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NATPE consolidates
its content mission
s the digital entertainment
storm blows across the TV
industry, bringing with it new
business models and fresh
chairman Rick Feldman (right)
has reasserted the Las Vegas
show’s mantle as America’s only
dedicated content market.
“There’s no doubt this is a
transformational year, for both
NATPE and the business,” he
said. “The strike has fast-tracked
some of the changes that were
destined to happen anyway. It’s
obvious that linear TV is set to
change, and in the digital age
content is going to be different.
“People are now consuming
content in new ways, but
advertisers still need critical mass
and the traditional TV business
continues to serve up a mass
audience. We have the broadcast
and cable networks here, but we
also have executives from the
emerging platforms.
Noting that while there are
new platforms, new advertisers
and new ways to monetize
content, Feldman pointed out
that the revolution has yet to
fully happen. “There’ll be many
new production and distribution
entities creating fresh styles of
content for all digital platforms
in the future. NATPE will sustain
traditional syndication but also
provide a place for new players.”
Looking forward to this year’s
show, Feldman added: “I hope
NATPE this year will broaden the
way people see us. If you go
through our agenda it’s difficult
to not see the changes. Having
the digital people at NATPE
allows them to have one
conversation under one roof
about the broad spectrum of
“You are either a program
convention or you’re not. We are
a program convention that
features a little bit of tech. CES
and NAB are tech shows. Both
shows are too big for the kinds
of creative conversations that
you need to have. We have more
than 1500 buyers from all over
the world, 400 companies selling
content. They don’t get lost at
NATPE. They all get heard, and
that’s what America’s only
content market is all about.”
MGM Studios’ co-president of
worldwide TV Jim Packer says
video-on-demand is growing fast,
but all the business models are
competing with each other. Full
story page 19.
Today at NATPE
Mobile entertainment isn’t TV
Delivering the keynote at NATPE
Mobile++ yesterday, Thomas
Fellger (right), CEO of mobile
solutions agency IconMobile,
told delegates that there is one
key thing to remember when
“People see mobile channels
as standalone like TV, and that’s
a mistake,” he said, adding:
“Yes, some linear content works,
but this is a different medium
and content needs to be
designed specifically with the
mobile in mind.” He urged
content creators to think about
mobile devices “as a tool and not
just a consumption channel.”
IconMobile is 40% owned by
media agency WPP. It has
developed mobile movie portals
for Sony films and also devises
proprietary mobile content.
Key to all of its operations is
harnessing the essence of mobile
devices - mobility. For example,
an outgrowth of German mobile
soap Mittendrin Berlin Rockt!
lets fans in on the daily schedules
of celebrities featured in the
series. MSN came in as a sponsor,
and content was also integrated
into German youth magazines.
Users check their mobiles each
morning to watch the soap, and
also see where their favorite
celebs will show up that day.
The series, comprised of 3-6
minute episodes, is now going
into its fourth season with over
one million users in its pocket.
January 29 DAY 1 3
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I Syndicated daytime game
show Crosswords, from Merv
Griffin Entertainment and
distributor Program Partners, has
been renewed for season two in
40 of the top 50 markets. The
companies announced a firm go
for season two of the half-hour
word-based quiz show, following
commitments from WNBC in New
York and stations from the NBC
O&Os, Belo, Four Points, Gannett,
Gray, Guardian, Hubbard,
McGraw-Hill, New Age, Raycom,
Sarkes Tarzian and Sagamorehill.
I Sony Pictures TV International
has signed a multi-year volume
deal with ProSiebenSat.1 Group
for current and library feature
films and U.S. TV series for the
latter’s free-to-air channels. The
titles now slated to air on the
German broadcaster include
period drama The Tudors and
new Glenn Close series
Damages, which premiered
recently in the U.K. on BBC1, as
well as movies including SpiderMan 3 and The Da Vinci Code.
I The U.K.’s Bravo channel,
Australia’s Network Seven and
Asia’s Star TV are among the
networks that have acquired
new ‘caught on tape’ reality
show Most Daring from Alfred
Haber Distribution. The 13x60’
series is produced by Nash
Entertainment and follows law
enforcement agencies, firefighters, coastguards and
civilians facing up to various lifethreatening situations. The show
originally aired on TruTV.
I Seattle-based broadband VoD
firm has added a
slate of animated kids’ shows to
its content roster via a deal with
Canadian toon distributor
Nelvana Enterprises. Titles to be
included on ReelTime’s pay-perview and monthly subscription
offering include Rupert, My Dad
the Rock Star, Ned’s Newt, Jim
Lee’s WildC.A.T.S. and Marvin
the Tap-Dancing Horse. ReelTime
claims to be the first DVD-quality
‘point, click, and watch’ user
experience available on the web,
and last week agreed, in its first
Hollywood studio deal with Sony
Pictures Television, to offer a
range of movies, including
Spider-Man 3 and Superbad.
6 January 29 DAY 1
iPhone’s video threatens
Blackberry dominance
he iPhone’s achievements as a
video platform have seen it
outstrip almost all of its
competitors in the mobile
marketplace, with the marketleading Blackberry the only
device left to topple.
Speaking at NATPE Mobile++
in Las Vegas yesterday, Kent
German, senior editor at media
and technology company CNET,
said that the iPhone, though not
the first smartphone, has had a
major effect on the sector.
“The consequences aren’t
exactly as people thought,”
German said. “Two years ago
people thought that this would
be the only phone out there and
that nobody else would be able
to compete. However, 99% of
what the iPhone does, other
phones do. They just do it in a
different way.
Kent German: iPhone chasing Blackberry
“It’s one of the best mobile
media players ever, the sound
and video quality, the screen, the
way it can sync easily with your
PC just using iTunes to transfer
stuff. As far as integrating a
media player into your phone
goes, it does a fantastic job.”
Research In Motion (RIM) still
dominates the smartphone
market, accounting for 39% with
its Blackberry device. Apple’s
iPhone has soared straight on to
the number two spot with 20%
of the markets, followed by Palm
at 10%, Motorola (7%) and
Nokia (3%). The remainder of
the market is occupied by devices
from other manufacturers.
“So many media players for
these phones are difficult to use
because they’re hidden in certain
menus and you have to scroll to
find them. As far as integrating a
media player into a phone,
there’s nothing like the iPhone.”
German also said the industry
is awaiting AT&T’s competitor for
Verizon’s V-Cast mobile TV
service, which is being developed
with Qualcomm’s mobile TV
MediaFLO service.
Fox to lift Latino production Target
Fox Latin America is looking to
ramp up its local programming
efforts after its own-produced
series are racking up more
eyeballs than the net’s flagship
U.S. drama such as 24, Dexter,
Prison Break and Nip/Tuck.
Patricia Daujotas, content
acquisition director at Fox Latin
America, oversees Canal Fox, FX
and Fox Life. She told NATPE
Daily that Canal Fox series
Tiempo Final and Latin America’s
first chat show for women,
Vanessa de Noche, which airs on
female skewing Fox Life, were
generating “stellar” ratings for
the Fox Latin American channels,
including Brazil.
“They are doing better than
24,” she said. “We are a media
company and we are producing
a lot from our production
facilities in Buenos Aires for
unscripted programming and
Columbia for scripted, via Fox
Telecolumbia. The intention is to
produce more and more.”
The new localization strategy
is good news for the company in
Vision aims
Patricia Daujotas: localization plans
the wake of the U.S. writers’
strike, in terms of having backups should there be any
primetime holes. Daujotas would
not comment on the strike,
America’s nets this year will
Nip/Tuck, Prison Break and
Dexter. Daujotas says there are a
few more titles joining the lineup, but she wanted to keep
them under wraps for now.
New York syndicator Target
Vision has brought a new
magazine featuring promising
high school athletes to NATPE.
Sports Stars of Tomorrow,
from GameDay Productions,
chronicles the achievements of
high school athletes in major
sports around the country and
allows local stations to include
segments about their own
community’s stars.
TargetVision is also offering
reality series Say Yes and Marry
Me, reality-competition series
Dream Home and international
series Sensing Murder, in which
psychics are called in to solve
real life ‘cold case’ murders.
In finished series, TargetVision
has new reality series The
Wittens: An American Family,
starring Dallas Cowboys player
Jason Witten; music special
Frankie Avalon’s Spring Break;
cooking show Taste of the
Southwest and NASCAR season
series Race Week.
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I Yesterday at NATPE Mobile++,
Mark Donovan, chief marketing
officer and senior analyst at
M:Metrics, revealed that just
under three million Americans
are currently watching ondemand (professional) video
content on their cell phones.
Viewership is increasing, having
grown by 60% between January
and November 2007, but what is
everyone watching? The top 10
mobile video genres in the U.S.
are: movie trailers; music; sports
or news; comedy; weather;
entertainment and celeb news;
local, national and world news;
full-length TV/film; TV highlights;
and animation content.
I Fox drama Bones has lifted its
syndication clearances to 21
markets, representing 45% of
the country, Twentieth TV
announced at NATPE. The
program has been cleared for
fall 2009 in all top 10 markets
including New York, Los Angeles,
Chicago and Philadelphia.
I Ion Media Networks has
picked up FremantleMedia North
America’s 1990s syndication hit
Baywatch, distributed by Litton
Entertainment, to air on its 60station broadcast TV network.
Baywatch will launch on March
3rd and air Mondays through
Thursdays at 10:00 p.m. (ET).
I MGM Studios is starting
syndication for kids competition
series Gladiators 2000 and its
newly acquired DIY series Ron
Hazleton’s HouseCalls here at
NATPE. MGM is offering 39
episodes of 1990s title
Gladiators 2000 as NBC revives
the Gladiators brand. All nine
series of HouseCalls are
available, plus the upcoming
22x30’ episodes and renewal
deals for the next two seasons.
I Twentieth Century Fox TV
Distribution has signed a multiyear pay-TV deal with Canada’s
Allarco Entertainment, owner of
Super Channel. The deal gives
Super Channel several Fox
movies including Waitress, Alien
vs Predator: Requiem and Alvin
and The Chipmunks, and builds
on a deal that brought Fox’s
drama series Burn Notice to
Super Channel subscribers.
8 January 29 DAY 1
Not in our backyard
Yesterday at NATPE Mobile++, a
coalition of U.S. media players
launched a Code of Best Practice
for participation TV (P-TV) as a
line of defense to prevent
Stateside scandals like those that
have recently rocked parts of
Europe, mainly the U.K.
The plan is designed to instill
consumer confidence in P-TV
applications such as the text
messaging on shows like Big
Brother and American Idol, and
was put together by the Mobile
Entertainment Forum (MEF), an
international trade body whose
members include Endemol, CBS,
A&E, Fox Mobile, Fremantle,
NBC, Sprint and Verisign.
The Code involves guidelines
customer care and the process
for managing risk. It sets out to
clearly define the responsibilities
of wireless carriers, service
providers, broadcasters and
producers of P-TV programs.
In the U.K. last year there was
technological glitches within
Matt Straznitskas – American Idol was catalyst for mobile advertising
several P-TV programs resulted
in cash taken after voting had
confidence (not to mention
money) and broadcasters such as
the BBC and ITV were fined
thousands and in some cases
millions of dollars for the
missteps. They later dropped
most of their P-TV shows.
“Participation TV in other
countries has suffered some very
basic flaws in terms of how it has
CCTV entices west with
high-kicking Bruce Lee
China International TV (CITV),
broadcaster CCTV, is filming an
ambitious new HD drama, The
Legend of Bruce Lee.
The 50-part series documents
the life of the Kung Fu icon and
is being filmed across seven
countries with a largely Western
cast, scheduled to air on CCTV
and undisclosed networks in the
U.S. and Latin America.
Due to wrap in April, the series
is fully funded by CCTV and is
being offered to buyers at
NATPE, following CITVC’s sales
drive in France, Italy and the U.K.
Mr M.A. Runsheng, general
manager of program marketing
at CITVC, said the series was
picking up a lot of attention in
the West thanks to its high
budget, Western cast and
familiar subject matter. “The
series has had a lot of interest,
international following. He
offered generations living in the
western world insight into
China,” added Runsheng.
The film, made possible thanks
to the involvement of Lee’s U.S.based wife, Sharon Lee, follows
his life from his school years,
through his study of martial arts
in Thailand and Japan, to his
years teaching in the U.S.
Lee is depicted on screen by
Danny Chan, star of Kung Fu
Hustle and Shaolin Soccer, with a
(Brotherhood of the Wolf) and
Ray Park, who found fame
playing Darth Maul in Star Wars:
Episode One – The Phantom
been operated,” admitted Suhail
Bhat, director of policy and
initiatives at the MEF.
Noting that such P-TV scandals
have not occurred in the U.S. to
date, Bhat said that the MEF
wanted to take the lessons
learned from the U.K. and other
European countries “and apply
them to the U.S. market in a
proactive and responsible way to
ensure such errors are not
Watch out
for Mavens
and Tribes
In the burgeoning world of
discouraged user is a lost
customer, so it’s essential to keep
the user experience in mind,
Rachel Switzky of design firm
IDEO, told NATPE Mobile++
delegates yesterday.
Switzky, client relationship
manager for IDEO’s AT&T
Mobility account, said wireless
carriers and content creators
need to ensure the mobile video
experience is seamless. That
means allowing users to access it
simultaneously on multiple
platforms such as cell phones,
“The boundaries between active
and passive entertainment are
changing, so it’s critical to
understand where and when
users want control.”
Page 2
Rigel preps new
primetime series
L.A.-based Rigel Entertainment has
optioned the rights to publishing brands
Fate Magazine and Hanz Holzer’s The
Ghost Files with a view to developing
them into primetime series.
Fate is a monthly magazine that
delivers ‘true stories of the unusual and
unexplained.’ Published since 1948, its
content focuses on psychics and
spiritualists, archaeological hotspots and
fringe science, UFO and paranormal
The Ghost Files, created by Professor
Hans Holzer, Ph.D., are tales based on
ghosts returning to their loved ones.
The original Ghost Hunter Professor Dr.
Hans Holzer, Ph.D has authored 145
books on the supernatural and occult.
The company has retained Alys Shanti
as a consultant to develop the two
projects. Shanti spent 10 years at Robert
Greenwald Productions, where she most
recently served as executive producer,
responsible for the sales and
development of projects including
television series, miniseries, telefilms
and feature films.
While new productions come down
the pipeline, Rigel is also looking into
online distribution for its content. The
company recently hired former
Microsoft exec Andy Beers to create a
digital strategy. “We are going to start
taking our product to the major
suppliers of web content,” said Rigel
founder and CEO John Laing. “And we
are working on making a dedicated site
where people can watch our wares.”
Also debuting at NATPE are two new
titles made for the Sci Fi Channel. From
Jeffrey Hayes (The Starter Wife,
Nightmares & Dreamscapes) and David
Kemper (Farscape), is the apocalyptic
thriller, Heatstroke. Sent on a mission to
Palaloa to investigate a strange form of
radiation, an army Major (Sweeney) and
his crack team of commandos soon
discover the problem is being caused by
aliens, sent to Earth to set up a
radiation machine.
The second title for Sci Fi Channel,
also from Hayes and Kemper, is Aztec
Rex, starring Ian Ziering (Dancing with
the Stars, Beverly Hills 90210, Stripped
Down) and Jack McGee (Rescue Me,
NYPD Blue). Set in the year 1518 AD,
the show follows a fierce native Aztec
warrior community living in tenuous
harmony with primevial beasts —
including a family of Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Werner expands
remit at Warners Bros.
Ken Werner tells Ed Waller about the all-new Warner Bros. Domestic Television.
Earlier this month Werner’s
It has been a busy few months
role expanded to include sales
for Ken Werner, newly named
of the same Warner Bros. slate
president of Warner Bros.
across cable and pay-TV outlets,
Domestic Television Distribution
as the studio’s two domestic
(WBDTD). Not only has he got
distribution arms became one,
his new syndicated talk show
with president of the cable
The Bonnie Hunt Show cleared
sales division Eric Frankel
in something like 95% of the
leaving the company.
country, but he also added
domestic cable distribution to
Werner says: “Many years ago
his existing domestic television
cable and broadcast syndication
distribution duties.
Ken Werner: new cable duties
were different markets; now
First, Werner’s new one-hour
daily strip, which is due to launch in fall 2008, they are one. It reflects the maturity of the
is hosted by comedy producer, director, cable market. Cable channels now have
writer and performer Hunt. The talk show sufficient resources to pay equal or in excess
business is a challenging one, Werner admits, of what the TV stations pay. They now
“since there are so many franchised out compete for the same windows and offer
there that have been lisenced for long similar amounts of money.”
Looking ahead, Werner sees the shortage of
periods of time, so the number of available
off-network product, largely due to the WGA
time periods is extremely constrained.
“But we broke the market with Bonnie strike, actually benefiting TV stations in the
Hunt,” he adds. “We did a big deal with NBC long run since it’ll force them to produce
and got the premium slots that were more first-run shows. “There are 104 channels
available on affiliates in New York, L.A. and in the average TV home. As this increases,
Chicago. By December we were virtually local stations and cable channels will need
more first-run programming than ever.”
done distributing it.”
Gladiators enter global arena
Reveille joint MD Chris Grant talks international business with Ed Waller.
Interesting times at Biggest Loser and
American Gladiator producer Reveille. The
company is in the midst of a takeover by
Elisabeth Murdoch’s U.K. independent Shine,
valuing the six-year-old company at $200m.
As well as a change of ownership, with
Shine ultimately owned by News Corpbacked BSkyB, Sony and private equity firm
3i, the deal is likely to allow Reveille’s
distribution arm to expand its unscripted
slate, and even add some drama, all drawn
from Shine’s other U.K. production
companies: Kudos, Princess and Firefly.
However, Chris Grant, international MD at
Reveille, wouldn’t be drawn on the Shine
deal. Instead, he says 2008 looks set to be the
biggest one yet for Reveille. “Our two new
formats, Moment of Truth and American
Gladiator, both dominate their slots on
NBC,” he says from his THEhotel suite. “And
this NATPE we’re debuting our latest
acquisition - Joes vs Pros - which we picked
up from Spike TV and Michael Yudin.”
One of the main planks of Reveille’s
business is taking unscripted domestic hits
Reveille’s John Pollak and Chris Grant
and selling them to overseas networks to
adapt, something it has done plenty with
Biggest Loser and Are You Smarter Than a
5th Grader? Now Crosswords, which Reveille
distributes on behalf of Program Partners,
has also begun its international roll-out with
local adaptations for Challenge in the U.K.,
Channel [V] in India and Sky in New Zealand,
adding to the show’s recent second season
green light in the U.S.
Finally, NATPE sees the arrival of new hire
Matt Vassallo, sales director, Latin America, a
region high on Reveille’s to-do list this year.
DAY 1 January 29 25
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NATPE’s Rick Feldman, WMA’s Mark Itkin, CBS Paramount Network
TV’s Nancy Tellem, General Electric’s Bob Wright, Lilly Tartikoff and
Warner Bros. TV’s Peter Roth at last night’s Legacy Awards.
Garrett Law from L.A.-based Attention Span TV is at NATPE for the first time with a series created for
the internet called Dorm Life. A “mockumentary with the flavor of The Office,” said Law, it is one of
several shortform series the firm has in development for broadband channels.
Jason Barak and David Tetreault from digital display company D3,
in town to promote their LED screen, a scaled-down replica of the
firm’s ABC Studios display in Times Square in New York.
Muppets entertain
NATPE Mobile++
delegates in style
Twentieth TV and Fox TV Stations top brass including Steve MacDonald,
Bob Cook and Frank Cicha at Twentieth’s welcoming dinner Sunday night
DAY 1 January 29 27