Five Predictions for The Cable Show 2010

You know you’re just itching to hear what The Cable Show has in store this year. So even though I’ll be on site at the L.A. event in less than a week, I thought I’d preview the excitement with some educated guesses on what to expect. (Note: I am underlying the excitement here with a reasonable note of sarcasm. I do understand that not everyone is as moved by cable as I am. ;) )

Big Themes at The Cable Show 2010

1. A lot more IP everything
Last year it was all about TV/Internet convergence, but this year the conversation should get a little more sophisticated. Cable operators would rather not rely on over-the-top services, which is why they’ll start baking the benefits of IP into their existing television delivery systems. Expect a lot of discussion about The IP Home and migrating to IP networks. In fact, it’s already begun. Check out Jeff Baumgartner’s piece on Time Warner Cable testing an IPTV deployment with Microsoft Mediaroom. And for context, Dave covered the ongoing Microsoft Mediaroom activities back at CES.

2. 3DTV
The 3DTV hype will continue, but I doubt we’ll see much new at The Cable Show. Comcast made its big splash with the live broadcast of The Masters, and I expect we won’t see much progress in a month’s time.

3. TV Everywhere… but not like you think
TV on computers is great, but cable operators want to port the experience to any screen a consumer might have. Unfortunately, that gets complicated fast, especially on legacy network systems. The discussion starts this year, but it will go on for some time.

4. A lot of Cloud talk
Since it’s proven popular everywhere else, Cloud jargon has started to infiltrate the cable industry. We’ve seen minimal impact so far – beyond limited Network DVR trials and cable-based online video services – but that’s going to change. And it will start with a lot of industry conversation.

5. Wireless
WiMAX is one wireless play for the cable operators, but interest in Wi-Fi services has also grown. Given recent announcements, expect more folks to get on board with Wi-Fi strategies. We should hear more next week.

7 thoughts on “Five Predictions for The Cable Show 2010”

  1. Here is my list:

    #1: Lot’s of talk about open architecture
    #2: Lot’s of talk about new and innovative products
    #3: CableLabs will talk about its achievements and milestones
    #4: Comcast will talk about expanding its TiVo trials beyond its test markets
    #5: Nothing new will actually happen!


    Seriously, these shows are frustrating if you really pay attention to the industry.

  2. 3. TV Everywhere… but not like you think
    TV on computers is great….Really? Really? I would say just the opposite. TV on computers is whatever is worse than terrible.

    Regarding the cable industry and their adoption of IP delivery, I will believe it when I see it. My sense is that they are more interested in limiting, than contributing.

  3. andy- I agree, until you look at this stuff over the space of a couple of years. I mean really, Internet speeds are faster, there’s a hell of a lot more VOD content available, and we just saw a live 3D broadcast. It’s frustrating when things move slowly, but stuff does happen. Not everything, mind you :) , but it’s still progress.

    jcm- the cable industry will move a lot of stuff to IP. Whether the services are what you want is another issue, but more IP delivery is coming.

  4. Good points. I’m with andy though. Lots of “Talk”. Great discussions, cool “what if’s” and some prototype demos.

    Although all this talk and new stuff is great… it’s stuff we most likely wont see in action for another 5 years. The industry is a big slow Goliath. Time for David to take over… David Zatz to be exact (pun intended).

  5. What folks don’t undersrtand is that the headend equipment to deliver the video is expensive and has a long depreciable life that the cablecos need to extract maximum value from… It’s not that they don’t want to innovate, it’s just that the cost to do so far outweights the benefits. That’s why FIOS has such an advantage on those markets where it exists. They have the latest infrastructure gear and can roll out the latest and greatest.

    CableCos still suffer from the bandwith constraints of the network and they are limited in terms of what they can deploy over IP for fear of crushing the network. It’s a rough business with lots of constraints in terms of regulatory and capital intensive infrastructure that makes the industry slow to innovate.

    I just wish there was more innovation and action around making the “cable box” obsolete. But these are big revenue generators for the industry and they are dragging their feet when alternatives for open access are 100% feasible.

  6. When cable comes to terms with the fact that their future core business will be little more than the provision of a dumb-pipe, they’ll finally be in the position to perhaps innovate in the way consumers want them to innovate. But they don’t think that way. They really don’t have to, They still have relatively protected monopolies/duopolies. What happened to the music industry and now the newspaper industry will, one day happen to the cable industry and they will be forced to innovate. Until then, we can’t expect much from them other than denial, delay and distraction.

    FULL DISCLOSURE: I cut the chord in March of 2009. I’ve saved about ($85 x 14) $1,200 so far and I couldn’t be happier with the decision I made.


  7. While I agree with all the sarcasm/diminished expectation talk, it would be NICE if there were some actual news coming out of the Cable Show this year.

    – 3D. With Direct TV launching 5 3D channels including ESPN 3D on June 11th, and talking about how its a competitive advantage for them vs. cable (even if its not), I can’t see cable holding off much longer. I would expect some announcements of channels, dates, and formats this week from Comcast and Time Warner at the very least.

    – tru2way. I would expect to see more fluff but other than some pointless widgets I don’t we’ll see anything interesting. I’d be more interested in any RCN-like IP control mechanisms from Comcast/TWC/CVC et al that might allow a Tivo device or CableCard equipped TV to handle SDV or VOD without an upstream modem or tru2way support. Their motivation? Kill off any momentum behind the new FCC AllVid initiative. Not saying they’ll actually do the stuff they talk about, but I would expect to see some press releases.

    – I would be surprised if we don’t see some movement from the big MSOs on advanced cablebox features like whole home DVRs. With competition from the likes of Verizon and AT&T who are offering these features, we might actually see them showing up in cable homes. I mean Motorola and Cisco have had these features available for YEARS now. Its just that Cable Cos haven’t felt compelled to deploy them.

    – The move to h.264 might start to have some momentum. Sure at first maybe it’ll only be 3D content and some VOD stuff that’ll also be available in MPEG-2, but this could finally be the year we start seeing some MSOs using h.264 to talk to those new RNG STBs they’ve been deploying.

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