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New NatGeo Programming Helps Advertisers Reach Multiple Media

Mar 6, 2008  •  Post A Comment

National Geographic Channel is creating new programming franchises that marketers can sponsor across media.
The channel, which bills itself as the third highest rated nonfiction network behind Discovery Channel and History Channel, is expecting another strong upfront after registering a 43% increase a year ago; it saw similar increases in the third and fourth quarter.
“Things continue to percolate in the first quarter,” said Rich Goldfarb, senior VP of ad sales at National Geographic Channel, who is getting ready to present the network’s plans to advertisers as the upfront ad market approaches. The network also has doubled its digital revenue through its Web site, which is being upgraded to focus on broadband.
One of last year’s successes was “Preserve Our Planet,” a franchise built on four quarterly specials. The package attracted 10 ad partners, bringing in more than $10 million in revenue. “Preserve Our Planet” will return for year two.
This year, the network is aiming to create another franchise with “Great Quests.” It’s also quarterly specials, including ones on an autopsy of a baby mammoth that was found frozen in Siberia, the search for the spawning area of the blue whale and the discovery of King Herod’s tomb.
Advertisers will be attached to content from the series when it runs on TV, on broadband, on video-on-demand and on mobile. Some of the programs will be featured in National Geographic magazine, giving sponsors a chance to be in print media as well.
Some programs will be the subject of live events and meetings, giving the sponsor added visibility.
“Advertisers can cascade across every National Geographic Channel media asset from soup to nuts, including live events at National Geographic headquarters,” said Steve Schiffman, general manager and executive VP of National Geographic Channel. “It’s unique for one media entity to offer all those assets to an advertiser.”
National Geographic Channel’s primary viewership is upscale men, which has helped it attract advertisers in the automotive and financial services categories.
But Mr. Goldfarb said the channel’s lineup has been bringing in a more diverse audience.
One of the network’s top-rated shows is “The Dog Whisperer,” which skews female. NatGeo sold a presenting sponsorship to Petco, which stages live events with the show’s host, Cesar Millan. At those events, as many as 3,000 people have shown up to meet Mr. Millan, and store sales more than double for the day, Mr. Goldfarb said.
Other National Geographic Channel programming, such as series “Fight Science,” “Taboo” and “Lockdown,” has skewed younger and edgier. Those shows have attracted advertisers in the beer, spirits, theatrical film, home video and video game categories, where the network previously had done little business.
“You may not think of National Geographic in those terms ordinarily,” Mr. Goldfarb said. With those shows, however, “We do attract a young audience, and we have been able to monetize that.”
The network has a few new series coming next year. Among them are “Who Knew? With Marshal Brain,” which looks to see how everyday products are made; “The Big Fix,” hosted by Sean Riley, whose company takes on some of the biggest and most dangerous repair jobs; and “Locked Up Abroad,” which re-enacts the none-too-smart choices that landed young people in jails overseas.
National Geographic also will run a limited series called “Master of Disaster,” featuring a tornado researcher whose skills in creating things that are hard to destroy brought him to the attention of Homeland Security, where he is a consultant.

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