Miami heats up NATPE

TV confab claims to be revitalized in South Beach

From NATPE to its many members: Bienvenido a Miami.

The venerable TV trade org’s annual show has left Las Vegas for south Florida in an effort to cater to its international attendees, particularly the Hispanic market. Expected attendance for the confab, running Jan. 24-26 and centered around the Fontainebleau and nearby Eden Rock hotels on Miami’s South Beach, is approximately twice what it was heading into last year’s Vegas finale.

“We needed an international city that is relatively warm in January, and the only other one is L.A.,” says NATPE prexy and CEO Rick Feldman.

Feldman is tactful about the state of the American TV content market, but he does note that South America continues to look attractive to the org, especially since organizer Reed Midem has a large presence in Europe. (Reed Midem, like Variety, is owned by Reed Elsevier.)

With growing constituencies in rapidly digitizing countries to the south, NATPE is able to serve these lucrative markets more easily from its new perch at the southeastern tip of the U.S.

The event is also going to be held in swankier and more convenient digs. The Morris Lapidus-designed Fontainebleau recently completed a $1 billion renovation and is now officially a national landmark. In prior years, NATPE stretched across a too-wide swath of Las Vegas, as attendees walked 10-20 minutes from their suites in the Mandalay Bay.

For the most part, distributors are very pleased about the move. For Shine Intl.’s Chris Grant, the relocation means more Euro buyers in attendance along with the strong Latin American contingent, and for Spanish-language content producers like Univision, it’s a chance to get material into the hands of folks anxious to fill airtime. Digital technology has spurred a lot of the growing need for intellectual property.

“The business is changing so much that there’s no way to tell where we’ll be five years from now,” says Feldman. “When you look at markets that are really growing digitally by leaps and bounds, you see countries like Brazil that have a nice middle class and are growing very well.”

That’s true all over the world. East Africa is finally getting fiberoptic cable where it only had satellite before; India has it, as well.

There’s also some post-recession relief to account for the NATPE attendance uptick, too.

“Frankly, business is better this year than it was in ’08 and ’09,” Feldman says. “People are feeling better.”

More from NATPE 2011:
Stations savor reinvigorated cash flow | Stations face post-‘Oprah’ conundrum | Local affiliates look to grow their own | Miami heats up NATPE | Split personality at NATPE | What’s coming to market at NATPE?