MIPCOM biz shows no sign of downturn

Emerging markets help boost attendance

CANNES -- Downturn, what downturn? Not yet anyway. That was the message from media trade show organizers ReedMidem on Thursday as they divulged the stats so far at this the 24th annual MIPCOM TV sales bazaar and confab in Cannes, which officially wraps Friday.

As any regular market attendee could opine from the foot traffic, most of the standard metrics were slightly up, despite the roiling stock markets and bank bailouts most notably in the U.S., western Europe and Japan.

Total participants as of noon Thursday stood at 13,545, up almost 2% from last year, and given that a few stragglers actually show up on the last day to grab wearied clients, it could actually top out at 14,000.

The other positive stat was the number of program buyers who had registered, up almost 8% from last year, at 4,566. Libya, Gambia and even tiny San Marino sent participants for the first time to the Riviera rendezvous.

The number of participating companies slipped 2% to 2,738 while the number of total exhibiting companies was off just 1% from the previous frame.

ReedMidem TV topper Paul Johnson said the organizers were "pleased with the numbers" despite the economic problems in major markets, though he did concur that the TV advertising market in many territories as well as consumer spending could be difficult for many months to come.

"We had record attendance and we have some very important emerging markets," Johnson explained, putting particular emphasis on Russia -- whose participation grew by 100% -- and on the Mideast -- where it was up 50%. He pointed to "the enormous capital earmarked for media investment" in the former, and a $100 million program partnership just inked by Abu Dhabi with National Geographic as indications of the growth opportunities in those regions.

Spain, too, he said, continues to impress, with a national TV progam export biz now worth several billion dollars a year.

As for the two-day children's market MIPCOM Jr., which preceded the five-day MIPCOM, Johnson said there was a 23% increase in the number of unique viewings of programs -- he put the figure at a whopping 43,000 viewings in two days -- and a 20% increase in participants at the event.

Looking forward, Johnson said one focus for next April's sister program market, MIPTV, would be on guiding companies in the right direction so that they can identify new business opportunities and clients. Too many sellers, for example, deal with only the buyers they're familiar with rather than seeking out new players. ReedMidem intends to make new business relationships easier, especially, he said, since the economic climate could be challenging.

For one thing a new branded Web portal will be unveiled in January which will have more interactive features.

"It's hard to produce a fresh, competitive market twice a year," referring to all the markets and confabs that have sprung up in the media space during the last decade. "We're always looking for new ways to do things," Johnson said.