The 2010 edition of DISCOP East is set to take place June 23-25, as usual in the Sofitel Chain Bridge Hotel in Pest section of Budapest, Hungary. In its 18th iteration, the market is expected to play host to about 850 participants from around the globe. VideoAge connected with Patrick Jucaud, president of DISCOP organizer Basic Lead to find out what buyers and sellers have to look forward to this year, what regions he expects to be most active at the event and why the market remains loyal to its Budapest location.
VideoAge International: What’s new at the market this year?
Patrick Jucaud: Since last year’s DISCOP East, the region has seen the launch of a staggering 51 new channels and television platforms. Viasat has launched new sports and nature channels in the Baltic region, Chello has launched two new sports channels in the region, and Romania has seen the launch of food channel TV Paprika. In the Ukraine, Digital Fly has launched a 70-channel pay platform. Later this year CTC Russia will launch Galileo, a factual channel it has already dubbed, “the Russian Discovery Channel,” while Polsat Film started broadcasting in Poland on 2 October 2009; and there are many, many, more. VOD is burgeoning too; Remfu Media has launched Kengurua TV, a VOD platform for Ukraine and Russia while in Hungary, Budapest Film has launched a range of new VOD services, at www.port.hu. In fact, across the region, new content outlets are springing up everywhere. And, even if, such rapid expansion is likely to be followed by a period of consolidation, all these new launches must still be good news. We certainly think so anyway. Which is why 36 of these new channels and platforms will be here at this year’s DISCOP, and, at the time of writing, discussions were ongoing with all the others.
VAI: All companies are looking to save money. What are the organizers doing to help exhibiting companies save money at the market?
PJ: We have considerably improved the quality of all of our pre-market organizational services in order to allow our participants to add at least two hours worth of meetings per each market day. We have also increased the number of low-cost exhibits. We have brought together two new national pavilions that were not at DISCOP East last year, one from Argentine and another one from Serbia, in order to help independent producers attend our market. Also, it is important to note that this is the fourth consecutive year that we have not increased our prices.
VAI: What are organizers doing to help exhibitors make money and promote their products this year?
PJ: We will be launching DISCOP Tube, a free online video library open to content buyers representing TV stations and other distribution platforms across Central, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The DISCOP Tube online video library will showcase content offered at the various DISCOP markets and will be accessible all year round via DISCOP’s website. During the markets themselves, buyers will be able to access the DISCOP Tube platform in a restricted lounge open at all times during the course of the three-day market.
The DISCOP Tube streaming and uploading services will be powered by Mediapeers, one of the world’s leading developers of secured online, business-to-business viewing environments. While face-to-face meetings are central to the development of television content business in the 101 countries covered by DISCOP events, we are also responding to economical and technological factors encouraging online viewing practices.
Fueled by new territorial licensing opportunities combined with a worldwide, ongoing digital switchover revolution for content suppliers, the number of potential “prospects” has grown exponentially in the last three years, and with it, the costs to properly service every single one of them. Using premium postal services to rush physical DVDs around the world, after or before a sales-centric market no longer makes sense. Helping buyers and sellers to travel “light” is a major priority for us, as is the spontaneous networking that can be derived from online environments. We are sure that DISCOP Tube will be a huge benefit to our attendees, before, during and after each of our markets.”
VAI: How many buyers are you expecting? How many sellers?
PJ: We are expecting approximately 350 companies to attend as content sellers and about 500 companies as content buyers (TV Stations, Pay-TV platforms, territorial agents, home video distributors and other alternative content distribution platforms). Most important, we hope to increase the average number of “useful” meetings between participants by 20 percent this year, and we have been much more rigorous in the pre-registration process in order to only bring to the market companies interested in doing business on the spot. With four weeks to go before the opening of the next DISCOP market, 300 international content suppliers and 435 TV Stations, other content distribution platforms and territorial agents from Central and Eastern Europe are already registered.
In 2009, DISCOP events brought together a combined number of 2160 participants, a 33 percent increase from 2008, demonstrating the growing importance of world regions such as Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Africa for audiovisual content business. Between all DISCOP events scheduled during 2010, we expect to bring a total of 2500 participants this year.
VAI: Do you have any predictions for which markets/regions will be increasing their presence or becoming more aggressive this year?
PJ: We see Turkey as becoming a major player in Central and Eastern Europe, both as a growingly important supplier of dramas and as a country with many television operators ready to acquire content from companies attending DISCOP East18. Turkey will host our DISCOP East 18 Welcome Party.
VAI: How has the Budapest location worked for DISCOP? Have you ever considered making it an itinerant market and holding it in other locations in Eastern Europe such as Romania or Bulgaria?
PJ: We are very happy with Budapest and 95 percent of our participants are happy with the venue that we will be using for the 18th year now. We have often considered changing the location but we have always come back to the golden principle in our business: “Don’t change a venue that works”.