Monday at NATPE Europe was a hybrid day — part business (Warner Bros. screenings), part seminars (three in total) and part meetings (with some participants jumping on the opportunity to connect with buyers at the bars in the Hilton Prague lobby).
But the biggest event of this “unofficial day” had to be the screenings/cocktail party presented by Telemundo International, which was in town in full force with top-level sales executives having traveled from Miami and Madrid for the company’s first CEE screening, amid a renewed push to win the region over.
Officially, the market started on Tuesday morning, but not before CBS Studios International kicked off its traditional NATPE Europe Screenings followed by NBCUniversal. Over 60 buyers attended the 8 a.m. CBSSI screenings conducted by Michelle Payne at the Atlas Cinema, a movie theater around the corner from the Hilton Prague, NATPE Europe’s headquarters.
Then at 10 a.m. the market floor opened to 140 exhibitors, scattered among suites on two floors, tables, stands and viewing boxes.
(The market is over on Thursday, but some exhibitors left a day early, on Wednesday, confused by the Monday’s start.)
The Latin Americans are back in full force with 10 companies — possibly to reclaim their CEE territories from the encroaching Turks who, with their telenovelas, are becoming formidable competitors.
Naturally, Turkish distributors are also present in a big way with all their major companies — ITV Inter Medya, Global Agency, Kanal D and TRT — present.
But out of the 250 registered buyers, 200 actually showed up. The studio screenings represent a magnet for buyers, but in order to keep them in town after the screenings, NATPE Europe organizers contribute to their hotel room and other services.
In terms of appointments, buyers clearly showed preference to U.S. studios, followed by mini-majors, such as Starz, and smaller indies.
For next year, NATPE organizers are seriously considering incentivizing smaller buyers who in turn tend to patronize smaller distributors (who make up the bulk of the 140 total exhibitors).
In the past, some exhibitors have complained that many buyers leave just after the studio screenings.
This year, buyers from both Russia and the Ukraine are in attendance, if only in small numbers. Given the current political climate, sellers and market organizers are careful not to keep them in the same room.
But the tension between the two countries is still being felt, even at a trade show such as NATPE Europe, especially when television reports in Russia sound like a war with the U.S. seems inevitable and young people are filmed in the Russian streets wearing military uniforms in solidarity.
On Tuesday afternoon traffic on the basement floor –– where stands, viewing boxes and tables are located ––- started to pick up; the suites on the first floor were busy from the morning on, even though the corridors were not.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering about the weather, the first two days have been unusually wet and cold, which kept most participants indoors.