Saturday, January 10, 2009

Zombies at the Gate, Wild Animal Productions

Without a doubt the last breakout television show that changed an an entire industry was Survivor created 1997. It's brilliant methodology and reality production model made waves through every television genre including wild animal productions.

1997 was a long time ago. For the most part the Survivor model has been "beaten to death" and today limp, myopic versions of reality wildlife television infest our programming like rotting carbon copy zombies.

Is it too much to ask for fresh new programming?

The trick is to look not into next year's choices but the next 5 years. Wild animal productions are at the mercy of a few titanic distribution channels like Discovery Networks. These networks enjoy an almost complete domination of the playing field since the major networks, hobbled by loss of advertising revenue and eyeballs ceded the entire genre to them years ago.

I had a conversation with a production guy a while ago who told me "If I pitched a show called Bite Me, it would get sold". Not surprisingly a few weeks later a similar show concept aired on Shark Week.

We can do better. The breakout of Survivor back in 1997 was, in hindsight, visionary. Where will we be 5 years from now? What will distribution look like? Who will control content? What are the tools of the trade that will "enable" inexpensive, quality, break out animal programming?

These are the questions for the few production visionaries of our time. Whoever gets the answers to these questions right will dominate the next decade of wild animal productions.

The hope for an entire industry is that change comes soon.

Patric Douglas CEO


Anonymous said...

I was asking the same thing with my team last week. Our budgets are being slashed, we are pitching the same stories everyone else is, and the playing field is to narrow.

Back to the planning room;)

Doug AVI Guy said...

Try selling any program that has a hint of eco in it. The tidal wave of opinion in the industry is blood and gore with a few cheap stunts.

The days of Blue Planet are over we have to adapt to what is wanted instead of crying about what has been lost.