Behind the NFB’s big jump in audience engagement

The producer's various properties garnered 67.6 million views overall in 2017/18, up 13.6 million from the prior year.
comic strip chronicles

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) saw a significant jump in local and global engagement in the past year, in particular when it comes to online views.

During fiscal 2017/18, NFB properties garnered 67.6 million views overall  an increase of 13.6 million from the prior year  across online platforms (NFB.ca, Facebook, YouTube) and offline events (for example, public screenings or museum installations).

The organization attributes part of the increase to a number of important anniversaries, including the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation and the 375th anniversary of Montréal, which drove increased engagement for the public producer.

Within that 67.6 million total, 45.6 million of the views came online (up 6.6 million from the prior year), with NFB properties such as Comic Strip Chronicles (“Panoramic Chronicle,” pictured) and three-minute animated short La pureté de l’enfance driving 35.6 million views combined on YouTube during 2017/18. Older titles, including Madame Tutli-Putli (2006) were also among the most viewed of the NFB’s library titles. On Facebook, NFB content garnered 5.6 million views.

One reason for the improved digital engagement is simply that the NFB increased the amount of free content that it released online. According to the NFB, it released 408 new individual pieces of content last year (up 13% from the free titles offered the year before) and offered 4,182 titles in total from its entire catalogue.

Of the 72 original works it produced in 2017/18, 47% were made by women (38% by men and 15% by mixed teams), 12.5% were made by Indigenous filmmakers and 40% were made by emerging filmmakers, said the organization. In total, the organization invested $36 million in audiovisual works in 2017/18, up by $4 million from the previous year.

On the domestic front, NFB said 28.4 million views were recorded both online and offline, representing an increase of 8 million from the prior  year. It also saw around 39.3 million of its views come from outside of Canada, with YouTube views originating from the U.S., U.K. and France accounting for the majority of that engagement.

According to the organization, part of the growth in domestic reach was also due to an expanded focus on partnerships with museums and other public spaces. Throughout the year, the feature film Kyma, Power of Waves was seen by 100,000 people at Rio Tinto Planetarium in Montreal. Meanwhile, NFB installations also reached around one million people. These installations include Beyond Ice at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, which drew 270,000 people; I Heard There Was a Secret Chord at Montreal’s Museum of Contemporary Art (288,000 people); and Ingenia at Ottawa’s Canada Science and Technology Museum (195,000 people).