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Looking for a Younger Audience, Nat Geo Goes ‘Wild’ in Daytime

National Geographic Channel will add programming from Nat Geo Wild and its international networks as part of a daytime block it hopes will draw a broader and younger audience.

On Sept. 2 NGC, which has offered repeats of its original shows and specials during the daytime hours, launched a two-hour morning block of Nat Geo Wild shows from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Brad Dancer, senior vice president of program planning and research for National Geographic Channel, said.

NGC’s daytime block will compete for viewers in the adults 25-54 bracket against several networks offering original programming during the morning and early afternoon, including Scripps Networks outlets Food Network and HGTV, as well as Hallmark Channel. “We’re trying to offer something different to what we see is a habit-forming daypart,” Dancer said. “We’re not going to compete with a Hallmark or some of the stronger networks that also tend to skew more female, but instead offer programming to more of a wide, coviewing audience.”

The Nat Geo Wild shows include World’s Deadliest (pictured), World’s Weirdest, Animals Gone Wild and Animal Fight Night. Dancer said the network wants to broaden its audience, as well as expose Nat Geo Wild programming to its core adult 25-54 audience.

“We wanted to find more ways to get natural history programming on the channel and we also want to give more exposure to a Nat Geo Wild network that’s still growing,” Dancer said. “It seems a very natural way to start the morning.”

Dancer said the Nat Geo Wild block of programming has increased its 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. audience by 12% compared with the month prior, and has significantly reduced its median age for the time period.

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Nat Geo is running several series from National Geographic Channel International. The series include Incredibly Small World, which spotlights people living with dwarfism; Vinnie Jones: Russia’s Toughest, which follows former pro soccer player Jones as he takes on tough jobs in Russia; Ultimate Airport Dubai, which takes a behind-the-scenes look at the Dubai International Airport; and Car S.O.S., which features mechanics who rescue rusty classic cars.

“We have a pretty diverse audience, so this was a way to test out new kinds of formats and to offer something different to our viewers and possibly seed new ideas for future programming,” Dancer said.

Dancer added he expects the Nat Geo International block will also post audience increases for its time slot. He added the network could expand both programming blocks if they provide consistently strong ratings returns.

“This is an opportunity for us to reinvigorate our daytime schedule while taking advantage of the brand’s diverse and extensive inventory,” Dancer said.

With regard to primetime, Dancer said the network will focus on offering original programming on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the fall to avoid competing with NFL football on Sunday, Monday and Thursday nights. Anchoring the network’s fall lineup and debuting this Tuesday (Sept. 30) are new original series Live Free or Die — focusing on people who live in remote areas of the country absent the trappings of modern society — and returning series The Legend of Mick Dodge.

“Football creates a unique dynamic for us in that we share a lot of viewers who watch games, but we’ve been strong on Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout the year,” Dancer said.