StoryScout 2024

Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

‘How Do Networks Evaluate Pitches?’ H2, ZDF, CNN, Smithsonian, Nat Geo / Video

How Do Networks Evaluate Pitches?
What Works? What Kills a Deal!
H2, ZDF-Germany, CNN Documentaries, Smithsonian Channel, Nat Geo Channel.

In this step-by-step guide, five commissioners of documentaries and factual programs reveal how they schedule, take, process and approve pitches.

The session from Impact Summit 2013 analyses the entire commissioning process, from concept to green light… from “what works!” to “what kills a deal?”

Paul Cabana, Head of Programming, H2
Claudia Ruete, Politics & Current Affairs, ZDF Germany
Jennifer Hyde, Director of Development, CNN
David Royle, EVP, Programming & Production, Smithsonian Channel
JC Mills, Director of Development, National Geographic Channel
Peter Hamilton, Moderator,


‘How To Pitch’, Impact Media Summit, Part 1

  • What are your channel’s key filters?


  • How are pitch meetings best arranged?
  • Are your doors open to new producers?
  • What are the most common killers of a pitch meeting?
  • Paper or video: What are the formats that channels prefer for pitches?
  • How important is video?
  • How much should producers spend on their pitch? Do they need to bring co-production funds?


‘How To Pitch’, Impact Media Summit, Part 2

  • What are the steps taken by channels internally to approve a concept?
  • What is the typical timeline?
  • What happens after final approval of a concept?
  • What are deal killers following approval of a project

Videographer: Eli Brown


This is a great article Peter, thanks for sharing. I’m in the process of pitching and submitting my documentary in progress and all the information/knowledge I can get from people like you is very welcomed and appreciated. Thanks again, By Carla Sanchez


  1. Great Job Peter! Thank you for gathering this interesting panel and asking the questions that you did. I was delighted to see them and enjoyed hearing their perspectives.

  2. Great stuff. Went to a pitching forum a while ago, learned a lot, this compliments it. Time to polish up one or two things in my proposals.

    Would have liked to know how much influence and say does the broadcaster have in the final outcome in order to make a deal or once the deal is made.

  3. Thank you, Peter. It was great to watch the panel and get their respective takes on pitches and what works. My favorite lines: “Why this? Why you? Why now?” and “you’ve been sizzled.” Even though I’ve been fortunate enough to pitch projects that got picked up, it’s always useful to get the perspectives of other commissioning editors. Never to late to learn something new. Much appreciated. Megan Smith-Harris

  4. thank you so much for this Peter – as usual the documentarytelevision delivers great content. Its very helpful as I prepare for the pitching process.


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