With a muscular lineup of factual programming, recent acquisitions and expanded catalogs, ZDF Enterprises’ ZDFE.unscripted division is expecting strong business this year.
Consisting of two main arms, factual and entertainment, ZDFE.unscripted covers a broad range of genres, from history, wildlife and science, to music, arts and sports.
“The division is very solid for us,” says ZDFE president and CEO Fred Burcksen, adding that its global success makes it a very profitable unit for the group.
ZDFE beefed up its non-scripted business in January with the acquisition of leading Dutch production and sales company Off the Fence (OTF), which just signed a global, multi-year distribution deal with Red Bull’s Terra Mater Factual Studios.
The company wanted to achieve two things with the acquisition of OTF, says Burcksen: strengthen its global sales power and bring OTF’s production operations into the ZDFE fold.
“It should remain an independent unit, but we are collaborating closely as partners and we are looking at
how to better sell our common catalog,” he adds.
With OTF and Terra Mater’s lineups combined with its own catalog, ZDFE is expecting licensing revenue this year to reach some $30 million.
Burcksen says the group is looking “to strengthen and maintain” its production operations through acquisitions as part of its growth strategy.
In 2017 the company took a stake in London-based World Media Rights, which produces factual TV programming and drama reconstruction for a wide range of international broadcasters as well as U.S. cable franchises like “Myth Hunters.”
ZDFE’s factual programming lineup this year includes such titles as “The Greatest Race,” about the charioteers of ancient Rome; “Just Animals,” described as “a spectacular celebration of the world’s wildlife”; and “Humboldt: Epic Explorer,” which follows Alexander von Humboldt’s exploration of South America in 1799.
In time for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, ZDFE is also presenting three documentaries about humanity’s lunar ambitions, including “The Moon Landing and the Nazis,” which examines the role of German scientists in the U.S. space program.