Thursday New Tools Feature: The Cable Show '09

Today, Simon and I took a brief break from the usual D.C. grind and headed over to the The Cable Show 2009 to check out the state of cable technology. Beyond the requisite scantily-clad spokeswomen, gigantic TVs, and vapor projector screens that accompany such gatherings, there was a lot of exciting tech on display. Here are my quick impresions:

Perhaps the biggest theme of the whole show was convergence, and the many ways that entertainment, information, and communication are merging. Streaming and downloadable movies and shows, IPTV, advanced DVR and Network PVR technology, 3-D home theater (available this year), networked video sharing, online video syndication, a huge variety of set-top boxes, mobile VoIP, fully integrated household systems, and many other technologies were being combined in myriad ways. 

Without getting bogged down in the details, the key takeaway of the show was that cable is no longer a broadcast technology; it has become flexible, customizable, and interactive to a striking degree in just a few years time, and with ever-increasing bandwidth (one provider boasted "wideband" download speeds reaching 50 mbps), this trend is sure to accelerate. 

Another trend that is likely to continue is the increase in the number of digital cable subscribers. As more and more people gain access to digital cable in some form, it will also become even more important for those of us in the political world to recognize and address these trends. NDN and the New Politics Institute have long been advocates of buying cable, especially now that it is beginning to offer individually targeted advertising (see my recent post on this subject). Read our NPI paper Buy Cable Smart to learn more about why buying cable advertising is an especially smart investment.