In 1867, the Austro-Hungarian empire was formed with a compromise that created a dual monarchy. The current standoff between C21’s Content Budapest (formerly Content East) and Brunico, the new owner of NATPE Budapest, seems like the Austro-Hungarian power struggle all over again — only without the aid of the unifying Empress Elisabeth of Austria and Queen of Hungary (aka Sissi).
Now, another “compromise” might be in order, this time between the U.K.’s C21 and Canada’s Brunico as they are having their own power struggle over which June TV market will reign supreme in the Hungarian capital.
The first salvo was fired on February 9, 2023 by trade publisher C21 with a press release announcing that C21 had changed the name of Content East to Content Budapest, and had signed an agreement with Kyiv Media Week organizer MRM, which will consult on the conference program and build out relationships with buyers, commissioners, and producers from across the region to take part in the event.
Content Budapest is slated for June 27-29, 2023, at the Kempinski Hotel in Budapest. A two-day international co-production conference will run alongside the market and screenings, and the Content Budapest Pitch Competition will aim to discover fresh shows that can work across territories.
Organizers will invite up to 500 key buyers and commissioners from channels across CEE free of charge to the three-day event. A boat party on Wednesday, June 28, is also on the program.
Six days after this announcement, Brunico responded with its own press release confirming changed dates for NATPE Budapest.
“NATPE Budapest is making its return to the banks of the Danube from 19-22 June 2023 at the InterContinental Hotel,” declared the release from the publishing company. It then explained, “Brunico Communications, producer of Realscreen Summit, Kidscreen Summit and Banff World Media Festival, is now operating the event following its recent and successful purchase of the NATPE assets.”
Brunico had initially announced that NATPE Budapest would run June 26-28, which were last year’s dates when the market was still organized by the Los Angeles-based NATPE organization (before it declared bankruptcy).
Those distribution companies who can afford to exhibit at both will be pleased to learn that the InterContinental and Kempinski hotels are within walking distance of one another, meaning that setting up a second exhibition shouldn’t be that hard. But for practical and budgetary reasons, most exhibitors will instead have to choose between the two events. But which one should it be?
It remains to be seen if one of these markets will emerge as the clear winner or each will cannibalize the other. Next year, 2024, however, is a completely different and more complex story and it will be analyzed below in this article.
Historically, there are precedents of TV markets that have run at the same times, but they were in different countries, like, for example, VIDCOM (later MIPCOM) in France, which happened at the same time as MIFED in Italy (MIPCOM won). MIFF in the Philippines and INTV in the U.S. ran concurrently (until both events were ultimately discontinued). There was even competition between the Monte Carlo TV Market in Monaco and NATPE in the U.S. in the early 1980s, when they both took place at the same time. Today, few markets in this industry still have clashing dates, with one notable example being the U.S.-based NAB markets, which are held in April (at the same time as MIPTV in Cannes) and October (when MIPCOM takes place, also in Cannes). Another clash is between the Cannes Film Festival and Market and the L.A. Screenings, taking place at the same time in May.
As a publication, VideoAge will be covering both Budapest markets. Meanwhile, we will try to gauge the mood among both buyers and sellers that are interested in the Central and Eastern European region.
An executive at an Italian company who is planning to participate in one of the two markets as an exhibitor revealed that C21 gives the impression that its Content Budapest is more conference than market by emphasizing the conference portion of its event. “I’m planning to attend NATPE Budapest because I prefer a market over a conference,” she said.
Another source, this time from war-torn Ukraine, said: “It seems that Content Budapest (formerly Content East as I understand) is a first-time event, and as such we haven’t heard about it before. Everyone in the media industry in Ukraine knows NATPE Budapest. I asked my colleagues [which they’re planning to attend] and their answer was NATPE Budapest, but it’s just because we know this event since it’s been organized for many years.”
Similarly, one film-TV Romanian executive said: “This year we’re going to NATPE. We haven’t heard of the other one.”
This last statement brings up an additional problem for C21, since those who attended the successful Content Americas in Miami — mostly participants from LatAm, U.S., and Canada — are now aware that the C21 event could very well replace NATPE Miami, but the many companies that were not in Miami in January still have NATPE — and not Content — stuck in their minds.
Said Bianka Balázs, head of Acquisitions at RTL Hungary, “It is quite easy for us, as we are here in Budapest, so we can attend both events and decide about the future afterwards. I’m sure we will attend NATPE, as this seems to be the same kind of market we really liked for the last decade. And as we have the opportunity to check out Content Budapest as well, I’m sure we will be there, too.”
Peter Chalupa, head of Acquisitions at Slovakia’s Nova and Markiza, first suggested that the two events should merge. Then, when asked which one in his opinion might prevail, he simply said, “No idea.”
Added Jan Rudovský, director of Content Acquisition at FTV Prima in the Czech Republic: “I have to admit I’m as baffled by the two back-to-back markets as you are. I’ve yet to form an opinion on which one (if any) to attend. The key issue for us would be the exhibitors. Before we see who is attending we won’t be making any decisions.”
And this is creating a “chicken-egg” situation since many exhibitors contacted by VideoAge are themselves quizzing their sales executives to find out which market content buyers will prefer.
We at VideoAge see the evolution of the confrontation as having more to do with how Brunico deals with NATPE Global — the market in Miami in January 2024 — than NATPE Budapest in 2023.
Like a soccer match between two leading clubs, the loser will not be the lesser team, but the one who makes a mistake, and the ball, to continue this metaphor, is in Brunico’s camp.
In effect, as indicated on page 20 of this issue, the success of C21’s events depends on Brunico’s NATPE Global move, which could propel its two new markets… or lead to them fizzling out.
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