In 1997, realscreen published its first issue. Over the past two decades, we’ve charted the evolution of the non-fiction content industry, chronicled the rise of reality, and explored the emergence of new platforms aplenty. In honor of 20 years of realscreen, we’ve rounded up several top producers and network execs to discuss the evolution of your industry, from their perspectives, in our Real Deal Q&A series.
What’s the biggest trend you’re noticing on the formats side these days?
When I first came into the international market, tape sales were dominant. While they still are, and always will be, you are seeing a lot more homegrown production. That can be very beneficial for the formats marketplace.
Electus has made digital a priority since its inception. How does the digital business intersect with the linear side?
You can’t ignore that everyone is walking around with a multitude of networks in their pockets, but you have to stick to the core forms of storytelling. Is the content great, and who is the talent out there that is going to break through? With the best talent, it won’t matter what the medium is. We’ve had success in taking short-form to long-form, with things like Adam Ruins Everything for TruTV. If talent can break through in one medium, they should break through in many.
What has been your favorite unscripted series over the past 10-15 years?
I’m a big Simon Cowell fan, so America’s Got Talent is a guilty pleasure of mine. Authenticity is so important, and he has a great ability to be himself in front of a camera.
With everything that’s available to viewers now, you’re competing against not only what’s airing
tonight, but practically everything that’s ever aired.
What’s the biggest challenge facing this industry today?
The biggest challenge for producers is creating content that can break through, and the biggest challenge for broadcasters is to have the patience to allow it to break through. It’s naive of us, especially with marketing budgets being slashed, to think that things will break through in six-to-eight episodes. With everything that’s available to viewers now, you’re competing against not only what’s airing tonight, but practically everything that’s ever aired. It’s something that producers and broadcasters have to work on together.
You left William Morris at 23 to help bring Reveille to prominence. It’s a different climate now, in terms of launching a new venture. What would 2017′s Chris Grant tell his younger self?
I would tell myself not to hold on so tightly. I’d tell myself that if things are calm, that’s not a good thing. It’s nice to be bumpy, it’s nice to be frenetic. We spend so much of our time very stressed and anxious. A lot of that is wasted energy. Enjoy the ride.