Unscripted: Gem Original Series

The best first step is to download the CBC Gem app. Familiarize yourself with how the service works and how it’s organized. In addition to live streams from across the country, all CBC television series are available on Gem, plus international titles that we import for Canadians to enjoy. We also commission original titles specifically for this platform — that’s what this page is about! We greenlight around three or four unscripted CBC Gem series each year, and competition is very high.

We’re currently taking pitches for two types of series for our 2022/2023 season:

Short-form content
Episode length: 10-20 mins per episode, can vary episode to episode
Series order: 6-12 episodes per season
Examples from last season: Jensplaining, Farm Crime

Long-form content
Episode length: standard broadcast length - 22 or 44 minutes
Series order: 6-12 episodes per season
Example from last season: You Can’t Ask That

Target audience
Our content is aimed at 30- to 45-year-old audiences — think older millennials and younger gen X-ers. We want all Canadians to see themselves reflected in our series, and are committed to reaching underserved and under-represented audiences through Gem originals.


What We’re Looking For:

Our Gem originals are our BIG ideas, not our small ones. We want exciting new titles that will entice viewers to check out Gem and make it a regular part of their streaming habit.  Think of the series that you’ve sought out on a streamer this year – they were likely the series you got most excited about, most hooked on, and suggested to your friends and family with the most enthusiasm. Those are the types of pitches we want to see for Gem originals.

In such a crowded market, you can’t count on audiences making the effort to discover your show. We need great concepts that an audience can immediately grasp and that will build buzz when the show launches. The most successful streaming series are the ones that get people talking.

We are commissioning based on an audience acquisition strategy that brings a new audience to Gem. We want to surprise and delight our audience, so you should do the same for us with your pitch.

Tonally, we’re looking for a range: from suspenseful true crime to a quirky, comedic pop culture series. For the 2022/2023 season, we are particularly interested in these specific genres: true crime; near history; pop culture; deep dives into subcultures and fascinating worlds. We’re interested in inventive storytelling techniques, including animation, and are looking for big, memorable, authentic characters.

Continuing narrative and serialized story structure are a specific emphasis this year. We want series that will hook viewers with the first episode, and have enough narrative suspense to drive them to the finish.

Inclusivity is a priority. CBC continues to invest in diversity, inclusion and reflecting contemporary Canada both behind the scenes and in front of the camera. We require all producers to embed diversity of view, subject and approach in your proposals and will want to know how your production moves the dial in terms of inclusion and diversity. This means introducing new perspectives, voices, and topics of conversation, and talent that’s as ethnically, culturally and geographically diverse as the audiences we serve.

Development is an option. We work with producers and creators with a wide range of experience, from seasoned professionals to emerging talent. Many great opportunities can arise from pitching, and we’re always on the lookout for great ideas and interesting new talent.

Questions you should ask yourself when creating your pitch:
Is the idea for the show creative and original enough to spark curiosity? “Oooh, that’s new – I’ve never heard of a series like that before!

Is it the sort of show that will become someone’s next binge or guilty pleasure? “I can’t wait to get home and watch another episode of…” “One more episode, then bed. Maybe two more.

Are your characters and/or your hosts unique, talented and memorable enough to compete with the best of the streaming universe? If they are so resonant and relatable that their reactions can become a meme, you’re on the right track. “I keep thinking about these people even after the show is over.

Can you imagine your show becoming a hot topic on social media among fans who have discovered it? “I’m obsessed with this show!

Please note that we are NOT taking pitches for:

  • Profiles (ie: each episode interviews a different person about an issue, place, etc).
  • One-offs or specials
  • Talk shows
  • Topical stories that will not remain up to date for the long term (ie. the latest in technology or policy)


How to Pitch Us

One- or two-page pitch documents should be sent to the contact below, along with a signed copy of the CBC’s Submission Release form. If you do have video to support your pitch (e.g. host or talent tape, a short teaser, etc.), you may include links in your email.  Additional information on the creative team, financing and the production company should be included if possible.

All proposals are reviewed by the commissioning team on a regular basis.  If there is interest in a project, you will be contacted for further discussion. (General response time 4-8 weeks).  If the Network is interested in the concept, we embark on a phase of development, the deliverables of which are agreed upon by the producer and the CBC. Development funding is determined by the deliverables.

For more detailed information pertaining to the business and rights processes, please visit the digital originals section of the CBC Business & Rights website.

CBC Submission Release Form
Materials will not be reviewed unless accompanied by a signed CBC Submission Release Form, downloadable here: Submission Release Form (PDF)

Please be advised that we cannot return materials submitted.

Contact Information
Submissions for development or production should be emailed to: factualpitch@cbc.ca
Submissions should have “Unscripted/Digital” in the subject line, followed by your proposal’s title.

Christian Hamilton
Development Manager, Unscripted Content, CBC & documentary Channel

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