Non-fiction trade organization NPACT has revealed that it is skipping its annual network-ranking survey for the 2020/21 season, focusing instead on a survey detailing which networks and platforms have served as the best partners thus far during the upheaval spurred by the COVID-19 crisis.
NPACT typically sponsors the network ranking survey, which at the end of each year canvasses unscripted, documentary and reality producers — NPACT members and non-members alike — to determine their favorite networks and streaming platforms across numerous categories such as pitching, development, notes processes and production management, to name a few.
The survey has also previously spotlighted the most improved buyers year-to-year across categories, as well as producers’ favorite network or platform to work with overall. In last year’s report, HBO emerged as the new favorite network for unscripted producers surveyed.
The organization this year mailed out a one-question survey to its members who were asked: Which buyer(s) has been the best partner during the COVID-19 crisis? Respondents were asked to include up to three buyers, in no particular order and with the understanding that results of the top four would be released alphabetically, and would not be ranked.
Of the 32 networks and streamers included, results collected from NPACT members selected Bravo, Discovery, HBO Max and Netflix as the top four outlets that producers wanted to honor as the best partners in helping them weather last year’s storm.
“In 2020, I witnessed first-hand the ingenuity and commitment of the unscripted production community, on both the seller and buyer sides,” said media veteran Ed Wilson (pictured), who is now serving as a high-level consultant for NPACT, in a statement. “This industry of creatives and entrepreneurs banded together to share information and resources in order to keep their industry afloat, their staffs and crews safe, and audiences comforted and entertained at a time when they needed it most. Throughout the year, NPACT members were candid and vocal about the support they received from buyers in handling this unprecedented health crisis. I’ve been touched and impressed with producers’ determination to publicly show appreciation, and to continue on a positive path of collaboration into 2021 and beyond.”
A handful of NPACT member testimonials are included below:
Jenny Daly, Critical Content: “During a difficult time in our industry – and in all of our lives – it’s been so important and positive to be working with networks that looked at the producing community as partners, and that chose to extend the needed costs and efficiencies that helped secure safe environments. These nets allowed production to be possible. I’m grateful that so many buyers took the critical and aggressive measures necessary for production to be reimagined and to run smoothly at the most complex time in recent memory.”
Rebekah Fry, All3Media America: The challenges of COVID-19 have in many ways strengthened relationships between All3Media America’s companies and our network and streaming partners. Throughout the pandemic, we have had consistent support and collaboration, allowing our productions to adapt and keeping our shows on air.”
Eli Holzman, Industrial Media: “Buyers across the non-fiction industry stepped up in the face of the pandemic. Thanks to their courage and professional rigor, the content pipeline continued to flow, countless jobs were saved and businesses were able to weather the storm. Adversity brought out the best in the non-fiction community. And much of the thanks goes to the networks and streamers who kept the lights on even while managing extraordinary challenges across their own companies and at home.”
Laura Palumbo Johnson, Magilla Entertainment: “2020′s pandemic strengthened the trust between networks and production companies. While we were adapting to new ways of producing, shooting safely in the field and remote editing, networks moved quickly on the fly, supplying funds, vetting pages of guidelines, pioneering ways to keep shows running safely. The results are not just temporary. We each learned from this situation and built better ways to move unscripted forward.”
Ryann Lauckner, Asylum Entertainment Group: The weight of the COVID-19 crisis and the havoc it wreaked on our industry would have been so much more crushing if not for the leadership shown by our network partners. Facing incredible uncertainty themselves, we saw them react nimbly, decisively, and fairly as they steeled their commitment to programming and to the producers for whom that programming translates into crucial jobs for dedicated employees, and dreams for so many.”
Will Nothacker, Spoke Studios: Production can be tough in the best of times, so the thought of shooting a show during a global pandemic was, at first, extremely daunting. Our network partners came through with heartfelt support, necessary funding and, yes, even constructive notes! Together, we figured out ways to make much needed entertainment, and to stay safe while doing it, keeping many employed in the process. We can’t overstate our appreciation for the patience, understanding and kindness from networks and streamers over the last year.