The theme of this upcoming NATPE Miami market, the 38th in the association’s 54-year history, is “A Changing Industry in a Changing World,” and even though it is appropriate, it doesn’t go far enough. The world, and the U.S. in particular, is indeed changing rapidly, and the television industry is right in the middle, enmeshed in various “fake news” and “alternative facts” controversies.

Years ago, Americans to the right of the political spectrum were fearful, distrustful and plain incensed by the Russians, while the left saw Russia as the cradle of the working class. Hollywood liberals even once fought a losing battle against the Conservative-led Un-American Activities Committee.

Today, the opposite is true, with conservative Americans embracing Vladimir Putin’s Russia and the liberals being totally outraged by the Russians’ meddling in the U.S. presidential elections.

This is a case in which the world is not just changing, but turning completely upside down. So a more appropriate NATPE Miami theme might have been “An Industry in an Upside Down World.”

But it is still “our” world and we have to keep it despite its contradictions, climate change denials and various descriptions of “news”— which is best exemplified by the contrast between FOX News and MSNBC, each of which seeks to monetize its own audience.

However, business is business, after all, and television is made for harvesting audiences every which way it can. As such, discussion among the expected 5,000 “decision-makers” (as the participants are officially described by NATPE), is expected to focus on doing business while having fun. NATPE Miami is preparing to roll out the red carpet and kick off an event that celebrates a changing industry that, despite all, is richer than ever. As pointed out in the October 18 Issue of Forbes magazine, “It’s also worth noting that traditional TV still makes up 43 percent of total media time.”

NATPE’s 15th annual Tartikoff Awards illustrates this perfectly with honorees that represent the old guard, but still entertain mass audiences, such as 79-year-old Jane Fonda and 72-year-old Tom Selleck. Other recipients include producer Greg Berlanti; TBS and TNT president Kevin Reilly; and Telemundo and NBCUniversal International chairman, Cesar Conde. The awards touch on every aspect of a revived television industry: Talent, creativity, cable channels, broadcast, content sales and international.

NATPE, which is a non-profit association based in Los Angeles, is also reviving its board with the recent addition of four executives who epitomize the changes, including Netflix’s Cindy Holland, Facebook’s Mina Lefevre, CBS Alternative Programming’s Sharon Vuong and, on the traditional side, Universal Television’s Pearlena Igbokwe.

But let’s not forget that the raison d’être of NATPE Miami is buying and selling content. Some 350 exhibitors scattered in various locations inside the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach are expected, as are 1,100 buyers.

The market will open on Tuesday, January 16, 2018, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and will close on the afternoon of the third day. Even though Miami Beach is considered a sub-tropical city and January is the “dry” season, visitors should expect brisk weather, especially at night, and at times, some showers.

Going back to the publicized NATPE Miami attendance figures of 5,000, usually the organizer doesn’t release attendance figures, and, according to NATPE’s President and CEO JP Bommel, “The Policy has not changed, [but] it is important to point the value driven by the global growth of the market, especially from outside North America and Latin America, and a significant growth to our digital business partners with the participation of SVoD buyers across all platforms.”

As far as new initiatives to bring more European, Canadian and Asian companies into the LATAM mix are concerned, Bommel said: “We are introducing an intuitive new matchmaking/meeting concierge service called NATPEConnect, which is truly the LinkedIn of content. It was launched last month and is ground-breaking for us as we are literally going through with a fine-tooth comb over 6,000 buyers across the world and across all platforms. This amazing tool will help all our exhibitors gain transparency and effectiveness in preparing their shows.

“The conference schedule has been modified to provide multiple networking events and co-production meetings between LATAM and the U.S. [Plus,] our sweet spot has evolved from a focus on the Latin American market to expand on emerging opportunities in the U.K., Europe, Asia and the Middle East.”

When asked if NATPE will be introducing “lobby-only” badges, Bommel answered, “No, [but] we do provide day-passes that have to meet certain requirements.”

Finally, Bommel was asked why the market is more important than ever this year. “NATPE is the ultimate forum for buyers, sellers and creators across all platforms,” he said. “What we have built in the past couple of years is an incredible platform for commerce and co-pro opportunities. We are no longer just a marketplace and conference. NATPE is a next-generation forum that develops premium content deal opportunities, some digitally led but not digitally limited, and delivers it across all sectors, from the indies to the global media companies,” he concluded.

Audio Version (a DV Works service)

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