Event Preview: NATPE Budapest

June 26 to 28, 2012
Marking its first year under the NATPE Budapest banner, the annual event targeting Central and Eastern Europe will again see delegates converge at the Sofitel Chain Bridge Hotel for three days of deal-making on the Danube. Formerly known as DISCOP East, the market has been re-branded by its new event organizer, NATPE, to serve as a companion to the successful Miami-based international content market, typically held in January.

Though the name is different, the mission is the same: to bring together content buyers and suppliers with an eye toward the programming needs of the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region. “We are not making any major changes this year,” affirms Beth Braen, the senior VP of marketing at NATPE. “The main focus is to learn and understand the needs of the buyers and sellers that attend. Based on our findings after this year, we will look at how the event can evolve to make it as productive and efficient as possible for everyone.”

There’s an estimated 1,000 TV channels with national coverage in CEE, and some 3,000 regional, local and thematic channels produced or dubbed in local languages. Further estimates show around 200 major pay-TV platforms in the region and 150 major home-video distributors. These figures bode well for the distributors heading out to Budapest, looking to sell TV movies, finished programs, formats and more.

We spoke to several distributors ahead of the market about what’s selling well in the region and what their priority titles are this time in Budapest:

Drama remains the key genre for ALL3MEDIA International, according to Stephen Driscoll, the company’s senior VP of international sales. He says that Midsomer Murders, George Gently, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and Skins have all been performing well across the region. “In format sales, our reconstructed-reality programming—Cases of Doubt, Families at the Crossroads, X-Diaries—and our quiz-show format Cash Cab have been stand-out sellers across CEE,” Driscoll adds.

Dori Media Distribution has also been successful in the region with its formats, including the titles The Money Pump, Wrong Numbers, First Love and Simon, among others. “Regarding the scripted series, we are presenting very universal stories which can be easily adapted, dubbed or subtitled and work in all cultures and territories,” says Elena Antonini, the VP of sales at Dori Media Distribution.

Latin productions are still “a must” in CEE, according to Adela Velasco, who manages sales for Europe and Africa at Comarex. “Telenovelas continue to be our star product. Our new production trend is to offer good short series of around 20 hours of programming. These are doing extremely well, too.” Velasco says that Comarex’s recent best sellers are Daniela, Morena, Love Me Again, Fierce Angel, Empress and Under a Red Sky.

Action-adventure and disaster movies have been a winning mix for Power in the CEE region. “They offer the spectacle and escapism that can set a channel’s schedule apart,” says Steve Turney, the VP of sales and acquisitions at the London-based outfit. “A prime example is Power’s own production Flood, which still commands a lot of buyer interest five years on.”

Flagship HISTORY titles like Pawn Stars and Ice Road Truckers have traditionally been very popular in the CEE region for A+E Networks, says Jo Lovell, the company’s director of content sales for Europe. “More recently, our Lifetime catalogue, which includes Dance Moms, 7 Days of Sex and The Conversation with Amanda de Cadenet, has attracted the attention of several buyers. And of course, our collection of original Lifetime movies is always successful with our partners.”

This year, a number of exhibitors will host private screenings in addition to the scheduled meetings in their suites. Warner Bros. is screening on Monday, NBCUniversal International on Tuesday and CBS Studios International on Wednesday.

The attendance from distributors and buyers is pacing on track with years past, says Braen. “This year, to support the market for both buyers and sellers, NATPE is charging a nominal, upfront fee for buyers so they are financially invested in attending…. On the sales side, all of the major studios are returning and we will have some new companies represented as well.”

Braen says that NATPE is pleased with the interest from global distributors, and cites new exhibitors from India, the Middle East, Asia and Russia this year.

To facilitate the deal-making, NATPE provides online meeting support for buyers and sellers through the myNATPE web-based tools. There will also be a myNATPE concierge desk on-site at the Sofitel.

“The main goal for NATPE Budapest is the same as it is with all of our events: organize a successful market that results in the maximum amount of networking and business deals possible,” Braen says.