Some editions before, we talked about the difficulties of the documentary content market, focused on, on the one hand, the low prices that it handles, and on the other the concentration of production in a few large players from markets. But, as well on the drama market, the story started to change thanks to the digital platforms.
According to a French producer, ‘SVOD services gave a new life to the documentary industry’. ‘OTT platforms can take more risks tan linear platforms, allows the “nichefication” and can bet on evergreen content, which means buying shows that will still be relevant in 10 years’, he counts.
And good examples are the recently launched DocuBay, niche service focused on the genre and with big presence in the market, or Tencent (China), which reaches a big young audience (72% between 18-29 years old) and bets on speaking their language with adventure and science shows and short formats, taking advantage of the huge consumption of mobile content in the country. ‘If we speak about trends, natural history is still popular, but reality and lifestyle is growing more than ever’, resumes Stephanie Sun.
On the factual side, the historical revisionism has become a big trend, with titles like Watergate or The Last Survivors, focused on the Holocaust, but also true crime about open cases, especially on SVOD platforms and following the global trend of suspense and crime on the drama side. Some examples are Making a Murderer (Netflix) or USA vs. Chapo (Facebook Watch). Last but not least is ‘programming with a purpose’, shows that speaks about social and environmental issues and search to give a positive message, mainly in Nordic countries.
On formats, paper formats show themselves as an opportunity to penetrate emerging markets, considering the lack of money but need of creativity. And, even when it take more time to develop and sell, according to specialists like Izzet Pinto, Global Agency (Turkey), once the shows are launched, the expansion begins. ‘You need to convince just one person, and if you make it, results can be great’, he remarks. Sumi Connock, BBC Studios: ‘In the UK we went from having 4 paper formats in 2017 to 13 in 2018. Emerging markets are those with the greatest potential, because they have less money and more need to be creative'.
Dating like and quiz shows are the most engagement contents, especially if they mix with other subgenres like comedies or physical shows.
And once again, the new edition of Treasure Box Japan showcased the eight main Japanese broadcasters (TBS, NHK, TV Tokio, ABC, Fuji TV, Nippon TV, TV Asahi and YTV), introducing new formats mixing reality, game shows, physical shows and comedy as a twist.
More comments of buyers? David Royle, The Smithsonian, ‘Credibility is key when we talk about documentaries and if you reach to bring the audience to television’. The channel achieves over 40 million households in USA, and it was launched in Canada in 2013, in Singapore in 2016, Latin America in 2018, UK in 2019 and will be added to Apple TV on its new platform. Jules Oldroyd, Nat Geo: ‘Two years ago we modified our strategy to focus on becoming the main destination of the premium factual content but also betting heavily on the drama with series like Genius, which have allowed us to change the perception of the brand’.
Richard Tulk-Hard, A+E: ‘We launched a new coproduction business 12 months ago, with one unscripted show (Spy Wars) and one drama (Miss Scarlet and the Duke), with more in the pipeline and looking for new partners and stories, always with a premium focus.’
Nicolas Smirnoff, Fabricio Ferrara and Rodrigo Cantisano