February 2015
Volume 35 No. 2

February 2015
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NATPE Review: Happy Hours at the Miami Market. Domestic Component Resurfaced

By Sara Alessi

NATPE Miami, which was held late last month, was definitely a very “cool” market, which made it “hot,” and not just because of the great weather. Overall, things were good, as proven by the busy daily afternoon happy hour on the market floor, which this year was revitalized by a greater presence of both exhibitors and participants partaking in the wine and beer.

One element of the event that surprised many market attendees was the unexpectedly large domestic (U.S.) contingent representing station groups, an element of the show that was thought to have been lost many years ago. At NBCUniversal Domestic Distribution’s party, more than 400 people from the domestic market showed up. (Yet a competing studio executive estimated that out of 400 guests, only 100 were actually buyers). After speaking with a few buyers, VideoAge discovered that they were actually buying to prepare their TV stations’ new schedules for mid-February.

“We had a great market overall because we had the chance to meet with U.S. broadcasters that we don’t see at MIP-TV and MIPCOM,” said Gene George of Starz Worldwide Distribution. “We also had the opportunity to meet with key European buyers, and we saw more Scandinavian buyers this year, in addition to Latin American buyers.” George also noted that NATPE comes at a good time of year, and Starz “definitely does business at NATPE.”

Similarly, Andrew Haber of Alfred Haber Distribution commented, “We had a positive and productive experience this year, meeting with buyers from all over the world.”

The elevator lines at the Tresor Tower (dubbed “Terror Tower”) at the Fontainebleau Hotel — the market headquarters — were at their worst on days one and two. Strangely, the long waits were to travel down (20 minutes), not up (about 10 minutes at most), though it really depended on the time of day participants decided to venture up to the suites. The long wait going down meant that plenty of people resorted to taking the stairs to the lobby level — sometimes from all the way up on the 20th floor.

Rumor has it that NATPE organizers are not keen to solve the elevator problem at the “Terror Tower” (at least going back to last year’s smoother rides) in order to discourage distributors from exhibiting at the Tresor and encourage them to exhibit at the other towers as well. Indeed, missing this year was a good glass of calm-inducing sparkling wine offered to people waiting in the long lines, which was replaced by lemonade at the elevator bank.

Despite the long lines at the elevators, Lionsgate, which took a suite on the 15th floor of the Tresor, reported that they had “no trouble keeping appointments.” Peter Iacono said that since Lionsgate was on a low floor, “people could potentially take the stairs if the elevator lines were too long and they were feeling really ambitious.” Iacono was also enthusiastic about the market as a whole, and was happy about the great weather, which had everyone in a good mood, and apparently in the mood to do business, too.

There were 170 distribution companies with stands and over 80 exhibiting in suites (the vast majority of which were in the Tresor Tower). Exhibitors on the floor reported an increase in foot traffic over last year. “Tuesday was the best day I’ve ever had at NATPE in the years I’ve attended,” said Gregg Garber of Bonneville. “It certainly felt as though there was more floor traffic.”

And some even championed the advantages of being on the market floor as opposed to exhibiting in the suites. “Being on the floor is always more conducive for seeing people — it’s not as disruptive to our schedules because we don’t have to worry about appointments being delayed or missed entirely because of the elevator situation. Plus, there is more traffic than there is in the suites,” said Multicom’s Irv Holender.

On January 22, the third and final day of the market, Germany-based Tandem gave a press conference for its animated film Pirate’s Passage, which is written and produced by Donald Sutherland. Sutherland, who was in attendance, was interrupted in the middle of his presentation by a false emergency alarm, which disrupted the planned champagne breakfast. Nevertheless, Sutherland was entertaining and handled the disruption with a sense of humor.

And he wasn’t the only celebrity on hand in Miami this year. Famed producer Norman Lear provided a keynote and was even available to sign his new book, Even This I Get to Experience. And at the opening night party on Tuesday, Dean Gunnarson from Peace Point’s Escape or Die! performed a live escape stunt, successfully escaping from a tank filled with water.

NATPE’s opening day was undoubtedly Telemundo Internacional’s day, with breakfast, lunch and dinner for buyers, colleagues and press. It started at 8:30 a.m. on the Lady Windrige Yacht, continued at 12:30 p.m. with a screening lunch in the Eden Roc’s ballroom and concluded with a dance party at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. Plenty of stars from their shows, including big names such as Kate del Castillo and Blanca Soto, were on hand.

Wednesday night marked the 12th annual Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Awards, which honored Gustavo Cisneros and Adriana Cisneros of Cisneros Media Group; Linda Bell Blue, executive producer of Entertainment Tonight for 19 years; Jay Leno, Emmy Award-winning host of The Tonight Show; Jonathan Murray, chairman of Bunim/Murray Productions and credited as the creator of the reality genre; and Ted Sarandos, who has led content acquisition for Netflix since 2000. Brooke Burke-Charvet, former Dancing with the Stars co-host, hosted the event.

NATPE 2016 will take place January 19-21, starting on a Tuesday, after Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Other than that, no other major news emerged from Rod Perth’s closing press conference. The NATPE president concluded by saying that NATPE 2015 hosted participants from over 60 countries.