Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

Anthony Bourdain: A leader in online engagement across the documentary genre. Latest research

Anthony Bourdain measured up as #2 in the entire online video universe.

He was eclipsed only by the BBC’s massive Planet Earth / Blue Planet franchise.

That’s the key finding from Parrot Analytics‘ latest measure of global online engagement in documentary programs and series.

  • Parrot is a cutting-edge research firm that sweeps up millions and millions of “online expressions” about content.
  • It rates the level of involvement in a program in each of these “expressions.”
  • For example, a Facebook “Like” earns a low rating, and a “Download to Own” a very high one.

Parrot Analytics is sponsoring my focus on how the industry is measuring viewing, and hence value, in the new Era of Online Video.

Here are the recent findings:

Documentary Demand Expressions®
Top 15 Worldwide
May  1 – July 31, 2018

RankTitleNetwork / Platform* Episodes** Average Demand Expressions® 
1Planet Earth I & IIBBC11+60.552
2Anthony Bourdain: Parts UnknownCNN960.448
3The Blue PlanetBBC80.398
4Wild Wild CountryNetflix60.266
5One Strange RockNat Geo Channel100.256
6Wheeler DealersDiscovery2110.222
7Life After PeopleHistory210.197
8NOVAPBS20-15 / yr0.172
9How It’s MadeScience3960.169
10Cosmos: A Spacetime OdysseyFox / Nat Geo130.166
11Hunting HitlerHistory250.157
12River MonstersAnimal Planet1030.128
13Anthony Bourdain: No ReservationsTravel Channel1420.127
15Air Crash InvestigationDiscovery Canada1600.114

Source: Parrot Analytics
* I added the estimated total episodes from IMDB and other sources
** Average Demand Expressions® per 100 Capita over Date Range



  • Parrot’s global Top 15 delivers surprises: it mixes the predictable – the giant BBC Wildlife series – with a recent Netflix hit, and long-running strands and franchises (NOVA and Horizon).
  • Netflix’s Wild Wild Country is the highest placed online Original.


  • Natural History, Science and Travel/Lifestyle are the top genres.
  • True Crime (Wild Wild Country) and Auto-heads (Wheeler Dealersare  represented.
  • The History genre doesn’t break through.
  • There’s a mix of relatively high-brow, curated content and popular series.

Low-powered Rockets

  • Big franchises can launch from relatively small channels: Exampes are Air Crash Investigation from Discovery Canada, and Science’s How It’s Made.


  • Anthony Bourdain’s impact last quarter may be associated in part with his tragic end.
  • But earlier research shows that he was up there with David Attenborough as a giant among likable and trusted television personalities.

Nat Geo

  • Nat Geo employed a strategy of wedding the yellow border to big, highly-promoted signature series with A-Lister talent and directors.
  • The aim was in part to break through the channel’s limited live audience and light a fire online.
  • The strategy worked with Cosmos and One Strange Rock.

Anglo-Saxons Rule

  • The winners are all English-language programs that originate in North America and UK, and that are distributed globally.

Here is Parrot Analytics’ chart of the findings:

Documentary Demand Expressions
Top 15 Worldwide
May  1 – July 31, 2018

Next: UK Focus

  • Next post: The Top 10 Documentaries on Amazon Prime UK and Netflix UK.


Demand Expressions®

  • Demand Expressions® is the global TV measurement standard developed by Parrot Analytics represents the total audience demand being expressed for a title, within a market.
  • Audience demand reflects the desire, engagement and viewership, weighted by importance.
  • A stream/download is a higher expression of demand than a ‘like’/comment.

About Parrot Analytics

Parrot Analytics is a data science company that empowers media companies, brands and agencies to understand global audience demand for television content. Wielding the world’s largest audience behavior data sets, the company has developed the world’s only global cross-platform, country-specific audience demand measurement system.

Parrot Analytics captures an unprecedented spectrum of actual audience behavior including video streaming consumption, social media, blogging platforms, file-sharing and peer-to-peer consumption spanning 249 countries. This enables media companies, for the very first time, to understand audience demand for content across all content distribution platforms in all markets around the world.

Updated August 2018

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