Slower, Calmer National Show Wraps Up


Chicago -- Spotted at The Weather Channel's booth
introducing himself to soon-to-be colleagues, departing National Cable Television
Association executive director Decker Anstrom stopped for a few minutes to answer the
hottest question making the rounds of the exhibit floor at the National Show here last
week: Was this a slow show?

"I'd call it calmer, not slower," Anstrom
said, noting that the numbers for attendance and exhibition space were similar to those
for the 1998 show in Atlanta.

He suggested that the combination of the lack of a single
hot topic and the spaciousness of McCormick Place might have contributed to the aura of a
slower pace.

Some suggested that the lack of proximity to hotels and
traffic complications hurt because it was hard for attendees to move back and forth
between the show and off-site meetings.

John Stark, project manager for Jones Cyber Solutions Ltd.,
attributed some of his low traffic to a focus on programmers and engineers at the show.
"People aren't here for billing systems," he said.

Stark added that he's been to other shows and he felt
that overall traffic was much lighter.

"I don't know if it's the layout of the
thing or the distance from the hotels, but it seems like lighter traffic," Sundance
Channel manager of affiliate marketing Britt Bensen said.

At Bravo's booth, Tom Hall, manager of Bravo New
Media, said traffic was slower than he expected, but it didn't hurt his results.
"My impression is that this has been a very effective show," Hall said.
"It's been the right people."

TV Guide Inc. vice president Betsy Brightman said the show
differed from other National Shows by being more productive when it came to actually
getting work done. She echoed Hall: "From a general traffic standpoint, it seems like
there's not as many people, but the ones who are here are quality people."

In a far corner of the vast hall, Diane Powers, ZDTV's
trade-show manager, wasn't sure if it was the show or her booth's placement. One
gauge of traffic is the number of red ZDTV foam blocks distributed: Usually, 5,000 of the
popular items disappear in two days, but this time, the network only distributed 3,000 in
three days.

The folks at Trio figured out how to get people to make
their booth a destination by giving away bags so large and so bold that they turned people
into walking billboards. They brought 2,000 of the bags, and they could have given away at
least another 1,000.