Discovery vs Nat Geo vs History. Race for UK Gold, Part 3. How Far Behind Broadcast? Plus: Our New Global Doc Buyers’ Guide
Here are my quick Takeaways before a summer getaway.
- UK factual channels attract relatively small audiences compared with the broadcasters.
- However: Advertisers are attracted to their relatively upscale viewers.
- And the networks earn subscriber fees from Sky and other platforms.
- On the cost side, all UK factual channels benefit from a business model that relies on imported US programs. These are mostly owned outright by the channels.
- The big US franchise series and specials – like Deadliest Catch are by and large the top performers in the UK.
- The UK channels also commission locally. Big, noisy American characters can’t dominate their schedules.
- Nat Geo, Discovery and A+E have each set up a new pipeline for their international channels. They share costs for qualified new programs that will play across multiple territories.
- They also create local and regional versions of a handful of hit US series.
I will cover these issues and developments in greater detail in the coming months.
Here are the top shows for the nonfiction channels versus the top-rated factual program for each broadcast channel.
And here are the average ratings with year-to-year changes:
|Ratings (Average January 1 – June 26 0600-2600)|
|2011||2011 Share (%)||2012||2012 Share (%)||Y-Y +/-||Y-Y +/- (%)|
- Discovery UK launched 1st amongst American factual channel exports.
- That was in 1988 when Clark Bunting led the Discovery team and, fresh from CBS International, I served as senior consultant.
- The fairly consistent message we heard from UK ‘experts’ was “We Brits will never watch your (inferior) American programs. And anyway you won’t make any money!”
- Discovery International generates more than 40% of DCI’s revenues.
- UK is the jewel in the crown.
- And Discovery International gains importance by the day as Discovery Networks US recovers from the serious (half a $US billion!) opportunity costs associated with the OWN Oprah Winfrey Network debacle as well as the many challenges faced by Discovery Channel.
|Top 10 Discovery UK Programs (2006-2012 YTD)
|3||My Shocking Story||15-Nov-07||390,400||1.92|
|6||Will Ferrell and Bear Grylls: Born Survivors||25-Jul-09||273,200||1.91|
|7||Killing Bin Laden||18-May-11||272,200||0.97|
|8||Alone in the Wild||5-Oct-11||253,900||0.95|
|9||Bear Grylls: Born Survivor||18-Jul-11||246,500||0.92|
|10||How It’s Made||23-Feb-06||245,400||1.31|
History / A+E Networks
- A+E Networks’ corporate parents napped for decades while Discovery invested heavily in going global.
- History’s recent US hits are proving to be highly exportable. They are fueling a catch up in UK viewing versus Discovery.
- The Kennedy’s – a scripted series that went pear-shaped in the US – is an international hit! That’s a big strategic message!
- Crime & Investigation is a much stronger franchise in the UK than in US. It’s a reminder that there’s value in the content-driven, niche franchises.
|Top 10 History UK Programs (2006-2012 YTD)
|1||Ice Road Truckers 2||16-Oct-08||389,100||1.86|
|3||How Life Began||23-Mar-09||369,000||1.97|
|4||IRT – Deadliest Roads||16-Dec-10||345,100||1.58|
|7||102 Minutes That Changed America||11-Sep-11||230,700||1.72|
|8||American Restoration (Series One)||1-Aug-11||222,700||0.84|
|10||The Lost JFK Tapes: The Assassination||3-Mar-11||194,100||1.00|
- UK-centric Bloody Tales of the Tower is #1 in 2012, showing there’s value in local.
- But the best performers on Nat Geo’s Top 10 list are the content-driven specials and series that are no longer the focus of Nat Geo US.
- That foreshadows future struggles to align Nat Geo International’s yellow border legacy with the noisy characters coming from Washington.
|Top 10 Nat Geo UK Programs (2006-2012 YTD)
|2||Area 51: I Was There||5-Jun-11||299,100||1.02|
|3||Gospel of Judas||9-Apr-06||276,700||1.52|
|4||9/11: Ten Years Later||7-Sep-11||213,600||0.90|
|5||Air Crash Investigation||14-Mar-11||213,200||0.73|
|6||Crash Scene Investigation||11-Apr-06||208,600||1.14|
|7||Bloody Tales of the Tower||16-Apr-12||196,400||0.78|
|8||Seconds From Disaster||19-Sep-06||179,200||1.02|
|9||In The Womb||21-Jan-07||168,900||0.78|
C&I is an A+E Network
|Top 10 Crime & Investigation Network Programs (2006-2012 YTD)
|1||Curious and Unusual Deaths||18-May-12||206,300||2.74|
|2||Born to Kill||29-Jan-12||190,800||3.54|
|3||The Krays By Fred Dinenage||15-Mar-10||184,100||0.68|
|4||Crimes that Shook Britain||18-Mar-12||170,000||0.59|
|5||Myra Hindleys Prison Years||12-Jun-11||163,000||1.35|
|6||At Home with the Noonans||22-Apr-12||155,400||5.89|
|8||Steven Seagal: Lawman||5-Jan-10||152,900||0.54|
|10||Fred Dinenage: Murder Casebook||15-May-11||151,300||0.54|
Editorial assistance: Alexander Watson
International Documentary Buyers’ Guide 2012
Which channels worldwide buy docs?
- How many do they buy?
- What are they looking for?
- Who are the key contacts?
- How do you reach them?
- If we have the data, what do they pay?
The International Documentary Buyers’ Guide 2012 is an invaluable resource for producers who are working on strategies to pitch ideas or who are selling completed programs to channels.
- 17 Countries
- 40 Buyers
Based on original interviews with broadcasters, funders and senior producers.
The Guide includes:
- Executive Personnel
- Current Strands & Slots
- Recent Green Lights
- Channel Profiles
- Vital Links
- Takeaways and Analysis
Created for Hot Docs Forum 2012.