Unscripted: Factual Entertainment

 

“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.

Please take the time to read the information below and apply these filters to your creative thinking—this will give you the best shot at a successful pitch.

Each year, we receive thousands of pitches and are looking for the gems that have the potential to garner audience buzz, critical acclaim and push the boundaries of what already exists on television. We all need to feel connected to others and to be whisked away through joyful and entertaining content, and that is what motivates our entertainment programming.

It’s very crowded out there, so be creatively ambitious and help us as we redefine what it means to be a public broadcaster.

All Canadians need to see themselves reflected on screen when they turn on the tv - they won't stick around if they don't.  Authentic representation of Canada is embedded in all our programming and it is the first thing we consider when reviewing a new pitch.

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. CBC’s programming diversity commitment requires that at least 30 percent of all key creative roles on new CBC original scripted and unscripted series commissioned from independent producers will be held by those who self-identify as Indigenous, Black and/or People of Colour or persons with disabilities.

At the moment, we are fully commissioned for the 2021/22 season, and are developing prime time series for the fall 2022 and winter 2023 seasons. We have opportunities for hourlong and half hour series in a few key categories:

Looking for: HIGH ENTERTAINMENT FOR FAMILIES


  • Broadcast in prime time (between 8pm and 10pm) on television and streamed on CBC Gem
  • Targeted to adults 35-49 and their families or housemates
  • Hourlong episodes (44 mins)
  • 8 to 10 episodes per season

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, and makes them feel connected to the rest of the country? We’re seeking shows that Canadians can't wait to see more of, hate to miss, and want to talk about with their friends & family.

As the public broadcaster, it’s crucial that our entertainment series have an element of added value - in other words, it’s relevant to modern Canadian life, is an expression of who we are and what brings us together, and it’s distinct from our commercial competitors. We are not looking for earnest, issue-driven series. Think of ‘added value’ as the beating heart of your series - that extra sense of place, and connection to the country that you feel when watching CBC.

In terms of genre, we’re open to a wide range of entertainment series including reality competition, social experiment, adventure-based competition and new twists on shiny floor shows. Please note that we do not look at concepts that hinge on large cash prizes.

Example of current High Entertainment for Families on our schedule:

  • THE GREAT CANADIAN BAKING SHOWThis popular series brings together 10 amateur bakers from across Canada to compete in a series of themed culinary challenges. In every episode, they 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.

✅ Ratings hit with strong fan engagement
✅ High production value, feels big and ambitious
✅ Entertaining, joyous, celebratory
✅ Inclusivity and belonging are inherent in the format

Looking for: HYPER-LOCAL FACTUAL ENTERTAINMENT


  • Broadcast in prime time (between 8pm and 10pm) on television and streamed on CBC Gem
  • Targeted to adults 35-49, family co-viewing a plus
  • Hourlong episodes (44 mins) or half-hour episodes (22 minutes)
  • 8 to 10 episodes per season

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 individual stories to life through entertaining factual formats.

These should be optimistic 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.  We’re looking for concepts that are innovative and fresh, and remain lean-back escapist viewing.
In terms of genre, we’re exploring a wide range of factual series including immersive docu-series, unscripted comedy, and new twists on dating and relationships. Please think in ambitious terms and ensure that your pitch is not derivative of something you’d see on a specialty channel.

Example of current Hyper-local Factual Entertainment on our schedule:

  • STILL STANDINGAn irreverent and affectionate adventure through small-town Canada and a celebration of the people who live there. It follows comedian 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.

✅ Laugh out loud funny
✅ An authentic expression of community without gimmicks
✅ Distinct from other broadcasters & streamers
✅ Sense of place


A few extra helpful hints:

  • We are not commissioning any original content for daytime, late night or early prime.
  • One-offs and specials are of less interest.
  • We are open to all forms of partnerships, co-productions and windowing opportunities, both domestically and around the world.
  • We are committed to investing in the development of new formats
  • We also commission original unscripted content for CBC Gem. Click here to read more.

How to Pitch Us

Please submit a 1-2 page proposal or pitch deck including a logline that summarizes the series you are proposing.  If applicable, you may include links to a sizzle or sample video.  Additional information on the creative team, financing and the production company should be included if possible. Please remember to include a signed copy of the CBC’s Submission Release form.

Proposals can be submitted to the contact listed below. 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 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)
 
Please be advised that we cannot return materials submitted.
 

Contact Information
 

Factual Entertainment series submissions should be emailed to: factualpitch@cbc.ca

All finished series for acquisition should be emailed to: pitch.acquisitions@cbc.ca

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

 

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