Guest Commentary: CES, NATPE Have Different Audiences and Goals

Jan 20, 2008  •  Post A Comment

On Jan. 7 TelevisionWeek featured a front-page story headlined “CES After NATPE’S Mantle.” Frankly, there has been some talk lately about the perceived divergent fortunes of the International Consumer Electronics Show and the National Association of Television Program Executives conference, and as president of NATPE, I was relieved to know that we still have a mantle to covet.
Without putting my head in the sand (or the oven), and acknowledging that CES has been working to broaden its clientele, I must protest that the article did not present a balanced view.
CES is a consumer electronics show—at its core, a huge gadgets show mostly for consumers, with a reported 100,000-plus attendees.
NATPE, by contrast, is a B-to-B content marketplace and conference for television and video professionals, of whom about 8,000 attend.
We are proud of our 45 years of brand equity as an organized and focused environment for global TV content creators, distributors, buyers and advertisers to get together under one roof in the U.S. to do business.
There is no doubt that the TV business is being transformed, providing challenges and opportunities for all of us, including this organization. Our body politic is changing, reflecting the transformations under way. But let’s not forget that while the “majors” are very important to us, there are 350-plus exhibitors, 1,000-plus producers and 1,500-plus content buyers who support and benefit from NATPE and for whom CES would not be a particularly favorable environment in which to do business.
Also, people in the expanding and developing world of online video syndication are increasingly finding a home at NATPE.
CES and NATPE can and should co-exist; we cater to different crowds. NATPE is a trade association supporting the video content world via the LATV Festival in Los Angeles, DISCOP in Budapest, Faculty Fellows and College Career Day programs and quarterly Web seminars, as well as our annual convention in January.
It is true that we miss our friends from Sony Domestic Television and that all the “majors” are being courted by CES.
But we continue to believe that there is no other venue in the U.S. where cable, broadcast, online and mobile TV/video content buyers and sellers can have a better collective experience than at our show.
It must be said that while I thought the TVWeek article a bit hysterical and one-sided, in fairness I must admit it is true we do have our issues.
So, also in fairness, let’s note two articles in the Wall Street Journal that same week: “Electronics Show Pulls Huge Crowds but Loses Its Power to Dazzle” (Jan. 9) and “When Is Enough Enough? Huge Electronics Shows Risk the Loss of Its Focus As It Continues to Expand” (Jan. 7).
So, I guess CES has its issues, too.

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