LAS VEGAS - As more television companies and broadcasters come to the Consumer Electronics Show and the less they go to NATPE, skedded for Jan. 28-31 at the same locale, you could be forgiven for confusing one trade show with the other.
But the contrasts are growing increasingly apparent. For one, CES these days is a hub of frenzied excitement, while at NATPE, it's largely (be still, beating heart!) nonstop meeting and greeting.
Because of rampant consolidation throughout the industry over the past 20 years, fewer sellers and buyers of syndicated programming exist, effectively reducing NATPE to a ghost of its former self.
Sony is skipping the event entirely this year to strut all its new stuff at CES.
While not completely irrelevant, NATPE seems to have grown older and grayer while CES has just gotten sexier — and not just because the porn industry holds its annual awards show in Vegas at roughly the same time.
Broadcasters are struggling with only two streams of revenue, advertising on air and online. New streams are expected to come from ... new distribution platforms — the heart and soul of CES.
And new platforms appeal not just to content execs — more than 11,000 of whom will attend CES — but to celebs as well. CES will play host to thesps Kevin Costner and Michael Douglas; recording artists Mary J. Blige, Dr. Dre, Sheila E, Black Eyed Peas, Yoko Ono and Natasha Bedingfield; not to mention Mad Mike of MTV's "Pimp My Ride" and gold-medalist Olympian Amanda Beard, among others.