Digital thinking: Q&A with Virtual Screenings organisers Nicolás Smirnoff & Fabricio Ferrara
Covid-19 has seen numerous physical conferences move online, while new events have been launched specifically designed to connect executives unable to travel. Nicolás Smirnoff and Fabricio Ferrara of Prensario International discuss what their forthcoming Virtual Screenings 2020 event will offer global audiences.
Why did you decide to launch Virtual Screenings 2020 and who are you expecting to attend the Autumn edition?
Nicolás Smirnoff (NS): We launched VS when we saw by March that the physical events would be suspended by the Covid-19, and there were no good online options to replace them. About 3-4 customers told us to do it and we realized we had everything needed: the relationship with the potential exhibitors, especially with the buyers, as Prensario is a buyer-oriented publication, and we had experience in online development. But, we didn’t know about Online events, so it was an accelerated learning to do in two months and a half what we should have done in six months.
The results were huge, though, with 4000 participants of 101 countries, 1300 buyers, and above all the hundreds of leads the exhibitors received. One of the secrets was the daily newsletters, that told the story of the event day by day, with rankings of performance and useful trends got by full analytics of the system.
In Autumn we expect to grow 15/20% at each item: participants, buyers, screenings, etc. This time we’ve had the experience of May and the enough time we didn’t have in May, so everything is improved and better: a new modular design, direct interaction with buyers at the booths, new sections, more analytics since the first day in more fields, and the panels and conferences, that will be launched everyday to make people return all the market days. Our slogan of ‘Live the experience’ will be much better and more complete this time.
You are offering a market element along with an array of online ‘conference sessions’ for delegates, will these be exploring all genres?
NS: Yes, the idea of the VS Next Sessions is to touch every region of the world and every segment of the market. We’ve made alliances with very good partners as OMdia, about 10 all in all, to organize 15 panels, with top acquisitions and business executives of Europe, Asia, Latin America, etc. Together, the panels let viewers see What’s next in the market, considering the pandemic scenario and the new hybrid pictures we see for the close future.
TBI’s sibling analyst arm Omdia is presenting a deep dive into the world of streaming, what can we expect from this session?
NS: This will be one of our top presentations with Maria Rua Aguete, a key analyst of the OTT ecosystem and its evolution. To be premiered on Sept. 15, the first day of VS Autumn, participants included are David Urgell, SVP Head of Streaming Services EMEA-Asia, Pluto TV, Jacob Ahlin, director of Digital Propositions, A+E Networks UK and Filippa Wallestam, EVP & Chief Content Officer, NENT Studios. It will be a key panel to better understand where is the OTT business is going too: competition, business models, and internationalization.
You also have a variety of sessions exploring Spanish-language content and the wider Latin American industry, can you let us know who a few of the major execs due to appear and tell us about some of the key trends set to be discussed?
Fabricio Ferrara (FF): Virtual Screenings is a global marketplace so we want to offer events, contents and data for every single executive from all the world without excluding anyone. We are featuring 4 LatAm paneles, two of them with key distributors as Globo (Brazil), RCN (Colombia) and Dori Media, organized by Prensario International; and another in partnership with MRM/Kiev Media Week with MGE (Chile), TV Azteca (Mexico), Fremantle Latin America, ViacomCBS International Studios America and Caracol (Colombia) which will be premiered first in Kiev Media Week Global Marathon on the 14 and then it will be hosted in our platform.
Another one with key TV channels and producers from the region talking about trends, audiences and the return to production. Lastly, one about animation in partnership with Platino Industia with key executives from Televisa, Cartoon Network and Planeta Jr. From Spain, we are featuring a full panel with the three top national media groups, public RTVE and private groups Mediaset/Mediterraneo and Atresmedia, as well as Spanish drama legend Daniel Ecija (The Good Mood) and Bomerang TV’s Maria Garcia. Unmissable panel if you are looking for doing business with Spain, whose drama is more and more sophisticated and gaining new global territories.
There will be focuses on Asia and in particular Indonesia too, which has attracted huge amounts of interest from the international industry over the past year or so. Tell us what viewers can expect from these sessions.
FF: We’ve partner Asia TV Forum & Market to bring to Virtual Screenings two-Asia focused panels, one for Singapore and another one for Indonesia. SEA is a key region to do audiovisual business and the panels will be featuring trends, buying concepts and top news from key broadcasters, Pay TV networks and producers in two strategic markets of that region. As underlined, we expect all VS Autumn participants to have a small piece of information from each region in the world.
Nicolás Smirnoff is director of Argentina-based publisher and events organiser Prensario International, while Fabricio Ferrara is international business director.