The annual NATPE convention, slated for Jan. 18-20 in Las Vegas, will look more like the NATPEs of old, with three syndicators returning to the show floor. Carsey-Werner-Mandabach; CBS Enterprises, which includes King World and CBS Broadcast International; and Universal Domestic and International Television, all said last week they'll be back.
They join NBC Enterprises and Sony Pictures Television, which agreed months ago to return. Still on the fence, sources say, are Paramount Domestic and International Television and Twentieth Television. Warner Bros. and Buena Vista are expected to stick with their hotel suites at the Venetian.
Still, NATPE President Rick Feldman cautioned that it is unlikely the TV confab will ever again play host to the kind of excess that characterized the show in days past.
In 2000, before the dotcom bust, NATPE attendance swelled to 18,000. This year, it was down to about 7,000. Nobody, including Feldman, expects the big crowds again, but with Las Vegas as its new permanent host city, he thinks the show is once again on the uptick.
"It's a nice thing for companies that feel their businesses have done well and that they can accomplish their goals on the floor.," Feldman said.
For Roger King, CEO of CBS Enterprises and King World Productions, next year's NATPE will be a celebration of his company's success, with Dr. Phil the biggest hit that syndication has seen since The Oprah Winfrey Show and Oprah kicking off its best season start since 1998.
"We've always wanted to go back to the NATPE floor," King says. "I've always thought NATPE was important for our industry. Next year's NATPE is going to be one of the biggest we've had in years."