MIPTV: History Is the Future for Documentary Producers

CANNES — “History is doing really well for us,” said Andrea Harrick, director of acquisitions at Blue Ant Media, which runs a bouquet of channels in Canada.

Harrick, who was speaking Saturday at MipTV sister event Mipdoc, added that other genres popular with audiences included shows about the paranormal, crypto-zoology, such as shows about Bigfoot, and natural disasters.

Jane Roscoe, head of international content for SBS in Australia, said there was a lot of interest in historical dramas, many of which were being made by documentary producers and greenlit by docu commissioners.

“You can blame ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Vikings’ for that kind of resurgence in our desire to see those stories told dramatically, and not just in documentaries,” Roscoe said.

Roscoe added that presenter-led science and history shows were popular, especially those that were “immersive.” “We like that idea of someone going out and trying things, and taking us on that journey,” she said.

Docus about race and immigration were also hot, and shows linked to a campaign. “We like a campaigning documentary, something with a social message and a call for action,” she said.

Ben Noot, manager, global acquisitions, National Geographic Channels International, said that its “Entertain Your Brain” strand was popular, with shows like “Brain Games,” which presents advanced science in a fast-paced, fun way, and gets the audience to play along.

Shows about space, like “Cosmos,” are also popping. “Space is really big for us. Bringing ‘Cosmos’ back has been great for the channel,” Noot said.

Noot also underscored the success of the femme-skewed lifestyle channel People, which is a rebranding of Nat Geo Adventure. The content was “real people’s stories with real emotional depth,” he said.

He said that YouTube was a source for characters and content for shows like “The Science of Stupid.”

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