What’s this obsession with getting attendance figures after markets? It’s the business of buying and selling content that really counts — not the fact that 13,900 people were there, instead of the necessary 8,000. Because, as the saying goes, two is company; three’s a crowd.

Serafini

There is one thing about the MIP-TV and MIPCOM markets that particularly puzzles me. And it is the question that seemingly everyone asks at the end of the markets: “Were there fewer people here this time than last time?”

At the end of each market, organizers seem to go to great lengths to provide attendance figures, and this most recent MIPCOM was no different. Reed MIDEM even staged a champagne cocktail reception on the market’s last day to announce the figures to the press — which for this most recent MIPCOM were “some 13,900 delegates, including 4,800 buyers from over 110 countries” — adding an aura of solemnity to the event. Then, once the figures are published, the routine critical chatter starts to emerge.

Common criticisms include “there was little traffic on the convention floors” or “the corridors seemed empty” or “the hotels had rooms available.”

This time around, there actually were fewer participants than last year — about 100 less, according to official figures.  But that’s still about 6,000 more people than are actually necessary, I believe.

Years ago, the small talk amounted to: “When did you arrive?” or “When are you leaving?” or “Where are you staying?” Nowadays, it’s: “This market is shrinking!”

My 2¢ is that if a market gets 8,000 qualified attendees, it can be considered a success. After all, that’s approximately the size of the content buying and selling universe the world over.

Frankly, I’m astonished by the need for attendance figures, which every market organizer, with the exclusion of NATPE, seems to be keen to provide. I understand that they want to show that a market is an unqualified success, but, in my view, sales figures would be much better than attendance data as a true measure of a market’s success.

Some markets — such as the AFM in Santa Monica — actually do collect such information by conducting post-market reviews with exhibiting board members to determine the number of movies sold, but the figures collected aren’t made available to the public.

To people who criticize the AFM when the corridors at the Loews Hotel appear deserted, Jonathan Wolf, managing director of the AFM, had only this to say: “We love it! This means that buyers are screening the movies.”

(By Dom Serafini)

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