As retailers walk the floor of WCES 96, many will be struck by the extent to which satellite TV has become such a major part of the consumer electronics business. Attendees might remember how at past shows the home dish industry could have appeared somewhat peripheral to the main CES convention, with a small area set aside for satellite dish system demonstrations. Now, with major hardware manufacturers proudly showing off their new DSS and C-Band systems, program suppliers out in full force, and dealers trading stories of how dish system sales have helped to fuel an upswing in all kinds of home theater component sales, it's clear that satellite TV is an integral and profitable part of the home entertainment revolution. One indication of how closely intertwined the CE and satellite TV industries have become is the increasing synergy between the two major industry conventions.
At last year's WCES, the hottest new product was DBS, which proved itself to be the fastest-selling consumer electronics product in history in 1995. Now, looking forward to the Las Vegas SBCA show in March, attendees can expect to get their first up-close look at working DTH systems of five different technologies (AlphaStar, C-Band, DSS, Echostar and Primestar). In fact, while the CES show provides a good overview of what's available in satellite TV, to fully explore the unique nature of the DTH business, there is no better place than the semiannual Satellite Broadcasting & Communications (SBCA) conventions.
The SBCA shows -- to be held this year in Las Vegas (March 4-6) and in Nashville (August 15-17) -- provide retailers with in-depth knowledge about the expanding universe of DTH programming, valuable sales training, and more. Attendees enjoy exhibitions and seminars, and close personal contact with all major programming and equipment suppliers. The SBCA shows provide retailers an invaluable perspective on the unique relationship satellite retailers have with their customer base.
For example, dedicated satellite retailers have known for years that selling program subscription packages provides them with an ongoing, renewable revenue stream.
CE retailers who carry satellite TV are full-fledged entertainment providers, and that means they must understand the programming -- movies, music, news, sports, children's shows, and more -- that goes hand in hand with dish system sales. It's no wonder, then, that consumer electronics dealers are flocking to the semiannual SBCA shows, where they can meet with programmers face to face. By the same token, more dedicated TVRO dealers than ever can be seen roving the floors of CES, browsing for product innovations that represent great incremental sales opportunities. Because home dish owners receive laserdisc-quality video images and CD-quality sound -- plus the largest universe of programming choices anywhere -- there is no better way for consumers to enjoy the wealth of advanced home theater componentry now on the market, including large-screen projection TVs and surround sound systems.
At WCES 96, retailers who wish to fully exploit the tremendous opportunities of satellite TV can take advantage of the show's many hardware demonstrations to learn all they can about the DTH segment. Winter CES is a great opportunity to talk with manufacturers about the whole burgeoning home theater phenomenon. Any CE retailer who wants to maximize both home satellite and home theater sales in 1996 will make sure that he or she has up-and-running satellite TV systems on the sales floor. So make the most of WCES 96 -- you'll see that satellite TV is now a major part of this show. And if you're serious about making satellite TV a major part of your business as well, plan now to return to Vegas in March for the SBCA show.
Margaret Parone is VP of communications for the Satellite Broadcasting & Communications Association (SBCA), the national trade organization representing all segments of the home satellite industry.