By Leah Hochbaum Rosner
As NATPE, the first market of the new year, approaches toward the end of this month, TV executives the world over are gearing up for a trip to Las Vegas that they hope will yield floor sales, sales commitments and sales opportunities. VideoAge reviewed NATPE plans with someone with an impressive name, Michelle Wasserman of Argentina’s Telefe Internacional.
Although there isn’t any apparent relationship between the two, Lew Wasserman was the founder of Universal, thus the surname is a historical name in the international entertainment industry.
Michelle Wasserman spoke to us about her company’s plans for the Sin City event, why she’s extra-prepared for a market during these uncertain economic times, and why she feels that NATPE is still as relevant as ever.
VideoAge International: What are the main differences between this year’s NATPE and last year’s?
Michelle Wasserman: Last year, NATPE was quite shaken by the writers’ strike and the market behaved in a very strange way due to the uncertainty caused by the special situation the industry was in. But even if 2008 was not the most successful NATPE ever, it was not bad regarding the economic results for our unit. Even if we do not bring in a definite volume of money from a market, we consider our presence in terms of brand image to be important strategically. Now what do we expect for this coming 2009 event? In practical terms, we expect a good market with regards to meetings, contacts and business discussions. However, we believe that the market will have its peculiarities, and we can estimate what those might be after having gone through a couple of markets during this budding economic crisis. But worldwide production will not vary much. The TV industry will still need content. In this sense, we hope to continue the same rhythm of business as we have in previous years, or even to improve it.
VAI: What sort of product will be in high demand at NATPE 2009?
MW: We believe that readymade content, unlike formats, will be in higher demand than ever. We also believe that there will be higher demand for content for new platforms, especially new digital TV channels.
VAI: How are your appointments coming around thus far?
MW: Year after year, the amount of appointments has increased — regardless of the amount of participants at a given market. The reason for this is the maturity of our unit in the business and the consolidation of Telefe in the world. Five years ago, we only had two salespeople attending NATPE from Telefe. Now, we have six or more participating this year.
VAI: What territories will you be focusing on?
MW: Lately, NATPE has largely been attended by Latin buyers, so that is what we will be focusing on. American buyers still come, but on a lesser scale. In the past, Europeans used to attend in droves, but now, that number is low. The main focus is now Latin and [North] American buyers.
VAI: Is NATPE still relevant to Telefe?
MW: Definitely. There are no irrelevant markets. Even if not one deal is closed during a market, short trips like this tend to have their results. It is part of the process of sowing a crop