Documentaries About Politics, Royalty, Sport on the Rise, Analyst Avril Blondelot Tells Mipcom Audience

The annual TV market Mipcom began its first physical event in two years on Monday in Cannes. The opening session was presented by Avril Blondelot, head of content at Glance. She sat down with Variety to discuss the session, “Global TV Trends: Who Is Watching What, How and Why,” presented with Frédéric Vaulpré, vice president of Glance.

Swedish kings involved in scandalous love affairs with men, Greta Thunberg, dancing avatars, singing contests with twists, a show interviewing dead celebrities, and spectacular, high-tech Japanese productions were among some of the new global projects Blondelot and Vaulpré presented to help bring new ideas to light.

Their findings are based on research covering 550 channels and platforms in 48 markets.

According to Blondelot, there were 6,650 new original series launched in the 2020/21 season, representing an increase of 4%, year on year.

She notes various trends. “Original documentaries have increased the most in the past five years, then drama and comedy. Docu-series launched last year are one of the focuses of our presentation,” she says.

The BBC is a consistent top seller while interest in politics and royalty is up, she says.

“All the titles that work well across markets are mainly BBC Studios titles. Natural history sells well. Last year, docus commenting on political figures were quite strong. The U.S. elections generated a lot of interest. A doc on Putin sold well, and ‘I Am Greta,’ by Greta Thunberg, is part of the list of titles that sold well. She is young but raises interest across countries.”

Another trend, she says, is a “clearer link between drama and documentaries.”

Shows focused on racial issues are generating interest. Think the four-part series “Enslaved,” with Samuel Jackson for BBC 2.

And sport is also gaining popularity in docus.

“Docus with a sports-related focus were more numerous last year. It was an Olympic year. Netflix is also interested in this. Human stories help with the sports focus,” she says.

Examples include “Tough Out,” a Chinese docu about helping abandoned kids through baseball. “Freddie’s First Eleven” is an upcoming BBC series about teaching underprivileged kids cricket with Freddie Flintoff that she highlights.

ITV2’s “The Social Media Murders,” which looks at a real social media murder story, highlights an increased link between docus and drama, she says.

“It was based on actual videos posted on social media. It’s rare. There are new and interesting ways to get the attention of younger viewers. It’s good to remind kids to be careful.”

Channel 5’s “The Disappearance of Shannon Matthews” is an example of where the same story is being explored across different genres, which is another rising trend. The docu “Carlos Ghosn: The Last Flight” is another. “There will be a fiction version,” she says. “In the past few years, there is an increased interest in fact-based drama.”

She adds: “There is some convergence between the two genres. We also see it in royalty. We also see that more drama is coming to the market with recent past royal history.”

Some shows involve time shifts. “There is a Swedish series on an actress dating in the past. She receives advice from a historian and psychologist. It’s fun to watch. And there is a dating element which is specific,” she notes.

Perhaps the most bizarre of the new concepts, however, is a new French series “L’Hôtel du Temps,” in which presenter Thierry Ardisson interviews dead celebrities, including Princess Diana and Francois Mitterrand, for France 3.

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