Unscripted: Factual

 

“What Are You Looking For?”

This is the question we get asked the most. On this page, we’ve tried to answer that question as fully and as clearly as possible. 

At the moment, we are developing prime time series for the fall 2020 and winter 2021 seasons. We are most interested in receiving pitches in these genres:

  • High entertainment for families
  • Hyper local factual series
  • Innovation and cultural contribution

Below you will find descriptions and examples of those genres. Please take the time to read this information and apply these filters to your creative thinking—this will give you the best shot at a successful pitch.

 

Looking for: HIGH ENTERTAINMENT FOR FAMILIES


  • Hourlong episodes (44 mins)
  • Broadcast in prime time on television and streamed on CBC Gem
  • Targeted to adults 25-54 and their families

Does your series have the potential to be the next entertainment juggernaut and become appointment viewing for Canadian families? Is it a celebratory and fun series that helps the viewer escape the stress of the day?

For our entertainment series, we are looking for escapist content that has an element of added value for a public broadcaster (in other words, it’s relevant to modern Canadian life, is an expression of who we are & what brings us together - and it’s entertaining!). Prime time entertainment comes in many forms, so please think in ambitious terms that push the boundaries of what already exists on television. We’re looking for high production value and formats that stand out in this very crowded landscape.

Examples of current and upcoming HIGH ENTERTAINMENT FOR FAMILY on the CBC schedule

  • BATTLE OF THE BLADES: Canada’s most-watched English-language original format* returns with athletes from two of Canada’s favourite sports — figure skating and hockey — as they pair up in a live, high-stakes figure skating competition for the charity of their choice.
  • THE GREAT CANADIAN BAKING SHOWThe Great British Bake Off comes to Canada! This popular series brings together 10 amateur bakers from across Canada to compete in a series of themed culinary challenges. In every episode, they'll face three nail-biting rounds: the Signature Bake, the Technical Bake and the Show Stopper. Each week, the competitor who shows the most skill, creativity and finesse will be named Star Baker, while the weakest will be sent home until only three finalists are left vying for the Great Canadian Baking Show title.

 

Looking for: HYPER-LOCAL WITH UNIVERSAL APPEAL


  • Hourlong episodes (44 mins) or half-hour episodes (22 minutes)
  • Broadcast in prime time on television and streamed on CBC Gem
  • Targeted to adults 25-54, family co-viewing a plus

We continue to see great success with factual content that puts everyday Canadians in the spotlight and celebrates our diverse communities, big and small. In these series, the characters and grassroots stories are hyper-local but the appeal is universal. We want to be an expression of community to the country - bringing small stories to life through entertaining factual formats.

These should be escapist series with characters who are engaging, inspiring, resilient, forward-thinking and representative of modern Canadian life. Please pitch us shows that are about people, not subjects.

Be they comedic or dramatic, all our factual series have to do heavy lifting on the prime time schedule and attract a large audience.

Examples of current and upcoming HYPER-LOCAL WITH UNIVERSAL APPEAL on the CBC schedule:

  • STILL STANDINGAn irreverent and affectionate adventure through small-town Canada and a celebration of the people who live there. It follows Jonny Harris as he visits struggling small towns, immersing himself in the lives of local residents and mining enough material to put on an original stand-up comedy routine for the locals.

  • THE DETECTIVESThe Detectives is a gripping true crime series that brings to life the work of real detectives by blending first person interviews with fully scripted drama. Every episode features a different detective reliving the investigation that not only challenged them like no other, but also had a residual impact on an aspect of Canadian life and law enforcement. In combining intimate, raw interviews with the real detectives and meticulously crafted drama, the series provides an eye opening look at law enforcement and violent crime in Canada.

 

Looking for: INNOVATION & CULTURAL CONTRIBUTION


  • Hourlong episodes (44 mins) or half-hour episodes (22 minutes)
  • Broadcast in prime time on television and streamed on CBC Gem
  • Targeted to adults 25-54, family co-viewing a plus

Sparking national conversation through unscripted programming continues to be of interest to us. Whether it be challenging the stereotypes that surround disability, or
exploring the world through the eyes of Canada’s top artists, these series push boundaries, take risks and privilege innovative storytelling.

We are looking for new concepts that add to the cultural conversation, support partnerships with other like-minded organizations and potentially draws a new audience to CBC.

Examples of current and upcoming INNOVATION & CULTURAL CONTRIBUTION on the CBC schedule:

  • IN THE MAKING: In the Making is an immersive journey inside the creative process. The documentary series follows host Sean O'Neill across the country and around the world alongside some of Canada's leading artists as they bring new work to life and face pivotal moments of risk and reward
  • YOU CAN’T ASK THAT: Based on the unscripted format from ABC Australia. Each episode asks a group of people with the same disability the awkward, inappropriate or uncomfortable questions you were always too afraid to ask. It’s an audacious, touching and funny series that is guaranteed to entertain while challenging assumptions about life with a disability. This is the first CBC series to use Integrated Described Video (IDV).

“Is there one subject you’re most interested in? Anything you’re not looking for?”

We try and stay open to as many different genres and subjects as possible, but are not looking for:

  • daytime, early prime or late night shows
  • music/singing competitions
  • lifestyle/specialty series: decorating, fashion, parenting, paranormal/mediums, etc.

“Is there anything else I should know or think about?”

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 & 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.

It’s crowded out there. Drawing eyeballs to new content is no small feat in this crowded media landscape. Each year, we are looking to experiment and innovate with new series that have the potential to garner critical acclaim, audience buzz and push the boundaries of what already exists on television. What unique hook does your series have? We are not looking for earnest, issue-driven series. Be creatively ambitious!

We value authenticity. This means real moments experienced by real people. Authentic storytelling doesn’t feel fake or constructed, isn’t superficial, and connects with the audience on an emotional level. We want to showcase the best of Canada. Authentic doesn’t mean boring! We need drama, but we’re not about nasty, superficial conflict. Even in a competition format, like The Great Canadian Baking Show, the audience will experience and learn about Canada through food - ties to culture, community, identity and universal moments we can all relate to. It celebrates the joy of baking without any back-stabbing.

Stay in Canada. We are mostly looking for concepts that are set in Canada and that have broad appeal for all our citizens. Global travel series are not a priority for us.

Why is the public broadcaster the right partner for this series? This is a big question that we ask of each incoming pitch. Where is the added public value in your concept? Why is CBC the best platform to tell your story? A docuseries set in a cupcake shop, or a tattoo removal competition might be perfect for a specialty network, but would be lacking that layer of value that is essential for CBC. Will your concept spark conversation about what it means to be Canadian? Is it an expression of who we are as a country?

Nitty gritty:

  • We are fully commissioned for the 2019/2020 broadcast season, and are looking ahead to series that will be broadcast in Fall 2020 and Winter 2021.
  • Instead of one-offs and specials, we prefer series with potential for longer runs (8 eps +) and multiple seasons
  • We generally commission between 6 and 13 episodes depending on concepts and schedule availability
  • Episodes can be an hour or half hour in length
  • Our series air in prime time between 8:00pm and 10:00pm. We are not commissioning any original content for daytime, late night or early prime.
  • We are open to all forms of partnerships, co-productions and windowing opportunities, both domestically and around the world.
  • Curious about producing unscripted content for CBC Gem, the CBC’s streaming service? Click here to find out more.
  • Curious about producing arts content for CBC Arts? See their commissioning page here.

How to Work With Us

We encourage producers to begin by familiarizing yourselves with our shows. Watch CBC on TV or onlineYou can stream our televised content on your mobile device by downloading CBC Gem, which can be found in the Apple App Store or with Google Play. Set up a Google Alert so you can be notified when we greenlight a new show, or when there’s an article in the press about our programming.

One-page pitches should be sent to the contact below, along with a signed copy of the CBC's Submission Release Form which can be downloaded from this website. If you have any video to support your pitch (ie: host or talent tape, short teaser, etc.) you may include links in your email. 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 and refinement of the program proposal. 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 information on CBC's Business and Rights processes please visit: CBC Business and Rights.


CBC Submission Release Form

Materials will not be reviewed unless accompanied by a signed CBC Submission Release Form, downloadable here: Submission Release Form (PDF)
 
We will respond to all submissions within 4–6 weeks of receiving a signed CBC Submission Release Form. Please note that we cannot return materials submitted.
 

Contact Information

Christian Hamilton
Development Manager, Unscripted Content
email: factualpitch@cbc.ca

 

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