Discovery Networks International (DNI) and Discovery Communications execs talked of the possibility of an international roll-out for Investigation Discovery (ID) at a pre-Upfront discussion in New York, while describing the rebranding of Planet Green as a “strategic swing.”
Gathering ahead of the company’s Upfront presentation in New York this morning (April 5), David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery Communications, discussed the recent rebranding of Planet Green as Destination America, saying that, as a network, the company tries “to take a lot of thoughtful, strategic swings.” He added that when Discovery launched the channel four years ago, the team had hopes they would launch a compelling channel in that environmental space.
“After taking some good swings at a lot of different content, [we realized] that the audience was more comfortable with [it] on the Web,” he said. “We found it very difficult to get the audience to connect with us on that branding.
“We came to the conclusion a year ago that we had good real estate there, but we could use that space to create something that had more of an appeal, more viewership, so we did a lot of work in the last year, coming up with Destination America.”
While the focus will be to get audiences spending time with Destination America in the U.S., Mark Hollinger, president and CEO of Discovery Networks International, stated that it was hard to imagine using the very American branding in the international space, although he added that some of the content would be able to work globally.
Luis Silberwasser, exec VP and CCO of DNI, talked about the demands on the international production side, with more engineering, pop science, natural history and bigger landmark events in demand.
“The strategy is to create local production and development teams under [DNI creative director/head of production and development] Julian Bellamy,” he said, adding that Nutopia’s U.S./international copro How We Invented the World is an example of how to create a master program, with Discovery localizing it for 10 of the company’s top markets, which will all see a slightly different versions.
Meanwhile, in a one-on-one with realscreen, Mark Hollinger said ID is a channel he thinks will have a bigger place on the international market.
“If you use what is working well in the U.S. as a guide for what we can play with internationally, Investigation Discovery is one that has done really well internationally for the last three years and we have ID as primarily a digital channel,” he said. “There is this flow of content out of ID that is substantially bigger than anything before and that gives us an opportunity to think about ID in bigger way.”
He added that the international approach for TLC is to treat it as a different character in different markets. He said that TLC in Western and Eastern Europe is very similar to the U.S. version, while TLC in Latin America and Asia is more of a lifestyle and travel network.
Lastly, on the topic of a potential global roll-out for OWN, Hollinger said: “There are certainly markets internationally where we think OWN could be a success. The focus for the company for the time being has been to get it on strong footing domestically and then see what we can do internationally. We have real ambitions for it. OWN gets a lot of press, and I think everybody knows we’d love it to be in a stronger place before we think about it internationally.”