Upfronts ’16: Discovery unveils 2016/17 programming slates

Discovery Communications has revealed a slate of new programming and initiatives at its Upfront presentation in New York including the millennial-focused web-native net Seeker and a MythBusters spin-off for Science Channel.
March 31, 2016

Discovery Communications is targeting a millennial audience with a web-native network focused on science and exploration and featuring a host of VR projects, the company revealed at its Upfront presentation in New York this week.

The “Seeker” net promises to premiere more than 250 videos of “socially-driven content” each month, and will live across multiple digital platforms as well as the platform, launching in May.

Programming includes the ‘Seeker VR’ strand, which will feature a series of short-form VR docs immersing audiences in the translocation of rhinos in Nepal. Another VR experience titled Edge of the Earth 360 is a VR trip 100,000 feet in the air via weather balloon, and will be debuting in May.

Meanwhile, ‘Seeker Docs’ includes a slate of short-form docs that feature “incredible people leading impactful lives,” while ‘Seeker Live’ consists of a week of livestreams in May. Featured participants are Trace Dominguez and Amy Shira Teitel, who will deliver live science experiments; Laura Ling, who examines engineered food; Jason Silva, who is to philosophize from an outdoor escape; and Discovery News’ Ian O’Neill, who will share dispatches from the European Southern Observatory in Chile during the 2016 transit of the planet Mercury.

Discovery Channel's Sacred Steel

Discovery Channel’s Sacred Steel

Rounding out the programming is the series Seeker Sabbatical, which invites some of the web’s biggest personalities to take part in a unique travel experience.

Discovery Channel’s new programs for the 2016/2017 season, meanwhile, include the doc series Cooper’s Treasure and survival series The Wheel, along with the previously announced Deadliest Catch spin-offDeadliest Catch: Dungeon Cove, and a new auto show titled Sacred Steel.

Produced by Half Yard Productions, Sacred Steel joins the net’s ‘Motor Mondays’ line-up and takes viewers inside the  Douche LaRouche motorcycle shop, which makes custom fabricated high-end choppers and restores American classics.

The net’s previously announced scripted forays include Harley and the Davidsons and the anthology series Manifesto, while special programming will see the return of Shark Week as well as Elevation Weekend. Discovery rounded out its ‘Discovery Impact’ programs earlier this week.

Returning series on the net include Alaskan Bush People (Park Slope Productions), Alaska: The Last Frontier (Discovery Studios), Bering Sea Gold (Original Productions), Deadliest Catch (Original Productions), Diesel Brothers (Magilla Entertainment), Fast N’ Loud (Pilgrim Media Group), Gold Rush (Raw Television), Killing Fields (Sirens Media), Misfit Garage (Pilgrim Media Group), Naked and Afraid and Naked and Afraid XL (Renegade 83), Street Outlaws and Street Outlaws: New Orleans (Pilgrim Media Group) and Treasure Quest (MAK Pictures).


Mystery and suspense network Investigation Discovery has revealed its programming slate of 13 new and original series, including the recently announced 10-part seriesPeople Magazine Investigates, and six-part series Hard Evidence: O.J. is Innocent.

The Vanishing Women from Sirens Media will unearth the circumstances around the disappearance of six young women in Chillicothe, Ohio, while exploring the facts and evidence that seemingly brought them to their tragic fate. The six-part docuseries is scheduled to air June 6 at 10 p.m. EST/PST.

The net has also ordered two series with Louisiana serving as a backdrop, including Jupiter Entertainment’s Murder Chose Me, which will follow Rodney Demery, a homicide detective with a personal connection to crime as he solves a murder case in Shreveport; and Cineflix Productions’ The Detectives Club: New Orleans, profiling a group of retired New Orleans detectives as they discuss high-profile cases throughout the 1990s and 2000s.

Meanwhile, the tentatively titled I, Witness from XCon Productions and Lincoln Square Productions will follow real-life murder investigations through the eyes of a single individual; Married With Secrets (w/t) from Intuitive Entertainment will reveal the dark secrets buried within seemingly happy marriages; and Pandora’s Box: Unleashing Evil from Sharp Entertainment will unearth crime scene investigations that become more sordid with each piece of evidence.

The network will also trot out Crazy Legs Productions’ Dead Silent, which details crimes from isolated locales; Red Marble Media’s Grave Secrets, in which the closely guarded secrets of the deceased are revealed; and Jupiter Entertainment’s Murder Calls, which uncovers the stories of murders through 9-1-1 emergency calls.

Rounding out Investigation Discovery’s 2016/2017 programming schedule are the Indigo Films-made We Did It for Love (w/t), examining couples who commit crimes in the name of love; Sirens Media’s Jane Doe Diaries (w/t), tracing the detectives behind and families of unidentified victims; and finally, Lion Television’s The Deadliest Decade (w/t), recounting ’80s murder investigations.


The American history channel has loaded up its line-up with premiere series, one-hour specials and an original virtual reality (VR) experience.

New titles premiering across American Heroes Channel include CMJ Productions II’s tentatively titled How the World Ends, which examines various scientific, religious and ecological theories around society’s imminent demise; Like a Shot Entertainment’s Inside Secret Societies, which investigates the inner-workings of the world’s most secretive and dangerous underworld societies; and Cream Productions’ Civil War Chronicles (w/t), which will be accompanied by a VR experience by the same name.

The network will also launch the 360 Productions-made docuseries Pearl Harbor: The Heroes Who Fought Back (w/t), which explores untold stories from the people who took action against these attacks, as part of programming that honors Pearl Harbor’s 75th anniversary this December.

Science Channel's Mythbusters reboot

Science Channel’s Search for the Next Mythbusters


After saying goodbye to its longest-running series MythBusters earlier this year, Science Channel has revealed it is searching for an all-new generation of science myth-busters via Search for the Next MythBusters. Through a combination of stunts and social media, the series will feature a cast of hopefuls pitted against one another through a variety of challenges.

The network’s upfront slate will also include the 30-minute original series How to Build…Everything, in which the world’s most complex engineering feats – from Apache helicopters to cruise ships and satellites – are broken down into simple step-by-step building outlines.

Elsewhere, the tentatively titled specials Mission Jupiter will provide live coverage of NASA’s New Frontiers Mission, currently en route to the gas giant. The series of specials will include breaking science events and space launches.


TLC is making its first foray into scripted and reintroducing home and property-related programming in 2016/2017.

The lifestyle network led its unscripted slate with a trio of home-centric series: the Asylum Entertainment-produced reno series Married to Design: Nate & Jeremiah (w/t), featuring design couple Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent; the High Noon Entertainment-produced Project Playhouse (w/t), about a family-run playhouse design business; and the Paper Route-produced Hidden Money Makeover (w/t), a dream makeover series.

The cable network has also greenlit its first scripted series, the eight-episode political drama Too Close To Home (w/t) from Tyler Perry Studios.

TLC has also greenlit Meet the Putmans (working title) from Discovery Studios/Mystic Art Pictures, about a family of 25 that live under the same roof; Ink Ink Shop (w/t) from Big Fish Entertainment, about a women-run tattoo parlour in Springfield, Montana; and the 90 Day Fiancé spin-off 90 Day Fiancé: After the 90 Days (w/t) from Sharp Entertainment.

Previously announced series on the slate are Sweet 15: Quinceañera from High Noon and the parenting series Outdaughtered from Boardwalk Entertainment Group.

Returning series include Sister Wives, My Big Fat Fabulous Life, The Little Couple, Long Island Medium and 90 Day Fiancé. In 2017, TLC bridal reality staple Say Yes To The Dress will mark its 10th year on the air.

Tyler Perry 2

Tyler Perry, whose prodco will produce TLC’s Too Close to Home


Meanwhile, sister network Animal Planet’s 2016/2017 slate includes the documentary and blue-chip strand ‘Animal Planet Presents.’

Films and specials set to premiere under the strand are the Slamdance doc winner Million Dollar Duck; Life After: Chernobyl, about a biologist and anthropologist who risk radiation exposure to investigate the impact of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster on animals in the surrounding area; and I Bought A Rainforest, about a wildlife cameraman who buys 100 acres of Amazon rainforest.

Natural history fare set to air on Animal Planet in the coming year include Life of Dogs (w/t), a multi-part blue chip series that looks at the history of dogs; and Project Grizzly, a six-part docuseries about a bear trainer who decides to reintroduce his two rescued grizzly bears to the wild after experiencing a crisis of conscience.

New unscripted series on the slate include the previously announced Penn Vet (w/t); the Houston-set series Texas Vets (w/t); and The Zoo (w/t), the first series to receive access to the Bronx Zoo.

Animal Planet is also bringing back Dr. Dee: Alaska Vet, Dr. Jeff: R ocky Mountain Vet, Finding Bigfoot, Monsters Inside Me, My Cat From Hell, North Woods Law, Pit Bulls & Paroles, River Monsters, Rugged Justice , Tanked and Treehouse Masters.


Series on the way for Discovery Communications net Destination America include barbecue competition series Smoked while sister net Velocity will feature several new custom car series.

Destination America will premiere several new series in the weeks ahead, including the previously announced Ghost Brothers from Pilgrim Media Group, featuring three best friends turned paranormal investigators, set to debut April 15. Also on the way for early April is What’s For Sale: With a View from in-house Blue Ant Media, following home buyers looking for exquisite vistas, set for April 13.

Revealed as upfront programming: Killing Bigfoot from Gryphon Productions, following a team of Sasquatch hunters in search of a DNA sample from the mythical beast; paranormal series A Haunting from New Dominion Pictures; and MAK Pictures-produced Ghosts of Shepherdstown, looking at “the most haunted town in America.”

Returning series for the net include Groff Entertainment’s Paranormal Lockdown, Tremendous Entertainment’s Ghost Asylum and American Chainsaws’ Mountain Monsters.

Meanwhile, male-skewing Velocity’s line-up includes several new series for 2017. Wild Rides Alaska (w/t) follows truck customizers who create “wild-proof” vehicles, and the 8 x 60-minute series is slated to debut in February. Speed is the New Black (w/t) will explore automotive customization for the younger generation; and RMD Design (w/t) will bring viewers into the garage of custom car makers, and marks its debut in September.

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