Nat Geo Digs Out Series, Specials

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New York— Touting the network’s ratings momentum, National Geographic Channel last week unveiled four original series and a variety of specials slated for the upcoming season.

During an upfront event at Grand Central Station, Nat Geo officials talked about the network’s new primetime shows for 2005-2006, including Beyond the Bible, which uses historical and archeological evidence to explain seemingly miraculous events; and Is It Real?, which puts purportedly supernatural phenomena under a scientific magnifying glass.

There are also two series spinoffs of the long-running Megastructures: the anthologies Mega-Science, which talks about recent scientific breakthroughs; and Mega-Weather, which takes a look at the Earth’s most vicious and intense weather phenomena.

The network, about to close a fifth consecutive quarter of ratings gains, chose the transportation center to tie in with one of its fourth-quarter specials, Inside Grand Central. It treated media buyers to a tour of a secret terminal, located 100 feet below the hub’s lowest level.

Last fall, Nat Geo hit a Nielsen landmark for several of its specials: a 1.0 rating, according to executive vice president of programming John Ford.

This upcoming season’s specials slate includes: Hannibal, which retraces the conqueror’s route from Tunisia to Italy; Blackbeard, a “dramatized documentary,” whose airing will coincide with the release of Disney’s theatrical Pirates of the Caribbean II; Spartacus & Herod, which goes inside the life of the rebel slave and traces the path of power of the most hated king in Jewish history; and The San Francisco Earthquake, which uses film and recreations to depict the quake’s magnitude 100 years ago.

Nat Geo last year rebranded itself to break away from the old perception that it was just about “animals and tribes,” said Ford, positioning itself to cover natural history, culture, science, technology and history.

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