A Newbie’s Report from the 2007 NCTA Expo Floor

I just attended a work-related tradeshow, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association show, in Las Vegas. I was asked to write an article for the company newsletter. A reprint of that article follows. This is the professional version of my report – the personal version will follow in a separate post.


When I was planning a vacation to visit family in Las Vegas, the Project Manager pointed out that I’d be there during NCTA and the applications I was working on were going to be demoed at that tradeshow. The company was kind enough to let me have a pass to the Expo floor. I’ve been to some large software trade shows before, such as the Game Developer’s Conference, but I’m a complete newbie to the cable industry. Here is my newbie-eye-view of the Expo floor.

In a nutshell, the NCTA Expo screamed, “Diversity Diversity Diversity!”

The Expo floor was a slice through the industry exhibiting the layers of technology, communication, and entertainment that come together to bring that delightful little box with 800+ channels to your living room. After chatting with the folks from Hangzhou Xingfa Transmission Equipment Co Ltd who provide more than 200,000 km of cable to the industry and checking out content providers like Beat the Traffic, I realized that the cable industry offers a range of diverse and interesting jobs.

The Expo floor nicely demonstrated that this is a world-wide industry. I stopped by Shalom TV and the Russian Television Network of America to meet figure skater, Oksana Baiul. Univision Television Group, BBC, and TV Japan are just a few more examples of the global programming represented at the show.

The diversity of the audience that the cable channels try to reach was stunning. At breakfast one morning I went through the program and circled exhibitors that sounded interesting. The Pentagon Channel piqued my interest, so I swung by the booth which was manned by a fully uniformed Air Force man. We discussed the goal of The Pentagon Channel which broadcasts military news and information for the 2.6 million members of the U.S. Armed Forces through programming including DOD news briefings, military news, interviews with top Defense officials, and short stories about military work.

As I wandered around it struck me that the Expo floor planner had a sardonic sense of humor. For example, I stopped by Wealth TV to pick-up a chocolate bar, a cigar rolled on-site by a very intense Cuban man, and to stroke the soft, soft leather of the convertible Ferrari. I turned around and next door was EWTN, the Catholic Network, where I spoke to an extremely sweet man who armed me with some Rosary beads and a crucifix painted with St. Francis of Assisi. Then again, maybe this was just very convenient. I could easily indulge then repent.

The floor show is obviously a big deal and everyone brings their “A-Game.”

All the booths displayed the latest apps and TV shows on super high quality screens. The entertainment oriented companies brought in stars from current shows. There were appearances by actors from the TV series Nip/Tuck, past American Idol stars, cheerleaders from the show Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team, a live fighting demonstration from National Geographic’s Fight Science show, and a pretty funny ice-sculpting demonstration at the Weather Channel booth.

My company fit right in with all this fancy stuff. Its booth looked great and was in a prime position near the entrance to the show. The apps I had helped deveop were displayed nicely and looked spectacular. Every time I swung by the booth it was teeming with people who appeared to be engaged in interesting conversations. I also visited the apps I helped with in the Weather Channel booth. They looked beautiful!

I had great fun, learned a lot, and recommend that anyone in this industry attend NCTA. It really opened my eyes to the complex and diverse nature of the Cable industry. I’ll end this report with the first ever “Newbie Best Booth Awards” for NCTA 2007 :

  • Newbie Favorite Booth Award goes to MTV Networks/Bet Networks for drawing people in by asking fun Trivia questions about their programs, giving away great prizes for the answers, bringing in fun personalities, and being the best at interacting with the people who visited their booth. I saw more people laughing here than in any other booth.
  • Newbie Most Popular Award goes to FOX for generating lines of people that wrapped around their booth by bringing in stars, having entertaining demonstrations and handing out related paraphernalia (including skateboards).
  • Newbie Nicest Staff Award goes to Imagine Communications for giving me a great tour of their products and somehow getting me really interested in video compression.
  • Newbie Cutest Booth Uniform Award goes to GolTv, a soccer channel. The “booth babes” had on knee length ruffled dresses in black and white striped referee material and high-heeled Converse tennis shoes. They were running around the conference handing out whistles. Very cute!
  • Newbie Best Booth Slogan Award goes to the Discovery Channel for “Smoothies on Demand” (and they were tasty too!)

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