Editorial: Miami Heat

When the National Association of Television Program
Executives’ annual confab decided to take
its talent to South Beach this year, the industry
scratched its head a bit. Anchored to Las Vegas hotels in recent years, organization chief Phil Feldman (if Regis says that’s
your name, Rick, so do we) decided to shake things up and move the
event this year.

While comparing the event to the good old days in this era of consolidation
and everything else is an exercise in futility, even by the new
metrics, NATPE needed a jump start.

But the move to Miami was undoubtedly a risk. Would the interest the
shift would drum up in international circles (namely Latin America), and
perhaps increased traffic from New York, offset the Los Angeles contingent
who might not want to make the schlep all the way to Miami?

But after last week’s event at the Fontainebleau Resort in South Beach,
we are willing to call the move a success. Yes we know, the lines for the
elevators were so long that when you got to the front you half-expected
to either be handed bread and toilet paper or the chance to snatch up a
great rent-controlled apartment. But that can be fixed.

The numbers NATPE released last week had overall attendance up 22
percent from last year, definitely spurred by more people from New York
and across our borders. But our most important metric is, well, buzz.

There were plenty of big names on hand, ranging from advertising
industry titan Sir Martin Sorrell to most of the top names in syndication.
And as usual every year, the Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Awards event was
a gathering of bold-faced names, all on hand this year to fete honorees
Dick Ebersol, Mary Hart, Regis Philbin and Gerhard Zeiler. (Disclosure:
B&C is a partner in that event.)

But it was more than attendees and big speakers. At the beginning of
the year, this publication slapped a sunny sky and the word “optimism”
on its cover and said we thought it was creeping back into our industry.
And that seemed to continue at NATPE, as talk circled around cash coming
back to the local station business and how the content and creation
businesses are finding ways to succeed as habits and technologies evolve
weekly, daily or hourly.

So NATPE came back with a bounce in its step, probably from a combination
of the move to Miami along with money and optimism flowing
back into the business. Either way—well done, Phil.