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Radarscreen: Sam Rowden, CBS Reality/Zone Reality

In our ongoing series of Radarscreen Global Pitch Guide previews, realscreen talks to Sam Rowden (pictured), director of programming for reality and new media for UK channel CBS Reality and the international Zone Reality feeds, about the programming she's on the hunt for.
August 26, 2011

In our ongoing series of Radarscreen Global Pitch Guide previews, realscreen talks to Sam Rowden (pictured), director of programming for reality and new media for UK channel CBS Reality and the international Zone Reality feeds, about the programming she’s on the hunt for.

WHAT SHE’S LOOKING FOR:

Rowden acquires one-off documentaries and series for CBS Reality in the UK and Chello Zone’s three Zone Reality feeds in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “As our four Reality feeds are 24 hours, we acquire a lot of hours per year to keep our schedules exciting and fresh,” she says.

“The minimum length for a series is ideally 12 episodes. Anything less is hard for our audience to notice in the schedule, now that there is so much choice of channels everywhere.”

Reality’s audience is “really broad” and a fairly equal split of men and women, Rowden says. The network offers a range of programming, from “talk show king Jerry Springer and straight-talking Judge Judy,” to hard-hitting crime series and documentaries, including Forensic Investigators and the long-running Cops.

“Most Reality programming tends to have a dip-in, dip-out viewing appeal, so I like to find series which have standalone stories per episode,” she says. “A good pace is crucial – not too drawn out, and narrative that is to the point. First person accounts where possible always add to the genuine appeal of a show.”

She adds that the network’s rescue service series, such as Danger Coast, “also add some adrenalin into the mix,” while crime series “seem to be appealing most to our audiences at the moment.” In terms of what she doesn’t want, “for CBS Reality and Zone Reality we tend not to acquire formatted or contrived reality series,” she says, as “all our programming is ‘inspired by life.’”

HOW TO PITCH:

The feeds only acquire finished programming and do not commission. In terms of the best method of pitching, Rowden suggests first sending an email outlining the documentary or series with synopses sent to Sam.rowden@chellozone.com and Susie.robinson@chellozone.com.

“Then we will follow up and request a few episodes to view and further episode synopses,” she says. “Never assume you know what channels want – direction and plans for channels can change dramatically, so always give short and concise details via email first.”

WHERE TO FIND HER:

MIPTV and MIPCOM are the main markets for Chello, “but we acquire programming all year round,” Rowden says.

Check out previous Radarscreen previews with Current TV UK’s Lina Prestwood, France 2′s Fabrice Puchault and RAI’s Lorenzo Hendel.

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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