This fall, National Geographic Specials – Nat Geo’s flagship series – resumes its place with PBS after a five-year hiatus. The move comes as something of a surprise due to the pending U.S. launch of the Nat Geo channel this winter. Under the terms of the two-year agreement, NG Specials will provide six installments per year (up from the previous commitment of four) and PBS will retain exclusive broadcast rights.
Specials aired on PBS from 1974-1994, until economic considerations forced a move. Michael Rosenfeld, the series’ executive producer, explains: ‘We had underwriting from Chevron – the business climate was very different than what it is today – Chevron decided not to underwrite anymore . . . it became a purely financial decision.’
In the interim years, Specials signed a five-year contract with NBC (a partner in Nat Geo Channels International, along with Fox and NGT), but the U.S. network did not renew. Says Rosenfeld, ‘NBC made a decision to pick up Explorer, our weekly show that had been on Turner Broadcasting, for CNBC.’ As a result, the door was open for a return to PBS.
The first special to air under the new agreement will be US$700,000-plus Return of the Wolf.