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National Geographic Channel Strategic Opportunities - January 2008



Series are the by-word at National Geographic Channel (or is it "buy-word"?) more than almost any other network.  They have strands, but need the kinds of series and characters that the DOG WHISPERER is and the viewer identification he can command.   DOGTOWN is off to a good start, and TABOO continues to click, too.  But the network is proving that well thought out theme nights and mini-events can boost the numbers, too.  Do enough of these similarly-themed one-offs, and suddenly, you do have a series.

Producers should not narrow themselves to the natural history dimension of National Geographic, the Magazine.  Look well beyond"¦and get to know their very diverse schedule.  Science drives it as much as anything. Again, lately, lots of terrorism-related specials, , jailhouse, gangs (especially these two), Biblical, behind the scene-stuff.  HITLER still scores well..religion, too"¦and anything with killer animals or bears"¦.all seem to be on their list of what works (but, not always, snakes, as we saw this month).  Once again, as last month, the net avoided a lot of superlatively-titled programs.

Their AMAZING/ASTONISHING etc. night didn't do so well.  CRIME was supposed to be on the outs, but with that kind of consistent performance (as almost always with crime), it's not happening as fast as predicted, at least not in January.


The key here is a fully formed idea with all the sources (as credible as can be, because fact-checking is as thorough as it should be) and a story arc with new information along the way.  Without all of that, it will go through too many courteous meetings and reviews, trying to get it to what they need, and it's not, you'll get frustrated trying.  Key subject areas remain:  Science, natural history, exploration, and history.


Very little on the acquired side, but they will take a look on anything that fits into their remit.


National Geographic prefers to get proposals e-submitted. To submit to National Geographic, visit the website Here are the latest marching orders:

"Welcome to - the place to submit programming ideas to the National Geographic Channel - United States (NGC-US) and National Geographic Channels International (NGCI).

Both networks have gone paperless which means is now the only way to submit your proposals."
Wouldn't bother with a pilot or presentation tape, unless talent is involved (then it's a big YES!)


Reports from 17th Street are that things are settling down now that Steve Burns has settled in.  No obvious changes in direction yet, but take your cue from what works"¦and there are some definite distinctions"¦and you'll see that it's the ol' "we want new info on familiar topics" that rules the day.

Take the past mantra as a prologue:  "Natural history, programs to fill the NAKED SCIENCE Strand, a support for DOG WHISPERER, programs like SECONDS FROM DISASTER, etc.""¦And from what we see, that ought to be true. The new prison stuff is great, but one would think they'd want another take on the subject.  And these monster fish (HOOKED!) and ULTIMATE FACTORIES do OK, too.

Don't forget this"¦in spite of a sister international network with the name ADVENTURE, Nat Geo US is clearly NOT looking for adventure-ish programming.  Nix on travel, too.  And if you have animals, make sure they attack.

Plenty of opportunities for more takes on jails (especially) and that neo-crime stuff, if that's a direction they want.  Bikers and gangs could fill that gap.  Animals are fine, and DOG WHISPERER needs more character-driven programs surrounding him, if they're going to continue that show.

Didja see RealScreen a month or so back?  Steve Burns shared his programming thoughts, the headlines and buzz phrases of which were:

"We're witnessing increased interest in the (natural history) genre."
"We greenlit six new blue-chip natural history documentaries" (within his first weeks at Nat Geo)
"I want to see things I haven't seen before, new discoveries and behaviors.  I ..want innovative visuals"¦.and to be transported, because that's what our viewers expect."
"Extraordinary photography and compelling storytelling."

So take it from there"¦be very, very patient"¦and try to keep in mind:  This is a BRAND, with a capital "B""¦.and they really are good guys!


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