Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

How Much? The ‘Rule of Thumb’ for Co-pro’s, Acquisitions and Pre-sales by Off the Fence’s Bo Stehmeier. A MIPDoc 2014 Highlight

Money Matters: Finding Finance Workshop
MIPDoc, April 5, 2014.
Bo Stehmeier, Off the Fence, and Peter Hamilton. 

After our packed workshop, Bo Stehmeier graciously recapped his important ‘rule of thumb’ for establishing the co-pro, pre-sale or acquisition value of a program in a given market.  This was the topic that generated the most discussion in the Q&A after our presentation.


Here is the interview segment:

And here is the transcript:


My name is Bo Stehmeier. I work at Off the Fence in distribution, and we’re here at MIPDoc today to talk about “Money Matters.”

The Big Question

  • The marketplace has become a really complicated space to navigate, so I’ve created a rule of thumb to help people navigate the structures.
  • The biggest question in the room is always:
    • “How much?”
    • “How much should I be asking for my program?”
  • And obviously buyers like to keep their cards very close to the chest, which makes it hard.


The Rule of Thumb

  • There’s a rule of thumb that when you’re selling to a big commercial broadcaster that has a 24/7 schedule that whatever they put at a commission rate—which, as an average, is data that is available—is “100 percent.”
  • If you want to co-produce with them, you look at 50 percent of that 100 percent.
  • So if the 100 percent is $300,000, their co-production rate should be at $150,000.
  • If you’re looking at an acquisition rate, that’s generally 10 percent of the commission rate.
  • So if it’s $300,000, the acquisition rate should be $30,000.
  • Between co-production and acquisition, you find the pre-sale, and on average, the pre-sale—although this could be a sliding scale—is at 25 percent of the 100 percent.


  • This is a very valuable rule, because it helps you to model how you should be financing your film.
  • When you’re selling to a broadcaster in a territory which is purely built on acquisitions, you should take the 10 percent of the 100 percent and halve that, and that should be your guide to sell to that channel.

I hope you find this very helpful, and as I said, this is a ‘rule of thumb.’

Good luck!!


NEW!…………………….SWEET SPOTS 2014………………………….NEW!
Production and Acquisition Cost Benchmarks for U.S. Factual Networks

  • What do 30+ US channels pay for programs?
  • For docs? And reality?
  • For Signature, Standard and ‘Bargain-basement?
  • Is our commissioning team paying more or less than the competition?
  • Do preferred producers earn a premium?
  • Does my pitch fall in the budget sweet spot for my target network?
  • Which programs are being promoted at the 2014 Upfronts?

We interview dozens of executives and producers to create a unique source of proprietary information about network budgets for commissions and copro’s.

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