Advanced Television

ViacomCBS expands unscripted slate

April 9, 2021

ViacomCBS International Studios Distribution today announced the addition of 400 hours of factual content from the Smithsonian Channel to its sales catalogue like Reclaiming History: Our Native Daughters, Making Tracks on Mars and Virus Hunting: Cave to Covid. The distributor also announced several factual deals with partners around the world, including with American Public Television, Canal+ and more.

With an increasing demand for international content from audiences around the world, ViacomCBS International Studios Distribution’s unscripted content slate continues to expand, now representing the Smithsonian Channel catalogue. Featuring awe-inspiring stories and powerful documentaries coming from the unmatched resources and rich traditions of the Smithsonian Institution, the Smithsonian Channel delivers award-winning original documentaries, series and programs spanning air and space, science, nature and pop culture.

“The Smithsonian Channel’s reputable brand and broad range of content is the perfect addition to our now unrivalled factual slate,” commented Lauren Marriott, Senior Vice President of ViacomCBS International Studios Distribution. “As we continue to expand our sales portfolio across all genres, we aim to evolve and build to match the growing desires of our global audiences.”

“The demand for proven, high-quality programming has never been higher. We’re proud to partner with ViacomCBS International Studios Distribution to bring our world-class brand and premium titles to new audiences worldwide,” said James Blue, Senior Vice President & Head of Smithsonian Channel.

New titles added from the Smithsonian Channel include:


  • Reclaiming History: Our Native Daughters (1×60’): The documentary joins renowned musicians Rhiannon Giddens, Amythyst Kiah, Leyla McCalla and Allison Russell on their extraordinary inaugural tour, as they rewrite the revisionist history of American banjo music, tackling issues of gender, race and the legacy of slavery as never before.


  • Making Tracks on Mars (1×60’): Mars has beckoned humankind for centuries, but only in the last 50 years have we begun to scratch its surface. The latest Martian explorer is Perseverance, an uber-sophisticated rover, chock-full of scientific instruments, including 23 cameras, a robotic arm, lasers, and spectrometers, designed to analyze the terrain and reveal if there was ever life on the Red Planet. Join us as we examine the latest rocket, rover, and interplanetary helicopter.


  • Virus Hunting: Cave to Covid (1×60’): As the world battles COVID-19, a team of experts from across the globe are in a race to shed light on how this virus emerged. The documentary follows scientists from the forests of Cambodia to the urban underpasses of Singapore to the bat archives of the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History and see how these mammals—and their unique relationship with viruses—may be the key to saving humanity from future pandemics.


  • Tomb Hunters (4×60’): In Saqqara, Egypt, an underground network of burial chambers and deep shafts lie an unparalleled wealth of unseen treasures. Stunning tombs, dozens of mummies, extraordinary artifacts from intricate funerary cats to sacred crocodile statues. This site and its finds are strictly controlled by the Egyptian authorities. Now for the first time, in one place, it will be possible to piece together the evolution of the Egyptian attitude to death and burial – tomb building, mummification, funerary equipment and funerary texts. Each episode features stunning on-camera discoveries of tombs, sarcophagi, mummies—human and animal—and their grave goods.


The addition of the Smithsonian Channel catalogue complements the division’s existing factual titles including The Queen: In Her Own Words and The Curse of Tutankhamun. ViacomCBS International Studios Distribution also newly acquired exclusive rights to globally distribute A Real Dream (Un Sueño Real), a series that addresses key topics such as gender equality, motherhood and sexual diversity, furthering VIS and ViacomCBS Networks International’s commitment to telling diverse stories.


  • A Real Dream (4 x 50’) is a docuseries co-produced by Exile Content Studio, Spanish multimedia production company Newtral, founded by Ana Pastor, and Creative 7, the multi-platform content company co-founded by NBA All-Star Carmelo Anthony and his producing partner Asani Swann. As part of the agreement with Exile Content Studio, VIS (a division of ViacomCBS), Exile, Newtral and Creative 7 are discussing a second season of the documentary, as well as remakes and spin-offs for other markets globally. A Real Dream (Un Sueño Real) tells the epic story of a special group of women who became part of one of the most legendary soccer clubs in history, Real Madrid.


Additionally, ViacomCBS International Studios (VIS) announced several deals for their factual portfolio including the titles below which are all produced by VIS.


  • U.S. audiences can enjoy seasons one (1 x 60’) and two (8 x 60’) of Secrets of The Royal Palaces on American Public Television. The series features behind-the-scenes stories of the British monarchy’s residences, which are symbols of luxury, wealth and power.

  • ABBA: Secrets of Their Greatest Hits (1 x 60’) and The Story of Songs (10 x 60’) were picked up in Poland for Canal+ and Canal+ Family. ABBA: Secrets of Their Greatest Hits gives audiences music-packed, firsthand stories behind some of the supergroup’s best loved songs. The Story of Songs dives into how iconic musicians and bands, including Madonna and Metallica, brought three of their most emblematic songs to life and how they inspired entire generations.

  • Seasons one (1x 60’) and two (4 x 60’) of 5 Mistakes That Caught a Killer were licensed in Germany, Austria and Switzerland with Seven One Entertainment Group, revealing how key pieces of evidence have brought killers to justice.

  • In Australia, Diana Princess of Wales: In Her Own Words (1 x 60’) was picked up by Nine Network, exploring Princess Diana’s personal life through recorded interviews.

ViacomCBS International Studios Distribution acts as the distributor for the studio’s production arm, which has bases in Latin America, Europe and the UK, as well as VIS KIDS, Ananey and Brazilian comedy indie and web streamer Porta Dos Fundos. The division also distributes content from VCNI’s brands and covers global sales, which includes original productions, co-productions, formats sold for local adaptations and sale of ready-made content.

Categories: Press Releases

Tags: , ,