In preparation for CFX Live on March 25 at the Hudson Theatre in NYC, we’ve asked a few of our speakers to give us their take on the business from their unique perspectives. Here we hear from CuriosityStream’s Elizabeth Hendricks North on “factual entertainment,” what that all means for the future of video content.
How does “factual entertainment” differ from other non-fiction fare—and why (or why not) is the distinction important?
Factual entertainment gets you thinking. It is content about the world around us and the things that matter, whether it’s about science, nature or history. CuriosityStream’s content reflects storytelling and narration that enlightens and inspires its audience, enabling curious people to better understand our world.
CuriosityStream features a lot of short-form content. What if anything does that say about how consumers want to interact with this type of programming?
This is the new world of TV. We are going where consumers are watching and bringing them something they can’t currently get digitally. We did our research and know that bite-size programs work, but so does long-form. It depends on the platform and on the subject matter. CuriosityStream hosts a variety of content lengths, from short-form interviews under 2 minutes to individual multi-episode series constituting over 8 hours of programming. We will continue to refine our programming as we learn which films or shows attract the most interest or are specifically requested by our members. Somehow, with more technology, we seem to find ourselves with less time to ponder the big questions. At CuriosityStream, we look forward to treating our subscribers to short and easily digestible answers to those great questions as well as serving them “deep dive” programming that enables an advanced exploration of a topic.
With so much great scripted TV out there, what’s the trick to attracting eyeballs to factual entertainment?
In my father’s (Discovery Channel Founder John Hendricks) career, he discovered that about 25% of the population – a sizable number although not the majority – watches TV to learn something new rather than just enjoy passive entertainment. Unlike programmers who are ultimately accountable for overall ratings numbers, at CuriosityStream we work with our base of curious subscribers (the 25%) to fund quality factual original productions. This new revolution in streaming entertainment will allow a specialization of programming and an enhancement in the quality of factual shows. They may become more sophisticated and nuanced as we serve a more distinct group of curious minds, rather than the mass market. We will respond and move in the direction that our subscribers would like to take with the depth and scope of our programming. In other words, there is no trick beyond finding your audience of curious minds.
Do certain platforms work better for factual fare—and how do you see this kind of content evolving over the next few years?
The revolution in over-the-top streaming video has altered the landscape of how viewers consume entertainment and has given consumers back their time and choices in programming. Consumers no longer need to skim through commercials or wait until they are at home at their TV to enjoy their favorite shows. With streaming, they can watch anytime and anywhere. That’s a powerful development that I see only enhancing the quality of show. Streaming services are able to cater to particular audiences that may have been neglected by the ratings-driven world of television. It is certainly an interesting time to be involved in direct-to-consumer factual entertainment.
View the full CFX Live agenda and speaker lineup at www.cfxlive.com.