13 JUL 2020


The President and CEO at NATPE explains why digital events are “going to be here to stay for a long time” and gives more details about the hybrid market model that NATPE plans to adopt for its future events.

The global pandemic delayed or canceled the plans of practically all the conferences scheduled for this first half of the year. Unable to do it physically, many conventions made the difficult decision to completely cancel the event, while others decided to go ahead online.

As these still are times of uncertainty, those markets scheduled for the second semester are beginning to consider all the possibilities. In that context, the idea of a hybrid model that combines a physical edition with a digital one is the one that is making the most sense.

That is why recently the National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) revealed its plan to launch NATPE Virtual in support of its upcoming markets. In the case of NATPE Budapest International (August 24-27), due to travel restrictions imposed by Hungary preventing some global buyers and exhibitors to attend, the organizers decided to do it fully virtual. However, NATPE Streaming Plus (September 15) is still scheduled to run in conjunction with the physical events adopting this hybrid model.

“Obviously, with the crisis and people not being able to get together in conferences, we recognized a need from producers, distributors and buyers to get together in a virtual manner. It still is an in-person business, but we also think that the digitalization of events is becoming really important for people to continue to engage into business,”  said JP Bommel, President and CEO at NATPE, in conversation with Señal News.

Although they were born as a temporary solution to cope with the pandemic, the President and CEO at NATPE considers that “virtual events are going to be here to stay for a long time”. Nevertheless, Bommel is really clear about the fact that this is not a replacement, but a complement.

“This is a people’s business. We talk about emotions, storytelling, creativity. We are seeing what is happening in our events, and they are more and more about networking, relationships building and the seeding of new ideas, and less about the transactional side. That will remain, but in the meantime we will use technology to do everything else we could,”  he emphasized.

The NATPE Virtual digital experience – a single portal destination - encompasses a comprehensive ecosystem of customized tools to empower creators and distributors of all background and experience: virtual screenings and secured licensing powered by RightsTrade; virtual exhibition portal with showrooms and networking lounges powered by Vision Events; virtual content sessions, webcasts and online master classes, and custom sessions in partnership with Perigon; and private meetings between buyers and sellers with access to meeting concierges.

“It is not a Zoom session. It is more of an interactive experience, which is nothing new, but is important because it is timely, and now that we are not together in events, we still are able to communicate. It is quite an extensive and engagement product that we are putting altogether,”  the executive assured.

Aware of the fact that a virtual platform may not be attractive to everyone, the organizers of NATPE paid special attention to developing a simple and friendly user experience. “We are very focus on that. We might not be the first to do something like this, but we are going to be the best at it. User experience is a mayor priority, and that is why we took our time to find the right partners to build the tools,”  Bommel commented.

Lastly, regarding the future, JP Bommel believes the events “will come back in full speed because there will be more and more content to be seen, discussed and created”. Until that happens, in his opinion, digital events are the way to go. “Digital screenings give you the opportunity to expand your reach. If you can’t go to Miami in January, for example, you still have the opportunity to see what is happening in that event. That gives a global reach to a local event, and that is really powerful,”  he concluded.

By Federico Marzullo

Digital screenings give a global reach to a local event, and that is really powerful” JP Bommel President and CEO at NATPE