"[NATPE] cuts across the spectrum," Mr. Starr said. "Traditional broadcast and syndicated TV business continues to be very interesting to us, but you'll see a lot of co-mingling of the online-video world into the broadcast platform and projects around that being announced at NATPE. We want to be very much tuned in to that flood of new content, especially quality content and content embedded for ownership, and NATPE is a cabinet for developing new formats."
A new breed
Mr. Starr is part of the new breed of online-video syndicators that will establish this year's National Association of Television Programming Executives conference as the biggest for broadband. Relationships formed at last year's conference -- the first sign of syndication's next wave -- have developed into full-fledged partnerships that have emerged as profitable competition for the page-view-heavy Google Video and YouTube.
Brightcove's Jeremy Allaire, for example, has since become the poster boy for online syndication, snapping up major deals with SonyBMG, MTV Networks and Reuters to help perform the same function online as the Brightcove Network's TV counterparts. Having established itself as the biggest threat to GoogTube domination in 2007, the company hopes to expand to the longer end of the tail this year.
"We knew we wanted to work with smaller companies but didn't have a specific offer for them last year," said Adam Berrey, Brightcove's VP-marketing and strategy. "This year we have an offer and the advantage of placement that will change the nature of the discussion."
Brightcove and Revver will have plenty of potential partners to choose from at this year's NATPE, with the independent producer space on the exhibition floor selling out early and overall attendance expected to match last year's total of 8,000, plus another 500 expected at Monday's NATPE Mobile conference.
With a dearth of noteworthy original content for sale this year compared to the likes of last year's high-profile Rachael Ray success story, it's no surprise that the linear TV networks are taking the same approach on their own while actively avoiding any involvement with the online start-ups just yet.
Gary Gannaway, president-CEO of local TV syndicator WorldNow and 20-year NATPE veteran, said consumers have proven their appetite to watch their favorite programming on any available platform. WorldNow aims to help local TV stations leverage that interest on their own sites.
"All we want to do is say to national advertisers, 'Geographical targeting through Yahoo can only take you so far, and we would love for you to work with us,'" he said.