Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

The ‘Pawn Stars’ Reality Boom: Leftfield Pictures Snapshot, 2012. How Many Hours? Channels? What’s Next?

The light bulb that became Pawn Stars was first switched on in the back of a Vegas van in 2008.

Pawn Stars is now History Channel’s breakout hit show:

  • It ranks #1 in 2012 amongst all U.S. cable non-fiction series, followed by Jersey Shore.
  • And last time I checked, it averages nearly 5.6 million viewers.

That Las Vegas van was driven by emerging New York-based producer, Leftfield Pictures

  • In 2007, before Pawn Stars, Leftfield produced 1 television hour.
  • This year: more than 230 hours!!
  • And two of the Top 10 unscripted hits on U.S. cable.
This week, courtesy of Leftfield’s Brent Montgomery and his generous team, we measure the ‘Pawn Stars Reality Boom’:


Leftfield’s Secret Sauce

For a unique, detailed analysis of the Rise and Rise of ‘Pawn Stars’ and Leftfield Pictures, you can purchase ($29:95) and instantly download our original Case Study here.  Each commission, every success factor: don’t miss our informative and inspirational new profile of today’s hottest nonfiction production company!


(August estimate)


  • Episodes – 205
  • Hours – 103


  • Episodes – 151
  • Hours – 75.5

To Be Produced

  • Episode #’s – 243
  • Hours – 128.5

To Be Aired

  • Episode #’s – 60
  • Aired Hours – 30

Total for 2012
(August estimate)

  • Produced episodes: 448
  • Produced hours: 231.5


  • American Restoration (airing) History, 86×30
  • Ball Boys (waiting to cycle) ABC, 12×30
  • Cajun Pawn Stars (airing) History, 42×30
  • Counting Cars (premiering 8/13), History 13×30
  • Monster In-Laws (airing) A&E, 23×30
  • Oddities, Science (airing) 73×30
  • Oddities San Francisco (airing), Science, 18×30
  • Odd Folks Home, (TBD) Science, 6×30
  • Pawn Stars (airing) History, 274×30


  • Bid & Destroy (in Production) National Geographic, 12×30
  • Famous Yard Sale – w.t. (in Development) Lifetime, 16×30
  • Full Metal Racket – (in Production) CMT, 10×30
  • Health Inspectors (in Production) Food Network, 7×30
  • Unannounced Series (in development) Animal Planet, 8×30
  • Unannounced Series (in development) OWN, 6×60
  • Unannounced Series (in envelopment) History, 11×30
  • Unannounced Series (in development) truTV, 4×30
  • Pilots in development at A&E, 3×30
  • Pilot in development at Bio, 2×60
  • Pilot in development at Lifetime, 1×30

Channels  Served: 2012

  • History
  • A&E
  • Lifetime
  • Bio
  • Science
  • Animal Planet
  • CMT
  • Food
  • Nat Geo
  • ABC
  • truTV
  • OWN


  • Pawn Stars and American Restoration are among the anchors of A+E Networks’ expanding international operation.
  • Regional versions are on various agendas.
  • Leftfield may set up a UK office – or the acquisition of an existing UK producer.


    • Mary Donahue, Executive Producer, History Channel who describes how the History team developed and launched Pawn Stars
    • Brent Montgomery, Leftfield Pictures and creator of Pawn Stars
    • Rob Miller, Peleton Entertainment, Leftfield’s agent
  • Sit back/lean forward and watch their stories and practical insights!




International Documentary Buyers’ Guide 2012
(Published for Hot Docs, 2012 ) 

Which channels worldwide buy docs?

  • How many do they buy?
  • What are they looking for?
  • Who are the key contacts?
  • How do you reach them?
  • If we have the data, what do they pay?

The International Documentary Buyers’ Guide 2012 is an invaluable resource for producers who are working on strategies to pitch ideas or who are selling completed programs to channels.

  • 17 Countries
  • 40 Buyers

Based on original interviews with broadcasters, funders and senior producers conducted for the Hot Docs Forum 2012.

The Guide includes:

  • Executive Personnel
  • Current Strands & Slots
  • Recent Green Lights
  • Channel Profiles
  • Vital Links
  • Takeaways and Analysis

Download now


 Westdoc Workshop

  • Thanks to the packed room of delegates who contributed to our sizzling Westdoc Workshop in LA last Sunday.
  • Your feedback has been great.
  • Tom Jennings and Chris Hilton, two talented and very experienced producers joined my co-presenter Stephen Harris to help untangle the trends that drive the documentary / reality sector.
  • Many thanks also to Westdoc co-founders Richard Propper (L) Chuck Braverman (R), and the Westdoc team!

Photo: Danna  Kinsky

Next: Watch this space for notes and video from the Westdoc Workshop.




NHNZ Moving Images recently announced a new stock footage licensing package for editorial and documentary use of its content.

The new rate of US$40 per second, no minimums, for all media worldwide in perpetuity has been published to complement the production friendly terms clients have come to expect from Moving Images – with free research, low tech fees, and no kill fees.

NHNZ Moving Images Director, Caroline Cook says the new licensing package, which is available to all producers, has been designed around the changing needs of productions in this new era of television and digital platforms.

“We are changing the way we do business with our clients by addressing the budget imperative, and acknowledging rights must take into account the need to license across all media worldwide in perpetuity as the standard, not the exception.

“We want to make it easier for our clients to tell their stories with a package that fits ever-tightening budgets while still delivering broadcast quality content of the highest standards as demanded by international broadcasters.

“The significant Moving Images archive of 200,000 hours of broadcast quality footage is now open to the wider production market and available for use across all media in today’s multi-platform environment – we believe it’s the best licensing package out there.”

The new editorial and documentary rate applies to all NHNZ Moving Images’ on-line content.

Advertising, Theatrical and all other licensing options and pricing can be negotiated directly with the NHNZ Moving Images sales team at [email protected].


Editorial Assistance: Alexander Watson / George Mokhiber