Herd of Sponsors Sign Up For BBCA’s 'Wonderstruck'

AMC Networks has lined up presenting sponsors for Wonderstruck, the new day-long nature programming block that starts Saturday on BBC America.

Deals with Land Rover, Expedia and Stella Artois run through the middle of next year, according to Courtney Thomasma, executive director of BBC America, which is treating Wonderstruck as sort of a mini-network that will take over BBCA’s channel once a week.

Some of the ad deals include custom content and sponsorship of social content that will be a part of Wonderstruck, which airs from 6 a.m. Saturday mornings through 6 a.m. Sunday mornings.

“We’re really pleased with the response we’ve received so far,” Thomasma said.

She noted that the mini-network is attracting advertisers outside of the categories that are endemic to the nature programming genre, such as travel and outdoor gear.

“It really does mirror the universal appeal that this programming has,” Thomasma said. “We see viewers from all ages, 2 to 92, all parts of the country, all points on the political spectrum, really come together to watch this type of content.”

Advertisers have also responded to research that shows that watching nature programming has positive health effects on viewers. The effects include a significant reduction in anxiety, decreased feelings of loneliness and stress.

“People talked about feeling grateful and inspired and having a larger sense of awe as a result of watching this content,” Thomasma said. “They talked about it being time well spent. It’s not hard work. It’s great, beautiful entertaining programming. You feel better as a result of watching. That’s pretty powerful stuff and not something we see frequently on TV.”

BBC America is building a digital companion site for Wonderstruck that will launch early last year and will feature a searchable snackable short-form hub. Users can search for their favorite animal or by their mood. For example, if they’re feeling stressed, it will serve up content that will help the de-stress. If they’re feeling excited, it would serve videos tailored to that.

“We really tailored the entire on-air environment of Wonderstruck, as well as the individual creative executions that we will be putting on air, pushing out on social and digital, around those findings,” she said, adding that advertisers have been fascinated by the research.

BBC America is also developing content that features autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), which gives viewers a tingly sensation.

“So if you tune in on Saturday, you might get to see 30 seconds following a hummingbird as it goes from flower to flower, and just be immersed in listening to its wings flap. Or swimming with a pod of Orca whales in the ocean and just listening to them communicate.”

Michelob Ultra employed ASMR in a commercial during the Super Bowl and the Wonderstruck pieces ASMR are available for sponsorship and there’s been interest from advertisers, Thomasma said.

When it launches Saturday, Wonderstruck will show a full episode of the latest series in the BBC’s Planet Earth franchise, Seven Worlds, One Planet. The episode spotlights Antarctica and the series features narration by Sir David Attenborough and a score from Hans Zimmer.

Seven Worlds, One Planet began airing in the U.K. this week. Wonderstruck will have the whole series early next year.

AMC Networks earlier this year renewed its partnership, which makes it the U.S. home for the BBC’s premiere content. AMC and the BBC will co-produce Planet Earth III and Frozen Planet II and has the rights to air the Planet Earth collection, including Planet EarthI and II, TheBlue Planet and Blue PlanetII, Frozen Planet, Life, Africa and Dynasties

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.