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Albatross World Sales

Programming Profile

Flights of factual with Albatross


Anne Olzmann, MD of Albatross World Sales, dissects the latest trends in factual programming and offers a glimpse of some new shows the Leipzig-based distributor is bringing to market via C21’s Digital Screenings.


What are your thoughts about the big trends in the factual sector right now, in particular the rise of ‘premium factual’?
There has always been a high demand for premium factual, especially when it comes to natural history and science programmes. Premium was usually defined by high-end camerawork and footage, but with the current technological developments in cameras, it’s now much easier to create high-end footage.


So in order to still stand out, storytelling is becoming more and more important. It’s not only essential to create fascinating images, but also to have a great story and narrative. With this in mind, one of our flagship titles we’re launching at Mipcom is Wolf – Wanderer Without Borders (2×52’/1×90′). This is a remarkable story about a young wolf that we follow all the way from Poland to the Netherlands and Belgium.


Anne Olzmann,
Albatross World Sales

How have the streamers changed things in natural history and how can traditional broadcasters compete?
The streamers have opened up the market to thinking outside the box. There is more room to experiment with different sub-genres, runtimes and formats in general. As opposed to many public broadcasting channels, streamers do not have the same obligation to fulfill a specific ‘broadcasting assignment’ for the general public. They really have endless possibilities to dive deep into different subjects and experiment more with what works and what doesn’t. They are also more open to exploring hybrid programmes.


How are things like the economy and eco-awareness impacting the market for travel programming?
Travel programmes are a must-have in many TV schedules – this was even fueled by the need for escapism during the pandemic. So our approach is to find programmes for our catalogue that also match our general sustainability approach. Programmes in our travel section dive into the local cultures and nature – ideally with an environmental focus. One example is our latest miniseries Hike the Line (3×45′), about an eco-friendly way to travel the world, or in this case along Europe’s border trails. Furthermore, Archipelago New York (3×45′) looks at the exciting natural landscape in and around this bustling city.


How can the history and science genres reach beyond their traditional demographics and tap into new audiences?
History and science are genres that have always been sought-after. History is an evergreen topic that works particularly well with VoD platforms and seems to be reaching a younger demographic already. We’ve also noticed that history and true crime seem to be a good mix that attracts new audiences. Our new series Crimes That Changed The World (3×45′) taps into exactly that and takes the viewer on a journey through history’s most famous crimes.


Wolf – Wanderer Without Borders
Wolf – Wanderer Without Borders

Science, on the other hand, is taking a bit of a different approach. It’s harder and harder to distinguish between certain genres nowadays, because so many people are trying to be eco-conscious and do their part in saving the planet; science programmes are reflecting this more and more, diving into more hybrid topics like sustainability or climate change. We felt like this calls for a new genre, though, which is why we established our new documentary category Mission Earth, which looks at the heroes of our time who dedicate their lives to saving the planet – be it through scientific research or activist work… or both! The series Resurrecting Eden (4×52′) is a perfect example of this new category and we hope that Mission Earth will reflect a new development in science documentaries.


With all the recent consolidation in the factual sector, how does this impact an indie distributor like Albatross?
We consider ourselves an independent boutique distributor. We are not necessarily going for volume at all costs but are rather looking for gems to underline our mission and our ethical standards.


We are a young, all-female and diverse team, with very different backgrounds, but all determined to make this world a better place. So we carefully hand-pick our programmes and also make sure to include diversity. For example, we love a good, odd story about quirky animals, ones that are not as obvious to make a film about, such as Superbirds – The Secret Life of Tits (1×52′) and Waves Beneath the Water (1×52′), an award-winning film that really makes you fall in love with a glass eel that travels 5,000km through the Atlantic. Another wonderful example is The Marvelous Wild World of the Vegetable Garden (1×52′). This is a nature film of a special kind – a beautiful cinematic appeal for more biodiversity on our own doorstep.


Hike the Line - European Border Trails
Hike the Line – European Border Trails

How is your content catalogue changing, in terms of genres and suppliers?
As mentioned above, we have recently launched a new programme genre to best cater to the increasing need for shows on climate change, environmental issues and sustainability. Mission Earth is a collection of wonderful award-winning programmes covering projects around the world to help restore and strengthen nature, inspire change, and shows that follow the search for solutions to the most pressing challenges of our time.


Broadcasters and streamers have a great – if not the greatest – role in spreading knowledge and awareness, so Mission Earth provides the perfect programmes to inform, inspire and encourage people all over the world to join forces against climate change, mass extinction and pollution. After all, we are all in the same boat and that boat shouldn’t be sailing on overheating oceans of plastic. So we want to help make solutions and rescue initiatives visible and accessible to everyone.


One of our flagship titles in this section is Heroes of the Sea (1×70′). It is an encounter with people who are passionately fighting a hard ¬– yet not always promising – battle; people who are striving to save the oceans from growing plastic waste, limitless overfishing and the supposedly unstoppable climate change with visionary ideas. We’re therefore always looking for partners who have this same mission and vision in their productions.


Archipelago New York
Archipelago New York

What are the new opportunities you see in the international factual market right now?
Factual is alive and kicking and I believe there are many more opportunities for hybrid programmes. The opportunities to try different approaches to formats, storytelling and filmmaking have increased massively with the appearance of more outlets – all of them with their own focus. A great example here is our new programme What is Wilderness (1×52′). This valuable film is directed by Jan Haft and embarks on a cinematic journey across Europe looking for answers to this exciting question.


What kind of content is Albatross now looking to invest in to better serve the global marketplace?
We are always looking for great titles for our core genres: Mission Earth, Nature & Wildlife, Science, History, Travel and Art. We are looking for ambitious one-offs and series as well. We will continue to especially look for stories that have a creative new approach that underline our boutique character. We also want to give a forum to seeming underdogs from the natural world.


Mipcom is on the horizon. Please tell us about the importance of real-life industry events and your plans for Cannes?
Real-life events are still essential, but we are certainly questioning how much and how many of our team have to travel. Some events have moved to hybrid versions and I think this can be a good thing to reduce our carbon footprint.


Crimes That Changed The World
Crimes That Changed The World

In general, I do think real-life events are essential and face-to-face meetings are crucial to building long-lasting business relationships. But by now everyone in the factual industry should be thinking green and come to the conclusion that we don’t need to see each contact several times a year to do business. It should be a good mix of online and face-to-face.


Please tell us about some recent investments that Albatross has made.
Besides the ones mentioned above, we’re also bringing Wild Prague to the market. It will be available in a cinematic 90-minute version as well as TV hour. Another wildlife gem is in post-production and ready to market soon. We’re currently still looking for pre-sales for Cactus Hotel (1×52′), Altayfilm’s latest project following the beststellers Going Nuts – Tales From the Squirrel World and On Thin Ice.


Of Lava & Life – The Volcano Eruption on La Palma (1×52′), meanwhile, covers the largest and most destructive volcanic eruption in five centuries in Europe. Out of the destruction grows new life and this was a rare chance for many scientists to watch evolution at work.

More programming profiles

  • 18-03-2024

    Lisa Schelhas, sales director at Albatross World Sales, showcases the Leipzig-based distributor’s new MipTV slate and offers her view on the state of the market and her priorities for the year.


    What are the highlights of the new programming on your slate?
    We are coming to MipTV with a strong slate of high-quality documentaries in the genres Nature & Wildlife, Science, History, Mission Earth and Destinations.


    Buffalo Bill – The Inventor of the Wild West (1×52’ HD) is about the 19th century adventurer and showman who invented and staged the romanticised version of the Wild West as we know it. A man who skillfully blurred the boundaries between truth and fiction became the first superstar, the founder of modern show business and is considered to be the most famous American of his time.

  • 03-04-2023

    Anne Olzmann, MD at Albatross World Sales, outlines how the factual sector is responding to the continued streaming boom, the stuttering economy and potential US writers’ strike, and explores what the Leipzig-based company has coming down the production pipeline.


    How is the growth of AVoD and FAST channels changing the market for factual content?
    AVoD and FAST services have become increasingly popular with viewers. With inflation and world-changing events, such as the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis, people are becoming more cautious on how to spend their entertainment budget. So (seemingly) free options that AVoD and FAST offer are the go-to solutions.


    We have been working with various AVoD and FAST operators for a while now, and though these deals take time to set up, they have become lucrative, particularly for titles that have had successful TV runs and are ready for third and fourth seasons. So we can certainly expect extended shelf lives and longer distribution periods for suitable, timeless genres, such as nature and wildlife.

  • 16-03-2022

    Anne Olzmann, MD of German distributor Albatross World Sales, discusses how the factual content market has changed and talks us through the new wildlife and crime titles on the company’s playlist for C21’s Digital Screenings this week.


    How would you describe the market for factual programming at the moment?
    It’s a rapidly evolving market with an increasing hunger for programmes. With new players entering and others merging, or changing strategies, there is always a certain need to adapt. Regarding rights, it’s quite a jungle to navigate at the moment and we need to think of individual sales strategies for each film more than ever before. From a distributor’s perspective, there is also clearly a stronger need to secure programming early on, so we have significantly increased our investments in new programmes and projects for our distribution catalogue.

  • 19-03-2021

    Albatross World Sales has a wide-ranging slate for 2021. MD Anne Olzmann reveals the German factual distributor’s playlist for C21’s Digital Screenings and discusses the future of the genre.


    Factual content has seen a boom on streaming platforms in the past year, with the launch of Discovery+ and National Geographic featuring on Disney+, for example. Furthermore, the pandemic and resulting production shutdowns have also driven up demand for factual.


    “We noticed a significant increase in the demand for documentaries in general, where buyers that would usually pick up single specials have acquired more hours than usual to cope with the loss in programming in their schedules and the cancellation of events such as the Olympics,” explains Albatross MD Anne Olzmann.


    Amid this changing market, Olzmann says the Leipzig-based distributor has found its niche in offering mainly natural history, science and travel programmes.


    Olzmann explains that “beautiful wildlife shows will always work when people want to relax,” thus creating demand for natural history content. However, she adds, a growing number of viewers now want more than just nature shows.