Cable Connection-Fall Attendance: A Mixed Bag Of Expectations

CTAM beating projections, but all three events expect year-to-year declines

Cable Connection-Fall, the consolidation of several industry events into one week in Denver beginning Oct. 25, looks like it will be a mixed bag. With attendance beating expectations at some venues, others are hoping that at least half of last year's attendees make the trip.

Cable Connection will lead off with the Cable Telecommunications Association for Marketing Summit Oct. 25-27. CTAM president Char Beales says that registrations for the summit have outpaced expectations.

Last month the organization predicted attendance would be down about 25% from last year to 1,600 people. Beales says that as of Oct. 14, the conference has about 1,650 registrants.

Beales says that while some companies are sending fewer people than they have in the past, they are sending higher-level executives. She estimates that about 45% of attendees are VPs or higher, up from 40% last year.

For the most part, cable MSOs are keeping a close eye on travel expenses, but several say they are not dramatically reducing the number of staffers going to the events.

“There is definitely some sense of restraint given the economic situation this year,” says Ellen East, Time Warner Cable executive VP and chief communications officer. “But I also think that the people who need to go are going.”

'A real role for face-to-face'

That is what Beales and the other conference heads are hoping for. “We still think there is a real role for face-to-face meetings,” Beales says.

While CTAM appears to be on track to beat its modest predictions, other industry events are bracing for a bigger hit. At the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications, attendance at its annual conference is expected to be half that of last year.

“We had grown excessively over the years to a high of 850 last year, and this year we're hoping to get to 400,” says NAMIC President KathyJohnson.

Johnson says the move to Denver has had an impact: “This is the first time in our 23-year history that we will not be in New York City; traditionally, 40% of our constituents have come from the city directly and about 60% from the East Coast.”

The Society of Cable and Telecommunications Engineers' Cable-Tec Expo, which runs Oct. 28-30, is coming off its best year ever—its 2008 conference in Philadelphia attracted 11,000 people. It is expecting declines this year. As of Oct. 15, the number of exhibitors at this year's conference was down roughly 9%.

According to Deb Swann, SCTE's VP of marketing and business development: “With the significant changes that have taken place in 2009, however, it is difficult to project final attendance.”

Multichannel News' Todd Spangler and R. Thomas Umstead contributed to this report.