I’ve been ruminating on SCTE Cable-Tec Expo and trying to determine what was the same, and what was different about this year’s show compared to the one in 2009. Leaving aside attendance (down) and weather (no snow), there were some interesting variables across the two years. The topic of IP video reigned supreme in both 2009 and 2010, and I suspect it will continue to do so for many SCTE shows to come. The industry is doing a lot of soul searching around where to incorporate IP delivery, what the business and engineering risks are, what new revenue it could generate, and how IP could fundamentally change the role of a pay-TV service provider.
But IP video is a broad subject. And the details illustrate how the industry conversation has evolved over the course of a year.
Unlike in 2009, video-optimized CDNs were a big focus in 2010, as well as video asset management. Many companies are telling similar stories, emphasizing for me how important execution will be in the ultimate test of who is successful and who is not. Also different this year was the focus on mobile devices. Cable is getting serious about mobile devices in a way it never has in the past, and the aggressiveness is evident in how operators are addressing TV Everywhere initiatives, and in how they’re using the iPad as a development platform.
Interestingly, 3D TV was not a big topic at this year’s Expo, except in so far as you might consider ongoing bandwidth discussions relevant to 3D delivery. As with IP video, every year is a good year to talk about bandwidth management: how to get more, but also make do with less.
All in all, the subject matters discussed at the 2010 Cable-Tec Expo were probably not a surprise to anyone. But the landscape has still shifted fairly dramatically since 2009. The same underlying challenges exist, but there are some significant new avenues of opportunity as well.