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Attenborough Dominates Online Audience Demand Data. U.S. / UK Top 20 for Documentaries & Factual (Q2 2017)

David Attenborough is 90 and still the Alpha.

That’s the message from Parrot Analytics‘ Top 20 rankings of online audience demand for programs in the Documentary & Factual category for the U.S. and UK for Q2 2017.

Driving the rankings are:

  • Big Brands.
  • Big Talent.
  • And the True Crime, Blue Chip Natural History and Science genres.

Today’s Post

  • Here is the U.S. Top 20 (with my added notes on the platform, genre and format)
  • Plus my Takeaways.
  • Then follows the UK Top 20 and brief Takeaways, exclusively for
  • The post ends with a recap from a previous post that introduced Parrot and the Demand Expressions metric.

U.S. Documentary & Factual
Top 20 Demand Expressions ®
Apr 1 to Jun 30, 2017

TitleAverage Demand Expressions ®
1Planet Earth7,469,268BBC-A, AMC, Sundance, Netflix. Series
2The Keepers4,818,259Netflix Original. Crime series
3Attenborough & The Giant Dinosaur2,468,795PBS Nature. Special
430 For 302,280,754ESPN. Sports doc strand
548 Hours2,211,582CBS News magazine. Crime themed
660 Minutes2,052,168News magazine
7Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown1,862,301CNN. Food series
8Leah Remini: Scientology & The Aftermath1,774,545A&E. Series
9Making A Murderer1,773,635Netflix. Doc series. Crime
10Vice1,714,385HBO series.
11River Monsters1,644,479Animal Planet. Series.
12Bill Nye The Science Guy1,439,184Library series. Special.
13O.J.: Made In America1,368,607ABC / ESPN,  Hulu. Documentary
14Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey1,352,133Fox / Nat Geo. Series
15Dateline NBC1,342,407NBC News mag. Crime themed
16Snapped1,294,017Oxygen. Crime series
17When We Rise1,251,620ABC. Drama. Gay rights
18Who Do You Think You Are?1,243,383TLC. Family history format
19Attenborough At 901,166,558BBC special
20Through The Wormhole w Morgan Freeman1,158,203Science. Series

Planet Earth Trailer



  • Parrot’s findings help us understand the relative appeal of programs and content brands outside traditional networks ratings analysis.
  • Like BARB, Nielsen and other ratings agencies, Parrot’s coding of programs isn’t always spot on.
    • The news magazines “48 Hours”, “60 Minutes” and “Dateline” are a stretch in the Documentary & Factual category, though they do punch up the appeal of crime-themed programs.
    • And “When We Rise” is a dramatic series.
  • The list also mixes anthology strands (“30 for 30”) with repeating series, single docs and limited series.
  • And you can sell soap off a Nielsen or BARB rating, but not yet off this online metric.
  • But for all that, the particular titles and the relative scale of each show’s demand are highly deserving of our focus.

Genres + Talent

  • Crime, Blue Chip Natural History and Science are the strongest genres.
  • “Planet Earth” earned 55% more demand than the runner up, Netflix’s crime series “The Keeper”.
  • David Attenborough (#1, #3 and #19) is the dominant talent.
    • That’s a fantastic achievement for an admirable 90 year-old.
    • He ranks high on the UK list below.
  • Anthony Bourdain, Bill Nye and Morgan Freeman also show the advantage of a long career.

Brits & Brands

  • British creativity and funding are powerful forces behind the U.S. rankings:
    • For UK productions and formats, see #1, #3, #11, #18 and #19.
  • Huge brands dominate:
    • BBC, Netflix, PBS, HBO, A&E, Nat Geo, ESPN, the broadcast networks, and more.
    • But I can’t see Discovery. Or History. Or Amazon?
    • And hats off to the relative minnows, Science (#20) and Oxygen (#16).
  • “The Keepers” is a very meaningful result:
    • With no pre-sold personality or national crime story coverage like “O.J.”, its impact underlines Netflix’s huge market power.


  • Some old shows keep fizzing, while others (e.g. Amazon’s Jeremy Clarkson) seem not to.
  • It will be interesting to track over time the titles that keep or lose the buzz.

UK Documentary & Factual
Top 20 Demand Expressions ®
Apr 1 to Jun 30, 2017

TitleAverage Demand Expressions ®
1The Keepers1,346,498
2Planet Earth752,605
3Making A Murderer494,821
448 Hours390,321
5River Monsters348,330
6Attenborough & The Giant Dinosaur321,980
7The Jinx: The Life & Deaths Of Robert Durst321,165
8Wheeler Dealers279,600
9Leah Remini: Scientology &The Aftermath236,090
10O.J.: Made In America231,162
11George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces221,987
12Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown215,949
13Who Do You Think You Are?201,325
14Attenborough At 90199,464
1530 For 30198,034
16Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey197,124
17When We Rise193,263
18Last Chance U187,573
19Travel Man: 48 Hours In…168,367
20Hunting Hitler167,939


Quick Takeaways

  • Amazing how similar are the U.S. / UK Parrot lists:
    • There are only 6 new shows or personalities on the UK list.
    • Attenborough ranks #2, #6 and #14.
  • And yet the UK Sizzling 60 Factual which I published last week, reveals that for broadcast and cab/sat channels, British viewing preferences are worlds’ apart from American ones.
  • Interesting that History (#20 Hitler) and Travel (#19) scrape in.
  • And no royal-themed shows?
    • Let’s see if the Diana anniversary makes an impact in Q3?

More on Parrot

  • Parrot Analytics is a technology and data science company that measures global demand for television content.
  • Parrot recognizes that consumers express their demand for content through various “demand expression platforms” including:
    • Video Streaming Platforms
    • Social Media Platforms
    • Photo Sharing Platforms
    • Blogging & Microblogging Platforms
    • Fan & Critic Rating Platforms
    • Wikis & Informational Sites
    • Peer-to-Peer Protocols
    • File-Sharing Platforms

Global Standard: Demand Expressions®

  • Parrot developed Demand Expressions®a metric that captures cross-platform audience demand for content around the world.
  • It measures the desire, engagement and viewership of content across multiple sources.
  • Demand Expressions is weighted by importance: a stream or a download is a higher expression of demand than a passive impression or a comment.
  • It measures the total audience demand being expressed for a title, within a market, and from a multitude of sources.

Read my recent coverage of Jeremy Clarkson and Parrot Analytics here.

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