While there is much attention on the hugely successful scripted content like “Shogun” and “The Bear,” Disney has also been building up its library and reputation for creating many original documentaries for Hulu and Hulu On Disney+ in the United States and Disney+ internationally.

This past week, Disney released a new documentary about the legendary rock band, Bon Jovi and next month, there will be a new documentary about British music in “Camden”.

Belisa Balaban, Hulu Original’s senior VP of unscripted series and documentaries, recently spoke to Variety while promoting the new Bon Jovi documentary, where she explains their focus:

“Hulu documentaries are very entertainment forward. We have definitely focused a lot recently on highly visible subjects from pop culture and familiar subject matters as a way into our storytelling. Stories that haven’t really been unpacked the way we were able to explore them in the documentary form.”

Documentaries are becoming even more popular, as the shift to streaming services has allowed much easier discoverability, with Belisa explaining:

The great gift of streaming is that it has broken down any challenges to accessing documentaries that we had pre-streaming. They just made documentaries more accessible to anyone with a streaming service, and when that happened, audiences discovered how much they love documentary storytelling. What I’ve seen in my almost eight years at Hulu is that documentaries have been a very important part of building our subscriber base and our audience.

Belisa also confirmed that Hulu aims to create between seven and ten original documentaries each year, but this is only a small percentage of Disney’s overall documentary output since Disney’s other studios, such as National Geographic, Onyx Collective, ABC News Studios, and FX, also regularly create new original programming.

As tastes and trends change, documentaries also change along with the times. Disney, along with other studios, is pulling back on the amount of original content they are creating for their streaming services, but documentaries are still proving to be a big hit with subscribers. Plus, they are much cheaper to produce than scripted shows. Belisa shared her thoughts on the current state of documentaries:

There is a contraction in the market, and I feel for producers because I know that there are elements of this time that are challenging for them. But I am very bullish on the documentary market right now because I see that there is a strong appetite from audiences, and as long as there is a strong appetite from audiences, I know I’m going to be able to keep programming great films. I also strongly believe that we are in a better place than we have been in the past because there’s just more opportunity for more people to be making a sustainable career out of documentary filmmaking, which wasn’t the case not that long ago. I think that as long as we keep programming films that audiences want to see we will have a strong documentary market.

One of the biggest issues facing documentaries usually comes down to the specific topic and whether there is going to be enough interest to pull in audiences. However, with so many different topics being covered by Disney’s studios, there should be something for everyone. 

Do you enjoy watching documentaries on Hulu and Disney+?  Let us know your recent favourite on social media!

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Roger Palmer

Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom. Email: Roger@WhatsOnDisneyPlus.com Twitter: Twitter.com/RogPalmerUK Facebook: Facebook.com/rogpalmeruk

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