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 was planning to attend. Many people told me about the parties, seminars, and networking opportunities that came with the territory. I knew this was a special conference.

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

The conference was everything I thought it would be and more. I thoroughly enjoyed working with the team at EXTRA EXTRA. I met many incredible industry influencers. Everyone in attendance was either a buyer, seller, distributor, creator, producer, or writer. There was no shortage of creative people with brilliant show ideas that were hoping to get the attention of a program buyer.

One of the best highlights was meeting the Head of Sony Andy Kaplan.

Another favorite moment was meeting John Tesh! We had the chance to talk a bit during one of the cocktail receptions, and he was lovely. I honestly was surprised at how accessible he was and open to talking to everyone.

I learned a lot about the TV industry and the process of transformation of a TV show from an idea to a full-fledged show. It’s not easy. Competition is fierce, and since there is no magic recipe for making a fresh new content, 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 does television look like in the 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 by 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!

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 favorites, Scandal, encourage viewers to tweet while they watch. Social media and apps obviously play a role in this.

3. The best networking didn’t happen during show hours. The best time to mingle took place afterwards at the cocktail parties when people were drinking and not expecting to be “pitched”.

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 the volumn of audience specific created programming.

5. Executives are looking for the next big thing. The search is never over, especially as audiences grow more complex.

I look forward to attending the conference next year!

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