News

By the Numbers

Besides license fee queries, this year's Factual Price Guide poll included several questions aimed at garnering information on the way business is conducted in the non-fiction industry. For the 2001 Guide, we asked about distributor commissions, percentages of factual in producer...
March 1, 2001

Besides license fee queries, this year’s Factual Price Guide poll included several questions aimed at garnering information on the way business is conducted in the non-fiction industry. For the 2001 Guide, we asked about distributor commissions, percentages of factual in producer and distrib catalogs (producers tend to stick to factual more exclusively than the people who represent them), as well as several other areas.

Breakdown of Submissions

This year, we received more European responses than in previous years, and noticed a corresponding drop in American input. We also received much more support from Latin America.

While many of the poll areas show slight fluctuations, investment in programming on the part of producers and distribs appears to have dropped, although the number of hours being attempted has increased slightly. This could reflect a drop in the attention paid to natural history programming, which is historically one of the most expensive genres to produce.

As far as funding is concerned, results show that distribs tend to charge producers more money than they invest (which isn’t surprising, considering they have to eat too), and broadcasters still fund the lion’s share of production. But, while most companies say the key to their survival can be found in international coproduction, a significant number of producers and distributors find their money exclusively at home, or only look to the outside world for finishing funds.

On the online front, though many companies appear to be thinking about the web, only a minority are actually doing something about it – and of those who are, few are throwing much money into the effort.

Lastly, a note of caution: Because the Factual Price Guide is self-selecting (you choose to fill it out or you don’t), the accuracy of the responses depends on the number of people in the industry who take the time to fill it out. Since we began conducting this survey, the number of participants has increased each year, which should mean our figures have become more accurate. The Guide should be used as just that, however. Please don’t wager large sums of money, stake your livelihood, or risk the kid’s college fund based solely on its information.

DISTRIBUTORS:

How many producers do you represent?
Average: 49
High: 200
Low: 3

Average of two previous years:
Average: 44
High: 200
Low: 3

How many hours are in your catalog?
Average: 1,342
High: 7,500
Low: 15

Average of two previous years:
Average: 1,842
High: 10,000
Low:17

How many hours do you add annually?
Average: 66
High: 200
Low: 6

Average of two previous years:
Average: 56
High: 383
Low: 3

How much money do you invest in programming annually?
Average: $172,500
High: $500,000
Low: $0

Average of two previous years:
Average: $1,200,207
High: $3,500,000
Low: $54,000

What is your average commission?
Average Rate: 27%
Highest Rate: 50%
Lowest Rate: 0%

How much of your catalog is factual?
Average: 71%
High: 100%
Low: 50%

PRODUCERS:

What percentage of your catalog is factual?
Average: 88%
High: 100%
Low: 10%

How many hours are in your catalog?
Average: 45
High: 275
Low: 1

How many hours do you add annually?
Average: 16
High: 160
Low: 1

How much do you invest in programming annually?
Average: $530,000
High: $4,000,000
Low: $0

Last year:
Average: $1,472,142
High: $3,000,000
Low: $10,000

Do you own your own stock footage archive?
Yes: 71%
No: 29%
Last year:
Yes: 76%
No: 24%

If yes, how many hours are in your archive?
Average: 181
High: 1,000
Low: 4

Average of two previous years:
Average: 735
High: 6,250
Low: 7

BROADCASTER RELATIONSHIPS:

What is most important to producers/distributors when choosing a broadcaster to work with:
Broadcaster makes known demand for product – 48%
Track record/previous relationship – 36%
Broadcaster need for a particular genre – 8%
Large budget available/prestige of broadcaster – 5%
Just needed the work/will work for anyone – 3%

FINDING THE MONEY:

What percentage of productions can you fully finance?
Average: 19%
High: 100%
Low: 0%

On average, how much funding comes from distributors? Average: 22% High: 50% Low: 10%

On average, how much funding comes from broadcasters?
Average: 45%
High: 100%
Low: 5%

Of those surveyed, 51% said some of their funding comes from grants/foundations/sponsorship. Of those, what percentage of a production budget comes from these sources?
Average: 39%
High: 100%
Low: 5%

Other sources of income:
Equity investment
Tax credits/government bodies
Royalties
Private investors
Funding bodies
Corporate/training films
Direct sales

What percentage of budgets are raised:
Domestically: 72%
Internationally: 28%
Percentage raised with no international investment:
24%

Percentage raised with more global investment than domestic:
15%

Percentage raised with 50/50 split:
12%

Online:

What percentage of programming has accompanying online?
Average: 36%
High: 100%
Low: 0%

Do you take online into account when you are producing your film?
Yes: 74%
No: 26%

Do you stream video/produce for the web?
Yes: 21%
No: 79%

How much do you invest in online efforts?
Average: $5,926
High: $25,000
Low: $0

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.

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