Discovery Canada’s “Daily Planet” revamps for season 17

Discovery Channel Canada's flagship show kicks off another season with a complete revamp, with an eye towards shopping the format around the world.
August 5, 2011

For its upcoming 17th season, Discovery Channel Canada’s flagship series Daily Planet is getting a complete revamp in an effort to boost its brand and support a new international sales strategy.

DP executive producer Jeff MacDonald says Daily Planet was primed for a reboot, thanks to significant changes this season, including the departure of longtime co-host Jay Ingram and the debut of his replacement, Edmonton-born Dan Riskin (pictured with co-host Ziya Tong), and Daily Planet’s big switch to HD.

And while overall ratings are strong – one in three Discovery viewers tune into DP each week, according to BBM numbers, which peg DP’s weekly reach at 1,311,00 in the 25 to 54 demo, and 2,838,000 for 2+ – MacDonald says there’s room for improvement.

To that end, the show is introducing a host of new branded segments that will run on specific days, including ‘Road Warriors,’ featuring things weird and on wheels on Mondays, and ‘Flight Deck’ on Wednesdays, which looks at aviation innovation.

“We do that content by nature already. We’ve always had car segments and behind the scenes [content], for example,” MacDonald explains. “We wanted to give it a brand, something we can point to on a nightly basis so people can get a better sense of what they can expect.”

On the sales front, Exploration Productions Inc (EPI) head of distribution Tony Leadman has trained an aggressive eye toward bringing DP to an international market.

While EPI has been able to license DP segments and specials to Discovery Europe for The Tech Show, and also saw success for two seasons with a DP format called Connect in southeast Asia, clearance issues for stock footage outside of Canada has been the main challenge for a major international move.

“You couldn’t just go to a broadcaster in France and license Daily Planet because clearances just weren’t there,” says Leadman.

But new coin from Bell Media has given EPI an increased production budget to do its own stock work, allowing it to leave previous clearance concerns behind.

The choice of Riskin to replace Ingram was also designed to increase audience appeal; Riskin is known to American television viewers for his work on Animal Planet’s Monsters Inside Me as well as his guest appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

Even the new set was designed with international sales in mind. “It has a sophisticated look that we see all the time in international television,” says Leadman. “DP will hold its own to appeal to international viewers.”

Additionally, EPI is looking to shop DP formats across the globe.

“This show could easily be a weekly one-hour with ‘best of’ segments,” says Leadman. “If you take out some of the Canadianized stories, a lot of markets would be happy with 39 hours with more of an international flair. The set is designed to be able to make these international DPs right in our own building and sell them to clients as they need them.”

Selling the format and segments opens up the show to other markets, where, for example, Germany could have its own host, but use the DP segments from EPI. Leadman says that he’s currently in discussions with several international clients regarding format and segment sales.

Season 17 of Daily Planet premieres on Aug. 29.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.