StoryScout 2024

Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

NETFLIX: What do they want? True Crime, Reality Formats, the Sussexes and more. Plus my new guide! NETFLIX 2021: What You Need To Know Now!

Netflix is steadily expanding its programming appetites in the feature documentary, popular Factual and Reality Formats.

Follow recent reports from the field, and in my new and expanded guide NETFLIX 2021: What You Need To Know Now!

True Crime:

  • Netflix is launching the original True Crime documentary American Murder: The Family Next Door.
  • The feature doc covers the 2018 disappearance in Colorado of 34-year-old Shanann Watts and her two young daughters.
  • The producer is UK-based Knickerbockerglory.
  • The title and content of American Murder capture Netflix’s expanding settlement of the popular True Crime territory so successfully refined by Discovery’s ID network (“Fear Thy Neighbor”), followed by Oxygen.
  • (Read more in my Sweet Spots 2021 guide to 32 US networks: What they are lookinf for; and what they pay for programs.)

“Giant, Resonant Formats”

  • At the Edinburgh Television Festival, Netflix director of unscripted originals and acquisitions Nat Grouille called for entertainment format pitches that set out to answer ”what if” questions and fill the streamer’s “white spaces.” on the SVOD’s slate.
  • The aim is to create the SVOD’s equivalent to Big Brother.
  • “What if people had to live on an island? That’s Survivor. What if people all lived in a house and you could watch? That’s Big Brother.”
  • “We are looking for those big questions in all areas.”
  • Netflix’s UK-based unscripted managers Ben Kelly and Daisy Lilley are “ready to take those pitches immediately”.

Family Entertainment

  • Netflix director of unscripted originals and acquisitions Sean Hancock said Netflix also wants to find entertainment programmes that cater for families:
  • “We could use more of that four-quadrant family entertainment.”
  • “That’s a nut we want to crack as it’s where you get the really big, ‘zeitgesty’ hits.”
  • Read more in my new and updated industry guide NETFLIX 2021: What You Need To Know Now!

Super- duper- A-Listers

  • Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have signed a production deal with Netflix that includes docuseries and documentaries.
  • The announcement sends a message that no A-Lister is “A” enough for the streamer.
  • The Sussexes join the Obamas, followed by lower tiers of celebrities and major award-winners whose name attached to a Netflix project can help it break through the clutter.
  • Netflix’s program pipeline is now so vast that ‘regular’ producers still earn commissions.
  • And we’ll all be interested to learn if the deal is a ‘first look’ or more.

NETFLIX 2021: What You Need To Know Now!

  • Database of 260+ documentary commissions & acquisitions
  • Each entry includes logline, poster, executive producers, producers, director, talent, box office & more
  • Who to contact! 50 Key Netflix decision-makers worldwide who buy documentaries & unscripted series
  • Netflix’s ‘preferred producers’ who may partner with you to pitch your project.
  • How much does Netflix spend on Originals?
  • Budgets & Deals
  • The economics of subscription video streaming, with forecasts
  • Trends & Competition (Disney, Apple, Google + more)
  • 185 pages

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