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May 2, 2013

10 First-time Cable Show Exhibitors Worth Checking Out

One new exhibitor at this year's Cable Show in D.C. is Pivot, Participant Media's new television network targeted at Millennials.

The annual Cable Show is a little more than a month away, with the number of exhibitors growing every day. That includes plenty of newbies to the exhibit floor at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C. (June 10-12). The floor will again feature Imagine Park, a live portal for presentations and demos, as well as a special product showcase. New this year is The Observatory, an immersive attraction that tells cable’s story—something that’s important for the Hill crowd expected to turn out in strong numbers given this year’s setting. As for new exhibitors, NCTA’s annual conference is up to 43 at last count (10 first-timer signed up in just the last week). In terms of exhibitors, the show is tracking on paced with last year’s show in Boston. Here we highlight 10 exhibition floor first-timers and what to expect.
  • Al Jazeera America: Al Jazeera is not a complete neophyte, having exhibited in 2008 when the Cable Show was in New Orleans. But this year it will be showing off its brand new network set to launch later this year. It purchased Current TV in January, giving it a foothold at launch. However, not all of Current’s distributors are sticking around. Time Warner Cable dropped Current as soon as the purchase was announced (it had been looking at dropping the channel before the acquisition). Al Jazeera has been beefing up its news bureaus in preparation of the launch of Al Jazeera America, and last month announced the hire of its first anchor, former CNN business correspondent Ali Velshi.
  • Digitalsmiths: This company is all about helping consumers find the content they want. Its clients include Univision, Cisco, Turner Sports, and it just announced a deal in Jan with Time Warner Cable. It’s “Seamless Discovery” tech makes recommendations to viewers based on past viewing habits. In Jan, Digitalsmiths announced it had surpassed 1 billion API transactions per month, a figure that represents the delivery of personalized search results and recommendations to millions of consumers across North America.
  • Pivot: Here’s your chance to meet Participant Media’s new television network, Pivot. Participant is turning recent acquisitions Halogen and Documentary Channel into Pivot come Aug 1, which should give it 40+mln subs at launch. Participant is the company who produced docs such as “Food, Inc” and “An Inconvenient Truth,” as well as Steven Spielberg-directed “Lincoln.” Programming for Pivot include a docu-talk series with Meghan McCain (daughter of Republican AZ Sen. John McCain) and a modern period drama called “WILL.” Interestingly, in addition to the traditional carriage route, Pivot will work with MVPDs to offer a broadband-only subscription, including a linear stream of the network and access to programming on demand.
  • Qwilt: All this streaming can have a negative impact on carrier networks. Enter startup Qwilt, which says it gives operators a unified platform to deliver online video in their networks with improved video quality and cost containment. The leadership team includes veterans of Cisco, Crescendo Networks, Juniper and BroadSoft. Qwilt uses “transparent cache” technology to make video delivery more efficient. The product is essentially a plug-and-play device that can be dropped easily into existing networks without requiring any infrastructure changes.
  • Veveo: Stop by Veveo’s booth to get a first-hand demo of its “Conversational Platform,” which allows users to communicate with devices by simply talking. The firm is in trials now with cable operators, with chief marketing officer Sam Vasisht saying it’s possible deployments could happen this year. Talking navigation is poised to be a hot topic, with DirecTV launching an app this summer for iPhones and Android devices that allows you to change the channel with your voice. It uses Nuance Communications system, which features the same synthetic female voice as iPhone’s Siri. At a D.C. even in March, Comcast corp chairman/CEO Brian Roberts demonstrated a voice-activated guide that has launched on an iPhoned and that Comcast home to launch on its next-generation remotes. “We’ve listened to customers. It’s tough to click buttons,” Roberts said.
  • SAIC: Fortune 500 company SAIC will be at the show this year showing off a captioning software product. Its “Omnifluent” suite of human language technology products enables automated translation and transcription of multilingual audio and text. SAIC’s solution eliminates the need for manual transcription or translation, and its metadata development aims to improve SEO strategies. It includes more than 25 languages for machine-translation and more than 10 languages for automatic speech recognition.
  • LG Electronics: Here’s another big company making a first-time appearance at the show. LG says it is the first Smart TV maker to make PayPal available on its Smart TVs. It’s also stepping up its game in Ultra HD, working with the NCAA, CBS Sports and Turner Sports last month to capture the Men’s Basketball Final Four in 4K as part of a closed-circuit demo of Ultra HD. Private viewing locations at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome featured highlights in on LF’s 84-inch Ultra HD sets. LG was the first company to launch an Ultra HD model in the US last fall. It has a 55- and 65-inch class on the way.
  • ABox42:  Germany-based ABox42 is a maker of OTT set-top boxes. Its M12 set-top is based on chipset from Broadcom and is built on open Web standards. It’s in the market with over 100 deployed OTT services, such as VOD, catch-up TV services, online video recording, IPTV/OTT FreeTV as well as OTT PayTV services and web-browser functionality. Earlier this year, the company joined the Smart TV Alliance, which is devoted to stimulating cross-platform Smart TV apps and services.
  • Youtoo Technologies: The company acquired AmericanLifeTV in 2009, relaunching AmericanLife as Youtoo TV in 2011 and an accompanying social network Youtoo.com. Last year, Youtoo began licensing its interactive TV service to others. Oxygen paired with Youtoo in April for a user-generated video series around the second season premiere of tattoo competition series “Best Ink.” Youtoo also integrated its interactive video tech into “Divorce Court,” letting fans responds to a “Question of the Week” by recording a video.
  • Time Warner Cable: Yep, you read that right. While the MSO has always had a presence at the show, including with tech vendors or in exhibits such as the Broadband Home, this marks its first official exhibit. Comcast is the only other MSO with a booth. Operators typically don’t exhibit. Look for it to show off its wares, such as the TWC TV app that now allows consumers to access on demand programming and a small amount of live streams outside the home. Live feeds are available of Aspire, BBC America and others. Inside the home, TWC TV allows users to watch 200+ channels. No official word yet on what TWC will be demoing, but given the importance of home monitoring right now, we expect to see its IntelligentHome.







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