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The Future of Television: It's the Cable Show!
May 23, 2012  | By Eric Gould  | 2 comments

Like any convention, The Cable Show is all about size. It’s an entire floor of the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center full of cable channels, content providers and other technology companies that are all about the business — and the future — of television.

But unlike last week's network upfronts in New York, this three-day industry event (happening May 21-23) isn't about what we're watching on TV, but how we'll be watching — and interacting with — tomorrow's television programming.

That doesn't mean the cable big dogs weren't promoting their signature shows. AMC for example, was running clips of Breaking Bad, Mad Men and The Killing in a furnished preview area with mod furniture and a wood bar that looked like it belonged in Don Draper’s office.

There were also small preview nuggets like the History Channel’s upcoming Mankind: The Story of Us, an anthology documentary series depicting the ascent of civilization that's scheduled for next fall.

Mark Cuban's HDNet was also there, operating under its soon-to-be new name, AXS TV. The rebranded channel, now partly owned by Ryan Seacrest, is transforming into a live entertainment and lifestyle channel this summer, but will also still carry some of its current programs, including the successful Dan Rather Reports series.

NBC Universal featured programming from G4, NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, Chiller, Syfy and Oxygen, while A&E Networks presented content from Lifetime, History, Bio and the rest of their stable.

Discovery Communications had the most impressive large screen display of the event (right) which showcased clips from TLC, Animal Planet, and Destination America, the new channel dedicated to national parks, American food and history that's replacing Planet Green this Memorial Day weekend.

But The Cable Show's main focus is technology and delivery. To a large degree, the industry is all about identifying and implementing the next big thing, and it’s pretty well agreed that the scramble is to put web-like navigation on your TV screen — whether it's the flat screen in your living room or your favorite mobile device — to combine your online activities with your television viewing.

Whether that’s a good idea or not, or whether it’s just a massive compounding of one distraction on top of another, that’s another story. For those of us who are already surfing the web and utilizing various mobile apps with one eye while watching TV with the other, it’s not clear how having it all on the same screen all at once would be a good idea, anyway.

Then there are the innovators who are rethinking the way we watch TV and finding ways to improve on the experience, or simply make it more fun. Case in point: an iPad app that replaces your TV remote control (at right).

There were iPad apps that allowed users to watch shows and use Facebook simultaneously, and there was even a glasses-free 3D television that was only functional if the viewer was sitting in one precises location. (Clearly it's not yet ready for market.)

Could I tell you, in detail, what some of the “next gen navigation multi-screen paradigms” are all about? Hardly. In fact, from some of the Cable Show demonstrations I saw, it seemed as though a few of the presenters were struggling with the new technology themselves. And with some of the exhibitors demonstrators unable to make their own devices and software behave during demonstrations, it was a bit hard to envision the everyday user being able to make them work, either.

Then there were the exhibitors who were presenting ideas instead of products, offering mock-ups of softwares that are still in development and won't be available until the next quarter or next year.

With all of the cable outlets trying to embrace the mushrooming technology, it’s a bit hard to envision any one of us being able to absorb and digest even a small chunk of what is available. But that’s goal of niche programming and broadcasting — they not only want to customize our TV viewing experience, but let us decide when we want to watch it, how we want to watch it, and allow us to interact with the programming in ways never before imagined.

It’s a bit ironic that cable companies — the ultimate hard-wired technology — are in a race to stream content to the internet and via the cloud to your iPad or telephone. But watching the mad rush of vendors on the floor, you easily get the sense that if the cable companies don't embrace new technologies and change with the times, they aren't going to survive.

One thing will remain the same, however. Advertisers, and next-gen advertising solutions are still an important part of the equation — and, of course, the convention. They will still know what we watch, where we watch it, and when we watch it.

And the ads, of course, will still find us no matter what option we choose.

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Mental health professionals offer empathetic and compassionate support.
Apr 9, 2024   |  Reply
Today, the television industry is undergoing a technological renaissance that promises to revolutionize how we perceive and engage with content. The cable show has risen to the occasion, integrating seamlessly with cutting-edge advancements. High-definition displays, smart TVs, and streaming devices have become the norm, and cable shows are harnessing these innovations to deliver immersive experiences.
Aug 30, 2023   |  Reply
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