Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

UK’s Fabulous 50 Documentaries + Factual, 1H 2016: The Brexit Predictors

Our veteran UK audience research guru correctly predicted the Brexit LEAVE vote based on the factual shows that were hits this year prior to the vote.

The values of Olde Englande led the list.

Here is our Top 50, Documentaries, Factual & Hobbies for 2016 through end of June (in thousands). Plus my quick Takeaways.

Programme Title‘000
1BBC 1Countryfile8,763
2ITVWhen Ant + Dec met the Prince7,687
3BBC 1Elizabeth at 90: family tribute7,463
4ITVOur queen at 907,065
5ITVThe queen’s 90th birthday6,678
6BBC 2Top gear6,421
7BBC 1Antiques roadshow6,011
8BBC 1Masterchef5,913
10ITVKiller women with piers morgan5,285
11ITVLet’s do it: a tribute to vict. wood5,176
12ITVThe cruise5,080
13BBC 1Celebrity masterchef4,792
14BBC 1Diy sos: the big build4,736
15BBC 1How to stay young4,629
16BBC 1David bowie: sound and vision4,473
17BBC 1Pompeii4,473
18ITVBritain’s favourite dogs4,433
19BBC 2Bake off creme de la creme4,427
20ITVBritain’s busiest airport heathrow4,351
21BBC 2The real marigold hotel4,228
22ITVDavina mccall: life at the extreme3,978
23ITVBest walks with a view3,897
24CH4Speed / guy martin: F1 special3,763
25BBC 1RHS chelsea flower show3,742
26ITVSugar free farm3,739
27BBC 1Traffic cops3,729
28ITVBilly connolly’s tracks / america3,709
29BBC 1Koko: the gorilla3,701
30ITVLove your garden3,696
31BBC 1Nature’s miracle orphans3,658
32BBC 1Great barrier reef / Attenborough3,653
33CH4The island with bear grylls3,604
34BBC 1The vikings uncovered3,511
35CH4Guy martin’s wall of death: live3,501
36BBC 1The truth about dementia3,460
37BBC 1Secret britain3,432
38ITVGriff’s great britain3,432
39ITVCaught on camera3,406
40ITVHer majesty’s prison: norwich3,391
41BBC 2The great british sewing bee3,382
42BBC 1Jo brand’s hell of a walk for sport3,377
43BBC 2Mary berry’s foolproof cooking3,328
44CH5Celebrity big brother3,328
45BBC 1Inside out3,266
46BBC 1Famous, rich and homeless3,261
47ITVLife inside jail: hell on earth3,241
48BBC 1Muhammad ali – the greatest3,236
49BBC 2Winterwatch3,223
50CH4The undateables3,191

Older Audiences

Dogs Top Wildlife

  • Cute beats Blue Chip.
  • ITV’s Britain’s Favorite Dogs (#18 / 4.4 Mn) outruns Koko the Gorilla (#29 3.7 Mn) and Attenborough‘s U-boat (#32 / 3.7 Mn).
  • I hope to attend Wildscreen in Bristol in October.  One of the key issues that I want to explore is that the UK Natural History community creates wonderful specials and limited series, while the U.S. and much of the rest of the TV world prefers repeatable, multi-episode series.

History Lives!

  • I see only one Blue Chip program of any genre in the Top 20, and that’s the BBC’s Pompeii .
  • The producers use new 3D scanning and other kit to reveal secrets hidden in the ruined city.
  • Watch host and author Mary Beard in the promo here.

Crime Pays

  • With killer titles like ‘Wives With Knives’, American crime stories have propelled ID network into the most watched of Discovery’s channels by select analytics.
  • ITV takes a page from the ID book with the #10 rated show Killer Women, which “sees Piers Morgan travel through Texas and Florida to meet some of America’s most notorious female murderers.”
  • Crime is a genre that is gathering steam worldwide: It appeals strongly to female audiences, but doesn’t drive men out into the toolshed.
  • Note: Crime suits great titles, and these are increasingly important to break thru the clutter, as I wrote here about the Titles Arms Race.

Hidden Hits

  • Public broadcasting execs don’t value their unsexy but repeating hit franchises like Countryfile and Antiques Roadshow.
  • The BBC is wasting opportunities to build viewer loyalty, and that’s important in today’s uncertain political climate.

Nothing Fresh?

  • I can’t see anything that breaks through: The golden age of British television seems long gone.
  • The smart creatives may be focusing on Facebook, YouTube and other platforms.
  • Perhaps fear of the future is stifling producers and decision-makers?

But Good Enough for Me!

  • But I don’t mean to be critical:  I’d give up my 500+ TimeWarner channels plus subscriptions to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and more — all in exchange for a guaranteed nightly primetime feed from the UK.

More UK Data Analysis + Context