Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

Peter Hamilton Consultants

I work with channels, governments, non-profits, investors and producers on their business development projects that focus on documentary and unscripted content.


My corporate clients since have included CBS, Discovery Inc, A+E Networks, Smithsonian Networks, NBC, BBC, PBS, National Geographic Channel, Global Canal + and Weather Channel.

For established players and newcomers, I assess concepts and strategies, study markets, create business plans, identify partners and negotiate deals, develop marketing strategies, and work on their successful implementation.

My firm has helped plan and launch dozens of factual platforms worldwide, most notably Discovery International.


I help foundations, professional associations, educational institutions and family philanthropies to create documentary content that fulfills their mission by ‘moving the needle’ of audience awareness and action.

Clients have included the Gates Foundation, Paul Allen’s Vulcan Foundation, the Rockefeller and Carnegie Foundations, Wildlife Conservation Foundation, Dalio Foundation, Associated Universities, Inc, and Sundance Institute.


I work with independent producers and production companies to plan, develop, pitch and complete deals. The work often involves partnering with colleagues who are experts in particular genres and formats, or who have senior-level skills such as writing compelling pitches or negotiating distribution deals. 

Audience Research

We provide comprehensive audience analysis related to your program or series based on detailed Nielsen, Comscore, BARB and other costly proprietary research data. My partner is industry veteran John Morse whose firm Byron Media serves leading networks and producers as well as start ups.


My government clients have included South Africa’s Department of Trade & Industry, Singapore’s IMDA, Abu Dhabi’s Investment Authority, Screen Australia, and Enterprise Ireland. This practice involves developing a national strategy for the client’s unscripted video sector, and training local producers to compete in the global marketplace.

Founder / Publisher / Editor

My newsletter Documentary Business is my ‘indispensable’ platform for sharing current industry analysis weekly with more than 25,000 network executives, producers and professionals in 150+ countries. I also create industry guides and courses.

Speaking / Training

I am a frequent speaker, moderator, panelist and programming advisor at leading media industry events, notably MIPDoc, Real Screen Summit and Sunny Side of the Doc.

My workshops on business strategy for network executives and producers have included a series in South African cities for the Department of Trade & Industry, and at the Sorbonne University for French producers. 

At Sunny Side with Yves Jeanneau, late founder and friend
At Sunny Side with Yves Jeanneau, late founder and friend

Executive Producer

“Season of the Osprey” is a “sensational” wildlife coproduction between cinematographer Jacob Steinberg, Love Nature and PBS’s Nature series. Find out more here, watch “The Making of…” and listen to podcasts with the production team and leading scientists.

Prior to “Osprey,” I executive produced “A Shot To Save The World” for the Smithsonian Channel and BBC.  A bio-doc about Jonas Salk and his discovery of the polio vaccine, Bill Gates is the film’s presenter, and his foundation supported its development.

As development executive for “Great Barrier Reef” I introduced David Attenborough to Ray Dalio, the hedge fund executive whose Alucia research vessel served as the richly-equipped exploration platform for the series.

David Attenborough goes under in “Great Barrier Reef”


A former CBS executive, I was educated at the Wharton School, UPenn (MBA) and UMelbourne.


I enjoy content partnerships with leading industry events, and with Desktop Documentaries, Faith Fuller’s source of invaluable instructional and curriculum materials for emerging documentary producers.

Consulting Teams

I am based in New York. My senior associates are located in the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia.

Workshops & Presentations

I lead workshops that focus on developing competitive business and editorial strategies for network executives and producers.

I often team up with colleagues who share their special expertise, for example in creative development, budgeting, legal & business affairs, and distribution.


Recent topics that are the subject of keen interest in my consulting practice have included:

  • U.S. Networks: What They Want. What is the Deal?
  • How to Finance a Documentary
  • Best Practices for Networks in Program Development
  • Reality Series: Budgets and Deals
  • Managing Talent Expectations and Deals for Character-based Series
  • How US Networks Develop and Commission Factual Programs
  • Ten Takeaways on Preparing for an International Market
  • How to create a Winning Pitch
  • Budget Templates for Documentaries
  • Trends in Audience Research Tools for Programmers
  • Giant Screen / IMAX, 3D and VR: Trends and Opportunities
  • Coproduction Trends for History Documentaries
  • Agents: How Valuable?
  • How to Manage Television Music Rights and Royalties
A Paris workshop was sponsored the USPA. It was followed by a presentation on trends in the History genre for French industry leaders held at the Sorbonne.
At MIPDoc in Cannes, Peter joined Bo Stehmeier for the sold-out session “Money Matters: Finding Finance.”


Workshops and master classes may extend from a half-day presentation to two days of analysis involving case studies and problem solving.

Delegates receive my proprietary research studies, for example my “Sweet Spots” study on what networks pay for programs.

At the Sorbonne Colloqium

Special Workshops

Some workshops leave me with unforgettable memories:

  • South Africa’s dti funded an initiative by ATFT to prepare the country’s emerging producers to attend major markets. I led workshops in Joburg, Durban and Cape Town, and then worked with delegations at Sunny Side, MIPTV and Science Producers Congress.
  • Dentsu and Bang Communications held a workshop in Tokyo for Japanese producers who were compelled to respond to the Great Eastern Earthquake and Tsunami, and who were seeking to better understand how to earn commissions and copro’s with North American and European partners.
  • At NEWF 2018 I joined Nat Geo’s Dustin Renwick and Yolanda Mogatusi to help prepare the talented N.E.W. Pitch candidates for their 10 minutes before the judges. (Photo above).

Recent Panels

Distribution Trends at Columbia University; History Trends at Sunny Side; SVOD Success Factors at MIPDoc; Budgeting Best Practices at Real Screen; Marketing Strategies for Manitoba Producers; Program Development Strategies for IMDA Singapore; The Beatles Archive at Sunny Side; LIVE! Wildlife at Wildscreen; Online Distribution Trends at AIDC; Copro Trends at MIPDoc

Read More

Producers’ Master Class, Los Angeles: coverage in Huffington Post is here.

“Peter’s Master Class cut through my clutter of concerns about selling a show and got to the essential points that would prepare a project for success in the market place. I particularly found valuable the metaphor of network television as an evolving ecosystem. Given the fact that documentaries are a niche endeavor in general, it helped to begin thinking of the marketplace for programs as a pursuit for the best environments for survival, as opposed to trying to “break in” to the rarefied regions of network decision makers.”

A Little Bio

I taught junior high for several years in Australia after my graduation. It was at Sunshine Tech in Melbourne’s very rough Western Suburbs.

I often say: “I never worked so hard, but have rarely been so satisfied!” My workshops keep the tradition alive.

My filmmaking class, Sunshine Tech (Melbourne), mid-Seventies
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