By Gregory Crofton
BLACKFISH’s premiere on CNN Thursday night hit No.1 in a key television ratings demographic and attracted younger viewers to the network, according to a report in Broadcasting & Cable.
Access to the CNN broadcast platform, a massive non-premium cable audience, is a big deal for the documentary film industry. It’s a heavily promoted second window for theatrically released docs, and that second window likely casts a much wider net than the first, especially with subsequent broadcasts of the film.
The broadcast, which reached 1.36 million people between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., was followed by a 30-minute live panel discussion of the film that included its director, Gabriela Cowperthwaite. Then, completing the trifecta, CNN’s Crossfire made BLACKFISH their subject of debate.
The BLACKFISH event was also top trending subject on Twitter. Cowperthwaite must be thrilled with all of these developments. What more could the director of an issue-oriented doc (BLACKFISH exposes trainer safety concerns and raises ethical questions about the treatment of the whales at SeaWorld) ask for? Her film is already one of the top doc earners of the year, having earned just over $2 million since its July release.
CNN Films says BLACKFISH is the most popular film they’ve aired since the film was launched earlier this year. Surely the fact that it’s an emotional story about whales is why it’s drawing and resonating with viewers. “Watching CNN’s Blackfish documentary on killer whales for the second night in a row,” tweeted college student Gabbi Miranda on Friday night.
Other documentaries broadcast by CNN Films this year have included: OUR NIXON, THE FLAG, THE FIGHTERS, and GIRL RISING. Next up is PANDORA’S PROMISE scheduled to air at 9 p.m. ET on Thursday, Nov. 7th. It looks at the issue of producing nuclear energy. SOLE SURVIVOR, a doc about the emotional journeys of sole survivors of plane crashes, will air early next year.
You can watch a trailer for “PANDORA’S PROMISE” below.