Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

Recap: What is the ‘Sweet Spot’?

Every network is steered by an annual programming budget that establishes or implies a “Sweet Spot” for an hour of original programming.
This benchmark is based on the network’s investment strategies, revenues, schedule, the competitive situation, contributions from co-producers and partners, and more.
The ‘Sweet Spot’ is the cost that the Director/VP of Development / Programming is comfortable presenting to the final decision-maker, expecting buy-in for an approved idea that meets the channel’s on screen standards.
Channels will pay more (‘High’) for premium, promotable programs, for example to anchor the Sunday night schedule, or to remedy a weak rating during weekday primetime.

Cost items that push programs into the ‘High’ category include: talent, CGI, extended dramatic reenactments, and payments for access to people, places and archives.

The ‘Low’ commission cost could be the bargain rate sought by program executives while maintaining their on-screen values.  

Or the ‘Low’ cost could be achieved by favorable production conditions – for example, for a format that requires a small local crew versus a large crew that works in harsh and remote locations.

We know of cases where the ‘Low’ benchmark represents a loss leader for a new producer who deficit-funded a production to establish a track record with a channel.

High-cost ‘Signature’, ‘Event’ or ‘Showcase’ programs anchor a channel’s major promotions. These are programming events that may occur occasionally or seasonally. Think of Discovery’s Sarah Palin’s Alaska with its reported million dollar talent fee, and the 12-part History franchise series America The Story of US, a production rich in costly CGI.


Coming Soon! ‘Sweet Spot’ Report

What Do Channels Pay for Programs?
Our Research Findings for Purchase Soon

Our original research findings about the ‘Sweet Spots’ for 25+/- U.S. channels cover:

  • Network budget benchmarks for original commissions
  • Several levels: Signature, High, ‘Sweet Spot’ and Low
  • We cover ‘the biggies’ and diginets

If the data is available, we include:

  • Acquisition costs
  • Copro contributions
  • Benchmark costs for typical genres

The unique and valuable ‘Sweet Spot’ Report covers Discovery Networks, OWN Oprah Winfrey Network, AETN Networks including History, truTV, MTV, Nat Geo and many more.

How to Purchase the ‘Sweet Spot’ Data
Our 2010 archive, INCLUDING NEW RESEARCH FINDINGS, will soon be available for electronic purchase from  We’re finalizing the purchase details now.

If you need ‘Sweet Spot’ data urgently, please email Peter Hamilton.