Despite new documentary formats, traditional fact-based films still attract impressive audiences – and offer value for money
Celebrity-led documentaries such as Paul Merton in China (Channel 5) and structured reality shows such as The Only Way is Essex (ITV) garner headlines and gongs but, despite this, traditional factual programmes are also performing well and broadcasters want more.
Peter Fincham, ITV's director of television, points to primetime broadcasts such as the prison documentary Strangeways, which reached 6.35 million viewers last year, and this April's edition of Fraud Squad, which grabbed 4.9 million viewers. These are strong numbers for factual programming and Fincham likes them because they also represent good value for ITV.
"An audience of 5 million people watching a documentary made for £250,000 per hour is a more efficient way of buying an audience than spending three quarters of a million on a drama," says Fincham. "We guard our budgets carefully, so we are investing in factual, »
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