NYC TV Week: Nat Geo Seeks To Challenge The Mind of Viewers

‘Smart-tainment’ Programming Helping To Build Brand Awareness

National Geographic Channel is trying to make viewers think while they watch TV by offering a new genre of “smart-tainment” programming that has brought in new watchers and promotional opportunities for the network.

With the network’s popular series Brain Games and The Numbers Game, the network is enhancing its brand by offering entertaining, science-based shows that appeal to younger viewers, according to Howard Owens, president of National Geographic Channels.

“Nat Geo has been synonymous with exploring frontiers,” said Owens at NewBay Media's NYC  Television Week on Oct. 29. “But we thought it was time and appropriate moment to tell stories about the emerging world of the brain.”

The network’s Brain Games, a reality series hosted by Jason Silva that discusses and explores the components of the human brain, is the network’s highest rated series. Owens said the combination of interactive games and experiments designed to trick your brain combined with the scientific fact behind the experiments have allowed the network to broaden its brand and expose the network to a younger audience.

“We were tasked with coming up with a fun format that could connect with people and hopefully continue to engage a younger and smart audience,” said Owens.

Added Nat Geo chief marketing officer Courteney Monroe: “It’s the new National Geographic show – its authentic, it’s entertaining and it has a fresh, contemporary feel. What also resonates is the interactivity of the show because you can play along with it.”

Owens said these shows can be complicated to produce given the intricacies of the experiments and tasks, as well as the legwork it takes to find scientists who can support the findings within each episode. But he added that its worth the effort because it provides the network with differentiated programming that can’t be found on other networks. The network has 20 new episodes of Brain Games for its new season.

Along with its reality series The Numbers Game, Owens said the network also has other “smart-taiment” shows in development, including Duck Quacks Don’t Echo, which will put absurd theories to the test.