MIPCOM: The Week in Factual

TV Real shines a spotlight on the factual highlights from this year’s MIPCOM.

Amid the high-profile screenings that took place during MIPCOM were two exclusive first-episode showings of brand-new factual series: National Geographic’s MARS, presented by FOX Networks Group Content Distribution, and Planet Earth II from BBC Worldwide. With their dazzling visual quality, both blue-chip productions helped to underline the power of factual programming and its ability to stand out even among the big-budget dramas that are so often touted in today’s marketplace.

The special preview episode of MARS, which hails from Brian Grazer and Ron Howard and RadicalMedia, was followed by a panel moderated by World Screen’s Anna Carugati and featuring executive producer Justin Wilkes and author Stephen Petranek, among others. Planet Earth II, meanwhile, comes a decade after the original Planet Earth and makes use of the latest filming technology to showcase the natural world. At MIPCOM, BBC Worldwide finalized a co-production agreement with Tencent for the title, which will debut in the U.K. on BBC One and will simultaneously broadcast on Tencent’s v.qq.com platform. BBC Worldwide and the BBC Natural History Unit are also preparing another blue-chip series with Ocean, which will be co-produced with the German public service broadcaster WDR.

Indeed, the natural world and wildlife showed their dominance in the factual-programming arena at MIPCOM. ORF-Enterprise landed sales for a range of titles from its slate, notably for documentaries from its Universum strand that included the wildlife doc Vanishing Kings: Lions of the NamibBlue Ant International sold more than 300 hours of Ultra HD wildlife and nature content to broadcasters across Western Europe and Asia, with Amazon Prime Video in Japan among them. Sky Vision came to the market armed with the new 4K wildlife series Savage Kingdom, which it picked up from Icon Films and Natural History Film Unit Botswana. ZDF Enterprises is distributing the blue-chip natural-history series Borneo’s Secret Kingdoman Australia-Malaysia co-production that made use of local filming incentives. Smithsonian Channel and Earth Touch also struck a deal to co-produce two films and a three-part series in the wildlife genre.

Among the other factual genres that saw solid sales at MIPCOM was lifestyle fare. Scripps Networks Interactive presented 100-plus new lifestyle titles at the market, and the company did a deal with Canada’s Quebecor Content for a package that featured content focused on real estate, architecture, design, house-flipping and renovations. Breakthrough Entertainment showcased two new original unscripted shows from the SVOD platform Feeln, including the food-based Breaking Bread with Brooke Burke.

The true-crime wave that had many distributors riding high at MIPTV appears to have lost a bit of its momentum at MIPCOM but crime programming still remains in demand. Which factual genres will come in vogue next market? TV Real Weekly and TVReal.ws will keep you up to date with the latest trends and developments.