Sundance: Buyers Bid $20 Million as the Feature Documentary Category Booms

The feature documentary is booming. That’s the message from Sundance 2019. Reported bids for rights approach $20 million. Topping the list is Knock Down the House, the Sundance Audience Award winner that captures the run for Congress in 2018 of the “AOC” superstar Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The SVOD giant reportedly bid $10 million for worldwide rights. That’s …

Getting Real at Realscreen: A Podcast with Michael Hoff, Veteran Producer

In this week’ podcast, veteran unscripted producer Michael Hoff shares his Takeaways on the Realscreen Summit. Realscreen was held in New Orleans for the first time this year. Michael is President & Executive Producer of Hoff Productions. Key Takeaways include: Michael says that network executives are regaining their footing after enduring the recent hard impacts of …


Netflix: Why Subscriber Retention is High as New Subs Flock to the SVOD Leader

There are two drivers of a success for an SVOD service: Subscriber Acquisition & Retention. Netflix continues to attract new subs during its relentless global expansion. Its retention rate is reported to be high, despite recent rate increases. Subscribers keep on coming, and they don’t go away. Here are several reasons why: Source: U.S Subscribers, …

Royal Wedding & Better Baking: Best British Factual, 2018. The Top 200

The “Best of British” is one of my more popular posts. I list the year’s highest-rated unscripted programs, usually to honor UK producers in time for their PACT party at Realscreen. For a different look at 2018, I combined the Documentary, Factual, Lifestyle & Current Affairs categories, showing the best single episode for series. It’s …

Sundance and the Single Documentary Economy: The $1.3 Billion Cost of Missing Out

The documentary niche has remarkable financial scale, as measured by the films seeking selection at Sundance. Let’s assume that the average production cost of all 2,649 Sundance submissions for 2019 is $500,000. Actual budgets range from around $200,000 up to $5+ million. $500K is a conservative average. Production Cost: 2,600 documentaries were “Not Accepted” in 2019. The …

Sundance Film Festival Selections 2019: What are the Odds for Documentaries?

A Sundance Film Festival award lags only behind an Oscar nomination as a measure of success for documentarians. But what are the odds that a U.S. or international documentary will earn a slot on the program? Submissions 2,649 Documentary Features were submitted to the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, which opens on January 24: 767 were from the …

Lifetime’s Hit Docuseries Surviving R. Kelly Busts Through Our Netflix Fixation

Surviving R. Kelly is a timely reminder that a well-told docuseries can ignite a popular conversation, even if its not on Netflix. The three-night, six-hour Lifetime series features multiple women who say they were sexually abused by the singer.  Many of them were minors when they met the “Pied Piper of R&B”. Trailer: Audience Surviving R. …

The Rise of Netflix Increases Pressures on Producers. My Big Takeaways for 2018

Here are my key Takeaways for 2018. It was the year in which Netflix accelerated its challenge to the entire film and television eco-system, with the Amazon behemoth adding to the disruptive force of online video. 1.Channels Under Threat. Factual commissions boomed since the mid-Eighties. A tiny documentary market exploded into the global Unscripted industry …