They came in record numbers and most of them left firm NATPE supporters.
No longer sidelined on the convention floor, the international contingent – accounting for about 20% of the record 15,600 delegates to the Las Vegas show – made in-roads by furthering co-production talks with Yanks selling shows to Latin Americans and Asians, and taking in new trends in the U.S. domestic syndication market.
“They took a more focused, more pragmatic approach to doing business this time,” said one veteran market observer. “The Euros have stopped whining about not getting any of their shows on U.S. network TV and found some creative ways of doing things in the U.S.”
Added Thames TV prexy Roger Miron, whose company did not go to the NATPE show in Miami last year, “It’s definitely worth being here. This is where the global industry gathers.”
To accommodate the overflow of foreign participants, most of the U.S. major companies fielded a full-fledged international sales staff.
MCA TV Intl. closed a substantial deal for its current slate of TV series in a joint arrangement with Britain’s pubcaster BBC and Rupert Murdoch’s satcaster BSkyB during NATPE. The deal includes series like “Dream On,” “Law & Order” and the upcoming “Sliders.” The Hollywood studio’s Euro rep, Roger Cordjohn, who put together the deal, was at the last minute summoned by international TV prexy Colin Davis to fly over to help service the many Euro clients who showed up in Las Vegas.
CBS Intl. closed a deal with Gallic pubcaster FR2 for its upcoming miniseries “Buffalo Girls” while Worldvision enterprises did brisk business in Latin America in particular with “Model Academy,” a hit French show it is distributing in South America.
As for traffic in the other direction – Euros selling to Americans – that’s still a very difficult proposition.
Said Germany’s Horst Schering, president of WDR Intl.: “The taste of the U.S. audience hasn’t changed. It’s tough to sell into this country. We mainly spent our time concentrating on buying and on co-production deals here.”
However one foreign show, the Aussie live-action kid show “Bananas in Pajamas,” did clear the top 10 U.S. local TV markets, something of a coup for a foreign-made show. Distrib in the U.S. is Sachs Family Entertainment.
A different kind of traffic did develop significantly during this year’s NATPE: Euros doing deals with Latin Americans, Asians and even with other Europeans.
Gaumont, the French co-producer of “Highlander,” licensed the action adventure syndie show to Russian TV; La Sept Arte, a producer and distrib of docus and arts programs, sold a package to Mexico’s arts channel Canal 22, among others.
Both U.S. and European distribs are uncertain about what NATPE’s success as an international market venue will mean for Monte Carlo, the international trade show on the Riviera that takes place in two weeks.
“Monte Carlo is on trial,” said MTM Intl. prexy Greg Philips, adding that his company, like many others sounded out here, would have to re-evaluate its participation after this go-round.