NATPE Europe Recap

Bob Jenkins was in Prague this week reporting on the speakers and sessions taking place at NATPE Europe and surveying attendees about trends in CEE.

Another edition of NATPE Europe has come to a close, after four days that included screenings from Hollywood studios, sessions on formats and co-productions, a breakfast keynote with noted TV writer Adrian Hodges and much talk about the state of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as that of the market itself.

Total attendance at the four-day market and screenings was “just shy of 600, of which 250 were officially registered buyers, with the largest increase in registered buyers coming from the Czech Republic,” according to NATPE’s president and CEO, Rod Perth. Of the 139 registered exhibitors, 33 were new to the market.

On Monday, the pre-market sessions included a look at the prodigal son of the content business, the co-production, with a panel that featured Versailles executive producer Claude Chelli, BBC Worldwide’s Ben Donald, Sky’s Anne Mensah and others. Once scorned as a ‘Euro-Pudding,’ the co-production is very much back in favor. Speaker after speaker echoed the observation of Donald, the executive producer of international drama at BBC Worldwide, that a successful co-production requires “the coming together of broadcasters and platforms with similar audience and programming profiles and sharing similar storytelling traditions.” You can read more about this session, and hear what the other panelists had to say about co-productions, here.

There were two separate sessions on formats for Monday’s pre-market roster. Keri Lewis Brown, the managing director of British research house K7 Media, opened the first by asking, “What’s Hot and What’s Not?” The answer? “Nothing.” Or, at least, nothing in the sense of the heat generated in the past by the likes of Big Brother, Millionaire and Idols. Lewis Brown’s contention is that there may never be another “next big thing”—the consequence, she suggested, of market fragmentation, viewers’ increasing ability to see past producers’ “tropes” and consequent desire to see more “real reactions.”

The second of the afternoon’s sessions, “Buying or Selling? Creating or Adapting?,” looked at the respective roles of the producer/distributor and broadcaster, with many panelists’ contributions echoing points made by Lewis Brown (although there were also some notable differences of opinion). The panel included, among others, Pascal Dalton of Endemol Shine Group, Jennifer Ebell of ITV Studios Global Entertainment and Nathan Gibbs of Zodiak Media. Continue reading about both format sessions here.

Hodges, co-creator and lead writer on Primeval who also served as showrunner on The Musketeers, kicked off the official opening of NATPE Europe on Tuesday morning with a breakfast keynote, during which he shared his perspective of the global television landscape. Much of Hodges’ work has been adaptations of previously existing oeuvres. “They are much easier to sell because everyone knows there is an audience for them, and they are easier to do, compared with original ideas, which are really hard and take a lot longer to develop,” he said. “And it is a big help if the original writer or creator is dead!” Read the full recap here.

A survey of market attendees indicates that Central and Eastern Europe is seemingly coming back from a low—but there are still demons in need of slaying. “For the past few years, the markets of Central and Eastern Europe have been relatively quiet, with broadcasters only really willing to commit to small, safe, non-scripted formats, but now there is a definite upturn in both scripted and non-scripted formats,” observes Sivan Menashe, sales manager at Dori Media Group. Indeed, there was a prevailing mood of cautious optimism amongst sellers at NATPE Europe. Executives from A+E Networks, Armoza Formats and Televisa Internacional also shared their thoughts on the health and recovery of the CEE region with World Screen. Read the full article here.

While views on the region are certainly more upbeat than they have been in years, there was some customary moaning among distributors about NATPE Europe’s attendance figures. Some sellers expressed concerns that this year’s event was slower than last year’s. You can read about what distributors had to say about their time in Prague here.

Of course, NATPE Europe is facing competition from markets in Dubrovnik, Kiev and Moscow, rivals which NATPE’s Perth described as “comparing apples and oranges, because we’re so much bigger.”

Missed our NATPE Europe editions? Read them here.