Discovery Channel is taking a closer look at itself through the lens of its viewers.
The network's Feb. 25 special, You Spoof Discovery — which parodied such shows as American Chopper, Dirty Jobs and MythBusters — is the first of what the network hopes will be more projects steeped in viewer-created content, according to Discovery Channel president and general manager Jane Root.
Discovery is following the lead of sister service Military Channel, which has already launched a number of user-generated initiatives revolving around the Iraq War, including the My War Diaries series.
“There's a fantastic array of really classy, sophisticated, surprising content out there — some funny, some poignant,” Root said. “[My War Diaries and You Spoof Discovery] are two examples of this company taking this new phenomena and running with it.”
The You Spoof Discovery special, which featured about 20 user-generated videos, came about after network executives late last year saw two videos on YouTube that spoofed American Chopper. Discovery decided to invite viewers to take their best shots at its shows. More than 600 entries were submitted over the past 10 weeks.
“They have great production value,” Root said. “On one hand, they're a testament to people's inventiveness; and on the other hand, it shows a real sense of affection for the product.”
Discovery will air more of the videos as part of a companion Web site (at discovery.com/spoof). The site will be updated periodically to include new videos that were shot after the special.
Root said the user-generated initiative is the first for the 92 million-subscriber network, but hopefully won't be the last.
Root also said she's “excited” about securing the talents of former History Channel star Josh Bernstein for the channel. The network is planning several projects for the explorer and former host of History's popular series Digging for the Truth, including a show which looks at the uncovered treasures of Egypt.
Root would not reveal details of the deal, but did say that it was the promise of a broader array of projects that helped secure Bernstein, who is the president and CEO of the Boulder Outdoor Survival School.
Discovery will feature Bernstein exclusively in specials and series focusing on subjects ranging from anthropology and archaeology to environmental issues.
“It just took a lot of talking,” Root said. “It's not just about history with Josh — it's about so much more for him and for us.”