Year in Review: The NCTA killed ‘cable,’ then it took out the ‘Cable Show’

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FierceCable is wrapping up an eventful 2016 by taking a hard look at five of the most important trends and developments that emerged in the market this year. Today we look at the NTCA’s Cable Show.

The news: Sixty-five years after the cable industry’s first big convention, and just two years after rebranding the erstwhile “Cable Show” with the confounding acronym INTX, the NCTA announced in September that it would scrap the whole enterprise.

It wasn’t a total shock.

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Attendance for what turned out to be the final INTX in Boston in mid-May pretty much sucked. And the producers were being challenged to match even those bad numbers in 2017 with a show that would have been scheduled directly against NAB 2017.

“We are now exploring new and better ways to tell our story, to gather our community, to advance our growth and present our vision of the future,” NCTA President and CEO Michael Powell said in a blog post announcing the shuttering of INTX. "We believe large trade show floors, dotted with exhibit booths and stilted schedules have become an anachronism. Contemporary venues emphasize conversation, dialog, and more intimate opportunities to explore and interact with technology. Ending INTX gives us a clean slate and we are excited to explore presenting our industry in new and different ways.”

Interestingly, the end of INTX also coincided with the end of “cable.” The longtime National Cable Telecommunications Association rebranded itself as “NCTA — the Internet & Television Association.”

Why it’s important: With the cable industry consolidating its power into just two giant companies, Comcast and Charter, and those companies shifting their priorities into very untethered areas like Wi-Fi and wireless connectivity, the business has indeed changed.

“Just as our industry is witnessing an exciting transformation driven by technology and connectivity, NCTA’s brand must reflect the vibrancy and diversity of our members,” Powell added. “While our mission to drive the industry forward remains the same, our look now reflects a renewed proactive and energized spirit.”

Of course, when one door closes, another is supposed to open. But it’s unclear at this point what, if anything, will replace NCTA and give the industry an identity and place to convene.

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