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Autentic Distribution

Programming Profile

Autentic rides factual wave with new slate of titles


Mirjam Strasser, head of sales and acquisitions at Germany’s Autentic Distribution, showcases the new factual titles on the company’s playlist for C21’s Digital Screenings this week, and gives her views on the changing market for documentaries.


Can you tell us about the shows on Autentic’s playlist this week?
Our selection of programmes actually reflects our whole catalogue very well. We are very diversified, whether that’s in terms of genre or production style, or whether it’s a series, a one-off or a feature documentary. With our current highlights The Apennine Mountains and Europe’s Forgotten Pilgrim Routes, we provide lightweight travel content that everyone is looking for. Stone Men II and Heroes of the Deep are our new male-oriented factual entertainment series, and Wildlife Diaries Australia and Rewilding: Back to Nature are destined for our clients looking for wildlife conservation programming.


A special programme is The History of Camping, which traces this popular form of travel back to its origins. The documentary is visually great; we see archive footage of a VW Bulli in the African savannah fighting its way through mud – hardly imaginable travelling today with such an old car. Meanwhile, the three Empire Builders miniseries in our playlist are looking at the empires of China, Greece and the Netherlands, respectively, from their inception to their impact on the world until today. High-quality CGI brings these past empires back to life.


Mirjam Strasser,
Autentic Distribution

What is the international appeal of these shows?
Travel content is still high in demand. Our shows like The Apennine Mountains or Europe’s Forgotten Pilgrim Ways take us to rather unknown or forgotten places and regions. We get to see magnificent and beautifully shot landscapes. Our wildlife programmes are not classic blue-chip productions but more about conservation. They show conservation methods such as rewilding and follow passionate scientists and volunteers as they work on projects around the world to give nature more space again.


It goes without saying that factual entertainment is what viewers everywhere are looking for. We have strong characters in our programmes that entertain us. We also address the issue of sustainability here, whether it’s with the Stone Men, on how to make marble quarrying more environmentally friendly, or with Heroes of the Deep, on how to free the Baltic Sea from mines and other war debris.


The Apennine Mountains
The Apennine Mountains

However, we also cover trendy topics like camping, which is a popular travel option all over the world. History is always a genre that works well for us and ancient history is currently in high demand, hence we are very happy to launch the Empire Builders series for restricted rights. Our history special titled Kalanag – Hitler’s Magician presents a somewhat unknown and bizarre story from Nazi Germany about Hitler’s court magician. The current affairs programme in our playlist, Agents of Democracy – Civil Society Under Attack, on the other hand, is dealing with a topical issue: human rights and freedom of speech.


How is international demand for this kind of content changing?
In general, demand for factual is increasing, especially for series. This is being fuelled by several factors: the growth of streaming, the pandemic and the changing narrative in the documentary genre. Travel content is also more important than ever, no matter what format. Demand has risen sharply here, while in the nature and wildlife genre the focus lies more on conservation and on human/animal interactions than on blue-chip productions.


Of course, blue-chip wildlife is still popular, but no longer the ‘non-plus ultra.’ There is also a shift in the science and tech genre. There is a great demand for climate change programmes, but also for space, especially new space. One example is our Life From Space series, where we launched a new episode at Mipcom. While interest in climate policy issues is increasing, the pandemic has also brought a rising demand for productions that make you feel good. Love Around the World, for example, is an absolute highlight in our catalogue.


Kalanag – Hitler’s Magician
Kalanag – Hitler’s Magician

What does this playlist reflect about Autentic’s international content strategy?
We operate worldwide and have strong footholds in very different markets with different tastes, so we always have to cater to everyone’s needs. The central element of our strategy is therefore diversification. In Europe, one-offs often still dominate, while in the Anglo-Saxon world, series tend to be more popular. Streaming services are also increasingly looking for series or feature docs, which are experiencing a new boom beyond cinema. It is important that we can offer suitable programmes for every market, and this is reflected by our playlist very well.


How has the global market changed since lockdown?
In our best performing territories, we are noticing an increasing interest in content that is interesting for younger people. They want to be informed and go into more depth than just watching three-second videos on social media. Hence there is a strong interest in current debates on climate change and political issues, but true crime is also in high demand, again reinforced by the pandemic. Another effect is the sheer amount of content that has been picked up. In spring 2020, all productions, live shows and formats had to rapidly be replaced by other programmes, and documentaries was the genre of choice for many channels. Many clients have re-licensed packages with us and bought some programmes from our library. It doesn’t always have to be the latest title, as long as the programmes have a shelf life and are of good quality.


What has been the impact of the recent streaming boom, on both the supply of and demand for content?
Without doubt, demand has grown strongly due to the streaming boom. The streaming services must fill their catalogues with ever-changing titles. They are all investing heavily in originals but still cannot satisfy growing customer demand with only in-house productions, hence they have to acquire. For us, it’s interesting to see that they also pick up library titles and not just the latest programmes.


Rewilding: Back to Nature
Rewilding: Back to Nature

In addition, the rights situation is more complicated because global streamers often require worldwide rights. Hence, like every distributor, we need to calculate all options before closing deals. The AVoD sector in particular is very grateful, because here we can bring in one programme on several platforms. Basically, streaming and linear TV complement each other very well and content life cycles can be extended in a very sustainable way.


Autentic made some key appointments over the summer. Tell us about the strategy behind that news.
Our focus at Autentic lies increasingly in investing in content. We are not only a global distributor but also have our own production arm and operate channels in German-speaking markets, with Spiegel TV and, as of recently, Curiosity. It is only natural that we increase our acquisition team to secure the best possible content for all our partners. We always check to what extent we can participate in productions, be it as a coproduction via our production department or as co-financing partners. Our aim is to bring the best possible factual content to the world and to support our producers at every stage.


What kind of content is Autentic now looking to invest in?
We are increasingly looking for series with six or more episodes; however, miniseries with a maximum of three parts are also very popular. We are acquiring wildlife conservation and blue-chip wildlife programmes, travel content, as well as titles about climate change, sustainability, new technologies, new space as well as ancient history.


Empire Builders: China
Empire Builders: China

How was your recent Mipcom trip and how important are real-life industry events?
Our sales executives were thrilled to be finally on-site again and met several clients and partners in person. Real-life events will certainly not go away completely, but there will be a more conscious decision about which events to attend in person and for which online attendance will suffice. The effect travelling has on our climate plays a much bigger role these days than pre-pandemic. We have experienced and proven that business can also be discussed via video calls. But, for sure, we don’t want to miss the personal exchange completely.


What have been some recent sales that your company has made?
Naming a few examples, we have recently sold our two library titles Druids – The Mystery of Celtic Priests and The New Silkroad: China’s Reach for Global Power to SBS in Australia as well as a package of 42 hours, including The Virus Within, The Huntsman and The Animal Within, to Al Jazeera. Eight hours including Europe’s Forgotten Dictatorships found a new home on RTV in Slovenia, while Switzerland’s SRF has licensed titles including By Mail Ship Through the South Seas, One Year in Norway’s Lofoten, Claude Dornier – Pioneer of Aviation and Badass Professions, as well as several episodes of our long-running series ARTE Re.

More programming profiles

  • 18-09-2023

    Mirjam Strasser, head of sales and acquisitions at Germany’s Autentic Distribution, discusses the state of the market and outlines the company’s distribution, production and FAST strategies, as well as the highlights from her Mipcom slate.


    How would you describe the state of the factual content market?
    There is a continued high demand for factual content across all platforms and channels. The popularity started with the pandemic, when channels filled up their schedules with factual content to replace the programmes that could not be produced during lockdown, like sporting events, for example. Broadcasters and streamers’ search for premium content has not decreased since. Producers have become very creative with using archives in innovative ways, cooperating with remote filming crews, and are coming up with globally relevant stories and engaging narratives.

  • 20-09-2022

    Mirjam Strasser, head of sales and acquisitions at Autentic Distribution, explores how the market is changing for factual content and discusses the new shows the German company is showcasing via C21’s Digital Screenings this week.


    What are the big trends in the factual sector right now, in particular the rise of ‘premium factual’?
    First of all, blue-chip nature programmes are still the content that can achieve the highest licence fees. Lots of clients are eagerly looking for the next big natural history hit. Climate programmes and conservation topics are getting more and more popular. Apart from that, ancient history is working well for a broad range of clients that are looking for more programmes about Ancient Egypt, the pyramids and the Romans.