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Discovery Unfurls Destination America

Discovery Communications
will take to the Web to promote
the Memorial Day launch
of its newest branded digital network,
Destination America.

Despite a focus that advertisers
may find too general, Destination
America will feature
U.S.-specific travel, food, history
and lifestyle programming. The
network will debut with a marathon
of the off-TLC reality series
BBQ Pit Masters, according
to Marc Etkind, senior vice president
of content strategy for
Destination America. The new
network will launch a third season
of the competition series beginning
June 3.

Among the original shows
the network will feature are Fast
Food Mania
, which stars Howard
Stern Show
regular Jon Hein as he
travels the country profiling the best fast food joints. Overall,
Etkind said, Destination America will launch more
than 100 new shows by the end of the year.

While similar U.S.-themed travel and lifestyles programs
appear on other networks
like TLC and History, Etkind
said Destination America will
have a 24-hour focus on the
best of what the nation offers.
He pointed to the successful
branding of Investigation Discovery,
which has generated
strong viewership with content
in the crime and mystery
genre that is also prevalent on
other channels.

“Yes, there are some channels
that have American content,
but they also have a lot
of other stuff ,” he said. “What
makes us unique is that we’re
only about America — we
can go deeper and examine
America’s roots, character,
and really get into the true
grit and tenacity that defines
who we are.”

To get the word out, Etkind
said the network last week
launched a new website,,
which celebrates the country by sourcing Americanthemed
content from across the Web, including social
media sites Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter.

In addition, the network recently launched an
iPhone app that will encourage visitors to upload
photos from different sites around the country with
the promise of as yet undisclosed prizes for the best

Etkind said the network is hoping to reach an inclusive
audience of Americans, with a focus on men 25-54.
He added he’s hopeful the network will surpass ratings
for the network it is replacing, Planet Green, which averaged
156,000 viewers in primetime during the first quarter.
The network has already added some Destination America
content to Planet Green’s lineup, which has given that
network a bump up in ratings compared to the previous
year. In April, for example, Planet Green — which featured
shows like repeats of BBQ Pit Masters — increased
its primetime ratings by 23% to 139,000 viewers.

“We feel pretty good that we’re both on the right direction
about this network,” Etkind said, “and we’re going to
do better than [Planet Green].”