Tech Emmys Take the Strip

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences held its 58th annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards in Las Vegas last night, drawing over 450 attendees on the opening night of the Consumer Electronics Show.

Moving the annual “Tech Emmys” from New York to Las Vegas this year was indicative of the digital revolution taking place in the television business, said NATAS president and CEO Peter Price, and Consumer Electronics Association chief Gary Shapiro dropped by to serve as a presenter and give his support.

Winners among 16 categories included DirecTV Interactive Sports, for “Outstanding Achievement in Advanced Media Technology for the Synchronous Enhancement of Original Television Content”; Tivo, for “Outstanding Innovation and Achievement in Advanced Media Technology for Best Use by Commercials in Creation and Use in Non-Traditional Platforms and Technologies”; Time Warner Cable and vendors Concurrent, BigBand Networks, Harmonic and Scientific-Atlanta for “Outstanding Innovation and Achievement in Advanced Media Technology for the Best Use of 'On Demand' Technology over Private (Closed) Networks" for TWC's "Start-Over" feature; and Sling Media’s Slingbox, for “Outstanding Achievement in Advanced Media Technology for the Creation of Non-Traditional Programs or Platforms.”

Sling Media was a popular winner, and co-founder Jason Krikorian gave a humorous acceptance speech, saying that initially he and his brother Blake were just trying to develop “the ability to watch our [San Francisco] Giants lose on more platforms.” Initially, Krikorian had doubts as to whether the Slingbox would be “embraced or vilified” by the television community.

“I think we’re somewhere in between, which is a good place to be,” says Krikorian.

DirecTV founder Eddy Hartenstein received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his efforts in creating the direct broadcast satellite (DBS) industry in the U.S. C-SPAN president and CEO Brian Lamb gave a heartfelt introduction, describing Hartenstein as “steady, brilliant, direct and charismatic.” Lamb also shared some humorous anecdotes about his personal relationship with Hartenstein, such as going to the roof of DirecTV’s El Segundo headquarters with “Eddy” to watch the O.J. Simpson car-chase caravan drive by on the 405 Highway, just three days after DirecTV’s launch.

Harstenstein noted it was somewhat ironic that former cable titan and competitor John Malone, who predicted a 500-channel universe back in the early 90's at the Western Cable Show in Anaheim, is now realizing that dream by taking over the satellite company that Harstenstein created with the hard work of loyal employees.

For his part, Harsteinstein said he was proud of where DirecTV stands today.

“I will always bleed DirecTV blue,” he proclaimed.