The multitude of predictions that said NATPE 2002 (January 21 to 24) would be a slow market have proved true. The big booths were conspicuously absent, the aisles were empty, and the network spectacles of years past were relegated to stories that began with ‘Remember when’. Commenting on the low flow of delegates on the event’s second full day, Henninger Media Services’ Steven Schupak said, ‘This is Venetian [hotel] day. All of our sales people are taking their meetings over there today.’ Among the programs Henninger was selling at NATPE were Defcon-2, which author Tom Clancy has agreed to host, and The Feds, a crime and justice piece that aired on Discovery in the U.S. and was produced by Washington D.C.-based Heintz Media Production. Henninger hopes to turn The Feds into a longer series.
Despite the distinct lack of buzz, people were still doing business. Much like October’s mipcom, a quieter natpe was nonetheless a productive natpe for many attendees. La Cinquième’s Ann Julienne admitted that she had had productive meetings with companies that she wouldn’t have had the time to meet had the convention received higher attendance. However, key sectors of the market were missing. E! Networks sales reps, based out of a suite in the Venetian, revealed that international clients had been met in the weeks leading up to the convention, because they would not be heading to Las Vegas.
In 2003, NATPE will head back to New Orleans, where it will run from the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Most delegates hope a new location will be accompanied by a market more closely aligned with the business needs of the modern market. To that end, and in recognition of NATPE’s need to evolve, NATPE president and ceo Bruce Johansen has created a blue ribbon industry task force.