StoryScout 2024

Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

The Obamas’ Output Deal With Netflix. Takeaways for Producers. A Podcast with StoryCentric’s Ed Hersh

Welcome to the first of my podcasts on the business of the unscripted business.

The topic:

  • Barack and Michelle Obama have formed a production company with Netflix‘s backing.
  • The definition of “A-Lister” will never be quite the same when it comes to pitching.
  • What does it mean for producers that the competitive bar to earn your buyers’ attention is now set by the recent leader of the Free World?

My guest:

  • My podcast guest is StoryCentric LLC‘s Ed Hersh. 
  • Ed is a New York-based senior consultant and great friend of this newsletter.

Super- Duper- A-Listers

  • We discussed how platforms like Netflix and premium channels like HBO prioritize tentpole productions with publicity-generating A-Listers.
  • The celebs deliver the buzz that separates their programs from the torrent of productions that are competing for the video consumers’ awareness.
  • And that’s changing the development and pitching process:
    • It used to be enough for a pitch to feature a TV personality.
    • Then came Leo DiCaprio and a handful of Sundance-recognized directors.
    • Now, do you need the charismatic former president and first lady of the United States?

There’s a Tent as well as a Tentpole

  • Channels still have long-term contracts with cable and satellite operators.
  • They commission hundreds of hours of ‘regular’ programming for their linear and OTT/online audiences.
  • It’s a challenging environment for producers, as Michael Hoff described this week in our terrific post Program Development and Pitching in the Online Video Economy. Takeaways from Hoff Productions
  • In our podcast, Ed Hersh shares his ideas on which channels are experiencing the most success in their “tent” of day-to-day programs, and what it takes to become a successful supplier to them.

Podcast: Listen Here!
(18 minutes)

About Ed Hersh

  1. Ed Hersh is the Chief Creative Officer of StoryCentric LLC, a New York‐based company that he founded in 2007 to advise networks and producers on their development, production and storytelling strategies, including the shaping of pilots and series to meet the needs of a wide range of networks. Read Ed’s bio and contacts here.


  • Grateful to Mileen Patel and Krista Gonzalez for production and platform solutions.
  • Watch out for my future podcasts with Ed and other guests.

My Upcoming Markets & Conferences

    • La Rochelle, France. June 25-28
    • Panels:
      • “The Future of Pubcasters: Adapt or Die”
      • “The Anti-Case Study”
        Christian Beetz presents the development, production and deal-making history of “The Cleaners” from Gebrueder Beetz.
  • NEWF: Nature, Environment & Wildlife Filmmakers Congress
    • Durban, South Africa. July 16-18.
    • Director Noel Kok has organized a great program that combines conservation and wildlife film-making.
    • Make it your reason to come to Africa.
    • More to come….