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The C21Pro 2019 Factual Futures Report


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The advent of video-on-demand has transformed scripted, in terms of consumption, production budgets and financing structures, but the same dynamics have also had a halo effect on unscripted.

Factual programming has been reinvigorated by new entrants, allowing viewers to indulge their appetites for real-life stories, often tapping into niches that would have previously struggled for airtime.

But it’s not only true crime that’s been the beneficiary, with blue-chip natural history series, live and cinematic one-offs also in the ascendancy amid increased competition and audience expectation around scale and production values.

All this comes as broadcasters and cablenets see their budgets squeezed but is creating scope for new financial deals more akin to those for high-end drama and greater flexibility over rights as streamers continue to insist on global.

The C21Pro 2019 Factual Futures Report explores these issues and more, offering crucial insights for those focused on unscripted. The chapters in this report will publish here over the coming weeks.
The C21Pro 2019 Factual Futures Report
Report date: January 2019

Report price: £299.00

Report editor: Jonathan Webdale

Report chapters:

Netflix makes its mark
After breathing new life into documentaries, Netflix has moved into true crime, natural history and much more, according to Kate Townsend.
Premium rated
Viewers are hungry for premium factual but while streamers can pay for it outright, broadcasters are having to fund projects more creatively.
Getting Off The Fence
There’s arguably no greater barometer of where the factual TV business is right now than ZDF’s acquisition of Off the Fence.
Put to rights
US cablenets could start easing their rights position to make up for tight budgets. But would producers rather just have the cash?
Fanning the Fyre
eOne is reaping the benefits of an uptick in demand for premium factual, according to the company's Tara Long and Noel Hedges.
Keeping Watch
Facebook’s Mina Lefevre explains the social network’s approach to factual and why reinvention is welcome.
Still standing
International partnerships, premium factual, shorform docs and podcasts are all front of mind in CBC's unscripted department.
World of difference
Australia’s SBS is aiming to make a splash in factual with shows highlighting the nation's diversity and the pubcaster’s distinctiveness from rivals.
Root of the matter
Ten years on from founding indie Nutopia, Jane Root reflects on how the industry has changed in that time and where it’s going next.
SVT faces facts of OTT
Mikael Österby at SVT explains why Sweden's documentary output is strong, how he overcomes tight budgets and the peril of SVoDs getting global rights.
Another Planet
The BBC has unveiled its ‘biggest ever’ commitment to natural history as its factual focus sharpens in the face of a growing threat from FAANGs.
Reasons to be cheerful
History’s Eli Lehrer and Mary Donahue are upbeat about the prospects for factual-focused nets in the face of growing competition.
Smithsonian spreads
Having zigged into traditional factual while other cablenets were zagging into reality, Smithsonian Channel is set for an international roll-out.
Curating Curiosity
US SVoD service CuriosityStream continues to shun reality in favour of a tightly focused factual offering, aiming to fill what it sees as a gap in the market.
Accelerating reality
US cablenet WE tv has been refocusing its efforts on reality and direct-to-consumer is firmly on president Marc Juris’s agenda for 2019.
Lifetime achievement
US cablenet Lifetime is seeking more social justice projects for women following the success of its headline-grabbing docuseries Surviving R Kelly.
Daniels on Discovery
Nancy Daniels at Discovery discusses “epic” shows, the importance of ratings and the challenges of competing with streamers.
Blurred lines
Distributors are deficit funding at a higher level in factual than ever, in some instances on a par with drama, says ITVSGE's Cecilie Olsen.
Navigating Atlas
Atlas Media Corp's Bruce David Klein credits streamers with reviving the doc business, but says producers must now act more like filmmakers.
Going live
US cablenets are tackling audience fragmentation through live factual. But can it continue, what works and does the industry risk overkill?
Shifting factual sands
A factual business in the doldrums has been reinvigorated by streaming and the unscripted scene looks increasingly upbeat.