People/Biz

Foresight is 2020: Cream CEO, president on the trend to ‘lighter fare’

Ahead of the 2020 Realscreen Summit, held Jan. 27 to 30 in New Orleans, Realscreen reached out to a selection of production companies to discuss the year ahead in unscripted — including ...
January 21, 2020

Ahead of the 2020 Realscreen Summit, held Jan. 27 to 30 in New Orleans, Realscreen reached out to a selection of production companies to discuss the year ahead in unscripted — including the top trends and challenges, and how producers can stay afloat in the ever-shifting global production landscape.

Kicking off the series, David Brady (pictured right), CEO of Toronto-headquartered prodco Cream, and Kate Harrison Karman (left), president, share their insights on what the unscripted and non-fiction content community can expect in 2020 — from shrinking budgets to IP retention and standing out in a “big crowd.”

What do you foresee as the top trends in the unscripted industry for 2020 in Canada and (if relevant) globally?

An increased diversion between bottom and top-end budgets. Smaller budgets are getting smaller, and bigger budgets are growing even bigger. There’s a loss of the “middle class.”

OTT’s are looking for more international stories and don’t seem quite as U.S. driven.

There’s also an appetite for lighter fare — content that is less dark and not emotionally heavy. In light of continuing anxiety over global politics, the trend is for entertainment.

From your perspective, what are the top genres commissioners are seeking for the year ahead?

Again, it seems like happy, lighter fare. Family-friendly formats that are also creatively risky.

What are some of the key challenges the unscripted industry will face in 2020?

IP retention for producers is becoming even harder.

It’s also growing more difficult to stand out creatively — there is a lot of incredible content out there made by phenomenal producers. Yes, there are more buyers for original content, but it’s more competitive to stand out in a very big crowd.

How can the non-fiction content community weather those industry changes?

As always — develop a LOT, and concentrate on innovative, different content.

What’s on the horizon for Cream in 2020?

On the series front… a new history-of-culture series that is still under wraps. It’s the biggest for us ever. Also a new spin-off to one of our most successful crime series – we’re quite excited about that as well.

We’re launching a new documentary film division that will focus on theatrical documentaries, including sports and music content. We’re also prioritizing podcasts to augment our TV content as well as to create new brands and pipelines.

And, we’re moving into software… including new patents in human avatar technologies that we are introducing to the marketplace this year.


Realscreen Summit’s annual “State of the Nation” panel brings together top executives from across the industry to discuss and debate what’s happening now, what’s coming next and why it matters.

This year’s panelists include ICM Patners’ Shade Grant, History’s Eli Lehrer, Magnolia Network’s Allison Page, All3Media America’s Tim Pastore and Wheelhouse’s Edward Simpson.

Find out more here.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for HMV.com. As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.

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