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Documentary Channel Seals Branded Entertainment Partnerships

The Documentary Channel is partnering with marketers to help finance its programming.

Puerto Rican rum company Don Q and oil giant Exxon are among two companies that have helped underwrite factual series on the network in the last two months.

Don Q is working with the channel to support a jazz series that will involve off air elements such as a premiere screening at concert venue Lincoln Center, New York.

The four episode series, Icons Among Us, is aimed at introducing the new face of jazz to viewers and features a range of interviews with the biggest names in jazz. The series begins on April 20. It was created via a partnership of Don Q Rum and production company Paradigm Studios with the Documentary Channel acting as distributor.

"We found that corporations have stories to tell. A documentary is often the best way to tell that story," said Tom Neff, CEO and founder of Documentary Channel.

The second series is called Speed Dreams, sponsored by Exxon brand Mobil One. The documentary follows three different types of race cars and their drivers. Oil is discussed in the film, but its about the passion for speed, said Neff.

Documentary Channel, based in Tennessee, launched in January 2006 and is in 24 million households via satellite TV operator Dish Network. Programming also airs via a number of broadcast stations including NYC-TV. It describes itself as the only 24/7 channel and while not ad-supported, the channel offers sponsorships.

When asked if documentary programming was having a tough time, Neff responded, "No, the documentary is on the rise. People are responding to the authenticity of the genre. The biggest problem is to get something financed. Corporations have long been involved in entertainment that has nothing to do with the exact product."