Planet Green Goes To Look for America

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Discovery Communications is rebranding yet another of
its digital channels, turning its eco-friendly network Planet
Green into Destination America, a broadly-focused service
that will celebrate the people, places, and stories of the
United States. Multichannel News programming editor
R. Thomas Umstead spoke to Destination America president and general
manager Henry Schleiff about the strategy behind Planet Green’s rebranding
and what Destination America will offer viewers and advertisers when
it launches on Memorial Day. An edited transcript follows.

MCN: If you had to
define Destination
America in a sentence
or two, what would you

Henry Schleiff: It’s
essentially a network
that highlights the unifying
theme of our love
for our country. That
theme is told through
stories based around
that common idea,
whether it’s through biographies
of American
heroes or villains; stories
of travel throughout
America; reflections
on our love of
food; and the respect
that we have when we
see the wonders of our
national parks. So I
think in a sentence this
is the first network to really celebrate
the people, places and stories of the
United States.

MCN: Why did you feel it was
necessary to rebrand Planet Green?

HS: It was essentially looking at what
Discovery Communications does best
— to really create broad, mass-appeal
networks like Discovery Channel, Animal
Planet, TLC and even [Investigation
Discovery]. If you looked at Planet
Green it had a more narrow, targeted
appeal. It’s not that it wasn’t working —
it was profitable and had a very healthy
margin — but it was never going to grow
into the kind of big-league network that
Discovery is really known for.

MCN: Given the current election
season, will the network feature any

HS: It’s not a political
thing; this is not a network
that’s meant to
appeal to only a red
state or a blue state. It’s
[intended] to appeal to
a “united” states — it’s
meant to be inclusive.
There are so many
things that divide this
country and you can
certainly start at politics,
along with race
and religion, but one
thing that unites us in
this country is our love
for this country. We
obviously have our differences,
and what we
read most of the times
in the press — whether
it’s electronic, print
or the Internet — are stories that are
negative and that divide us. I think this
network is somewhat distinctive in its
focus on the unifying theme of what
we fi nd great about being in America.
I love the concept of Planet Green now
turning red, white and blue.

MCN: Will Destination America
assume all of Planet Green’s

HS: Yes, it will launch with 60 million
subs. It really is an extension of and
renaming of Planet Green. We’ll look at
the network’s library and take some of
the programming that was working, as
well as the libraries of other Discovery
networks, along with a significant investment
in original programming and
put it all under this renamed umbrella
of Destination America.