Ovation Is Rising: What Are The Filters? How Many Hours? What Do They Pay?
Ovation is the only U.S. television network dedicated to arts and contemporary culture.
- It is expanding rapidly.
SVP Programming Kris Slava kindly shared his mission, filters, sources and budget ‘sweet spots’.
- Launch: 1996.
- In 2006, the channel was acquired by management and private investors.
- At that time, there were 5 million subscribers.
- The new Ovation quickly grew thanks to early distribution deals with DIRECTV, Dish, Time Warner and Comcast, and Verizon FiOS.
- Today, Ovation has 44 million subscribers.
- Ovation is privately held
- The channel is advertiser supported and became Nielsen rated in the Fall of 2010
- Ovation recently wrapped up its Upfront ad season and tripled its Upfront revenue from the previous year
- “Ovation’s mission is to entertain, inspire and engage the artist in all of us.”
- “The 24-hour channel is the only television network dedicated to art and contemporary culture. The network showcases the artistic genres people love – design, photography, music, travel, and art in all its forms.”
According to Kris Slava, “We are looking to add 400-500 hours of new programming in 2012.”
- Ovation showcases the world’s greatest artists in music, film, theater, dance, literature, design, animation, visual art, photography and architecture.
- The channel features a mix of original (15%) and acquired programming (85%) from around the world.
- Ovation offers viewers a number of US and World premiere documentaries, series, and films.
- Ovation’s filters are: Art, Culture, Music, Dance, Visual Art, Cultural Tourism
- Currently, Ovation has the exclusive off-network rights to seasons 6 to 8 of So You Think You Can Dance. The channel is running the series Friday to Monday each week
- Click here for the monthly schedule
- The airings include original “extras” featuring the dancers, choreographers and judges talking about their most memorable moments on the show
Each month, Ovation features one and two week-long themed programming stunts. Examples include
- “American Revolutionaries: THE HITMAKERS” focuses on artists who changed their particular genre of art. It features docs and performances by revolutionary, chart-topping artists like Beyonce, Madonna, Justin Timberlake and Bruce Springsteen
- “Battle of the Nutcrackers” which showcases multiple different productions of the Holiday family classic and asks viewers to vote on their favorite
- “Music of the Night” featuring documentaries and films of new and classic Broadway productions.
Sources of Acquisitions
- Library package deals: 70% of acquisitions
- “The others are acquired as individual programs, either from individual producers (around 15%) and distributors (15%)
- “We actively acquire documentaries, films and series at major markets and festivals, including MIP, MIPCOM, BANFF TV, Sundance, Real Screen, SXSW, TIFF, Showcase, IDFA, and others.”
Exclusivity / Rights
Ovation seeks exclusive TV, VOD, SVOD, online, mobile device and TV Everywhere viewing rights to programming in North America.
- U.S premieres 35%
- Non-premieres 65%
Ovation does not currently have any output deals, although we are beginning to explore them with international distributors.
- “We also acquire scripted shows that tell a dramatic story about art, artists or cultural events.
- “These fit in with the brand
- “A good example is Lost in Austen, a series which fits nicely into Ovation’s programming event “Tall, Dark and Classic” — featuring series and movies that are retellings of classic literature.”
We asked Kris what Ovation pays for programs, including its ‘sweet spot’, that magical internal benchmark for the cost of a production or acquisition.
“Our license fees for acquisitions start at:
- Feature Docs: $3,000.
- Reality/Competition: $4,000 / episode
- “Our ‘sweet spot’ to acquire a completed feature doc is $35,000.”
- “And we have begun to contribute completion financing for unique projects, up to $100,000.”
!!YOU NEED TO KNOW THE SWEET SPOTS!!
‘Sweet Spots’ Study: What Do U.S. Networks Pay for Programs?
Production Cost Benchmarks: Signature / High / Sweet Spot / Low
Pipelines. Target Demos. Key Programming Contacts, and More!
25+ U.S. Cable Channels. Docs & Reality
Pr0prietary, interview-based research from DocumentaryTelevision.com
Don’t make a pitch – or attend a job interview – without it!
Ovation’s Sweet Spots
Sweet Spot $35,000
High $75,000 +/-
Signature $100,000 for completion finance
Sweet Spot $150,000
High $250,000 +/-
Reminder: What is DocumentaryTelevision.com’s ‘Sweet Spot’?
- Every network is steered by an annual programming budget that establishes or implies a ‘Sweet Spot’ for an hour of original programming.
- This benchmark is based on the network’s investment strategies, revenues, schedule, the competitive situation, contributions from co-producers and partners, and much more.
- The ‘Sweet Spot’ is the cost that the Director/VP of Development/Programming is comfortable presenting to the final decision-maker, expecting buy-in for an approved idea that meets the channel’s mission and on screen standards.
- Ovation is a rapidly growing U.S. channel that is uniquely focused on the category of arts and contemporary culture
- With broader distribution and the new pressure of Nielsen ratings, Ovation is inevitably shifting its programming sweet spot from classical arts to a mix that includes popular culture
- It offers an added opportunity for independent documentary film makers, as well as for distributors of library titles
- Ovation is also actively looking for co-production deals to help bolster its original programming slate
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