The British broadcaster has had success with its recent doc slate including Three Identical Strangers, 100 Vaginas and Leaving Neverland. CEO Mahon revealed that the latter has had millions of views online since its premiere last week and that young viewers were a large portion of the audience.
She said that the AMOS Pictures-produced doc, which tells the story of two boys, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, now in their 30s, who say they were sexually abused by Jackson when they were ages 7 and 10, originated at C4 as an hour-doc but that director Dan Reed had enough material for a four-hour series and that’s when it brought HBO on board.
Ex-Shine boss Mahon said that the series has changed Jackson’s legacy forever and added that the project squarely fit C4’s remit. “It’s exactly what C4 exists to do – to bring this scandal to life. It’s not an easy watch but it rated off the chart,” she said.
Elsewhere, the former surf champion talked about its drama and reality slates, highlighting titles including The End of the Fxxking World and The Circle. Both shows involve Netflix; the former is a co-production, with C4 having the first run rights in the UK, and the SVOD service took the international format rights to the latter.
She talked about the challenges with partnering with digital streaming services and called it a “complex landscape” for broadcasters. “The price of scripted has gone through the roof so you have to be a partner. If it’s got really high production values you need partners. We have to navigate carefully… you need viewers to know it came from you. We have to have that attribution.”
With regards to reality, she pointed to the fact that there hasn’t been a breakout rigged reality format out of the UK in the last ten years and The Circle resonated with young audiences. “That’s hard to do. At a time when audiences want fresh things, but they also have choice overload,” she said. “Most of them have become a race to see how fast people will have sex with each other.”
Mahon admitted that C4 was not the biggest so that it needs to “sharpen the flavors” of its brand in order to stand out. “How do you innovate in this current landscape?,” she asked.