Producers are, by necessity, a remarkable mix of practicality and creativity. Equal parts problem solvers, dreamers and magicians, producers build careers and companies by doing the impossible — and doing it within a budget.
But 2020 proved that some challenges are more substantial — and unpredictable — than others. The year began with little sign of the incredible disruption to come. Executives from all corners of the international non-fiction and unscripted screen content world jetted off to Sundance, NATPE, the Realscreen Summit and other festivals and conferences, buying and selling, plotting and planning. It was business as usual and by most accounts, with more platforms entering an increasingly frenzied buying landscape, business was pretty damn good.
We all know what happened next.
While the COVID-19 pandemic ground production to a halt in its early days, it quickly became clear that the global unscripted and non-fiction production community would be able to provide a beam of light in a long, dark tunnel for which an end wasn’t fully visible. The problem solver and magician components that help comprise the particular alchemy of a producer came to the fore, with prodcos around the world moving full-tilt into innovation mode. Whether it was turning talent into camerapeople or unearthing a new angle through archive to a story we all thought we knew, or transforming a centralized production company into scores of remote satellite offices, the term “thinking on one’s feet” took on new levels of meaning, as doing so under these circumstances would be the only way to remain upright.
With all of this in mind, we unveil our 15th (and, due to the pandemic, first online-only) edition of our much-anticipated Global 100 listing of the top production companies working in unscripted and non-fiction screen content, assembled as always with the input of the industry itself. Executives from myriad corners of the business — streamers, cable and broadcast nets, producers, distributors, agents, publicists and other stakeholders — sent their nominations to recognize their trusted partners, their esteemed clients, and their peers. This year’s list, naturally, contains many names that will be quite familiar, but as the raft of buyers diversifies and more genres and sub-genres gain in popularity, the list mirrors that evolution, with digital-first companies increasingly becoming part of the mix.
Our Global 100 was born in the early ’00s, at a time when a massive unscripted explosion was on the horizon. Now, the terrain is completely overhauled and one could argue that each territory represented in the list could warrant its own listing of 100 companies. That change, or something similar, is still somewhere off in the distance. But now — in a year unlike any other since we’ve created this report — the onus is on celebrating those in this list and the efforts of those who might not be in this year but who continued to work their magic under the most unforgiving odds. As you’ll see in the pages within this year’s report, there was plenty to celebrate, and there will be plenty more to come from these companies and countless others.
And now, our annual snapshot of the global non-fiction and unscripted production community, created with your input, which is always appreciated.
Editor and content director
For Global 100 companies from Canada, click here.
For Global 100 companies from the United States, click here.
For Global 100 companies from the UK, click here.
For Global 100 companies from the rest of the world, click here.
Top illustration by Matthew Daley for Shiny Pliers. Territory illustrations by Mark Lacoursiere.