It has often been said that real life is more interesting than fiction, and the growth of factual linear and nonlinear services is a testament to the continued appeal of real-world programming. Executives in charge of commissioning and sourcing nonfiction content need to blend factual accuracy with entertaining storytelling to inspire, inform and even awe viewers.
In acknowledgement of this vital segment of the television industry, World Screen, in partnership with MIPTV, is presenting the third annual Factual Trendsetter Awards to honor three individuals for their bold, innovative choices in programming. The honorees represent a range of factual services: Christian Drobnyk of National Geographic Channels, Thierry Mino of France 5 and Steve Burns of CuriosityStream.
These three programming executives will take part in the panel View from the Top: What Do Buyers & Commissioners Want? at MIPDoc on Saturday, April 7, from 10:15 a.m. to 10:50 a.m., in the Grand Theatre of the JW Marriott Cannes. World Screen’s group editorial director, Anna Carugati, will moderate a lively discussion that will focus on identifying ideas for shows that will satisfy viewers’ curiosity about the world around them.
“We’ve been thrilled with our partnership with Reed MIDEM over the last seven years to honor programming wizards who are tasked with building compelling schedules for audiences,” says Ricardo Guise, president and publisher of World Screen. “Given the complexities of today’s world, there is a premium on factual programming that accurately informs, engages and entertains, helping viewers understand issues and topics that are not sufficiently well-served by quick headlines or brief news reports. These executives have developed keen eyes for spotting top-notch, on-brand imports to satisfy their demanding audiences. We look forward to celebrating their discerning tastes with this award. During the View from the Top: What Do Buyers & Commissioners Want? session at MIPDoc, we’ll hear them share insights into their approaches to finding the best the global market has to offer. The must-attend session will surely provide plenty of useful information for anyone in the business of producing, buying or selling factual content. We are delighted to be honoring their achievements at MIPDoc.”
Executive VP of Programming Strategy & Acquisitions
National Geographic Channels
In the last few years, National Geographic, known for science, history, exploration, travel, adventure and natural history, has focused on bold television events like Breakthrough and even embarked on fact-based scripted series, such as MARS and Genius. These ambitious projects are accompanied by high-end acquisitions. Among his numerous responsibilities, Christian Drobnyk, the executive VP of programming strategy and acquisitions for National Geographic Channels, is tasked with sourcing shows from the international market. Recent acquisitions include Running Wild with Bear Grylls and Lost Treasures of the Maya Snake Kings. Drobnyk and his teams are looking for long-form content in the key genres that define the National Geographic brand, as well as returnable series. They are also increasingly interested in well-known talent and hosts to guide the storytelling in series, as in the case of Running Wild with Bear Grylls.
Deputy Head of Documentaries, Acquisitions & International Co-Productions
France 5 is known as the knowledge channel, serving viewers of all ages and dedicated to exploring, surprising and enlightening. It is part of the bouquet of channels managed by the French public-service broadcaster France Télévisions. France 5’s lineup includes magazine shows, documentaries and children’s programming that help viewers understand the world around them. Thierry Mino is deputy head of documentaries and is in charge of acquisitions and international co-productions. In 2017, his team acquired 500 shows for France 5, including Planet Earth II, Blue Planet II, Big Cats: An Amazing Animal Family and The Ascent of Civilization. In the area of co-productions, Mino is interested in ambitious projects suitable for a prime-time audience, with accurate but dramatic storytelling and compelling visuals. Currently he is focusing on archaeology and ancient civilizations, geology, science and technology, and space for France 5’s prime-time science strand.
Chief Programming Officer
CuriosityStream, a subscription online streaming service established by John Hendricks, the founder of Discovery Communications (now Discovery, Inc.), caters to viewers intrigued by science, history, space, technology, engineering and wildlife, in particular those shows that are hard to find in the television landscape. CuriosityStream, which has been dubbed “Netflix for Geeks,” has more than 100,000 subscribers in the U.S. and is available in 196 countries. As chief programming officer, Steve Burns is looking for new science insights, innovative production or storytelling techniques and factual topics told in an entertaining manner. While CuriosityStream offers a broad range of documentaries, it does not offer social or feature documentaries. Recent acquisitions include Particle Fever and The Renaissance Factor, while The Living Universe is a new co-production. New commissions include Ancient Earth and History of Food.