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Mobile++: The Tail’s Wagging the Dog

Jan 15, 2007  •  Post A Comment

This isn’t your father’s NATPE.

With sessions that cover topics such as the long tail, viral video and all hues of emerging venues for television shows, NATPE has morphed into a new media distribution conference. That’s because broadcast and cable networks and Web portals are making real money in these forums, especially online video. As a result, content producers are increasingly turning to new distribution outlets to showcase their programming. NATPE has become a place for producers to strike deals to get their shows on the likes of Google Video, Veoh Networks and mobile phones.

“NATPE is the show where distributors get together with producers, and the new flavor of NATPE is that distribution is no longer this finite group of channels or networks,” said Will Richmond, president of Broadband Directions, a broadband research firm.

In addition to the regular lineup, the conference will hold the third annual daylong NATPE Mobile++ conference on Monday, Jan. 15. Attendance last year was 550 and NATPE said it expects an increase this year. The biggest change in mobile TV is that new technology such as 3G handsets came to market in 2006 that will enable a better video viewing experience on mobile phones, said Daniel Tibbets, executive VP of studios for mobile TV company GoTV Networks. That’s why the mobile TV business in 2007 will focus on the content on those phones, he said.

“2006 was a year of building a foundation,” he said. “The broadcast studios and independents created a solid foundation for how to approach strategically this space. … Now this year will be a push to mass distribution.” GoTV currently offers about a dozen channels in its service and plans to add two or three more, he said.

Online video will be a topic of several panels because broadband is the big new opportunity for programmers, Mr. Richmond said. “[Broadband] distribution can be through aggregators or syndicators, portals, special-interest sites, their own sites if they create their own channels. The big opportunity is how distribution is changing as a result of how broadband is becoming a viable platform,” he said.

Production shop Bennett Media Worldwide said it hopes to develop an Internet TV channel for its guy-centric shows, adding to the online distribution deals it has already struck with Google Video, Veoh and Guba. “We are flirting with the idea of having our own portal where we have our own user-generated videos in the areas we specialize in,” said Paul Rich, CEO of Bennett Media Worldwide. At NATPE he plans to meet with hardware and software providers who could enable such a site. “We have all this programming, and this is a way to get it out there and build buzz-and it may migrate over to a conventional broadcast network,” he said.

Also at the show, traditional syndication players such as broadcast TV stations will look to enhance their online video opportunities, said Gary Gannaway, CEO of WorldNow, which powers Web sites for local TV stations. Stations need to take advantage of the video assets from their air and use them online, he said.

“It’s no different than television. It’s daypart-driven,” Mr. Gannaway said. “During the day if you are producing original video, the consumer is going to be getting their video at work. Stations need to produce original content for the Web. If you produce original content, you give someone a reason to come to the Web.”