Demand for Docuseries and Documentary Movies

11 January, 2023

Unlike fictional films and series, documentaries are a unique art form that tell the real-life stories in informative, interesting and entertaining ways. Whether its about social issues, political events, or an intriguing story, the documentary genre is extremely broad and can reach a number of different groups of people. Today, perhaps with the world’s move toward streaming services as opposed to regular television, the documentary genre has seen a rise in demand, even becoming the fastest growing streaming genre. It is interesting to consider, particularly with the 5th Annual Global Demand Awards to be presented at the end of this month - which will, for the first time ever, consider the global demand for films as well as television series - which types of documentary films and series have the most international demand at the moment and a what might be influencing this demand.

Documentaries and docuseries

The chart below shows the top ten documentary films with the most global demand over December last year. Half of the films on this list have an outstanding level of demand, a level only 2.7 percent of movies reach, while the other half have a good level of demand, where 8.6 percent of shows tend to reach. The documentary with the most demand over December 2022 was George Michael: Freedom, reaching 29.2 times more global demand than the average film. The second on this list was Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me, which had 15.9 times more demand than the average film worldwide.


While there was a considerable amount of demand for documentary films over the month of December last year, there appeared to be a higher level of demand for documentary series, or docuseries, over that period. The chart below shows the most in demand docuseries over last month, all of which have an outstanding level of demand. Coachella, a Youtube original documentary series that follows the history of the popular music festival of the same name, is at the top of this list with 27.6 times more demand than the average series worldwide. Doctor Who Confidential follows closely after this with 25.2 times more global demand than the average series. This series, which gives a behind the scenes look into the production of the popular sci-fi series Doctor Who, was first aired in 2005. This longevity in demand can be a lot more attainable than that of a documentary film due to a continuing release schedule and could be contributing to a higher level of demand for docuseries over documentary films.


Another interesting point to be noted from the above chart is the range of genres and how their success may have been influenced by current events around the world. For instance, Prehistoric PlanetTiny WorldCosmos: Possible Worlds, and A Perfect Planet, are all science and nature-related. While nature-related documentary programs have had a long history and acceptance from a number of markets, the demand for the above nature docuseries could potentially have been influenced by the world’s growing interest and passion for climate change and conservation.

Prehistoric Planet

The 5th Annual Global Demand Awards were announced in November of last year, outlining fifteen categories for TV series and, for the first time ever, ten categories for films. Prehistoric Planet was named as a finalist for the Most In-Demand Documentary Series of 2022 category. Released to Apple TV+ in May last year, the five part docuseries, which is narrated by David Attenborough, takes viewers back to when dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures roamed the world. Demand for the series during the month after its release was at an outstanding level in a number of different markets.

The chart below shows the global demand for Prehistoric Planet in the thirty days after it was aired. While the docuseries was produced in Great Britain, which had 10.7 times more demand than the average series, the United States was at the top of this list with 14.1 times more demand than the average series. Another interesting point to note from this chart is the diversity in markets in terms of their national languages and culture. China, for instance, sat just above Canada and beneath Russia, all of which had outstanding levels of demand for the series.


The Tinder Swindler

A finalist for the Most In-Demand Documentary Movie of 2022 category, The Tinder Swindler shares the stories of a number of women who were conned out of millions of dollars by a man they had met on the popular dating app, Tinder. The true crime documentary was released on Netflix at the beginning of February and has received many favorable reviews on Rotten Tomatoes from both critics and general audience. The demand for the film is also a good reflection of its success across the world.


The chart above shows the changing global demand during the month after the documentary’s release on February 2. Like Prehistoric PlanetThe Tinder Swindler reached high levels of demand from a diverse range of markets. Furthermore, while the film’s home market was the United Kingdom, Russia had the highest level of demand for The Tinder Swindler in the first week after its release, reaching 9.1 times more demand than the average film on February 9 before reaching a peak of 15.8 times more demand than the average film later in the month.

Whether its an informative but entertaining look at the world around us, an interesting political event, or a gripping true crime story, documentaries and docuseries can cover many different stories and topics, making it genre that has something for just about everyone. With the 5th Annual Demand Awards to be announced at the end of this month, it will be exciting to see which documentaries and docuseries come out on top.

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