Discovery is to get back into natural history and live events and supercharge its existing franchises such as Gold Rush after recently installed channel boss Nancy Daniels admitted that the Discovery channel is a “turnaround job”.
Daniels, who joined as Chief Brand Officer, Discovery & Factual in March 2018, lifted the lid on her strategy to reverse the channel’s downward ratings trajectory.
She is looking to build on recent order The Red List, a two-hour wildlife doc from BBC Studios’ Natural History Unit, a few years after ending its natural history co-production deal with the BBC.
“We miss natural history and we are absolutely engaging and looking at ways to bring it back in a big way on Discovery. One of the things that we’ve found is that there are two areas that our audience feel haven’t been fully explored: space and the oceans. Those feel like the final frontiers so we’re definitely looking, from a natural history perspective, where are those stories.
“I’m [also] excited to do live events. I don’t know what they are, give me a beat but we are constantly talking about it.
Daniels admitted that Discovery has struggled in the ratings in recent years. “The brand is still there and is very strong. A big focus of ours is getting some new series up and running, we haven’t really had a breakout hit in a few years, that’s a big priority. It’s very difficult to break through, not through lack of trying. That’s where I see opportunity.”
Elsewhere, she urged producers to brainstorm ideas that celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing and is considering “multiple projects” to coincide with the moment. Daniels also showed a clip of Above and Beyond, which celebrates NASA’s 60th anniversary.
Discovery is also keen to supersize its existing “core” hits such as Raw TV’s Gold Rush. “We look at the season coming up and after the filming, ask ‘are there moments that are worthy of a two-hour episode?’ I wouldn’t want to come out of the gate with a two hour episode, that’s a lot to ask of a viewer but when you have superfans, you want to continue to nourish them.”
The former TLC exec highlighted the success of this year’s Shark Week, its fourth best in its 30 years and took a small swipe at rival Nat Geo for its SharkFest. “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” she said.