London — The annual trade fair is dead for the foreseeable future. Those running things like DISCOP and AfricaCom have had to reinvent themselves. Russell Southwood talks to DISCOP founder Patrick Zuchowicki about what buyers and sellers really want when they go online and what he’s doing to meet these needs.

The annual DISCOP event has gone online and launched last Monday. It will last three months and Zuchowicki told me that it had been “good so far. It’s a different format. Forget about physical trade shows. We are building a format that keeps the trade show element out of the picture.” It’s focused on 500 ‘properties’, programmes that are either completed or are at a late stage of development. We’ve concentrated on content from Africa.”

“We’ve done an assessment of the situation. There are 350 buyers from 200 companies and it’s helping them navigate the offerings. Those 200 hundred companies are a mix of FTA broadcasters, Pay TV companies and streamers. We estimate that 40% of them (80) will buy.

The final phase of the event – the last four weeks- will focus on deals. We’re organizing 15-25 meetings for each of the vendors.” The previous two phases are of the event are described as the promotional and networking phases.

We talked about the “Zoom fatigue” element that online events have discovered. It’s hard to concentrate on a screen for long periods:”As a first step, we are keeping buyers’ meetings down to three a week. We’re also making sure the meeting has an agenda and is as interactive as possible. We don’t want people having to wake up at 2pm to make a virtual meeting. As 60% of the clients are in Johannesburg, before each virtual meeting we will deliver a physical package to them.”