U.S. Nonfiction Producers: Where Are They Located? Mostly in LA? Maybe!

Where can you find the producers who supply U.S. Factual networks?

  • New York?
  • LA?
  • Maybe London?
  • Are there other centers of development and production?

These questions are important:

  • For non-fiction producers:
    • Where are you most likely to get on a network’s radar?
    • Should you establish offices or representation in multiple locations?
  • For networks:
    • Where should you locate LBA, Development and other resources?
    • Where will you find your next wave of executive talent?
  • For young hopefuls:
    • Where is production scaled so that it promises lots of entry level work?

Methodology

  • We surveyed 2012 programming announcements for 20 +/- channels.
  • We tracked down the locations of 200+/- producers who were cited.
  • We put them in 5 buckets:
    • LA
    • New York
    • Other US
    • UK
    • Other International.

Caution

  • This is useful sensitivity analysis.
  • It is based on extensive but selective data.
  • It is not a comprehensive survey of network schedules and their supply chains.
  • And remember: most US channels apply a strategic filter to the release of information about their programs.

 

Takeaways

U.S.

  • The diversity of sources was somewhat of a surprise.
  • I expected that the LA region (41%) would be more dominant, reflecting the surging tide of agent-represented, character-based programming.
  • Pawn Stars’ producer Leftfield Pictures illustrates the continuing success of New York as a production center (21%).
  • ‘Other US’ (22%) is mostly comprised of Washington DC-area producers.
    • But there are surprising number of other centers.
    • Glancing at my database, I see Towers Productions and Harpo in Chicago, Powderhouse in Boston, RIVR Media in Tennessee, Hoff Productions in the Bay Area, Stage 3 in Philadelphia, and lots more.
  • Emerging producers from smaller markets tend to ‘marry up’ with established players.
    • This skews the data away from the center and towards the coasts.
  • All of this underlines the reality that great concepts come from smart people and not trendy zipcodes. That’s why the best developers keep their doors open to pitches from everywhere.

UK

  • It is remarkable how well-represented and successful are UK-based producers (10%)
  • Many of them like September Films and ITV Studios enjoy long-running operations over here.
  • The success of UK independents is partly an outcome of how the UK producers won a battle to legislate a framework that gives them equity in their IP’s
  • How unlike the US where the channels typically take all but a sliver of the value!

Other International

I’m confident that the ‘Other International’ sector will expand. Why?

  • Asia and other regional markets are evolving fast.
  • Their sophisticated producers will partner up with US and other international talent to make inroads into the  multi-, multi-billion dollar US nonfiction production industry.

Next

  • Thanks to our editorial associate Alexander Watson for capturing the preliminary data.
  • We intend to expand and refine the coverage and go deeper with the analysis.
  • We’ll also isolate documentary commissions from the Reality tide.

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