NATPE organisers said that despite bad weather delays, attendance at the New Orleans programme market exceeded last year - 17,520 had checked in after two days. But it was unclear whether record amounts of sales were being conducted.
NATPE chairman Bruce Johansen said that the number of programme acquisition executives from the US's regional channels was probably down, but that more marketing and technical staff were swelling the numbers. So was an international contingent, which NATPE put at 25% of the delegate total. New technology companies registered as exhibitors topped 130. And the changing participant mix reflects the changing nature of this year's market. For most companies NATPE 2000 was less about hard selling than learning more about the impact of the electronic tsunami on the film and TV businesses, or, for those companies which have more of an inkling about where they want to go, it was about building partnerships across the digital divide.
The week was marked by a series of cross-media announcements at and away from the convention:
Confusing the issue was the announcement by RealNetworks that it is to pay $268m for Netzip, a download management system. Combined with RealNetworks' acquisition the previous week of Backweb, a push technology specialist, this once again raised the prospect of downloading as a viable alternative to streaming, just when better streaming and webcasting seemed to be close at hand over broadband networks.
But, more importantly than the issues of what programming formats or technological standards are to be adopted, many NATPE delegates came away reassured that old and new need each other. Bruce Leak, president of Microsoft's WebTV Networks division summed up: "What every Internet company here wants is an audience and a brand. These are precisely what film and TV companies have. Changing their stripes is the challenge."