The National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) was founded in 1963 to be an annual marketplace of show producers selling to television station buyers. At the time, there were hundreds of both, making for a lively few days in New Orleans, Dallas, Las Vegas or wherever the show happened to be that year.
Today, like the TV industry it serves, NATPE has evolved into something completely different. While studios and station groups still meet and make deals, that’s become just one small part of the three-day annual conference that’s been held in Miami Beach since 2011. The new NATPE, which this year takes place from Jan. 16-18, has a decidedly global feel, with an emphasis on Miami’s nearby Latin American neighbors and international TV companies in attendance such as Brazil’s Globo, Turkey’s Kanal D International and Israel’s Keshet Media.
“To be on the forefront of today’s business, that’s what the conference is about,” said JP Bommel, NATPE’s president and CEO. “It’s always about three things: content, emerging technology and globalization. The show is becoming more global every year.”
International production companies have taken note and flock to the show to kick off the global buying-and-selling season.
“We have a big business in Latin America and over the years, NATPE has become one of the main markets for the Latino marketplace,” said Alon Shtruzman, Keshet International CEO, who will be interviewed on a one-on-one panel titled “Around the World in Five Years” on Tuesday afternoon.
One year ago, Keshet launched Keshet MX to produce local shows for Mexican and Latin American audiences and announced the venture at NATPE. “Latin America has big, dynamic brands — Mexico, Argentina and Brazil are important markets for us,” said Shtruzman.
NATPE offers 10 different program tracks, from streaming to scripted to unscripted to the Station Group Summit to global perspectives, taking attendees far beyond the show floor.
Highlights of those tracks include a keynote chat between Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman and CEO Tony Vinciquerra and Soledad O’Brien, host of Hearst’s Matter of Fact; a Tuesday morning panel with key Wall Street investors; a session with Facebook’s Ricky Van Veen, head of global creative strategy; and the Station Group Forum on Wednesday afternoon.
“The traditional TV business — the linear business — is very important and it’s not going away,” Bommel said. “It’s been affected drastically by the nonlinear world, but that presents some opportunities.”
Ira Bernstein, co-president of Lionsgate-owned Debmar-Mercury, is moderating a panel on Wednesday with station programming chiefs. The executives will discuss current trends in syndication and distribution, as well as how consolidation and changing media regulations will affect their ever-evolving business.
“Everyone has a different strategy and leans a different way,” Bernstein said. “We’ll talk about why station groups feel they have to merge and whether it’s the only way for them to survive.”
Bernstein, who also hosts a suite and a cabana with his partner, Mort Marcus, said NATPE remains an important stop on every year because “we get to take time and sit with our clients about what they like what they don’t like, what they are trying to do this year and next. You just learn.”
Deb McDermott, the former chief operating officer at Media General who now runs consulting firm McDermott Media Group, will host a panel discussion on the implications and opportunities presented by the coming ATSC 3.0 broadcast standard.
“I truly believe that next-generation TV will put the broadcast industry in the forefront of engagement of our audience and maximize opportunities,” McDermott said. “[ATSC 3.0 represents] a huge sea change for us that brings us into the 21st century. We’ve been a mass medium and right now, we’re the only mass medium out there. This will allow us to have a targeted approach to content and advertising. For the first time, we are going to get really good census-level information.”
Much of NATPE will be focused on the ways technology is drastically changing the entire business of television. All of the major streaming companies — Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and this year, Facebook — will be on hand to talk about some of those opportunities and to help attendees gaze into the future and evaluate what may lie there.
To that end, Facebook’s Matt Jacobson will discuss “How a Listening Culture Can Help Drive Business Trends and Recruit Talent” with Lionsgate Television Group Chairman Kevin Beggs on Wednesday afternoon.
An annual highlight is NATPE’s Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Awards, which operate as both a fun cocktail party where people can network, as well as a touching ceremony that honors some of TV’s finest. This year, the honorees are über-producer Greg Berlanti, Telemundo chairman Cesar Conde, actress and activist Jane Fonda, Turner chief creative officer and TBS and TNT president Kevin Reilly, and TV star Tom Selleck. TV personality Maria Menounos will host the event.
NATPE’s final day focuses on everything international, with panels on the global marketplace and a closing event, the “Martell in Miami” luncheon, which raises money to help fund innovative treatments and cures for cancer via music’s T.J. Martell Foundation.