The talk show queen's exit from the syndication arena this year could bring renewed energy to the annual TV convention, which kicks off Monday in its new Miami home.
The big question facing the NATPE convention in Miami this week: Can the annual TV trade show be both a Latin-accented, telenovela-tilted extravaganza and at the same time retain its historic role as a crucial rendezvous for the domestic syndication and local U.S. station biz?
The 5,000-odd participants who are winging their way right now to the three-day sales bazaar (Jan. 24-26) in the Florida sunshine are certainly hoping so.
With economies and TV advertising around the globe mostly on the upswing and outlets for content ever proliferating, chances are this NATPE confab could catch the wave.
One thing is clear. The confidence of the Hispanic and Latin contingents has never been greater with Univision and Telemundo Stateside making significant inroads into overall national viewership and ad dollars -- and impressing with their own original productions for the world market.
Their clients, partners and rivals in South America also come to town with one suitcase full of their own shows to sell and another empty and ready to fill with the latest Hollywood concoctions. Europeans will pop over in discreet numbers, mainly to suss out what's in store on the programming front for next season and to catch up on who's in and who's out at the various Hollywood studios and networks.
No doubt the hot topic at the Fontainebleau Hotel's various watering holes will be Comcast's impending takeover of NBC Universal -- and all the executives who in the process are being exalted or exited. Panels at NATPE featuring Peacock vets Jeff Zucker and Ben Silverman should be well attended. (So too a keynote from advertising ace and head of WPP Martin Sorrell, who will talk about how commercials are changing in the digital age.)
There may be even more pertinent changes in the U.S. biz which will impact this and future NATPEs.
Both Oprah Winfrey and Regis Philbin -- two of the country's daytime dynamos -- are leaving the syndie arena at the end of the current season and stations across the country are as a result looking for something fresh to spice up their schedules.
The good news is that local stations have just come off a buoyant advertising year and hence have cash to play with.
"We're coming to town with hopes of finding decent things for one or two different time slots. We're not going to overspend but we are going to make sure we haven't overlooked anything," said one station GM who didn't want to be named so as not to be besieged by sellers before he even hits the convention floor.