TBI Weekly: What attending a post-Covid event feels like

NEM Dubrovnik offered another indicator that the face-to-face events circuit is beginning to spark back into life, helped by some stunning views from the market floor. But what is attending a post-Covid event actually like? Tatjana Kostovski of UK-based sales and financing firm BossaNova, reflects on her experience.

When the opportunity came along to attend a TV market where you can actually sit around a table, face to face with buyers, we at BossaNova saw the opportunity and jumped at it.

For a brand new business, borne out of lockdown, this would be our first time presenting to our buyer community. Would the other delegates share the same excitement at finally being able to meet each other ‘properly’?

This is NEM – standing for New Europe Market, a television market with a spectacular view, annually held in Dubrovnik, Croatia, the most important three-day event in the CEE region.

It welcomes linear broadcasters, digital platforms, distribution, production and technology companies from the region and beyond. It also feels very close to my second home – Belgrade, Serbia – where I spent almost seven years working in television production.

At BossaNova, we thought that the first market to take place in real life since MIPCOM 2019 (rather than a zoom ‘muppet show’, as the owner of NEM described it recently) was worth attending.

This would be a test to see if markets could actually happen in socially responsible conditions. Attending evening keynote speeches and panels in the open air shows that this market has thought a bit about how it could work.

Even though there were only 400 attendees there, we could spot quite a lot of buyers amongst them, all enthusiastically grasping the same opportunity to go to a beautiful location on the picturesque Croatian coast and then hoping it would feel like the good ol’ days – and maybe they might even buy some new content.

We were all slightly anxious and guarded about getting back to a proper normal (or is it normal 2.0?), but NEM has worked.

The buyers and sellers are back to the Dubrovnik Palace hotel; there has been a positive, kind, collegiate atmosphere, where everyone was so pleased to be here, excited to be having in-person meetings again, as for many of us it is the first trip overseas of any kind since March 2020.

For the region itself, it is also a chance to step into the limelight. Perhaps seen by other more heavyweight TV territories as an ‘unfashionable’ area of Europe (certainly not by me, I have to stress), we have been bombarded here with excellent TV and film premieres.

And you also can’t avoid the fact that we are being treated to a showcase of talent and original content that is really finding its feet and flexing its muscles on both local and international stages, at a time when foreign language projects are being greenlit and moving into production at a staggering rate.

So, perhaps other forthcoming markets could take notes – because here at very much the ‘guinea pig’ event, NEM has taken the leap.

The friendly ambience could allow you to drop your guard and make you feel that this is indeed 2019, but the social distancing, the mask wearing whilst walking around the venue and the attention to hygiene and cleanliness by organisers and staff, jolts you into realising that we are going through the long-anticipated transition period.

‘This is hopefully the beginning’, we are all thinking to ourselves. But if this is the new normal then it works just fine, ok maybe not as much man-hugging and air kissing, but we all hope this will come back in time… don’t we?

Tatjana Kostovski is senior sales manager for CEE, Iberia, Asia, Latin America and MENA at BossaNova. Before that, she worked for Banijay Rights and Endemol Shine International, amongst others.

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