To preview the upcoming NATPE Miami market — set to take place virtually January 19-29, 2021 — VideoAge contacted eight Miami-based TV executives for their observations. Even though the mart won’t be in their “backyard” this year, but online, these executives are better attuned to the peculiarities of the LATAM region and the appeal of NATPE Miami, which, since it moved from Las Vegas to Miami in 2010, focuses mostly on LATAM.

Asked if he was mentally pre-pared to start the new year with another market in virtual format, Tom Devlin, president, International Television Sales and Marketing, for Entertainment Studios, answered with a definite, “Yes.”

“Absolutely,” agreed Jorge E. Fiterre, founder and president of Condista. “Everyone needs to be able to adapt to the business reality of what is taking place across the world at this moment. We are living in unprecedented times which call for us to be flexible and adapt to the new normal.”

“Yes, we are ready to keep connecting with global buyers at this next virtual NATPE market,” said Esperanza Garay, CEO of Mega Global Entertainment.

Roxana Rotundo, CEO of VIP2000, ela-borated: “I will be mentally prepared, [but] the virtual meetings will never be the same as in-person events.”

Similarly, Julio Neri, president of Cinemania Network, said that he is prepared for a virtual NATPE Miami. “However,” he added, “there is no way that you can virtually accomplish what you’d accomplish in the bars, restaurants, halls, and lobbies [of a live market]. I would say that 70 percent of results come of live conversations. You can’t do that virtually.”

Vivien Reinoso, head of Worldwide Acquisition and Distribution for J2911 Media, said that she is prepared for virtual success “as long as the market offers a good ROI.”

Melanie Torres of GRB Studios expressed some disappointment: “We were hoping that by now COVID would have been under control. It would have been nice to see our industry colleagues in person. [But] we are grateful for the [NATPE] virtual market, as it gives us a chance to connect nonetheless.”

Elisa Aquino, vp, Sales and Marketing at Universal Cinergía Dubbing, is resigned to the inevitable: “There is no other choice,” she replied.

From the point of view of VideoAge, sister market NATPE Budapest was relatively easy to navigate, so we asked the execs interviewed if they shared this opinion and what they’d change for Miami.

Said Torres: “NATPE Budapest was a little complicated because the information was communicated very late and the time difference between our European clients and those of us in the U.S. did not allow for an efficient number of meetings.”

To Reinoso, “NATPE Budapest was not that different from any other virtual market. We feel that all attendees should be able to access all the participants’ basic contact info for further networking opportunities.”

As far as improved market conditions in the LATAM region, Devlin was adamant: “COVID has to come under control to determine improvements.”

Reinoso was more optimistic: “Improvements in terms of sales opportunities have increased across the region, mainly for digital rights, and I see that trend growing in 20201.” Added Torres: “There will be a lot more growth in the digital space. This year, we saw the growth of new AVoDs rolling out and we successfully closed some pan-regional digital deals, along with some U.S Hispanic deals.”

Rotundo also had a positive outlook: “In general, I see a more effective operation and way of doing business in our region.”

Fiterre gave a historic perspective: “Latin America is used to cyclical economies. I have no doubt that they will bounce back from this pandemic.”

Garay was more philosophical: “This pandemic has brought positive and negative consequences to the entire region. On the positive side, the consumption of television content increased significantly. On the less positive side, the fall in advertising sales and the long delays caused in television productions have significantly impacted the industry.”

Asked how they decide which virtual markets to attend, Devlin simply said: “If they’re free, I am interested.” But he added that the number of buyers participating is the key factor.

Reinoso echoed a similar view: “As an independent distribution company, we decided not to attend markets where the investment is higher that the ROI.”

For Rotundo, “the most important factor is the platform effectiveness for one-on-one meetings. Until now MIP Cancun has been the best one as they make meetings easier for our clients to be there and see us.”

Torres offered a more optimistic analysis: We decide which virtual markets are most important by looking at the number of buyers expected, cost, and also the set-up of the market. I find it helpful when we can choose who we want to meet with and then the system pairs us up.”

Aquino was also optimistic: “As [virtual] markets continue, navigation will improve. The earlier ones were not easy to navigate, but they have improved as time went by.”

Garay was more specific: “Our participation is mainly based on the following considerations: Easy to navigate platforms, meaning platform that allows us to [easily] connect with potential clients; package options that allow us to customize the investment based on our specific needs; number and origin of buyers confirmed; and cost.”

To Fiterre, “NATPE has become a very important event, given that the National Cable Show no longer takes place. Also, NATPE focuses on regional affairs that we are interested in. Some cable companies are starting to attend NATPE in Miami as they see the importance of this show, as well.”

Finally, considering the turbulent times that NATPE is going through, the future of the organization came up. Devlin fired the first salvo: “The buyers need to attend in significant numbers to keep NATPE going.”

Reinoso added: “NATPE needs to bring more to the table to make their events more meaningful to the attendees, especially while the virtual style is still in place.”

Rotundo said: “NATPE stopped listening to many of us a long time ago. I hope this pandemic made NATPE really listen to what clients need and want.” And Torres felt that “by 2022, the market will return to normal, with a few changes that we have found to be necessary after this life-altering experience.” Conversely, Aquino threw an olive branch: “NATPE will continue solid and strong, in-corporating the digital aspects more and more, and providing the industry with relevant experiences. It has been nice to see the multiple webinars that NATPE has done this year and I am sure they will continue to do so.”

Neri, too, was somewhat optimistic: “We have seen NATPE de-evolving from 25,000 people in a convention center to a few thousand in a hotel. But NATPE, as well as the other conventions, will always find a way to survive and to do their job, which is to facilitate meetings.”

To Fiterre, “As the industries come together, this event will continue to have an importance and a strong future. As industries evolve and become more intertwined, I believe that NATPE can be one of the key events.”

Garay also had a positive outlook: “This unexpected situation that we are experiencing represents a window of opportunity for the expansion and evolution of [NATPE].”

Audio Version (a DV Works service)

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