Nat Geo Freshens Brand With New Original Series


The 19-month-old National Geographic Channel this fall will introduce several new original series that will stretch the content boundaries of the 114-year-old brand.

While the network will continue to offer documentary and anthology programming that explores the depths of nature and the human existence, some of the network's five new entries will go beyond what's considered standard National Geographic

Shows like Dogs With Jobs, which explore stories about hard-working canines, and Surviving West Point, a reality series that follows the lives of army cadets, are a departure from the often-staid but award-winning documentaries for which the National Geographic Society has been known and revered.

But NGC U.S. president Laureen Ong said the network's new programming, to debut in late September and early October, will help update and redefine the brand for the new millennium, while remaining true to its roots.

"As we go into the 21st century, it's our job to help broaden and redefine the National Geographic brand," Ong said. "We are stretching the brand with a lot of new programming but that's our job.

"During the 20th century, everyone knew the National Geographic
brand through the magazine, but in the 21st century they will know it through the channel."

Ong even argued that reality shows like Surviving West Point
remain true to the traditional National Geographic identity.

is known for covering iconic institutions like the Pentagon and the White House," Ong said. "Surviving West Point
is a new style documentary — a first-person storytelling instead of third-person storytelling. As we look forward at how documentaries are evolving, this is definitely on brand for us."

Other new shows to bow this fall include: Phobia
which focuses on real-world experiences and treatments for phobics (Sept. 30); Nature's Nightmares, an anthology series that highlights such uncomely creatures as snakes, spiders and sewer rats (Oct. 3); and Built for the Kill, which details how animals hunt and attack prey (Oct. 3.)

Ong also said the new shows should appeal to the network's core demographic of adults aged 25 to 54. The freshman fare will complement popular returning series like The Mummy Road Show
and Reptile Wild, as well as the two-hour anthology series National Geographic Presents.

The network certainly has its admirers. NGC often lands near the top of "must-have" lists of new networks for both operators and subscribers, and has grown from 10 million households at launch in January 2001 to 34 million households today.

The network presently runs 400 hours of original programming and 300 hours of library shows, including episodes of National Geographic Explorer
, which debuts its first-run installments on MSNBC.