CES2016: Another year without DIRECTV

DIRECTV hasn’t been on the show floor for a loooooong time. They partnered with Panasonic in 2011 for their 3D rollout, but other than that you have to look back almost a decade to see a public presence from them at the International Consumer Electronics Show. I remember the big booth they had at the ’06 show, and if I recall correctly, they didn’t have a public presence at the ’08 show which was the next one I went to.

DIRECTV was a big company then and now, they’re huge. So why the no-shows?

CES just isn’t DIRECTV’s cup of tea. In fact, trade shows in general aren’t a big priority for them. While I’ve seen them at trade-only events and in closed-door meetings, they tend to leave the convention displays to authorized dealers. That means that DIRECTV’s convention presence is really aimed toward retail customers who want service now, not people who might be interested in the future.

Not only that, while DISH thinks of itself as a technology company, DIRECTV seems to think of itself more as an entertainment provider. They put the hardware second and the programming first. That isn’t really compatible with a show like CES where it’s all about the hardware.

And of course, now that DIRECTV is part of AT&T, expect to see even less of them at this sort of show. AT&T has never been about flashy hardware, they’ve always been about providing a service. It’s possible you’ll see a big hardware rollout when their next generation hardware finally comes, but it probably won’t be at a trade show. That’s not their style.

Personally, I think it’s a little bit of a shame that they don’t get up close and personal at trade shows. DISH’s senior staff is often seen lurking around their booths at large shows, and back in the 2000s I had the pleasure of meeting several board members and senior PR people at DIRECTV’s booth. I suppose for a geek like me that was the highlight of the show, but I suppose for a senior executive it can also be a little scary, having someone come up to you and quiz you on the really intricate details of the technology.

By the way, AT&T does have a presence at CES, just not a public one. According to the show directory they have a meeting room at the Aria hotel but it’s invitation only … and while I have a feeling I could get an invitation I’ve already been told that it’s business only, no technology. What’s the fun in that?