Indianapolis— Cable operators and industry types were off to the races here last week at the Great Lakes Cable Expo, even if they were running on a smaller track.
As with most other shows, the floor at the Indianapolis Convention Center was compact to say the least, with aisles narrow enough that a couple of exhibitors were seen passing time lobbing tchotchke balls back and forth. Still, operators trolled the four aisles of booths — a quick peek at the business-card fishbowl at one outdoor plant-equipment vendor showed cards from the likes of Time Warner Cable, Insight Communications Co. and Mediacom Communications Corp.
It also was an opportunity for a great number of smaller Midwest cable outfits to get in touch with industry trends. That was what Bryan Crowley heard at his AML Wireless Networks booth. The Canadian company was lured south of the border by the prospect of extending business for its last-mile fixed wireless systems for cable networks, and he was gaining fair interest from the small crowd.
There were a handful of exhibitors showing off new products, including Gemstar TV Guide International Inc. The provider of interactive programming guides was showing off a new redesign set to debut today — a sort of early taste of a new IPG it plans to roll out in early August.
Independent Film Channel was handing out free videos of last year's sleeper hit Y Tu Mama Tambien
as it drummed up buzz for its pending video-on-demand offering.
But as with so many shows in the past year, the dwindling size does bring up questions about the long-term future of such trade gatherings. Crowley's AML, for example, plans to also attend the upcoming Society of Cable and Telecommunications Engineers' expo in May, but Crowley noted the decision to set up exhibit shop at cable shows is becoming more iffy these days.
"The way things are going, these shows are becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy," he said. "People see that fewer and fewer are attending these shows and that they are getting smaller, so they stop going — and the shows get even smaller."