Planet Green Out for Buzz on the Web

Apr 13, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Discovery’s Planet Green is rolling out a slate of digital programming this week, a full two months in advance of the official launch of the green-centric cable network. Discovery wants to build new-media buzz before it flips Discovery Home into Planet Green on June 4, reaching an existing base of 50 million homes.
Planet Green will roll out its new Web site this week and will offer at least three of its original shows on cable operators’ video-on-demand menus.
Planet Green is one of the first linear channel premieres to occur in the digital age, and its launch strategy demonstrates how programmers are rethinking the marketing of shows in this new era.
Discovery is betting the pre-release of digital material can help Planet Green generate word of mouth before it is launched. That could help the network, since environmental issues are increasingly important to the Internet audience.
Nielsen Online recently reported that blog attention to topics of sustainability and green living grew 50% in 2007. In fact, Discovery Channel’s TreeHugger.com site ranked tops among so-called “sustainability blogs” for the most message traffic last year, giving Discovery a sturdy online base on which to grow the Planet Green brand.
The Web is a natural overlap for the channel’s viewers. A Solutions Research Group study found that those most interested in eco-friendly living tend to be urban, younger and with a slight female skew (58% female).
“The potential audience for the channel matches the demographics of the active Web and on-demand audience well,” said Kaan Yigit, analyst with Solutions Research Group. “Early digital launch and traffic can serve as proof of interest in the vertical and help optimize programming approach and generate word of mouth.”
The early digital rollout also is timed to coincide with Discovery’s current round of upfront presentations. The media company kicked off an upfront tour in late March to present its programming lineup across its networks, including Planet Green and its new digital initiatives. “It sends a clear message the digital age has arrived and we need all platforms working together to deliver an actionable message,” said Eileen O’Neill, president and general manager for Planet Green. “We have an audience opportunity to develop in advance of the channel.”
Starting Thursday, the network will offer episodes on VOD from the Planet Green shows “Wasted,” “Mean Green Machines” and “Greenovate.”
“Mean Green Machines” pits environmentally friendly vehicles against their counterparts. “Wasted” helps homeowners make their homes more clean and green. “Greenovate” showcases home improvement projects that reduce energy bills and carbon footprint.
The VOD content will be available across nearly all cable operators. Some operators likely will run cross-channel spots and promote the new Planet Green fare in their VOD barker channels, said Josh Freeman, executive VP of digital media at Discovery.
Then there is the network’s Web effort. The network’s Web site planetgreen.com officially launches Thursday. PlanetGreen.com will feature green buying guides, do-it-yourself information on projects ranging from recipes to renovation and community elements such as discussion forums, comments and voting on posts. Discovery will promote the site launch on its sister networks and their Web sites and via an online marketing campaign on news sites, topical sites and TV-related sites.
PlanetGreen.com advertisers include Caterpillar, Waste Management and Johnson & Johnson’s Aveeno brand.
Blog Audience
The network also is banking on drawing some of its on-air audience from TreeHugger.com, the blog Discovery bought last year. TreeHugger.com generates about 2 million unique visitors each month.
Finally, short clips from Planet Green shows will be offered to Discovery’s mobile video partners starting April 21 for two weeks.
This digital marketing strategy holds promise because buzz is hard to beat, said Paul Rule, president of VOD research firm Marquest Media & Entertainment Research. “Many of the prospective viewers for a socially conscious, environmentally oriented net like Planet Green will be the same new-media-philes attracted to VOD and Web content.”
Green-centric programming is a relatively new category for television networks. While a handful of cable networks, such as HGTV and Discovery itself, have developed green-centric shows, Planet Green is the largest network dedicated around-the-clock to the topic.
“We are looking for early adopters in the green space and people who are maybe first-time parents or a baby boomer looking at longevity issues and quality of life, and younger college-oriented folks who are interested in important issues,” Ms. O’Neill said.
She explained that the two Web sites and the network will be programmed in tandem. The on-air network will be the hub for entertainment programming about climate change, environmental issues and green living; PlanetGreen.com will serve as a source for how-to information on green living; and TreeHugger.com is the site for coverage of the broader issues behind the shows.
The green contingent is active online and uses the Internet both for information about greener living and to shop for greener products, said Kimberly Danek Pinkson, president of the nonprofit EcoMom Alliance, a network of moms working to create a sustainable lifestyle. “People are hungry for connection and know they are part of a bigger movement toward a richer way of living.”


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