No Mystery to ID’s Success

Mar 29, 2009  •  Post A Comment

Crime is paying for Discovery Communications as its Investigation Discovery channel prepares for a second season with a slate of 11 new original series, including shows from Paula Zahn and Whoopi Goldberg.
The channel was known as Discovery Times until a joint venture with the New York Times dissolved. It was relaunched as Investigation Discovery in January 2008.
The identity as a crime and investigation channel came as Court TV became truTV, trading most of its forensics programming for action-oriented shows aimed at younger viewers.
“There was an opportunity there,” said Clark Bunting, president of Discovery Emerging Networks. “Some of the earliest, long-running series on Discovery Channel were ‘FBI Files’ and ‘New Detectives.’ We wanted to open the genre up more.
“I think part of the reason it’s working so well is it’s just immersive programming,” Mr. Bunting said. “There’s a beginning, there’s a middle and an end. There’s a mystery and people play along trying to solve that mystery.”
ID, ranked 50th among ad-supported cable networks for 2008, with an average of 66,000 primetime viewers (up 44%). The network is strongest with women 25 to 54, posting the industry’s biggest gain in the demo with a 77% increase. The gains have continued this year, with ID up 53% in February among women 25 to 54.
“What we have found with these folks is they’re incredibly loyal. They have some of the highest average minutes viewed anywhere in TV, the highest in [Discovery’s] entire portfolio.
For the first season, the channel stuck closely to the tried-and-true to build an audience. As Discovery Networks begins to make its upfront presentations to advertisers and media buyers, ID is unveiling a slate that takes a few more risks, Mr. Bunting said.
Ms. Goldberg’s as yet untitled show will reopen cold cases that are important only to the family of the victim. She will shoot short-form video talking about cases the show will examine and ask viewers to send in clues. Ms. Goldberg will produce; how she’ll participate in the show on camera hasn’t been determined.
Ms. Zahn’s show is a newsmagazine called “On the Case With Paula Zahn,” in which she will look at headline-making cases and original exclusive stories.
Having well-known personalities involved in the shows could help attract an audience, Mr. Bunting said.
Ms. Zahn, for example, “brings name recognition, she brings a Q score and many years of award-winning investigative journalism,” he said. “But at the end of the day, a great person introducing a series, unless they’re passionate and really are telling a compelling story, won’t hold the audience. Paula is going to hold onto them because of the stories she tells.”
The network also will present “Prison Wives,” which takes a look at prison life from the perspective of loved ones on the outside; and “The Will,” a 10-part series on the family intrigue that often follows the death of a relative.
Other shows on the slate are “Forensics: You Decide,” in which the audience picks between evidence presented by an accuser and the accused; “The Bureau,” which looks at the modern FBI and its agents; “The Aphrodite Jones Files,” in which the journalist and author leads viewers through the twists of true stories; “Disappeared,” which looks at missing-persons cases; “Paperback Mysteries,” in which novelists discuss real cases that inspired their stories; “Incredible Heroes,” which tell tales of bravery by ordinary people; and “I, Witness,” featuring first-person accounts of dramatic events.
ID also has ordered new seasons of its series “The Shift,” “Dallas DNA,” “Call 911,” “Extreme Forensics” and “Solved.”
This season, ID will have about 70% original programming in primetime, supplemented with “48 Hours” and “Dateline.” In daytime, the network’s schedule will be about 40% original, with library programming filling the rest of the schedule.

One Comment

  1. Amazing freakin blog here. I almost cried while reading it!

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