BACKGROUND: Throughout Joseph Giraldi’s career, a common thread is adapting cable TV for the digital age. In the early 2000s, as broadband and mobile services were growing, Giraldi, then HBO’s director of digital distribution and strategic partnerships, developed ways to deliver HBO’s premium programming to digital. That included original web content, as well as adapting HBO’s hit shows for new devices, including the first HBO Mobile product. “We’d cut Entourage episodes into three-minute increments because [mobile carriers] had limits on the amount of video you could consume,” he recalls. That fueled his desire to bring high-quality TV to consumers on their own schedules and on the go. Since joining Smithsonian Channel in 2009, Giraldi has built up the network’s digital portfolio to include dynamic web sites, mobile apps, an SVOD service, social channels and on-site activations.
2017 HIGHLIGHTS: Smithsonian Channel, a joint venture of Showtime Networks and the Smithsonian Institution, enjoys a halo of brand recognition that helps in reaching fans on digital platforms. Last year, it focused on building out a subscription VOD service, Smithsonian Earth, an ad-free streaming service with original documentaries, short series and nature scenes, plus four complementary apps. The channel also launched an interactive experience on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. “To have a physical presence for millions of visitors is one of unique things we can do,” he says.
WHAT’S AHEAD: A top priority for 2018 is extending Smithsonian Earth, plus network originals, to more OTT systems; supplying more programming to social channels; and experimenting with Facebook Live. With three successful new original series on digital, Smithsonian Channel wants to launch several more web exclusives. “We need to make sure our storytelling is front and center wherever the audience is,” Giraldi says.