rePosition: Nat Geo’s Gil Pimentel

Gil Pimentel brings 15 years of network news experience to Nat Geo's new broadband unit
January 1, 2006

The new video iPod and the revolution it promises seem to be all the media talks about these days, but Gil Pimentel insists the two- to five-minute shorts he produces for MSN Video and Yahoo are also pretty exciting. ‘Over time, broadband will be a platform that’s at least as important as cable, TV, movies or whatever else,’ he says.

Though movies-on-the-move is a key area of investigation for National Geographic’s Digital Media Group, Pimentel, who was appointed head of the group’s new broadband production effort, is currently all about the Web. The unit, which was formalized in the fall, is doing five videos a week for both Yahoo and MSN, but Pimentel assures that number will increase significantly in 2006 – in terms of both the volume of video produced and the number of partners signed.

A 15-year veteran of ABC News and a former Nightline producer, Pimentel says a welcome perk of the job is that there’s room for experimentation. ‘The barriers to entry are low,’ he says. ‘If you have an idea, you can pretty much go for it.’ However, he notes that online video providers can no longer get away with simply throwing together clips from their archive. With audience feedback a mere click away, Pimentel says Nat Geo’s digital library is still tapped, but the end product is crafted specifically to meet the conditions unique to broadband. ‘Together with our partners, we’re discovering what works and what doesn’t, and using that knowledge to create a user experience that really works for broadband,’ he says.

Pimentel carefully guards these insights, but reveals that the production unit’s next step is to incorporate interactive elements into the videos. ‘Interactivity would be unique to the medium,’ he explains, ‘but you need to produce something that’s worth the consumer’s time.’ Currently, he’s playing around with producing continuing series specifically for broadband, with the subject matter and possible links still up for debate.

And the revenue model? ‘Creating the best content I can produce in my budget is the only thing I concern myself with,’ he says. That’s a perk, too.

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