A World of Importance for NATPE

Jan 6, 2008  •  Post A Comment

With 76 countries set to make their presence felt at NATPE this month, perhaps never before has the market generated so much attention for its international importance.
With the writers strike hurting episode commitments overseas, and one-time domestic cornerstones Sony and CBS bowing out of this year’s NATPE, the international presence is becoming an increasingly important factor in the three-day television bazaar.
Business is expected to be brisk in both importing formats and exporting series overseas.
“NATPE has always been a good way to move things forward with key buyers,” said Curt Northrup, senior VP of Granada America. “You have to be there because you don’t want to miss out on what’s going on in the industry, as well as establish yourself as someone who is actively involved in the marketplace.”
Mr. Northrup noted that with the strike affecting sales deals overseas, more people are interested in unscripted formats to fill the time lost by missing series. He noted, however, that outlets may not find the cutting-edge properties that once gave programming executives goosebumps, a la “American Idol” and “Dancing With the Stars.”
“When you look at all these companies in the U.K. getting snapped up, everyone is trying to corner the marketplace in formats,” he said. “The problem with that is that there is no way you can corner the market on a format. Now everybody has gotten conservative, and the U.K. really hasn’t been doing much groundbreaking in the last year or two. So someone has to take a shot to try things out and innovate new ideas. That’s what we’re hoping to find at a market like this.”
The import/export business is still expected to be key to most buyers at the market. Elliot Jacobson, vice president of programming for Retirement Living TV, said he and head of sales Cammie Morgan will walk away from the market having done deals on both sides of the fence.
“We have between 10 and 13 titles we will be shopping at NATPE,” Mr. Jacobson said. “It’s a market that we tend to finish a lot of deals that have been in the works since MIP.
“In addition, NATPE works on three levels for a company like ours that is now finding validation from MSOs and Madison Avenue: content sharing, co-production partners and purely trading licensing titles.”
He said the rapid growth of the channel’s programming overseas for audiences 55-plus has made NATPE a key point for the outlet to grow.
“While we’re hoping to do a lot of buying, our biggest challenge will be to acquire content that works for us. I hope to walk away with half a dozen titles from our meetings,” he said.
Although the domestic divisions of CBS and Sony won’t be present, NATPE president Rick Feldman has frequently pointed out in recent weeks that the strength of the global market at NATPE continues to make the market a must for distributors and buyers alike. He noted the international contingents for both studios would be at NATPE, while Warner Bros. International is shifting from the suites to the floor.
In fact, international business, particularly from Latin America, makes up a third of the conference’s participants.
“This is a supply-and-demand business, and NATPE will continue to be there delivering unparalleled access to not only content but platforms as well, whether it’s domestic television, the international marketplace or somewhere in the digital spectrum,” Mr. Feldman said.

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