Underlining its commitment to programming with more personal and entertaining touches, Discovery Channel will add two more shows to an expanded series roster this fall.
Flea Market Millionaire
and Perfect Match
will bow sometime in the fourth quarter, Discovery general manager Clark Bunting said.
Bunting, previously the head of sister network Animal Planet, is drawing on his experiences there to lighten Discovery's tone, as a means to attract recurrent viewers. At Animal Planet, he utilized such strong personalities as Steve Irwin and Jeff Corwin to that end.
"Discovery has always been known for the big special, like Walking with Dinosaurs
and Raising the Mammoth," he said. "They deliver big numbers and provide lots of sampling opportunities. I want viewers to know we have great shows in daytime, fringe and primetime that are worth coming back to time and again.
"Viewers are drawn to personalities," he added. "That's why they keep coming back to shows. We'll keep making great specials and if we gain traction with series, the glory days for Discovery are in front of it."
Bunting said Discovery is currently pilot-testing hosts for Flea Market Millionaire, and will name one within a couple of weeks. The show trades on four amateur collectors, armed with $500 apiece, who rummage through various flea markets in search of valuables.
Experts will then appraise their hauls, with the winner keeping the treasure trove.
"This show will appeal to hunters and gatherers. It will be tons of fun with great back stories," said Bunting. "We think it has breakout potential."
Discovery, which is eyeing late-fringe positioning for the weeknight strip, has ordered 65 episodes.
Initially, dating show Perfect Partner
will come to Discovery as a British Broadcasting Corp. import. The U.S. network plans to order more than 50 episodes from the BBC, and strip the show beginning this fall, before developing its own Stateside version.
Unlike most American dating shows, Perfect Partner
will tread lightly on titillation.
"This show is not about just bleeped language or pixilated screens," said Bunting, noting the show is "more interpersonal," with family and friends advising singles about making appropriate dating choices.
This pair joins the already announced Surprise by Design, a Trading Spaces
of sorts in which individuals are unknowingly led out of their residences by family members, only to return to a redesigned room.
Landscape designer and Today
contributor Rebecca Cole teams with interior designer to the stars Robert Verdi to lead renovation teams.
Discovery's key daytime returnee, The Christopher Lowell Show, will be revised to afford the host with even more ability to help do-it-yourselfers to breathe good karma into their projects.
"We really want it to be a case of 'If you can dream it, you can do it,' " said Bunting. "We want Christopher to be even more inspirational and motivational. Overall, we want to give our shows more editorial freedom to tell great stories."
Discovery also has plenty of new series on tap for primetime. In the fourth quarter, it will launch Hi-Tech History, which Bunting said will deploy forensic pathology and archeology to shed new light on why Pickett's charge at Gettysburg failed or what it was like to be at Custer's Last Stand; Monster Garage
which shows real-life engineers and mechanics converting common cars or motorcycles into such super-machines as a turf-rocket lawnmower or a fire truck; and Only Human, in which Discovery will stage situations to examine the natural history of human behavior, such as as why people always want to tell secrets.