Like any trade show, NATPE Miami Virtual will ultimately be judged by the sales achieved, by the potential new clients found, and by the amount of new content available.

In order to get a true account of what is planned and what is expected to occur, observers such as VideoAge have no choice but to turn to the companies directly involved with the market, and to ask them questions that cut through the polished press releases and niceties, and go directly to the nitty-gritty of the business at hand.

Is it possible that NATPE Miami will be the last virtual market that you participate in?

“Unfortunately not,” was the sharp answer of Sonia Mehandjiyska, the Los Angeles-based head of International Distribution for Electric Entertainment. “We don’t expect to travel to markets until early fall 2021.”

Hud Woodle, EVP, International Sales and Operations, for Sherman Oaks, California-based GRB Studios, concurred. “No,” he said. “We’re optimistic, but if we’re being realists, MIPCOM in Cannes this fall will probably be the first real-world market of the year following the pandemic.”

Emre Gorentas, Content Sales deputy manager for Turkey’s ATV, was similarly assertive: “We will not be attending any physical market until MIPCOM in October 2021, so NATPE Miami will not be the last virtual market.”

“Q1 of 2021 will be very tough,” said Kerim Emrah Turna, executive director of Turkey’s Kanal D International. “We have a very limited visibility of the future and it is really not possible to foresee even the next month’s situation, [but] NATPE Miami 2021 will not be the final virtual market we are attending. If we’re optimistic, NATPE Budapest in June might possibly be the first physical market. But in reality the first physical market we will attend looks like it will be MIPCOM 2021 in Cannes.”

“We all hope we will be able to get back to in-person markets this year,” said Janel Downing, VP, Sales, Latin America, for England’s All3media International, “but it seems too soon to say if that will be the case. We are grateful that technology has allowed us to keep in touch with clients so seamlessly through the pandemic.”

“Most likely not,” said Chevonne O’Shaughnessy, president of the Van Nuys, California-based American Cinema International. “We are still virtually attending [Berlin’s] EFM 2021, as well as MIP-TV. Also, since the current global situation is still under transition with the advent of the vaccines to combat COVID-19, we are keeping an eye on other film markets and the positions they take towards this subject.”

“We already know that MIP-TV is going to be virtual,” said Maria Bonaria Fois, CEO of Madrid-based Mondo TV Iberoamérica. “It looks like we’ll still be seeing each other via digital devices rather than in person until the second part of this year.”

“I believe we won’t be at a non-virtual market until third or fourth quarter of 2021,” concurred Melissa Wohl, head of Sales at the New York City-based FilmRise, from her Pasadena, California office.

“I would say it’s likely that we will participate in more virtual markets in the future,” said Jesse Baritz, director of Content Acquisition and Development for the Beverly Hills, California-based Multicom Entertainment Group. “The cost of attending a live event in terms of airfare, hotels, exhibition spaces, sales materials, and time versus the ease of a virtual market makes in-person events less enticing.”

Do you have new content for NATPE Miami?

“We were prepared for different scenarios in order to supply our clients the best possible content during these hard times,” said Turna. “Thanks to our large library, we can do that. Hekimoglu (the Turkish remake of U.S. series House M.D.) continues with its second season on Kanal D. Then there’s Ruthless City, and our romantic comedy Love Trap. In addition, we have Fatmagul. Its Spanish adaption Alba will be on air this year.”

O’Shaughnessy’s American Cinema International [ACI] will “bring five new projects to the market.”

“We have a slate of scripted, non-scripted, and format titles to present at NATPE Miami,” said Downing. “We are presenting two new dramas: Eden, a young adult thriller, and The Drowning, a taut family drama. On the formats side, we will be presenting The Cube, which is coming to screens in the U.S. following a successful revival on U.K. TV. We’re also presenting a non-scripted slate, including inspiring entrepreneurial series I Quit and The Savoy, about of one of London’s most iconic hotels.”

Bonaria Fois said that one of Mondo’s most important shows is the animated series MeteoHeroes, a Mondo TV and Meteo Expert Center co-production currently broadcasting on Cartoonito Italia. “MeteoHeroes is a cartoon series that combines scientific storylines about the environment, ecology, and biodiversity with comedy and adventure.”

Another big project for the company in 2021 is Grisù, a Mondo TV Group co-production with ZDF Enterprises and Toon2Tango.

“Yes,” answered Baritz. “Multicom is bringing new release films and series and recently restored library titles to NATPE. We’re also proud to showcase our ‘TheArchive’ channel, available on all major devices, streaming in 4K with two linear channel feeds.”

Mehandjiyska announced: “We’ll be selling our new series Leverage 2.0, Almost Paradise, and The Outpost.”

GRB’s Woodle will have “Death Walker (season two now in production), and On The Case.”

“We just launched our new series Akinci, the first local superhero story on free TV,” announced Gorentas. “We’ll also premiere other series, so we’ll be attending NATPE Miami with fresh content.”

“We have a healthy offering of new pro-gramming across a broad number of feature film and original TV genres,” said Wohl. “FilmRise’s film division has a number of documentaries and features on deck, including LGBTQ+ documentary Deep in Vogue, a comedy that was to premiere at SXSW 2020 pre-pandemic, Drunk Bus, and the March release of Lilly’s Light, a kids musical feature film. From our FilmRise Originals and co-productions group, we just launched the second season of our forensic DNA crime documentary Bloodline Detectives, with the first season coming to digital platforms.”

What percentage of your time will be devoted to making sales deals with your traditional partners and what percentage will be for finding new potential clients?

“We have good penetration in all territories, but we will focus on finding new clients in Asia in particular,” said Turna.

“As of right now, we are looking at a time distribution of 80 percent of our meetings devoted to our traditional partners and 20 percent to potential new ones,” said ACI’s O’Shaughnessy.

“I do believe virtual markets will become an important tool for meeting new potential clients and we will be focusing on making those connections during this market,” said All3media’s Downing.

“We aim, of course, to continue several negotiations we have ongoing,” said Bonaria Fois. “This activity represents about half of our time at the show. We’ll dedicate the other half to finding new partnerships and collaborations, mainly focusing on fiction — in particular drama and comedy for teens and adults.”

“While we enjoy the opportunity to catch up with our existing contacts,” added Baritz, “NATPE is always an excellent market for meeting new potential clients and partners. I will spend the majority of my time making new connections.”

“The usual split is 80/20,” reported Mehandjiyska. “But given the variety of new digital platforms, we estimate the split will be 70/30.”

“The GRB sales team is certainly here to sell, and partners old and new are certainly welcome!” said Woodle. “We’re also always on the lookout for finished programs and formats in need of international distribution.”

“I would say 70 percent to 75 percent of my time goes to existing client relations,” said ATV’s Gorentas.

Will you also use NATPE Miami to “talk” about renegotiating deals, or do you prefer to hold these kinds of discussions on other occasions?

“We are not renegotiating during this market, however we are acquiring material for the new year,” said O’Shaughnessy. “We believe NATPE Miami will provide us with an initial view of the industry’s needs.”

Similarly, said Baritz, “I will not be renegotiating deals during NATPE. We prefer to have these discussions before or after events.”

For Bonaria Fois of Mondo TV Iberoamérica, “it depends on the deals and the clients, to be honest. We have a very specific and personalized approach tailored for each one of our clients and collaborators, so it’s hard to generalize.”

Electric’s Mehandjiyska was more pointed: “So far we haven’t had the need to renegotiate.”

“Like every other market, we’ll talk about new deals and previous negotiations” at NATPE Miami, said Gorentas. “When you have limited time with a client, you want to present new shows, but on-going negotiations are very important, too. So we’ll be mixing.”

FilmRise’s Wohl was noncommittal: “We use NAPTE to discuss deals at whatever stage they happen to be in, whether new business, a renewal, or renegotiation,” she said.

NATPE Virtual is less expensive than NATPE Live, but is the ROI comparable?

“The adaptation of market organizers to the virtual world took longer than expected,” complained Turna, “And to be honest, all the virtual markets we have attended in 2020 were mainly to support the industry. The ROI perspective was not the main focus.”

“It’s not really comparable,” said O’Shaughnessy. “Since it is the beginning of the year it’s difficult to assess if a physical event would have brought different business opportunities. We are excited to attend virtually and reconnect with our colleagues and buyers from around the world.”

“As this is the first virtual NATPE [of the year],” said Wohl, “we’ve stepped up our support in many creative ways, which will generate the maximum impact and engagement with our clients and content partners. We’re optimistic about the results.”

“We’re not getting the same results as with NATPE Live,” said Gorentas, “But we’re adapting to virtual markets even though there have been some technical difficulties.”

Bonaria Fois noted that while it’s true that virtual is less expensive, “it still requires a fair amount of planning. To be honest, we have had lots of experience during the past year with virtual events and only a few have had the returns we hoped for. A market like NATPE Miami in particular is one that benefits from the physical presence of participants. The virtual mode is more challenging, but we plan to make the most of it.”

“The investment of time with our clients is always time well spent,” said Woodle, “and doing it virtually during a pandemic is safe, yet productive, for all.”

“The ROI with NATPE Virtual is greater than NATPE Live,” concluded Multicom’s Baritz. “While I prefer the opportunity to have face-to-face networking at events like NATPE, I feel that the virtual version will likely be equally productive and significantly less costly.”

Audio Version (a DV Works service)

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