We want to help Producers, Distributors, and Film Investors in the documentary space (including us!) understand what the audience and market looked like in 2022. Here we look back at the major documentary film releases of the past year and analyse the data to learn more about what worked, what didn’t, what consumer trends emerged and where the market is heading.
As an entertainment analytics company, we have compiled data to help uncover:
- The audience
- What did the consumer demographics look like in 2022?
- Which sub-genres were consumed the most in 2022?
- Which geographies engaged with this content in 2022?
- The market
- Who were the key buyers/sales agents & territories in 2022?
- What did the box-office and streaming look like in 2022?
- Where were the key award wins/nominations in 2022?
Whilst there is critics-based analysis for the top documentaries of the year (see feature links at the foot of this article) there is little objective data being shared. If you have read data-based analysis on the documentary film space and would like to help us further our research and understanding, please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you!
1. The Audience
Documentaries have always been a popular genre among audiences of all ages and backgrounds, and in recent years have seen a significant increase in popularity. This can be attributed to the increasing availability of streaming platforms which make it easier for audiences to access and consume documentaries.
Most Popular Docs
Here are the Top 15 documentaries of 2022 based on views in the first 30 days after release:
We can see from the data that David Attenborough led titles operate as a genre of their own, as they have in previous years.
Documentary fans in 2022 tended to skew slightly female and older (30+)
Here we can see the individual gender/age skews of titles :
In 2022 there was a strong appetite for documentary content in:
- United States of America
- United Kingdom
… as well as in South America generally, but less so in South East Asia, Russia, Africa and China.
Sub-genre Popularity and Demographics
The top documentary sub-genres and their associated demographics in 2022 were:
The most consumed Documentaries by genre in 2022 were:
The worst rated documentaries of 2022 according to IMDB were:
|Title||IMDB Rating||IMDB Vote Count|
|Everything’s Gonna Be All White||1.4||4654|
|Harry & Meghan: The Complete Story||2.8||5343|
|To The End||3.3||1531|
|Casey Anthony: Where The Truth Lies||3.6||1159|
|Bill Burr Presents: Friends Who Kill||4.6||2469|
|Harry & Meghan||4.8||19945|
Is this because they are controversial or just genuinely bad!? Tweet us!
Social Media Analysis
We can see that the audience on social media talking about documentaries in 2022 breaks down into the following main segments:
Using IBM Watson Personality Analysis technology we can see how the audience sees the world around them:
They are excitable, sentimental and helpful.
They are authority-challenging: they prefer to challenge authority and traditional values to help bring about positive changes. They are philosophical: they are open to and intrigued by new ideas and love to explore them. And they are melancholy: they think quite often about the things they are unhappy about.
Their choices are driven by a desire for discovery.
They consider both helping others and taking pleasure in life to guide a large part of what they do. They think it is important to take care of the people around them. And they are highly motivated to enjoy life to its fullest.
2. The Market
The companies putting out the most documentaries in 2022 were:
|Producer||Number of titles|
|Third Eye Motion Picture Company||3|
Top 5 Networks
The top 5 networks for documentaries in 2022 based on views were:
The highest grossing documentaries at the box office in 2022 were:
Very few documentaries in 2022 had a notable theatrical release but there were a couple of standout successes from:
- BTS – Permission to Dance on Stage
- Moonage Daydream (which performed better at the box office than it did on streaming)
Key Award Wins/Nominations
The key awards given most to documentaries in 2022 were:
This analysis compiles data on 144 documentaries released in 2022 on IMDB Pro with more than 1000 votes.
‘Views’ data is from our partner Muso.
Demographics come from social and title voting/rating data (which we have skew-corrected to remove the inherent bias in participant in voting activity).
Social Media analysis using our partner Audiense.
Critics’ Reviews / Further Reading
Below are some further resources on the best documentaries of 2022
- Order reflects Tomatometer scores (as of December 31, 2022) after adjustment from our ranking formula, which compensates for variation in the number of reviews when comparing movies or TV shows.
- Screen Daily‘s 2023 Oscar and Bafta Documentary Contenders
- A.V. Club‘s Best Documentary Films of 2022
- Deadline‘s Top 10 Documentaries of 2022
- Nonfics‘s Best Documentaries of 2022
- Rolling Stone‘s Pick of the 13 Best Documentaries of 2022
- POV Magazine‘s Best Documentaries of 2022
- Variety‘s Best Documentaries of 2022
- Screen Daily‘s Top Documentaries of 2022
- IndieWire‘s Best Documentaries and Docuseries of 2022
- The 2023 Sundance Finalists