Hot Docs has released Learning from Documentary Audiences: A Market Research Study . A major survey of documentary viewing habits in Canada, the study was commissioned by Hot Docs and supported by the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC), Telefilm Canada, the National Film Board (NFB) and the Canada Media Fund (CMF). Drawn from thousands of completed questionnaires and a five-city focus group tour, results of the study were presented yesterday at the 2014 TIFF Doc Conference by Hot Docs industry programs director Elizabeth Radshaw.
“Studying the documentary audience is critical to inspire new strategies for our industry, inform new policies for our government and open new opportunities for funding,” said Elizabeth Radshaw. “The act of talking to the audience is vital to shaping our understanding of the marketplace. Documentaries are like any other product and as an industry we need to understand our customer—the audience.”
The overall goals of this research were:
- To conduct a market scan of the current documentary offerings available to Canadian audiences
- To discover the transactional habits of documentary audiences
- To identify where, when, why and how documentary audiences are viewing and sharing documentary information and content
Intended to help inform filmmaker, distributor and exhibitor strategies for increasing documentary viewership, the study identifies three market segments amongst Canadian documentary viewers, and offers insights into how documentaries are ‘discovered’, on which platforms they are viewed, and the willingness of audiences to pay for online documentary content.
The study suggests evidence of an increasing demand for documentaries among viewers. From a distribution perspective, this suggests a growing need for release strategies that make documentaries available to audiences in a timely manner and on multiple platforms, and that employ tools that facilitate greater opportunities to engage with new audiences.