Keeping nimble: With new channel launches

Launch: Nat Geo Adventure
October 1, 2007

Launch: Nat Geo Adventure
Channel description: Bold, high impact and exciting, Nat Geo Adventure unleashes the spirited adventurer in all of us. It chronicles the unfiltered experiences of young travellers whose journeys take them to the edge. Exhilarating stories and thrilling imagery fuel an audience eager to stretch their own limits and understand the real world beyond their borders.
Launch date: May 1, 2007
Territories: Available in more than 40 countries around the world including Italy, Singapore, Hong Kong, Spain, Portugal, Latin America, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Australia, Israel, Africa and the Middle East.
Positioning: ‘Many broadcasters dabble in adventure programming, but don’t pursue it entirely,’ says Sydney Suissa, NGCI’s EVP of content. ‘It had been abandoned as a full genre. There was a real opportunity for us to create a true adventure channel speaking to a new generation that is open to traveling. Nat Geo Adventure is all about the experience of getting somewhere.’
Target audience: ‘Backpackers with good credit.’ The 25-to-35 demo.
Launch Strategy: According to Suissa, Adventure embraces the Nat Geo brand values, such as exploration, but is much more experiential with real presenters and individuals living the adventures they depict. ‘We had been hearing from younger viewers that they didn’t know we did this,’ says Suissa. So the rollout began in key travel territories – Hong Kong, Asia and Italy – and quickly expanded to other countries.
Programming mix: A combination of original commissions – 100 original hours a year globally, with 40 to 80 hours per year at the local level – and acquisitions. The focus is on series and presenter-driven stories. The channel’s first commission was Chasing Che: Latin America on a Motorcycle. The 10 x 25-minute series follows two young Latin Americans on a journey through South America as they trace the route Che and Alberto Guevara established in 1950 as chronicled in the book The Motorcycle Diaries.
Marketing: In August, NGCI launched Let’s Get Lost, its Adventure campaign. Promos, spots and colors are all about the experience of adventures. In one such spot, a young man is standing at a bus stop in Cuba. It’s hot and the locals tell him to chill out. Cut to the next morning. There’s another guy waiting for the bus and the first guy is sipping tea with the locals, living the ‘chill’ message he received the previous day. ‘Our spots are international,’ says Suissa. ‘You’ll hear different languages, see different cultures. This is to target a global generation for whom borders are not what they are to us.’ It is also an audience that is using alternative media. When the channel launched in Latin America, the marketing campaign encompassed video diaries, interviews and radio downloads – things that NGCI might not do with the core channel, but is applicable to this niche audience.

Launch: Nat Geo Wild
Channel description: Dedicated to providing unique insight into the natural world, the environment and the creatures that inhabit it. Nat Geo Wild runs on an 18-hour broadcast day and is available in 12 million homes.
Launch date: March 1, 2007
Territories: Hong Kong, Singapore, the UK, Ireland, Turkey and Eastern Europe.
Positioning: ‘Over the past few years, wildlife programming shifted to more personal, domesticated animal programming, but blue-chip natural history was being abandoned,’ says Suissa. ‘Really good wildlife is expensive to make, but there’s always been a strong audience for product that looks through the lens of great cinematographers. That was part of the impetus of launching Wild.’
Target audience: Family
Launch strategy: ‘It seemed to us that there was a real opportunity to offer viewers a destination for blue-chip natural history,’ says Suissa. ‘The ideal place for rollout was Asia, where wildlife continues to be a popular genre, expanding to Europe shortly after that.’
Programming mix: Commissions (25%), and a mix of Nat Geo inventory, acquisitions and local copros, with access to 250 to 400 hours a year. The focus is on blue-chip that looks at global wildlife in undisturbed environments. Exclusive launch programs included acquisitions Hunter Hunted, Eye of the Leopard and new series Rogue Raiders with Jake Willers and Infested.

About The Author
Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.