INTX Outlook: Embracing Disruption And Gathering in a Boston Rectangle


Year two of the conversion of The Cable Show into INTX: The Internet & Television Expo will see some additions — notably a TED Talks session — and some subtractions, including the traditional, staple panel of top cable CEOs.

More of the convention, including general sessions and breakouts, will take place on the exhibition floor than in the past. The program will feature more voices from non-traditional content players, such as Periscope and Mashable, and from rival platforms to cable such as AT&T-DirecTV, Verizon Communications and Sling TV.

But there still will be an emphasis on TV technology, regulatory policy and showing off the Golden Age of TV content: LeVar Burton will be on hand to introduce an early look at History’s remake of Roots.

“The central theme of the show is disruption — embracing disruption for growth and progress,” National Cable & Telecommunications Association senior vice president of communications and public affairs Rob Stoddard told The Wire shortly before heading up to Boston for the convention, which runs May 16-18.

One unfortunately disruptive factor is that the convention is being held the same week as several TV upfronts in New York City, including those of TNT, ESPN, NBCUniversal and Univision. “That has been immensely challenging for the programmer community as you might imagine, and we acknowledge that and regret it,” Stoddard said. The convention typically locks in dates three to four years in advance. He said programmers are doing their best to have people in Boston, as well as at their own events.

Stoddard said projected attendance should be in a range of 8,000 to 12,000 as in recent years.

The NCTA is proud of the TED session on Tuesday from 9:30- 10:30 a.m., an extension of TED Talks into the trade show realm. The four speakers include an Iranian-American Muslim comedian and an engineer who’s adept at designing prosthetic devices suited to environments in the developing world.

The show floor will feature displays of virtual-reality technology, TV-everywhere apps on tablets and the latest in TV display technology, including Ultra HD. “That’s where a lot of people will spend their time,” Stoddard said. He added that the convention center is “a rectangle, so it’s virtually impossible to get lost.”

The Imagine Park stage area will host a dozen sessions, including the startup-technology competition this year called the Lobstah Tank (Tuesday for that).

As for the CEO session (notable last year for comments from Cablevision Systems CEO James Dolan about consolidation, before his company was sold to the international telecommunications firm Altice), xStoddard said “we wanted to go in some new directions — and there’s a finite amount of time available in those general sessions.” Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts is speaking, though, and the convention co-chairs are Cox Communications president Pat Esser and Scripps Networks Interactive CEO Ken Lowe.

Stoddard said the first INTX, last year in Chicago, was a promising start. “But I think we came out of the show thinking maybe the promise was better than the actual fulfillment.” The disruption theme this year should help with the redefinition. “We feel as though we’ve really moved very strongly beyond a traditional cable base space while at the same time trying to retain a number of the essentials.”

BHN Goes the Extra Mile for StudentCam Winners

C-SPAN took its bus on a road trip to dozens of schools across the country last month, awarding prize money in its annual StudentCam documentary competition. In all, 150 students and 53 teachers got prizes.

The cable-funded public-service network was particularly impressed with Bright House Networks’s efforts at Winter Park (Fla.) High School on April 27.

The operator reached out to invite local officials, staffers from local congressional offices and school district officials, then went the extra mile, and zeroes, by matching CSPAN’s prize money to seven student winners, plus adding a big check for the school.

Chellie Zou, C-SPAN marketing representative; Tim Smith, Winter Park High School principal; teacher Michelle Washington Gerber, who supervised the students’ participation in the competition; and Scott McCullam, Bright House Networks.
— John Eggerton

Hall of Fame Night For ‘Inside the NBA’

Louis Hillelson, the vice president and group publisher of Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable, and William McGorry, chairman of the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame, love basketball, the B&C HOF and delivering good news in person, not necessarily in that order.

So imagine their joy last Wednesday (May 11) when they told Inside the NBA hosts Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith on the set that their show, seen on TNT and NBA TV, has been selected to enter the Hall this coming October. (Fellow host Ernie Johnson was in on the surprise.)

You don’t have to imagine it, though. You can watch the video at multichannel. com/May16: it aired on TNT at around 1:15 a.m. ET on Thursday, after the Golden State Warriors defeated the Portland Trail Blazers to advance in the National Basketball Association playoff s. Spoiler: they said things like “Are you serious? Wow” (Barkley) and “We are thrilled” (Johnson) as confetti rained from the rafters. Inside the NBA joins such shows as 60 Minutes, Mad Men, Monday Night Football and The Simpsons in the hall.