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Chicago, Chicago, That Toddlin’ Town: Cable Show Might Not Hit L.A. Levels, But Venue’s Friendly to Obama Guys

5/31/2011 8:01 AM Eastern

With two weeks to go before cable operators
blow into the Windy City for the Cable Show
(June 14-16), the National Cable & Telecommunications
Association
indicates fewer companies
will be exhibiting
this time
around.

But the Obama
political family reunion
is coming
along nicely.

At press time, the
exhibitor tally was
263, taking up a total
of 128,400 feet of
space. That’s down
from 354 exhibitors
building a mini-tech
city on about 200,000
square feet in 2010 in Los Angeles, though NCTA noted
that included the “massive” My World showcase that’s
not on the agenda this time.

While “My World” has come to an end (insert doomsday
prediction here), NCTA has lined up 30 companies to
populate “The Park,” this year’s take on a showcase and
the convention’s version of Grant Park. They’ll be given
a platform — a fully functioning amphitheater — in a
park-like setting in the
center of the exhibit floor
to announce news and
new products. Companies
parking themselves
in The Park include major
MSOs, Cisco, Scripps
Networks, Intel, HBO,
Showtime, Arris, Motorola
and Vivid Logic.
An industry committee
picked the 30 temporary
residents among applicants.

Attendance figures
were not provided, but
the NCTA said signups
were tracking with the 13,300 that came to the Los
Angeles version.

As for the favorite-son factor, new mayor and former
Obama White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel will
welcome delegates at opening general session. And David
Axelrod, former senior strategist for the president,
will be on hand to talk about cable and elections.

The Sportsman Channel will be around per usual,
dishing out meals at three missions in the Chicago area
as part of its Hunt.Fish.Feed initiative in conjunction
with Comcast, Cox and Time Warner Cable. The Battle
of the Bands fundraiser has been shelved, though not, as
The Wire suspected, because of concerns related to Cox
Communications-backed Xpanded Bandwidth’s threeyear
dominance. It’s more a question of cost vs. sponsorship
revenue return, sources indicated.

Fortunately the National League baseball team has
home games that week. Several network groups have
planned parties in and around the friendly confi nes of
Wrigley Field, where it’s root, root, root for the Cubbies …

Careful What You
Search for on the
Connected TV Set

At last Tuesday’s “Connected TV and 3D” event, an exchange between panelists Richard
Bullwinkle
, Rovi’s chief evangelist, and Tara Maitra,
TiVo’s GM of content and media sales, reminded The Wire
of a funny thing that happened when Google showed off
Google TV for the first time.

But first, the exchange.

Moderator Todd Spangler
asked aloud whether
tomorrow’s “smart TVs”
will allow viewers to use
Internet-style search.

Bullwinkle said that’s
what Google tried with
“Google TV 1.0,” which
Rovi was a part of. It was
the Web, not traditional
TV. “And it failed miserably.
They sold 11 of
them.”

Rovi has counseled
Google with 2.0 that TV’s
a “lean-back” experience. You can’t expect TV viewers to
use a keyboard and a search box.

“And you can’t give the whole Internet when you’re
looking for TV entertainment. If you search for desperate
housewives on Google you get a very different response
than if you search for Desperate Housewives on a guide,”
Bullwinkle said, pausing to let attendees laugh.

“We like to use the example House,” Maitra said. “If you
search for ‘house,’ you get real estate listings.”

“Well, maybe I’m crude,” Bullwinkle said.

At the first Google TV demo, on May 20, 2010, at the
Google I/O developers’ conference in San Francisco, the
search example was “YouTube.”

The top result, displayed for all to see?

“Mother’s Day MILF,” apparently a popular YouTube video.

GMC Rides a Bus
Bearing Message:
‘Uplift Someone’

Now for something way less crude: GMC is rolling out a
multi-city national bus tour backing its pro-social initiative
“Uplift Someone,” which looks to inspire people to commit
positive acts toward others.

The network formerly known as Gospel Music Channel
will team with affiliates to bring the “Uplift Someone”
bus to popular events, starting with the Cable
Show in Chicago the week of June 13.

There’ll be a stage for live performances and recognition
ceremonies, and a space for affiliates to exhibit
wares. Video from events will reside on GMC’s “Uplift
Someone” microsite to be co-branded with affiliates.

Handouts will include an “Uplift Someone” bracelet to
remind and inspire people to act. On-air interstitial ads
in support will feature such celebrities as Kevin Sorbo,
Mary Mary, Kirk Franklin, Ruben Studdard, Leigh Anne
Tuohy
and Lecrae.

Big Ten Network
Shrinks Name to
Essential Letters

Speaking of networks
shrinking long names
down to initials, four-year-old
Big Ten Network will
henceforth be known as
BTN and is adopting a
new logo and a new Internet
home, BTN.com.

Mark Silverman, president of the college-sportsfocused
network, called the change an evolution led
by fans, viewers and media usage. “It makes sense to
adopt it,” he told The Wire in a statement.

The shorter monicker lends itself better for adaptations
such as school-specifi c BTN logos using school colors
(such as the one for Ohio State shown here), he said.

He also said new businesses will be launched across
digital platforms under the BTN umbrella, including an
unnamed venture coming out in June.

Viewers will see new graphics, animation and music
packages starting in July, he said of the 75 millionsubscriber
network, a joint venture between the Big Ten
Conference
and Fox Networks.

September