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Full Market Power of Documentaries Still Untapped

25 Oct, 2004 By: Stephanie Prange

While this year will go down as a year to remember in the documentary arena, mostly due to the controversial success of Michael Moore's political documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, my panel at this month's second annual TV DVD conference indicated the documentary trend has legs.

During the panel on “out of the mainstream” TV DVD product, I asked the question: “What is the greatest untapped out-of-the-mainstream market on TV DVD?

A&E Home Video VP of sales and marketing Kate Winn answered: documentary. And I would tend to agree.

With the tendency toward ever more spectacular, special effects-laden blockbusters, consumers are looking for something real. While they may not always get it (reality TV is decidedly not real), consumers seem to be reaching out for something that rings true, that doesn't include vampires or superheroes flying through the skies or death-defying stunts that skirt the rules of physics.

A documentary is not necessarily a polemic. Historical documentaries such as Ken Burns' Civil War are perennial sellers and offer untold riches as far as extras. After this week's election Fahrenheit may fade, but Ken Burns' Civil War will continue to sell. And I think the DVD format and the extras it affords have only begun to be exploited in the documentary realm.

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