Discovery Takes on Environmental Hue

Apr 9, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Discovery Communications’ plan to launch a channel devoted to eco-friendly lifestyles was met with cautious optimism by the ad-buying community last week.

With concerns about global warming attaining new heights, the company is investing $50 million to relaunch Discovery Home Channel as PlanetGreen, the first 24-hour environmentalism cable network.

Brad Adgate, senior VP of research at Horizon Media, said he expected advertisers to respond favorably.

“There are a lot of companies embracing the environment, it’s topical, and the channel will likely bring in a lot of upper-income viewers that advertisers like,” he said.

Companies have touted environmental initiatives in their television ads for many years. But with progressive buyers increasingly making purchasing decisions based on a product’s seeming eco-friendliness, the advertising community has responded in kind.

“It’s one of those things: From a public relations standpoint, there’s no downside to being pro-environment,” Mr. Adgate said.

John Rash, senior VP and director of media negotiations at Campbell Mithun, agreed there’s ad-community interest in targeting green viewers, but noted there’s no proof that green viewers want their own channel.

“Revenue is reflective of ratings, and while there certainly is an increasing interest in the environment, eventual viewing levels are still uncertain,” he said.

Discovery plans to debut the channel in 2008 in about 50 million homes. In addition, the network will set up an advisory board to aid in green endeavors, host a PlanetGreen Innovation Conference, attempt to make its headquarters a carbon-neutral building and work with partners such as the Nature Conservancy.

Eileen O’Neill, a senior executive and former general manager of Discovery Health Channel, will lead the Discovery PlanetGreen initiative.

The first major programming initiative will be Discovery Channel’s new series “Ten Ways to Save the Planet,” set to premiere next year.

Some highlights from Discovery’s upcoming schedule announced at last week’s upfronts in New York include:

  • “Koppel on Discovery”: Ted Koppel’s investigative journalism series delves into the burning issues facing the world.
  • “Werner Herzog’s Antarctica”: Award-winning filmmaker Werner Herzog’s special about scientists studying Antarctica.
  • “Last Man Standing”: A new series in which six young athletes travel around the world and compete against remote tribes on their native grounds.
  • “Deadliest Catch”: The show about Alaskan crab-wranglers fighting dangerous working conditions returns for another season.