U.S. Networks: Subscriber Decline Is Modest But Steady

The latest Nielsen Universe data reveals accelerating but still modest declines in the subscriber base of most U.S. channels that commission or acquire factual programs. Cord-cutters and cord-nevers are a tiny fraction of the cord-keepers. Multichannel Economy: Channels will continue to spend on programming because they enjoy long-term agreements with cable and satellite operators. For the operators, …

ITVS: $191+ Million Spent on Independent Productions Since 1990

I Am Not Your Negro would have earned my vote for the Feature Documentary Oscar for 2017. ITVS was a key funder of Raoul Peck’s marvelous film which envisions the book James Baldwin never finished, a radical narration about race in America. ITVS’s contribution to independent documentaries deserves a big cheer at this moment when publicly …

The Fidel Archive Case Study: Inside a PBS / NGC International Coproduction

(Originally published, September 21, 2014). The PBS/NGCI documentary The Fidel Castro Tapes caught our attention with its compelling and unseen footage of the Cuban revolution and the Cold War drama that followed. We wondered about the challenges of creating an archive-based film about an 88-year old Spanish-speaking personality who can be dangerously controversial, and who …

Choppertown: A Model Facebook Network with 2.0 Million Friends. (Part 1 of 3)

The message of Choppertown is that documentaries can make money from Facebook. It is the story about how a deficit-funded, observational documentary evolved into a ground-breaking Facebook “channel.” Thanks to Zack Coffman for sharing the ups, downs, and ups again of the Facebook marketing engine Choppertown. Here is Part 1 of my Case Study on documentary strategies for …

Facebook Live. A Fatal Shooting Marks a Historic Tipping Point for Video

Last week marked a historic tipping point in the public’s ability to both use and respond to live video. Facebook Live’s video stream of the immediate, devastating aftermath of a fatal shooting in Minnesota has either dominated or framed both the news cycle and the public conversation since. We haven’t digested the implications of Facebook’s broadcast, …