Attenborough Dominates Online Audience Demand Data. U.S. / UK Top 20 for Documentaries & Factual (Q2 2017)

David Attenborough is 90 and still the Alpha.

That’s the message from Parrot Analytics‘ Top 20 rankings of online audience demand for programs in the Documentary & Factual category for the U.S. and UK for Q2 2017.

Driving the rankings are:

  • Big Brands.
  • Big Talent.
  • And the True Crime, Blue Chip Natural History and Science genres.

Today’s Post

  • Here is the U.S. Top 20 (with my added notes on the platform, genre and format)
  • Plus my Takeaways.
  • Then follows the UK Top 20 and brief Takeaways, exclusively for
  • The post ends with a recap from a previous post that introduced Parrot and the Demand Expressions metric.

U.S. Documentary & Factual
Top 20 Demand Expressions ®
Apr 1 to Jun 30, 2017

Title Average Demand Expressions ®
1 Planet Earth 7,469,268 BBC-A, AMC, Sundance, Netflix. Series
2 The Keepers 4,818,259 Netflix Original. Crime series
3 Attenborough & The Giant Dinosaur 2,468,795 PBS Nature. Special
4 30 For 30 2,280,754 ESPN. Sports doc strand
5 48 Hours 2,211,582 CBS News magazine. Crime themed
6 60 Minutes 2,052,168 News magazine
7 Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown 1,862,301 CNN. Food series
8 Leah Remini: Scientology & The Aftermath 1,774,545 A&E. Series
9 Making A Murderer 1,773,635 Netflix. Doc series. Crime
10 Vice 1,714,385 HBO series.
11 River Monsters 1,644,479 Animal Planet. Series.
12 Bill Nye The Science Guy 1,439,184 Library series. Special.
13 O.J.: Made In America 1,368,607 ABC / ESPN,  Hulu. Documentary
14 Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey 1,352,133 Fox / Nat Geo. Series
15 Dateline NBC 1,342,407 NBC News mag. Crime themed
16 Snapped 1,294,017 Oxygen. Crime series
17 When We Rise 1,251,620 ABC. Drama. Gay rights
18 Who Do You Think You Are? 1,243,383 TLC. Family history format
19 Attenborough At 90 1,166,558 BBC special
20 Through The Wormhole w Morgan Freeman 1,158,203 Science. Series

Planet Earth Trailer



  • Parrot’s findings help us understand the relative appeal of programs and content brands outside traditional networks ratings analysis.
  • Like BARB, Nielsen and other ratings agencies, Parrot’s coding of programs isn’t always spot on.
    • The news magazines “48 Hours”, “60 Minutes” and “Dateline” are a stretch in the Documentary & Factual category, though they do punch up the appeal of crime-themed programs.
    • And “When We Rise” is a dramatic series.
  • The list also mixes anthology strands (“30 for 30”) with repeating series, single docs and limited series.
  • And you can sell soap off a Nielsen or BARB rating, but not yet off this online metric.
  • But for all that, the particular titles and the relative scale of each show’s demand are highly deserving of our focus.

Genres + Talent

  • Crime, Blue Chip Natural History and Science are the strongest genres.
  • “Planet Earth” earned 55% more demand than the runner up, Netflix’s crime series “The Keeper”.
  • David Attenborough (#1, #3 and #19) is the dominant talent.
    • That’s a fantastic achievement for an admirable 90 year-old.
    • He ranks high on the UK list below.
  • Anthony Bourdain, Bill Nye and Morgan Freeman also show the advantage of a long career.

Brits & Brands

  • British creativity and funding are powerful forces behind the U.S. rankings:
    • For UK productions and formats, see #1, #3, #11, #18 and #19.
  • Huge brands dominate:
    • BBC, Netflix, PBS, HBO, A&E, Nat Geo, ESPN, the broadcast networks, and more.
    • But I can’t see Discovery. Or History. Or Amazon?
    • And hats off to the relative minnows, Science (#20) and Oxygen (#16).
  • “The Keepers” is a very meaningful result:
    • With no pre-sold personality or national crime story coverage like “O.J.”, its impact underlines Netflix’s huge market power.


  • Some old shows keep fizzing, while others (e.g. Amazon’s Jeremy Clarkson) seem not to.
  • It will be interesting to track over time the titles that keep or lose the buzz.

Leah Remini: Scientology & The Aftermath

UK Documentary & Factual
Top 20 Demand Expressions ®
Apr 1 to Jun 30, 2017

Title Average Demand Expressions ®
1 The Keepers 1,346,498
2 Planet Earth 752,605
3 Making A Murderer 494,821
4 48 Hours 390,321
5 River Monsters 348,330
6 Attenborough & The Giant Dinosaur 321,980
7 The Jinx: The Life & Deaths Of Robert Durst 321,165
8 Wheeler Dealers 279,600
9 Leah Remini: Scientology &The Aftermath 236,090
10 O.J.: Made In America 231,162
11 George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces 221,987
12 Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown 215,949
13 Who Do You Think You Are? 201,325
14 Attenborough At 90 199,464
15 30 For 30 198,034
16 Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey 197,124
17 When We Rise 193,263
18 Last Chance U 187,573
19 Travel Man: 48 Hours In… 168,367
20 Hunting Hitler 167,939


Quick Takeaways

  • Amazing how similar are the U.S. / UK Parrot lists:
    • There are only 6 new shows or personalities on the UK list.
    • Attenborough ranks #2, #6 and #14.
  • And yet the UK Sizzling 60 Factual which I published last week, reveals that for broadcast and cab/sat channels, British viewing preferences are worlds’ apart from American ones.
  • Interesting that History (#20 Hitler) and Travel (#19) scrape in.
  • And no royal-themed shows?
    • Let’s see if the Diana anniversary makes an impact in Q3?

More on Parrot

  • Parrot Analytics is a technology and data science company that measures global demand for television content.
  • Parrot recognizes that consumers express their demand for content through various “demand expression platforms” including:
    • Video Streaming Platforms
    • Social Media Platforms
    • Photo Sharing Platforms
    • Blogging & Microblogging Platforms
    • Fan & Critic Rating Platforms
    • Wikis & Informational Sites
    • Peer-to-Peer Protocols
    • File-Sharing Platforms

Global Standard: Demand Expressions®

  • Parrot developed Demand Expressions®a metric that captures cross-platform audience demand for content around the world.
  • It measures the desire, engagement and viewership of content across multiple sources.
  • Demand Expressions is weighted by importance: a stream or a download is a higher expression of demand than a passive impression or a comment.
  • It measures the total audience demand being expressed for a title, within a market, and from a multitude of sources.

Read my recent coverage of Jeremy Clarkson and Parrot Analytics here.

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