High Rollers Return to NATPE Floor


More programming high rollers are returning to the NATPE 2005 exhibit floor in Las Vegas.

Paramount Domestic Television and the international division of  Warner Bros. Television will be on the exhibit floor at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas come January. Sony Pictures Television's international division is also expected to return.

The major studios moved off the convention floor at the annual programming convention and into hotel suites three years ago, saying that the six- and seven-figure price tabs for elaborate booths and the logistical pains of hauling them to cities around the country didn't make any sense given the changing program sales marketplace. It was also immediately after 9/11, when budgets were tight and extravagance wsa at odds with the national mood.

That freeze-out began to thaw big time last year, when the National Association of Television Programming Executives decided to stay in one place--Las Vegas--that was far more convenient for the mostly L.A.-based crowd. It also revamped the convention floor set-up to allow for more cost-efficient entertaining. NBC Enterprises, King World, Sony Pictures Television, CBS, Universal and Carsey-Werner all returned to the floor in 2004.

After NATPE announced a move from the Venetian to a two-year stint at Mandalay Bay earlier this year, with the convention floor also at the Mandalay Bay (it had been at the Sands Expo Center). Still sticking with the suites are Tribune, Buena Vista and Warner Bros. Domestic.

So why are some 60% of the majors and 80% of exhibitors on the exhibit floor again?

NATPE President Rick Feldman says that though the days of building big, elaborate booths are over,  NATPE is showing them how to make it easier and cheaper. Sony used NATPE's new modular exhibit set-up last year, and he expects more to go that route.

Feldman also says that buyers have been saying it is easier for everyone to negotiate for a show if they are on the floor. But aren't most of the shows already sold? Maybe, but Feldman says there are still shows to sell, and renew, plus, people are increasingly looking for ways to repurpose, so there is more than just the syndication rights to negotiate.