Event Preview: NATPE Budapest International

JP Bommel, NATPE’s president and CEO, talks to World Screen about the next edition of NATPE Budapest International, which will see buyers and sellers from across the global content community once again convene at the InterContinental hotel in Budapest from June 25 to 28.

Just a short while back, it was announced that the event would now take place under the name NATPE Budapest International, with its renaming (from NATPE Budapest) meant to reflect the focus on the worldwide TV market as opposed to just CEE.

***Image***“When NATPE originally bought DISCOP, the market was focused on Central and Eastern Europe,” explains JP Bommel, NATPE’s president and CEO. “We’ve grown it to become truly international.”

As the Budapest-based event hosts screenings from the U.S. studios, there will be a slew of buyers on hand, he notes. This has attracted a large contingent of Europeans, and there is a notable uptick in attendees from Turkey, Latin America and North Africa as well. “It becomes an event where the world meets,” says Bommel. “We have around 55 countries represented now, and over 420 buyers. That’s due to our growth and our efforts to reach out to EMEA, and specifically MENA.”

Reflecting this change, the annual Pitch & Play Live! event will extend its entry criteria this year to include innovative independent producers from the wider EMEA region. Format submissions have already been received from Lithuania, Serbia, Hungary, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and Romania.

Bommel emphasizes the importance of creating value for buyers, to ensure that they’ll not only attend this year but return for the next. “It’s about bringing the right content and making sure that we give them all the opportunities for meetings,” he says. “We have a platform called NATPE Connect, where our buyers can research what sellers are selling, and sellers can look at what buyers are buying and for which territories. The platform also enables them to set up meetings. We have people behind the scenes to help with meetings too. We’ve created a highly curated meeting tool. On top of that, during the carefully selected hours of the market—breakfast, lunchtime and late afternoon—we do business insight sessions.”

The conference lineup for this year includes a session on insights and strategies in the world of unscripted formats, which I will have the pleasure of moderating. There will also be sessions dedicated to international drama production, streaming platforms and Latin American content, among other topics. Executives from major global and multiregional companies, content creators and acquisition leaders will all be part of the agenda.

“One of the best elements of the show is our networking events,” says Bommel. “The logistics are such that you don’t even have to go off-property to do that. Buyers have screenings on Monday and a little bit on Tuesday. We don’t do screenings during the market because we don’t want to disrupt it.” The after-hours networking gets in full swing with events on Tuesday night and Wednesday night.

This will mark the third year that the event is back in Budapest (after a brief stint in Prague) at the InterContinental, which is situated right alongside the Danube and provides sweeping views from nearly every suite. “We did a lot of research to move to Budapest,” says Bommel. “It was clearly the right choice. It’s the media capital of the region. Combine that energy with our efforts to get the buyers back and nurture those relationships and it’s a formula that we love.”