Adventures in TV: My NATPE Experience

Jan 31

Adventures in TV: My NATPE Experience

Recently, I got the opportunity to attend the NATPE (National Association of Television Producers and Executives) conference at the Fontainebleau Resort in Miami Beach.

I first heard of NATPE a few years ago from friends in the TV industry that attended or wished to attend. Many people told me about the parties, seminars, and networking opportunities that came with the territory. I knew then that this conference was something I wanted to be a part of.

Fast forward a few years. A friend of mine referred me to one of the editors of EXTRAEXTRA, the leading convention show daily for the television & telecommunications industries, and I was hired as a reporter to help cover the conference. Yay!

The conference was everything I thought it would be and more. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy working with the team at EXTRAEXTRA, I had the opportunity to meet so many amazing and creative people. Everyone in attendance was either a buyer, seller, distributor, creator, producer, or writer of something in the TV industry. There was no shortage of creative people with brilliant show ideas that were hoping to get the attention of some big executive.

It really was a networking paradise and I made new friends that scored some deals. It was all very exciting.

One of the best highlights was when the Head of Sony Andy Kaplan called me on my cell phone to confirm his meeting time. I saw him around a few times after that and he was as pleasant as can be. And yes…I did take a picture with him. How could I not?

Another favorite moment was meeting John Tesh! We had the chance to talk a bit during one of the cocktail receptions and he was so nice. I honestly was surprised at how accessible he was and open to talking to everyone. And I did take a picture with him too.

I really learned a lot about the TV industry and the process of transformation of a TV show from an idea in your head to a full fledged show. It’s not easy. Competition is fierce and since there is no magic recipe for making a fresh new show, it’s a bit hard to predict what will be the “next big thing”.

Here are some of my main takeaways:

1. The future of Television was a big theme. With the rise of online shows, online streaming, and mobile viewing devices, traditional TV stations are looking for ways to stay competitive. On the first day of the conference there was a seminar called Platforms Accelerated: How will People Watch TV Tomorrow…or will they even Watch it?

The description of the Seminar was: With “disruption” being used as common vernacular to describe the television industry, how do content creators, advertisers and consumers move through this ever-changing environment? What will be considered television in the near future – is it the monitor in your living room or a small box bringing content over the top? Is it streaming services driving micropayment models or gaming box aggregators letting us choose multiple services to consume? How will content consumption be impacted with a la carte behavior models driving the audience to new personalized viewing solutions? Who’s got the straight dope on this trend (if it even IS a trend yet)? Our panel does, and they share it with you in a “must see” session!

Definitely a sign of the times.

2. There was a lot of talk about the “Second Screen” this concept of watching TV while also being on a laptop, mobile device, or pad. TV Shows, like one of my favorite’s Scandal, encourage viewers to tweet while they watch. It’s the notion of really being fully engaged and interactive while watching a show. Social media and apps obviously play a role in this and no more shows are being created with this in mind.

3. The best networking didn’t happen during show hours. The best networking took place afterwards at the cocktail parties when people were drinking and not expecting to be “pitched”. This however didn’t surprise me. I think people are more relaxed and not so much on the defensive when they are no longer “working”.

4. It’s all about the viewers. I’ve always known that shows are influenced by the viewing audiences because it needs to appeal to advertisers. But I was impressed with how much TV shows are created around audiences. Entire networks like BET were created to cater to a certain demographic and individual forms are no different. Looking for opportunities in reaching a targeted group and then build a show around them is not a bad idea.

5. Executives are really looking for the next big thing. In a market that is so saturated with a lot of the same type of shows, the search for that next original format or content is out there.

Overall, it was a wonderful experience and I hope I get to be a part of it again next year. There is still a lot more that I really want to learn. Over the next few weeks I will be posting other articles inspired by this experience. Stay tuned!

At NATPE 2014

With John Tesh At NATPE 2014

With Andy Kaplan from Sony at NATPE 2014

With Andy Kaplan from Sony at NATPE 2014

NATPE President Rod Perth

NATPE President Rod Perth


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