National Geographic magazine is now a multi-platform content behemoth dedicated to “digital and visual first.”
On platforms like Hulu and YouTube, National Geographic videos are getting a total of 685 million views a year and its the number one media brand on Instagram with 5 million followers.
At its first NewFronts presentation on Tuesday, executive vice president and worldwide publisher Claudia Malley announced the 126-year-old National Geographic would be attempting to expand this following by launching 9 new digital shows.
At an event, studded with rock climbing photographers, underwater cave explorers and a man using satellites to search for the tomb of Genghis Khan, Nat Geo previewed these new offerings to an audience of advertising sales executives.
Some are fleshed-out editorial projects and others, according to Nat Geo director of multimedia Mike Schmidt, are “looking for partners to help bring them to life.”
- The first of its two new Exploration Series is Explorers Project, which will follow scientists in the field getting a deeper look into how and why they do their work. The pilot features a researcher in the forests of northern Madagascar, the home of endangered lemurs, working with locals who are attempting to find a balance between their communities and environmental conservation.
- The second show, Expedition Raw is described by Malley as a “60-second selfie from the field.” Shot by the explorer herself, the first episode has biologist Kaia Tombak diving with sharks.
- Nat Geo’s new Adventure Series, Pass it On, is about about the gear used by adventurers. It will feature tips and training advice from experts shot in tough locales.
- What it Takes is a show about groups of people doing extraordinary things. The pilot follows the Gimp Monkeys, a crew of rock-climbing devotees who have all lost a limb, as they climb Yosemite’s famous el Capitan. Sometimes with prosthetics, sometimes without.
- The new Travel offering is called I Heart My City and will be a weekly series of local experts showing off what they love the most about their cities.
- Nat Geo News will also launch two new shows, starting with Off the Charts. This show has a muscular approach to data visualization with big animated charts and graphics taking you through the quantitative side of food news.
- By comparison, Phenomena, hosted by British writer Ed Yong, is a weekly animated series that attempts to decode new discoveries in science and is far gentler in tone.
Nat Geo is famous for its photography, and two new shows will go behind the scenes showing how photographers get their shots.
- Extreme Exposure is a weekly series about photographers working on the edge. Getting up close with dangerous animals hanging out of boats and diving beneath frozen waters.
- Photo Impact will go deeper into the photographer’s passions, chronicling their obsessions and how they came to shoot for Nat Geo.
Along with the 9 new shows, National Geographic is launching a redesigned website for kids that goes live today featuring the popular video series Weird But True News.
As reported last week, Nat Geo is consolidating its television, cinema ventures and short form video under one banner to be called National Geographic Studios.
“This is going to be a great way for us to streamline some things and find new content areas to source for digital,” said Schmidt in an interview with StreamDaily. As for the difference in tone between Nat Geo TV and the digital products, “We think of the web audience as a little bit different from the TV audience and a little bit different from the people who read the magazine in print, or on the tablet. We have a lot of different ways to reach the audience that will speak to them in all of those places.”
While they have an in-house team that produces, shoots and edits their own stuff, Schmidt says they do work a lot with third-party production companies and freelancers.
Image: Screengrab of Nat Geo video celebrating 1 billion YouTube views