National Geographic Television (NGT) continues to map out a strategy for becoming a vital entity in the children’s TV market.
NGT hopes to build on the success of its Really Wild Animals series with Amazing Planet. Episodes of the series, which it is selling at NATPE for a fall premiere, have recently been released on home video.
‘National Geographic is broadening people’s perception that kids programming can be fun, can truly embrace great entertainment value and can still teach a kid something,’ says Andrew Wilk, senior vice president of programming and production for National Geographic Television.
Amazing Planet is NGT’s most ambitious kids series to date, says Wilk, who describes the 26-episode sitcom as ‘an alien thrill ride Gilligan’s Island meets Lost in Space meets National Geographic Television.’ In the show, a group of aliens accidentally launched into space must complete a mission to study the Earth.
Really Wild Animals, the first program NGT created specifically for the children’s market, moves to the Disney Channel this month after running on CBS Saturday mornings last season. Twelve new episodes are slated to premiere. The series has also been well received on home video.
The kids area has become an increasingly integral piece of the total production picture for NGT, which also produces prime-time specials that air on NBC and a weekly documentary series that appears on TBS. ‘It’s concomitant with our mission to educate and disseminate geographic information,’ says Wilk. ‘We can get to a younger audience in a fun way.’
The FCC mandate for quality children’s television certainly d’esn’t hurt a company like NGT. By its very definition, everything NGT produces is FCC-friendly. Long-range production goals include a series tentatively titled Animal Tales. NGT also has a development deal with Nickelodeon, and recently joined with NBC to create the National Geographic Channel anticipated to launch this year in Latin America, Europe and Asia.
‘Hopefully,’ Wilk adds, ‘when people think of kids programming, Geographic is going to be on the tip of their tongue after Nickelodeon and Fox Kids Network.’