Mirjam Strasser, Head of Sales & Acquisitions at Autentic Distribution, spoke to ttvnews about how the distributor has offered audiences an escape from reality during this past year with its vast catalog of factual content that has led to new alliances with digital and traditional players around the world.

Audiences around the world have been confined to their homes for more than a year now due to the Covid pandemic, making entertaining TV a must during these trying times. Family-friendly content that offers escapism from the difficult reality we’re facing is now more in demand than ever.

Armed with a catalog of factual content, with everything from science and nature to people, wildlife, travel, history and more, Autentic Distribution has been a key partner for networks and platforms looking for this type of content to offer its audiences.

In the following interview with ttvnews, Mirjam Strasser, Head of Sales & Acquisitions, explains how the pandemic has affected the distributor’s business in terms of sales and new alliances, and which titles have been most in demand during the past year.

We are coming up on a year since the pandemic lockdown started in most of the world. How has this last year been for Autentic Distribution? How has the pandemic changed your business and what measures did you have to take to adapt to the new reality?

2020 was unexpectedly a very good year for Autentic, which is a weird feeling because so many people were deeply affected by the pandemic. In 2020, the demand for our programs was much higher than ever before and with the first quarter of 2021 coming to an end, we can already see this trend continuing. We were able to bring our programs onto the screens of many people around the world to help entertain them during their lockdown. And of course we have been spending our days on Zoom and Teams – like everyone else. Luckily, we were immediately set up as a team to work remotely and it was an easy transitions into home office in Spring 2020.

The pandemic lockdown also led to an increase in TV viewership across the globe. How did Autentic work with this higher demand for content?

We started to dive even deeper into AVOD and SVOD sales, and opened up to new partnerships with platforms and players internationally. In general, we had many clients acquiring larger packages than usual.

In this regard, what trends do you find in terms of content and genres? Which factual titles have been the most demanded/successful?

Escapism was the key genre, travel programs, and our People & Places genre were also in strong demand as well as History and Science, and of course Nature programs for family viewing. For example, our in-house production Love Around The World received many compliments from around the world, for being a heartwarming, feel-good program in times when everyone just wants to feel a little bit better. Not in demand was anything about the pandemic!

Which deals would you highlight from the past few months?

We closed a package of over 80 hours with Curiosity Stream and successfully sold our Wildlife and Science Series The Animal Within to platforms and TV channels in many regions.

Autentic works with a variety of platforms, from linear TV to streaming and more. How has the increase in streaming services over the last year affected your distribution strategy?

We now focus on digital sales far more than we did two years ago, and have secured many new clients in the VOD sector. We always try to evaluate the entire rights chain and work with tailored marketing and distribution strategies for each title in our catalogue.

When it comes to acquiring content to grow your catalogue, which titles do you gravitate towards? Which types of productions do you think work best in today’s international market?

Our focus lies on a wide range of genres: Wildlife, Nature, Science & Technology and History, but Travel and Escapism programs are also in high demand. We are constantly looking for series or one-offs that can fascinate a wide audience.

Which titles will you be presenting at the upcoming digital events and tradeshows?

We have too many to name them all, but one of our highlight programs is In Search of Monsters to commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11. We also have a two-parter on not well-known European dictators called Europe’s Forgotten Dictatorships, and a Russian Crime Mystery series on The Dyatlov Pass Incident. For our Factual Entertainment catalogue we have acquired the two Italian productions Stone Men and Snow Lords. Besides this, we will present the second season of our popular History series What Went Wrong as well as other intruiging History one-off, e.g. Claude Dornier – Pioneer Of Aviation, Automania, and The Nazi Whaling Squadron. And we are launching many new Travel, People & Places and Escapism programs, which is one of our strongest genres.

What are your hopes and expectations for the year ahead?

I hope that productions can happen again more easily, that producers will be able to travel abroad and deliver their programs within the planned time frames. That we will be able to get hold off many exciting new titles in 2021 so that we can successfully entertain people in their homes with our programs until this pandemic is over and beyond. And that we will never get tired of virtual calls – until we can meet in person again.