NATPE…How OTT Transformed a Conference - Michael Kassan

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Like many other conferences before digital shattered the status quo and made us all work for a living, NATPE used to be more of a straightforward business bazaar than an opportunity for thought leadership.

Sure, deals got done but part of the allure was the sheer audacious raucousness of the show.

Previously, NATPE was the place you came to get your kid an autographed picture of Xena the Warrior Princess. Syndicators hawked their wares, flashed their tchotchkes, and everybody angled to get into the giant King World party.

But even before the show decamped Las Vegas for sunny Miami, it was evolving - like Cannes, CES, and many other shows – responding to the serious challenges posed by a digital ecosystem.

This year, NATPE may be more important than ever. The 2013 theme is "Beyond Disruption" and I think it's a perfect descriptor for what faces us. That's because media production, distribution, and consumption has already transformed.

I'm honored that I've been asked to deliver a keynote today as part of NATPE's "Game Changers" track but, as I'll note in Miami, the phrase is a bit misleading.

The industry's value chain is under siege by armies of new ideas, new solutions, new players, new technologies and changing opportunities that go way beyond disruption…

The game is more dynamic than ever, and those who play must adapt.

And in an ecosystem with previously unheard of targeting ability, and endless opportunities for interaction between medium and media consumer, the key now for creators, distributors, buyers and sellers alike is the person, not the platform.

On either side of the screen - and even that word has new, multiple and ever-changing meaning today - the TV business model is beset by new realties.

Despite the naysayers who use the phrase "critical mass" like it's a protective spell, cord-cutting, new technology and over-the-top solutions are serious challenges to traditional models. Remember, digital natives are used to consuming what they want, how they want, when they want and where they want.

Cord cutting is just the tip of the iceberg that the modern version of the television programming executives who created NATPE are steering toward.

High-quality content is being produced in prodigious amounts, and created by anyone or anything-even viewers themselves. Channels for video content are multiplying like upfronts in the spring.

Devices continue to proliferate. Platforms emerge and await our exploration and use, like planes lining up on a tarmac.

Changes in consumer behavior continue to accelerate, creating even more demand for reliable data and accountability metrics.

There are shows on YouTube that draw a bigger audience than network television programs - and are produced for far, far less.

We all know that the most viewed online video by far are TV shows streamed or, to a lesser degree, downloaded.

And I haven't even gone into addressability, social TV, personalization, customization, and all the rest.

As we gather in Miami, we need to take a fresh look at the industry value chain, identifying the bottlenecks and putting solutions into place.

These are not just new challenges but many, many new opportunities as well. Not all of them programming in the conventional sense - as I mention in my keynote, some of the most popular Facebook sites are mainstream entertainment "brands" like The Simpsons and Walt Disney.

So attendees may not score much as much swag at this year's NATPE as in the past. But chances are they're going to walk away with something infinitely more valuable: actionable business insight.

If you'll be at NATPE, information on my panel below:

Content and Platforms – Everyone in the Pool

Michael Kassan climbs up the video value chain, from new players in production to changing models for distribution: What's different, what stays the same, and the secrets to success in this ever-changing environment.
Monday, January 28th
Fontaine Ballroom, Fontainebleau Hotel

Michael E. Kassan is Chairman and CEO of MediaLink, LLC, a leading Los Angeles and New York City-based advisory and business development firm that provides critical counsel and direction on issues of marketing, advertising, media, entertainment and digital technology. Michael can be reached at

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