While most executives at NATPE said attendance at this year’s conference would be down from the past, the lightly populated convention floor still came as a surprise to veteran attendees.
The floor itself, which opened Tuesday at NATPE ’09 in Las Vegas, appeared to have less foot traffic than usual, while business seemed slow at the new restaurant on the floor.
Other restaurants around the convention center were easily accessible with little wait, a rarity at previous NATPE conferences.
Syndication executives have been hesitant to even go down to the floor after hearing how light traffic it is.
“I’m scared to go look,” one executive said on Tuesday.
The rough economic times and low attendance already are impacting next year’s NATPE convention, as NATPE President-CEO Rick Feldman announced during the keynote address increased access to suites for distributors.
“It is a tough decision for us to abandon the NATPE floor, but the times call for tough decisions,” he said.
Mr. Feldman said the Mandalay Bay this year had limited the number of floors given over to suite space to about half a dozen. He said he hasn’t been told exactly how many floors the convention will get for suites next year, or what the convention floor layout will look like.
He said it could shrink the show floor slightly or dramatically, or just nix the convention floor completely.
News coming out of the convention hall Tuesday was equally light, mostly comprised of sporadic clearance announcements for minor shows.
“Is there even any news to report?” one publicist joked.
Talent appearances are scarce, with the most notable thus far being Wendy Williams, whose talk show is set to launch this fall from Debmar-Mercury.
In talking about her new show, she said it will be very similar to the show that aired during a six-week, four-market test run last summer.
The main changes, she said, will be a more comfortable couch for the guests and better chairs for her audience.
Ritch Colbert, a principal with Program Partners, said NATPE has been beneficial to the deal-making process. Program Partners is in the midst of trying to pick up clearances for “Marie,” starring Marie Osmond.
Mr. Colbert said he’s heard complaints from buyers about budget concerns regarding programming, but he stressed that NATPE is still important in order to make face-to-face meetings with the syndication world.
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[First four paragraphs updated at 12:33 p.m. PT]
NATPE Convention Floor Surprisingly Slow
Jan 28, 2009 • Post A Comment