National Geographic Channel Strategic Opportunities - October 2007

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STRATEGIC OPPORTUNITIES

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.  Then again,  this time around, the past, dangerous animals, survival-ish tales and prison-reality were the programs to watch, certainly professionally. 

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, gang, Biblical, behind the scene-stuff.  HITLER still scores well…and anything with ULTIMATE, EXTREME, AMAZING, ASTONISHING. MEGA, FINAL, INSIDE, SECRET, DANGEROUS ….all seem to be on their list of programs work better with that kind of prefix.….though some that are essentially Nat Geo clip shows are showing some signs of wear. Tell the truth (as we always do), the net avoided a lot of superlatively-titled programs in October.  And Crime isn’t nearly as wanted as the Steve Burns era begins.And Crime isn’t nearly as wanted as the Steve Burns era begins.

ORIGINAL:

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.

ACQUIRED:

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

PROGRAM SUBMISSION PROCESS:

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

“Welcome to NGCIdeas.com – 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 NGCIdeas.com 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!)

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

Like too many other channels these days, National Geographic is going through some personnel changes, too.   New boss Steve Burns was very much in evidence at the Science/Factual Congress last month.  As with any change at the top, there might be others behind it, and certainly some sort of change of direction. No announcements to report yet

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   Crime is on the outs, but religion, archaeology/anthropology and animals of the deadly sort still work and are at the heart of what’s being developed. 

TABOO, in fact, is a pretty steady performing series.  SNAKES and BIG CATS were strong this month.  The terrorism stuff resonates best with men.  A prison/LOCKDOWN one-off almost always scores.  This MONSTER FISH thing, too, is still delivering.  Nat Geo’s foray into SURVIVAL-ish stories looked good – real/re-enactments, not like the Discovery immersion shows.

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.  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!

GOT MORE?:

E-mail CableU feedback on our observations at info@cableu.tv

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