NATPE: Confab puts brand on digital, international

Attendees talk shop and take in the local scene

MIAMI — By Tuesday, the themes of this year’s NATPE confab were firmly established: branded content, digital distribution and the potential of the international market — and in several conversations, at least two out of the three.

Around Miami’s Fontainebleau resort and its seemingly infinite swimming pools (major distribs had suites set up poolside), many observers noted that countries like Brazil were now seeing a boom in the broadband and digital marketplaces, in some cases advancing at a quicker pace.

“There’s a lot of interest in the content that’s being created and coming out of South America,” said Univision CEO Joe Uva.

The company’s cable channel Galavision announced the premiere of wedding skein “El Peso Del Matrimonio” (Back in the Wedding Shape) on Tuesday, but the network’s SVP and operating manager Sebastián Trujillo noted that quite a few of the companies potentially interested in distribbing the show internationally were already based in Miami (as is Univision). “Having the conference here is great, because I can commute back to the office,” he quipped.

The confab’s preoccupation with new formats extended to its programming — Cenk Uygur, exec producer and host of MSNBC’s “Young Turks,” took part in a Q&A about the financial viability of webcasting content, and Netflix’s Ted Sarandos spoke about the evolving market for off-network rights to TV shows.

As Tuesday passed, conferees were easier to find flagging down cabs and venturing into Miami than they had been the day before. Because of the large Florida biz presence, out-of-towners cadged restaurant recs and hopped rides with locals, discussing the industry’s next steps over meals both nearby and complimentary, and far-flung and pricey.

In an interview with Variety in the crowded hotel lobby, Radical Media media and entertainment prexy Robert Friedman was adamant that branded content was not merely the future for the TV biz but for entertainment in general, echoing Ben Silverman’s comments in a chat session on Monday.

“My feeling is that the only two parties left that are spending any money are the consumer and the advertiser,” Friedman said. A NATPE vet (and now board member), Friedman predicted that the next wave of successful content producers would be intimately involved with their advertisers, so long as the producer, the distributor, and the advertiser were all willing to find ways to work together.

“Those who do that will win,” he said. “There’s just not enough money out there anymore.”