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So Long, INTX — Let’s Get Together Soon

The tearful sendoff in Boston last May seems so apt in hindsight. With lots of family members present, the cable industry said goodbye to the Dolans of Cablevision Systems, the Mirons of Bright House Networks and top Time Warner Cable executives at the Vanguard Awards that wrapped up the 2016 INTX convention.

Except the next INTX was on the books for April 2017 in Washington, D.C., where it usually draws relatively well, and the one after that was slated for New Orleans in 2018.

But last week, during the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers/International Society of Broadband Experts’ Cable-Tec Expo in Comcast’s hometown of Philadelphia — a convention that posted-attendance gains over the prior year — came word that INTX was “sunsetting.”

Anyone fretting over the 2017 INTX scheduling conflict with the NAB convention in Las Vegas could set their minds at ease.

The INTX sunset had already happened, four months earlier in Boston.

For most, it seems, the reaction was a mix of surprise at the suddenness of the announcement and no surprise at all that the consolidation that pushed Cablevision (and Suddenlink) into Altice’s fold and TWC and Bright House into Charter’s camp had led NCTA’s overlords to decide the “cable industry” didn’t need a trade show any longer.

Cable in quotes because NCTA had just scrubbed cable out of its name — just as, a couple of years earlier, The Cable Show changed its name to INTX.

NCTA is expected to say more about the vague part of the announcement that indicated some kind of gathering might be in the works for next spring. INTX had been a hub for several other events, including the Cable Hall of Fame, and there might still be a perceived need for an industry showcase, if not one that requires big exhibition spaces and booths that programmers are less interested in paying for.

It’s still a collegial group of companies that can draw crowds — more than 10,000 to the tech-focused Expo, for example — of people eager to get reacquainted, learn more about what’s happening and do business together, under the right conditions.

So long, INTX, formerly The Cable Show, formerly the National Show. Welcome, whatever comes next.