2017 has been a big year for streaming services. Following epic wins for Hulu, Amazon Prime and Netflix at this year’s Primetime Emmys, CuriosityStream picked up its first Emmy award at the News and Documentary Emmys for Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places (Outstanding Graphic Design and Art Direction). Our factual streaming service was also honored with two other category nominations for another CuriosityStream Original, David Attenborough’s Light On Earth.
The idea for the Stephen Hawking film arose back in April of 2015 over coffee with Bigger Bang producers, Ben Bowie and Iain Riddick, outside of CuriosityStream’s first MIPCOM in Cannes, France. They pitched my husband Peter North (Chief Operating Officer), Steve Burns (Chief Programming Officer) and me about a fantastical journey through the cosmos with Ben’s friend, Stephen Hawking. We knew the idea had potential and a few months later in London, we officially signed CuriosityStream on to fully commission the film. I remember hesitating over the heavy use of CGI and special effects (which can be costly and sometimes may disappoint) but a revered host like Stephen Hawking, who we already knew our audience searches for, paired with an accessible concept like “Top 10 Travel Destinations,” was sure to resonate. Of particular appeal was when Ben shared that it would all end up in Santa Barbara, which was really Stephen’s favorite spot on planet Earth and of course the cosmos.
When I finally had the chance to preview the first rough cut of the film, I was completely astounded by the level of CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) that Ben, Iain and their team at Bigger Bang had produced. It looked so much like Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, one of my favorite science programs featuring Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Yet here was Stephen Hawking touring the Universe in his own S.S. Hawking spacecraft, taking viewers on a wondrous journey from the known world’s inception to showcasing the majesty of Saturn’s rings to the potential habitable life on Gliese 832C. As a sci-fi fan from an early age, Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places was everything I’d ever hoped it could be.
Obviously, I’m thrilled by this Emmy recognition for CuriosityStream but more importantly, it is exciting to imagine what this means for the industry at large. The economics of the streaming television revolution enable viewers to ‘sponsor’ directly the programming they want to see. We’ve witnessed with the successes of HBO, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu and CuriosityStream that this sponsorship is unleashing quality content like we’ve never seen before. CuriosityStream’s first Emmy award for Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places (of which we have a Part 2 and 3 coming soon) is following this wave of outstanding programming supported directly by the viewer.
Most importantly of all, I want to express my heartfelt thank you to the incomparable Stephen Hawking for sharing your favorite places with CuriosityStream. This program and its Emmy win would not have been possible without you and your vision of the indelible impressions worth sightseeing across the cosmos.
I look forward to CuriosityStream continuing its leadership role in the future of quality factual television, with the S.S. Hawking leading the way!
Elizabeth Hendricks North