable Show’s agenda. In an indirect reaction to that, three of our columnists dish about must-see show sessions (page 18). And if you desire more than food for thought, cable’s resident partymeisters, Chuck Klein and Shelley Babcock, offer their Vegas restaurant choices (page 26).
Life is a cabaret. So, on with the show.