Discovery Communications took a huge leap forward in the multiplatform space – becoming the first TV network to provide video to Google Earth, and launching two new broadband sites and a mobile broadcast channel.
Starting Thursday, the company will make short-form content from its library available to Google Earth, Google’s free, satellite imagery-based mapping product. Users can view Discovery-branded videos about national landmarks and locations. The company will keep all revenue from ads on the site and can add pay downloads or promote other online offerings like new pay broadband site Cosmeo on Google Earth. The video will be largely re-cut from documentaries and programs Discovery has already shot, beginning with video from 10 national parks.
The company is in talks with advertisers for exclusive sponsorships of the Discovery video and is contemplating sales tie-ins – books or travel arrangements, for example. Discovery will also launch broadband networks for the Discovery Channel and Travel Channel on April 15, the first in a series planned to extend to several other channels in its cable portfolio. The free, ad-supported sites – Discovery Channel Beyond and Travel Channel Beyond – are enabled by Internet TV service Brightcove and will be available from the main Discovery site.
They will include sections for previews and extensions of on-air programming, video blogs (vlogs) from talent, and user-generated content. One area will let users create and post their own documentaries by mixing Discovery footage with their own narration. A daily newscast is also planned. All content will likely tie in with programming on the linear networks.
Finally, the company will offer a 24-hour broadcast mobile network, Discovery Mobile, in the third quarter of 2006. The channel will be programmed with science and nature-themed content specifically packaged for cell phones, rather than just broadcasting the individual TV networks. Content will available in a two-hour loop, refreshed weekly. Individual segments will vary in length from 30-seconds to four minutes and will be grouped in 20-minute segments.