We need to invent a word for “return to origins,” so that TV trade show organizers can better comprehend their main mission, and figure out why they’ve strayed so far away from it.


Let’s do something revolutionary. Let’s eliminate all the conferences and seminars from TV trade shows! If market participants want to talk to company executives, they can try making an appointment and visiting them at their stands.

Wait a minute! That idea isn’t really “revolutionary” since it was the way things were done when TV markets first started. But it’s not evolutionary, either, since the concept didn’t evolve, but devolve.

A word for “returning to origins” doesn’t really exist. “Regress” is close, but it has negative connotations, while in our case the expected effect of doing away with panels and the like would be very positive.

One word that has positive connotations is “philopatry,” which is a combination of the prefix philo (from the Greek philos for “beloved”) and the Latin patria (which means “fatherland” or “homeland”) and relates to birds returning to their birthplace for reproduction. But that doesn’t exactly apply here.

On the other hand, in classical philosophy, a moment that was once the present becomes part of the past, as well as part of the future, which, in turn, becomes the new present. This is perfect for us because the new present has parts of the past, and there is nothing better than going back to the future when the trains ran on time and the Daily News cost a dime (10 U.S. cents).

By eliminating all conferences and seminars, a typical four-day TV market like MIPCOM would be putting more than 40 hours back on the plate, and allowing more than 200 executives overall and over 1,700 participants a day to stay on the exhibition floor where they can do what these markets were initially designed to do: buy and sell content.

In statistical terms these figures translate into a total market-floor available time of 70 hours (almost double the 30 hours with conferences), thus increasing cost-efficiency for exhibitors. And considering that the conferences and seminars absorb 15 percent of the total number of participants (using MIPCOM’s market figures as a base), eliminating conferences and seminars would bring over 700 buyers back to the floor, thus reducing dead or downtime for exhibitors.

From the point of view of MIPCOM organizers, conferences and seminars could bring some 3,000 more people into the market that wouldn’t be drawn in any other way. These extra participants (government officials, bureaucrats, panelists who aren’t exhibitors, industry consultants, experts, students, etc.) could bring an estimated 200,000 euro to the organizers’ coffers, but these sessions also cost MIPCOM an estimated 100,000 euro, plus the costs associated with the conferences’ set-up (paid invitations, security personnel, AV equipment, support staff, etcetera), thus netting the organizers less than 100,000 euro.

Organizers could argue that those 3,000 extra participants not being buyers would not affect the event’s market portion. Nevertheless, the conferences would still divert or distract buyers, and having more floor hours and added time with buyers would make the market more efficient and increase traffic. This could possibly result in more exhibition space requests from sellers (to cope with multiple simultaneous meetings), and most likely attract additional sellers and companies that would see better sales potential, resulting in an estimated 500,000 euro in extra revenues for the organizers.

These numbers can also be valid for other TV markets of all sizes that insist on having conferences and seminars that interfere with their main money-making undertaking, which is to provide companies with a marketplace for selling and buying TV content.

(By Dom Serafini)

Audio Version (a DV Works service)

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