After a year of big changes in the way TV is consumed, the National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) convenes Jan. 24-26 in Las Vegas to sort them all out. NATPE Co-Chair John Weiser, president of distribution at Sony Pictures Television, talks to B&C's Jim Benson about the expanding focus of the conference:
Has NATPE's focus become blurred?
Television syndication is the core of the market, but buyers have become much more sophisticated as the business has become more complex. We have all the new media and traditional media showing up, and certainly the foreign influence is great, as formats are promulgating back and forth seamlessly.
Do you see a day coming when domestic distributors might take a backseat to all the other interests represented at the conference?
I don't believe so, because I think it all begins with programming. All of these delivery platforms have one thing in common, and that's their dependency on content.
How are traditional media executives dealing with all the rapid changes?
We recognize it's a confusing time. But if you put on a session with the heads of the top three companies in VOD platforms, and there is a comprehensive discussion after the session, you're going to walk away with a thorough understanding.
What are the major issues?
A few years ago, it definitely was a low point in terms of the organization's momentum. But over the past couple years, we have really rebuilt it by making sure it didn't remain just a one-trick pony (solely about) TV syndication.
Do syndicators have commitment concerns?
No. I think the press is a little unfocused sometimes, because they ask if all the distributors are exhibiting on the floor of the convention. We say, 'No, half are in the hotel suites and half are in booths on the floor.' But 100% of them are still attending.