StoryScout 2024

Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

StoryScout: Delivering Efficiencies to the Story Development Process

I’m always on the hunt for solutions that create efficiencies – and therefore take costs out of our ever-tighter production budgets.

That’s what STORYSCOUT delivers to the development process for documentary and factual producers.

I first met Todd Hoffman, StoryScout Founder and CEO at MIPDOC ’24 in Cannes.

In this first of a series of posts and webinars, Todd explains how StoryScout finds and brokers the rights to stories.

The Challenge: Content Discovery

The conventional development process for unscripted producers is stacked with inefficiencies.

  • Producers and their development teams scour online news and video platforms for the needle in the haystack – the compelling and unique story for which the rights might be available.
  • Then comes clearing the rights – finding the journalist and/or the subject of the story, gaining their confidence, and then clearing the rights.

It’s a hit-and-miss process that eats up staff time and incurs costs.


  • Todd is the former Head of the Media Rights Group at ICM Partners.
  • He says “I wanted to find a way to use technology to help create efficiencies for producers who need access to stories.”

The Product

  • Todd and his team created the online marketplace, StoryScout.
  • Todd is the agent for more than 1,200 mastheads worldwide.
  • StoryScout provides producers who are subscribers with access to over four thousand stories, with more added every day.
  • AI-powered search and 100+ metadata tags support extensive keyword searches by category, genre, topic, region and more.
  • They are stories that have been researched and published by reputable sources.
  • Subscribers can take advantage of quick and early access to the journalists who created the story.

The Disruptive Process

  • Todd represents over 1,200 publishing partners and can thus secure free shopping agreements for producers.
  • “We equipped StoryScout with AI/NLP technology to make searching for the story you want even easier now.”
  • Producers can lock down option agreements without delay.

Subscription Cost

  • “With StoryScout, subscribing producers get their own story department for around 20% of the cost of a junior development executive.”

Key Benefits

Todd summarizes the key benefits that expedite the development process:

  • No more searching for the agent → We’re the exclusive representative for everything on our site.
  • No more bidding wars → Bespoke servicing leads to you getting the projects you want.
  • No more fighting agency agendas → We only have one agenda: You!
  • No more drawn out negotiations → Close deals quickly with our shopping agreements.

“Maximize Discovery / Minimize Effort”

Todd Hoffman lists the key benefits for factual producers:

  • Read full stories: Browse headlines and synopses and click to access the entire story.
  • Check rights: One-click rights inquiry makes finding available IP easy and fast.
  • Story alerts: Email notifications in real-time when StoryScout adds a new article that matches your needs.
  • Interest lists: Categorize and organize your favorite topics and automatically surface the right stories for the right projects.
  • Bi-weekly story emails: Get the best new stories directly to your inbox twice a week.
  • Advanced look: Access to content prior to publisher’s release, leading to preemptive rights acquisition.
  • Story freeze: Put IP on hold while you put together your pitch.
  • Deep dives: Leverage our content team for archival searches of our publishing partners for specific subject matter.

Success Stories

  • “We’ve been operating now for four years and have already gotten over 40 hours of our content produced and delivered”
  • Here are five examples:
These intellectual properties Became these film/TV titlesFor these Studios
36 HOURS 36 HOURSTravel Channel
Purdue Pharma Agrees to Plead Guilty to Federal Criminal Charges in Settlement Over Opioid CrisisThe Crime of the CenturyHBO
The Island Packet Coverage of the Murdaugh FamilyLow Country: The Murdaugh DynastyHBO Max
Thunder BayThunder BayCrave
At War with the TruthThe Afghanistan PapersParamount+

About Todd Hoffman

Todd Hoffman is the Founder & CEO of Storied Media Group and StoryScout, the online marketplace that curates globally sourced IP, negotiates the rights, and allows studios and independent producers to easily find and option stories with a click of a mouse. Through SMG’s digital platform StoryScout, tens of thousands of creatives around the globe have early access to the stories that translate into high end content, which SMG then brokers.

How To Contact StoryScout

More about StoryScout


Peter’s Takeaways

  • The financial pressures on producers in the post-PEAK TV era are relentless.
  • For example, in our recent webinar with Roy Ackerman and Patrick Susskind, we learned that costly trailers and video presentation tapes are increasingly phase 2 expenses, only incurred when buyers express initial interest in a story.
  • Development execs are seeking every edge to broaden the catchment era for stories, reduce costs, and work with partners who are similarly dedicated to efficiency.
  • Production companies benefit from applying solutions like StoryScout that rely on disruptive technologies.

Read and Watch More…

Thanks to StoryScout for sponsoring our upcoming series of posts and webinars covering trends in the development process for documentary and unscripted programs.