Skip to main content

Viewers Take Aim at Discovery Shows

Ever wanted to film a spoof of American Chopper? Discovery Channel is inviting you to do so, and the network might even put it on the air.

Discovery will air user-generated parodies of such shows as American Chopper, Dirty Jobs and MythBusters as part of Feb. 25 special You Spoof Discovery.

The one-hour special is the first of what the network hopes will be more projects steeped in viewer-created content, according to president and general manager Jane Root.

The special, which will feature approximately 20 user-generated videos, came about after network executives late last year saw two videos on YouTube that spoofed American Chopper. The network decided to invite viewers to take their best shots at Discovery shows. Over the past 10 weeks, more than 600 entries were submitted, according to Root.

“They have great production value,” she said. “On one hand, they’re a testament to people’s inventiveness, and on the other hand, it shows a real sense of affection for the product.”

Discovery will air more of the videos as part of a companion Web site, which will be updated periodically to include new videos that were shot after the special.

Root said the user-generated initiative is the first for the 92 million-subscriber network, but it hopefully won’t be the last. While there are no plans to develop any new shows featuring viewer-created content, she added that it’s something the network is interested in exploring further.

Discovery sister network Military Channel has aggressively adopted the user-generated programming model, creating a series dubbedMy War Diary. The half-hour show features videos from Iraq war soldiers and their families.

“There’s a fantastic array of really classy, sophisticated, surprising content out there -- some funny, some poignant,” Root said. “[My War Diary and You Spoof Discovery] are two examples of this company taking this new phenomenon and running with it.”

In other Discovery news, Root said she’s “excited” about securing the talents of former History Channel star Josh Bernstein for Discovery. The network is planning several projects for the explorer and former host of History’s popularDigging for the Truth series, including a show that looks at the uncovered treasures of Egypt.

Root would not reveal details of the deal, but she did say that it was the promise of a broader array of projects that helped to secure Bernstein, CEO of the Boulder Outdoor Survival School. Discovery will feature Bernstein exclusively in specials and series focusing on subjects ranging from anthropology and archaeology to environmental issues.

“It just took a lot of talking,” Root said. “It’s not just about history with Josh -- it’s about so much more for him and for us.”

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.