StoryScout 2024

Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

History Refreshes ‘The Bible’. Creation Theory #2

Last week, History announced The Bible, a five-part, 10-hour docu-drama that explores Biblical stories

  • The series will screen in 2013

According to History’s press release

  • “THE BIBLE series is being produced for HISTORY by Lightworkers Media and Hearst Entertainment & Syndication. 
  • “Executive Producers are Mark Burnett, Roma Downey and Richard Bedser.”

So what is the genesis of The Bible?


Creation Theory #2
An A+E Networks’ Stakeholder is Eager to Establish a 50%-owned Production Company
as a ‘Super- Super-Preferred Supplier’

Who Owns A+E Networks?

  • Hearst Corporation (42.5%)
  • Disney-ABC Television Group (42.5%)
  • NBCUniversal (15%)

Hearst Entertainment & Syndication

  • Hearst Entertainment & Syndication is the operating group responsible for Hearst Corporation’s interests in cable television networks
  • These include
    • ESPN (20%)
    • A+E Networks (Lifetime, A&E, History, Bio and others)
    • Television production and distributio
  • Scott Sassa is president of Hearst Entertainment, and he is a senior vice president of Hearst Corporation
    • Sassa knows his The Bible
    • He ran TNT when it commissioned the hit scripted Bible series

 Vertical Integration Matters

  • Hearst was once a major TV Movie supplier
    • Hearst produced the majority of all the Lifetime’s original movies
    • The rest were supplied by ABC, the other owner of Lifetime, and by independents 
  • Hearst Entertainment is deeply committed to rebuilding its ownership of content assets
    • The unit is determined to expand the supply of Hearst-owned productions to Hearst-owned networks and distributors


NHNZ Moving Images – Extraordinary Content
NHNZ Moving Images online stock footage archive represents exceptional vision produced by NHNZ and over 40 leading film makers, spanning content from their Nature, People, Places, Science and Adventure collections.

NHNZ Moving Images specializes in broadcast quality HD for all media, including the National Geographic Worldwide Collection, 3D,  and a new category of establishing and situational footage.

Their business model enables producers to buy by the seconds not the clip,  with no minimums, no kill fees, and free research for most standard enquiries.

They  are focused on delivering the best shots to meet all creative, editorial and technical requirements, deadlines and budget.

NHNZ Moving Images is a division of NHNZ Limited.


Hearst Acquires a Production Company

  • In April, 2011, Hearst acquired a 50% stake in Mark Burnett Productions
    • It was a complex deal, stripping the long-running network shows Survivor and The Apprentice from the valuation
  • The acquisition is the cornerstone of Hearst’s content strategy
  • Hearst wants a return on its investment
    • An obvious path is to help propel Burnett even higher into the ranks of ‘Super Preferred Producers’
    • And expand its flow of commissions outside its core business of prime time entertainment
  • Hearst’s 1st calls would have been to channels where Hearst has an ownership stake and where Burnett has not been a leading supplier
    • Like A+E Networks


  • Being a producer is tough
  • It’s definitely a good thing to be a ‘preferred producer’
  • And being a ‘super-preferred producer’ is even better
    • That means that you enjoy returning series on multiple networks
    • But as we have written elsewhere, ‘super-preferred producers’ tend to charge a premium
    • And the channels are forever nurturing up-and-comers who can deliver equally great shows but at a more affordable cost than their star vendors
  • However, nothing beats being a ‘super- super-preferred producer’ whose 50% owner is a major stakeholder in the hottest channels group anywhere!
    • And BTW, watch out for a Roma Downey Scripted series on Lifetime

Next: The Cost?

  • How much is The Bible?
  • Thoughts on the budget for a Bible-based drama or docu-drama



Sunnyside of the Doc
La Rochelle, France
June 21-24
3D Where is the Money?
For a year now, 3D has been on the rise. Initiatives are announced each week.
Is this new format the next El Dorado, despite the heavy technical constraints?  
Between public subsidies, industrial partnerships, TV copros and theatrical releases:
What is the path to successfully finance a 3D project?   

What is the cost premium for 3D vs HD?

Ghislaine Le Rhun-Gautier, head of 3D project, Orange (France)
John Cassy, Director, Sky 3D (UK)
Baptiste Heynemans CNC (NTP) (France)
Laurent Dondey, DP La Géode (France)
Modérateur: Peter Hamilton, DocumentaryTélé

Also: Trends in U.S. Television
Details soon