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”.
- Surviving R. Kelly pulled in audiences far larger than Lifetime’s recent viewership.
- dream hampton’s series averaged 2.1 million viewers and a 0.9 rating among adults 18-49 in Nielsen’s live plus same-day ratings.
- Viewership also grew throughout Surviving R. Kelly‘s run.
- The first hour on Thursday drew 1.8 million viewers.
- By Saturday’s second hour, the audience had grown to 2.29 million.
- And the core demo’s are more than three times Lifetime’s usual performance.
- In 3Q’18, Lifetime’s average prime audience was .54 million (persons / P2+).
Public Television Coverage
- Public TV rose to the moment when PBS Newshour delivered a devastating segment about the series.
- The report asks the question: What does R. Kelly’s alleged culture of abuse suggest about how society views black women?
- It features the Chicago-based music journalist Jim DeRogatis, who has covered Kelly for 17 years, and is morally exhausted by the story.
- Watch the episode here, if you can.
- It’s old-style public television journalism at its best!
- And read the transcript.
- On January 9, The New York Times reported that Chicago prosecutors had opened an “Investigation into Accusations From R. Kelly Documentary.”
The Unscripted Exposé
- Sonia Saraiya writing in Vanity Fair calls the genre “the unscripted exposé”.
- She writes: “The story of R. Kelly and his alleged victims has been given the Lifetime treatment: shaky stock footage, melodramatic audio accompaniment, that suspense-heightening gimmick that transforms a provocative image into a haunting negative. Heavy-handed incidental music burbles and buzzes over every wrenching interview…”
- I say: “If it works, bring it on, Lifetime and dream hampton!”
- Its great news that a legacy network can deliver on a compelling story that addresses multiple, deeply troubling issues…
- Earn a massive audience for a niche channel…
- Spark an explosion in social media interactions…
- AND reopen a criminal investigation!
More: What Does Lifetime Pay?
- Lifetime is covered in my new white paper about U.S. network production cost benchmarks.
- Read more here: Sweet Spots: Production Cost Benchmarks for U.S. Factual Networks 2019,