It’s not exactly a Hallmark card farewell that NATPE CEO Rick Feldman is sending Las Vegas, but it is honest.
Vegas was useful for the time; now it’s time to move on,” says Feldman of NATPE, which next year will depart the Las Vegas setting it’s called home off and on for the past two decades and head east to the Hotel Fontaine-bleau in Miami Beach.
The move is the result of NATPE’s desire for a fresh start (as the television industry reels from consolidation) and a shift away from the syndication business model, as well as the economic turmoil of the past year.
Not only does Miami provide a convenient meeting point for buyers and execs from the growing Latin American and European markets, Feldman says it also offers the chance to create a more intimate environment that’s more conducive to business.
The motivation to move to Miami was to try to move to a location or venue where everyone who was in the venue with us was specifically there for NATPE,” he says. “Every-one that you spend time with, every-one you’re in the ele-vator with, everyone you’re around the pool with, anyone you meet in the hotel those three days will be a television professional from someplace in the world.”
The Fontainebleau recently completed a $1 billion renovation and features a layout that is more centralized and focused than Vegas’ Mandalay Bay, where attendees often have to walk 10 or 15 minutes from suites to the show floor or vice versa. Feldman says he hopes the more intimate setting has the potential to build the kind of buzz that can generate enthusiasm for both the industry and the show itself.
Exhibitors of various sizes have reacted to the change positively.
I do think moving the conference to Miami is a good move for the NATPE organization and its members,” says Barry Wallach, president of NBC Universal Domestic TV. “I think setting up business meetings and making connections with clients and industry colleagues will be much easier, seeing as the convention and all its functions will be in a concentrated area.”
Adds CEO Fernando Szew of distributor MarVista Entertainment: “For NATPE, which has become probably the premier television marketplace for the Latin American community, the move to Miami is only going to further that. Attracting more of the buyers that we tend to see at places like Mip TV or Mipcom is obviously going to help us to do more business than otherwise we would.”
While the show will become less convenient for West Coasters, who used to fly into Vegas as a day trip, the show will become easier to attend for those based on the East Coast, particularly the New York advertising community and producers in Eastern Canada, Feldman says.
Gary Lico, president of distributor CableReady and a member of the NATPE board, says the new locale suits the industry as it exists today, and leaving behind the days of large and glitzy Las Vegas shows is essential if NATPE is to continue to provide to the industry what he sees as a very important service.
We have some more spiritual goals with NATPE, which is that the U.S. television business should damn well have a U.S. television conference every year, because entertainment is, I think, the second-largest export from the United States,” he emphasizes. “If we can’t all get together to buy and sell and learn and talk and network and meet and do all of that, then shame on us.”
Feldman says the move also allows NATPE to re-evaluate everything it does and retool it for the new decade — and that while the scale of today’s confab falls short of the heydays of syndication, the relocated show will still be a good place to do business and cut an increasingly diverse variety of deals.
I don’t think you’ll see big deals being made anywhere, but I think you’ll have more international participation at NATPE,” Feldman says. “You’ll see more international business and format business and Latin American business.”
What: Natl. Assn. of Television Program Execs
When: Jan. 25-27
Where: Mandalay Bay Resort, Las Vegas