CTAM Delves Into Broadband Content

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Hundreds of cable executives trying to make sense of the new broadband-media world will rub elbows with their Silicon Valley counterparts next week at the first CTAM Broadband Opportunity Conference in Santa Clara, Calif.

The Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing expects the new event to attract 400 to 450 attendees, said senior vice president of marketing Seth Morrison.

This is the first stand-alone broadband conference for CTAM, he added, so it's too soon to predict final attendance numbers.

"There are a lot of players at broadband companies that might not have come to CTAM in the past," Morrison noted.

Conference co-chair Kate McEnroe, president of AMC Networks, said last week that the number of pre-registered attendees was 50 percent higher than expected.

There will be separate tracks for operators on marketing digital services to cable customers and for programmers on developing content for the new platforms.

New content is needed to drive such technologies as digital set-top boxes and cable modems past the early-adopter stage and toward more middle-of-the-road consumers, McEnroe said.

To test consumer demand for the new content, AMC has worked with Cablevision Systems Corp.'s New Media Lab in metropolitan New York City for the past 18 months, McEnroe said.

Other MSOs have also tried to gauge consumer demand for new broadband services. AT & T Broadband vice president of market intelligence Pete Gatseos is scheduled to speak at a Wednesday afternoon panel called "Broadband Research: The Consumer's Perspective."

"My job is to be the TV-centric guy" on the panel, Gatseos said. AT & T's research shows there is a demand for broadband content over the television, particularly in households with personal computers.

Consumers like the idea of being able to sit on the sofa in their slippers while accessing the Internet, or watching television and surfing the Web at the same time, he said.

Intertainer CEO Jonathan Taplin will deliver the conference's keynote speech on Wednesday.

"CTAM is a really important organization for us," Taplin said. "We're trying to reinvent the way people market video-on-demand, and get them to rethink the way that VOD fits into their plans."

Taplin said there's a "huge" need for the cable industry to keep the lines of communication with Silicon Valley open.

"Technology is moving so fast," Taplin said. "If the cable business doesn't continue to innovate, people will get their entertainment via streaming media."

The conference is on Oct. 18 and 19. Other keynote speakers include Vulcan Northwest Inc. president William Savoy.

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