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Editorial: NATPE Still Has Value as Gathering Place

Jan 27, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Between 7,000 and 8,000 TV executives are expected to gather this week in Las Vegas at the annual convention of the National Association of Television Program Executives.
That NATPE has been under fire in recent years, with many questioning both its relevance and its necessity, is a truism.
But we agree with NATPE President-CEO Rick Feldman when he says it is “ridiculous” to claim the event is finished, and when he says it’s “obvious” that NATPE is changing from the marketplace it used to be.
Those who say “Why NATPE?” in 2008 usually explain that with the consolidation of the TV station business, many programs have most of their clearances set before the convention begins, so its utility as a marketplace has been greatly diminished. And there’s no question that gone are the days when hundreds of TV station managers would roam the NATPE floor, finding programming and buying it on the spot.
But NATPE has indeed evolved, embracing the changes the digital environment has brought. Furthermore, it remains almost unique in attracting video content creators, distributors, buyers and advertisers in a single business-to-business environment.
As Mr. Feldman notes, one of the undervalued benefits of NATPE are those serendipitous moments when you run into someone and it leads to a business benefit—in other words, the schmooze factor.
Some argue that, given today’s economic realities, NATPE doesn’t pass muster on a cost/benefit analysis. Indeed, Sony Pictures TV and the domestic division of CBS TV Distribution are skipping the event.
We hope that in future years NATPE management continues to nurture a constructive evolution of the show to the point where most everyone in the industry deems NATPE a robust and important enough environment that they’ll return.
Sports to the Rescue
With the dearth of original scripted programming on TV caused by the continuing Writers Guild of America strike, this Sunday’s Super Bowl could not be more welcome by viewers and advertisers alike.
Yes, at up to $3 million for a spot, running a commercial in the Super Bowl is not for the faint of heart. But this year, especially, the perfect storm will converge upon the big game.
Besides viewers hungry for great programming, the matchup is unprecedented: The New England Patriots going for the first undefeated pro football season since 1972, against what is arguably the hottest team in the league right now—or at least the one that seems to have the most angels in its backfield—the New York Giants.
The result might be near-record ratings for the game on Fox, and the most cheerful TV event in a long while.

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