National Geographic Channels International (NGCI) is launching a program commissions and content hub in London, headed up by Hamish Mykura (pictured), NGCI’s executive VP and head of international content.
The London office will be a main hub for the commissioning of series and single shows, for broadcast primarily on Nat Geo channels outside of the U.S.
NGCI will recruit a commissioning team for the hub, which will report to Mykura. The London team will also feed ideas back to the U.S. team, headed up by David Lyle, CEO of National Geographic Channels (NGC) U.S.; and Howard Owens, president of NGC U.S.
“Moving our international programming to London under the leadership of Hamish Mykura is part of our continuing expansion and commitment to increasing international production of high-quality programming that resonates with audiences across the globe,” said Hernan Lopez, NGCI CEO.
The news follows the recent announcement that NGC U.S. is extending its development teams in New York and Los Angeles, alongside its team in Washington DC.
Speaking to realscreen from Washington, Mykura says the move is in line with Lyle’s aim to “fish where the fish are – it’s really sensible to put your commissioning and programming firepower in areas where the big factual production communities are.”
With the bulk of international commissioning previously occurring out of Washington, Mykura says setting up a dedicated commissioning and programming team in London will “give NGCI a personality and allow us to take a bigger approach to the programming we’re seeking.”
As for the scope of that programming, Mykura says that his experience heading up digital channel More 4 taught him “the power of series in building a channel” and to that end, he wants to replicate the U.S. strategy and move towards more series, complementing them with “even bigger specials.”
“Alongside that, I think we can bring a slightly more entertaining sensibility to the programs we have while still delivering top-quality content,” he adds, citing the NGC U.S. hit Doomsday Preppers as a prime example. “To do that, you can make shows more character-led, more formatted and give them more of a factual entertainment sensibility rather than just being straight-forward documentary.”
Mykura says that the key message the hub should deliver to UK producers is that NGCI wants to be “their first port of call when they have their best new ideas” and adds that he will be keen to bring new blood to the mix via prodcos that haven’t yet worked with the network, “whilst also continuing to deal with some of the companies that have been great suppliers to us in the past.”
“We’ve got budgets that will match what the terrestrial channels will pay for series, and we’ve got a lot of commissioning to do,” he adds.
(With files from Barry Walsh)