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Discovery Times Renamed I.D.

Discovery Times Channel is getting a new I.D. Discovery Communications plans to rename its 50-million subscriber, documentary-based network Investigation Discovery (I.D.) beginning Jan. 27, and will develop new original series and specials emphasizing forensics and investigative-oriented content.

Launched in 2003 as a partnership between The New York Times and Discovery, the network expects to develop more than 200 hours of new content in 2008 that it hopes will continue to drive audience and viewership gains, said John Ford, president and general manager of the channel.

The move comes nearly 20 months after The New York Times exercised a put in the agreement to sell its 50% share of the network back to Discovery.

But Ford said Discovery is “not actively seeking” investors to replace NYT and instead will keep the network in-house.

“What we have is we think such a valuable proposition that we want to keep it to ourselves,” Ford said.

Indeed, the network has been in a ratings and viewership roll. Through Nov. 25, the network is averaging 125,000 viewers in primetime for the year, a 131% increase compared to the same period in 2006. The network has also logged 14 months of double-digit total-day household ratings increases.

In the third quarter, Discovery Times averaged a 0.2 primetime household rating, up 100% from a 0.1 this time last year.

Ford attributes the gains to greater audience awareness of such Discovery Times shows such as FBI Files and the network’s investigative specials featuring former ABCNightline host Ted Koppel.

“Sometimes it takes a while for people to recognize what’s there and stick with it,” Ford said. “This is a situation where our audience has spoken and we have listened. They really like this investigative and forensic style programming, so we’re going to go full tilt while keeping the channel’s core DNA as a very topically-engaged channel that you can count on for in-depth analysis.”

Ford would not reveal what new shows or programs are in production, nor would he say how much money Discovery will allocate to produce such programming.

The network however, will not seek an increase in its monthly 7 cents per-subscriber licence fee.

“We hope to go to advertisers with our cross platform strategy and offer opportunities to advertise on our website, VOD [and] mobile [offerings],” Ford said.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.