Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

Canadian Factual Production in the Streaming Era: 2020 Outlook & Trends with Stephen Ellis. Podcast

How is Canada’s documentary sector navigating the Netflix Era?

I turned to Stephen Ellis who I first met in the ‘Eighties when he was a high-volume program supplier to my client, the fledgling Discovery Channel.

  • Stephen was CEO of Ellis Entertainment which he sold in 2011 after 47 years in the business.
  • He is now President & COO of BirdDog Media, the new venture with Discovery veteran and friend Clark Bunting.


Canada’s documentary community has always punched far above its weight.

Key drivers of it success have included:

  • A strong national public broadcaster
  • A buffet of Cab/Sat channels with local content mandates
  • Co-production treaties
  • Generous national and regional tax incentive programs.
  • Hot Docs, Banff, TIFF and other major festivals add to Canada’s status as a global market.

Trends in the Netflix Era

  • Canadian production output and employment have both decreased in recent years.
  • Meanwhile the Foreign Location & Service sector has boomed.
  • I was eager to catch up with Stephen to explore how Canada’s Factual industry is faring in the Streaming Era.

Podcast: Listen to Stephen Ellis on trends in the Canadian factual market (25′)

Netflix Canada Snapshot

  • Subscribers: 7.96 million by 2023
  • 2019 Revenues: US$800 Mn (e)
  • 2018: US$635 Mn
  • 2017: US$508 Mn

Canadian Projects by Genre

A chart from the Profile 2018 study conveys the recent scale of the business in Canada.

Source: Profile 2018 Economic Report On The Screen-Based Media Production Industry In Canada (Canadian Media Producers Association)

CBC’s Nature of Things