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Expand chart
Data: Parrot Analytics; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Documentaries were the fastest-growing genre on streaming last year, as more news companies leaned into licensing deals with streamers around current events.

Why it matters: Data from Parrot Analytics shows that there’s an appetite for news-adjacent content on-demand.

  • "While current events have always been fodder for entertainment programming, we’ve seen a rise in consumers’ appetite for content based on real-world events," says Jana Winograde, president of entertainment at Showtime Networks Inc.

Driving the news: New series and documentaries — both scripted and unscripted — are getting optioned around events as recent as the Capitol siege and Wall Street's GameStop saga.

  • On the scripted front, Winograde says Showtime is developing a limited scripted series about the Capital riots from the same creators of Showtime's miniseries "The Comey Rule," based on James Comey's 2018 book "A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership."
  • On the unscripted front, Winograde says "we were thrilled with the consumer response" to Showtime's non-fiction projects "Kingdome of Silence" about Jamal Khashoggi's murder and "Outcry" a true crime documentary.
  • Both Discovery+ and Hulu are airing documentaries about the saga around GameStop and Wall Street's populist revolution from ITN Productions and ABC News, respectively.

Showtime is also in development on a limited-series called Superpumped based on New York Times reporter Mike Isaac’s bestselling book Super Pumped: The Battle For Uber. Hulu has just unveiled a documentary about WeWork's corporate drama.

  • Netflix recently debuted "Operation Varsity Blues," a scripted series about the celebrity college-admission scandal.
  • HBO Max and Netflix have each debuted documentaries about the perils of social media with "Fake Famous" and "The Social Dilemma."

By the numbers: Demand for documentaries has started to outpace the supply of documentary series available to consumers, according to Parrot Analytics.

  • From January 2019 to March 2021, the number of documentary series increased by 63%. But demand grew by 142%.

Between the lines: The evolution of streaming and technology has made it easier for studios and news companies to quickly turn around shows based on events shortly after they occur.

The bottom line: ”We have also found evidence that documentaries are increasingly becoming a useful retention tool (for streamers)," says Alejandro Rojas, director of applied analytics at Parrot Analytics.

Go deeper

Super typhoon Surigae explodes to Cat. 5 intensity

Super Typhoon Surigae seen on satellite imagery Saturday morning east of the Philippines. (CIRA/RAMMB)

Super Typhoon Surigae surged in intensity from a Category 1 storm on Friday to a beastly Category 5 monster on Saturday, with maximum sustained winds estimated at 190 mph with higher gusts.

Why it matters: This storm — known as Typhoon Bising in the Philippines — is just the latest of many tropical cyclones to undergo a process known as rapid intensification, a feat that studies show is becoming more common due to climate change. It weakened slightly, to the equivalent of a strong Category 4 storm, on Sunday.

3 hours ago - World

Biden adviser warns "there will be consequences" for Russia if Navalny dies

The Biden administration warned the Russian government "that there will be consequences" if jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny dies, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN on Sunday.

The big picture: Sullivan also defended President Biden for not mentioning Navalny in a Thursday speech about Russia or in a Tuesday call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying the White House aims to deal with the issue "privately and through diplomatic channels."

3 killed, 2 wounded overnight in Kenosha bar shooting

Three people died and two were hospitalized with serious injuries after a gunman entered bar in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, the police department said in a statement on Sunday. Police responded to the shooting at around 12:42 a.m. and the suspect has not been found.

The big picture: The midnight shooting is the latest in a string of deadly mass shootings to hit the U.S. since March, fueling a debate in Washington about how to regulate the weapons.

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