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Discovery Slates 7 Series

Oct 3, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Discovery Channel is launching a record seven new shows between now and the end of the year, combined with a rerun strategy designed to give viewers more opportunities to see them.

General Manager Jane Root, who was put in charge of the struggling network last year, said her plan was to produce programs with more energy and emotion to attract younger viewers.

“The big strategy is about the sense of energy and adrenaline we’re bringing to the program making,” she said. “That was our approach from day one, and the shows are starting to come through.”

Two of the new programs debuting this month-“Beyond Boundaries” and “I Shouldn’t Be Alive”-are in a genre Ms. Root calls “extreme anthropology.”

While anthropology can be presented in a classic, slow-moving way, Ms. Root said that while she was with the BBC before joining Discovery, she had a hunch that “if you do it differently, there’s a group of younger people who can get excited by this stuff.”

Discovery has already had success with “Going Tribal,” a show Ms. Root commissioned while with the BBC and brought across the pond. The anthropologist featured in the show is a young ex-Marine who finds primitive people and joins their lifestyle.

“Its core Discovery stuff reinvented for a new era,” she said. “Things we always would have done but done with energy and emotion.”

“Going Tribal” has drawn a 0.9 household rating and a 0.6 among adults 25 to 54.

The show has paved the way for “Beyond Boundaries,” set to debut Oct. 12 at 10 p.m., which was acquired from the BBC. “Beyond Boundaries” features 11 people with disabilities on a journey across the rugged terrain of Nicaragua. Ms. Root, who was involved in the show’s early phases at the BBC, said it was “a horrible idea on paper” but works because of the attractiveness of the show’s young cast.

On Oct. 24, Discovery will launch “I Shouldn’t Be Alive,” which uses re-creations and interviews to tell survivor stories of people in awful situations, such as storms. Being Discovery, each show also provides scientific information about the near-calamity.

The three shows are being spread over three nights, rather than playing as a block. That’s because “we want viewers to come to more than one night,” she said, and get a variety of programming when they do.

Most of the other new shows being launched fall into a relatively new genre for Discovery, what Ms. Root calls “life on the edge.” Those shows are “SOS: Coast Guard Rescue” on Oct. 11, “Extreme Engineering” on Oct. 19, “Roush Racing: Driver X” on Oct. 24, “Haunting” on Oct. 28 and “Firehouse,” which made its debut Sept. 20. Most will be repeated frequently after new episodes premiere.

New episodes of veteran shows that have “that sense of energy, excitement and fun that I’m trying to bring to the network,” such as “MythBusters,” will also get extra plays in prime time, she said.

“We want to show this new stuff as often as possible,” Ms. Root said. “We’ve got some great shows and some marketing noise behind them. We want people to see how fast we’re moving.”