Why Nat Geo’s Yellowstone Live Will Be Full of Surprises

(National Geographic/David Eastaugh)

National Geographic’s four-night live event, Yellowstone Live, launched Sunday, August 5, and will sweep through over 22 million acres of wilderness to give viewers unparalleled access across the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Executive Producer Al Berman explains why he has no doubt the live production will keep viewers engaged.


Cynopsis: How do you prepare ahead of time to ensure there’s plenty of action during the live broadcast?  

Al Berman: There are a number of locations that we know will deliver spectacular live shots – geothermal locations like Grand Prismatic Springs, Norris Basin and Old Faithful, along with wildlife locations such as Lamar Valley which is loaded with Bison beginning the Rut – that’s where the males fight for dominance. We’re also constantly searching for more elusive wildlife such as Cougars with motion triggered cameras. And we’ll turn those around quickly. And we’re in other spots such as the Montana Raptor Center where we’re broadcasting the live release of rehabilitated Owls, Hawks, etc. And we have control of that timing.

We’ve been planning for Yellowstone Live for almost a year, and have been working on building this broadcast unit from the ground up on location.

(Michael Nichols/National Geographic Creative)

The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem spans 22 million acres, and is home to 400 animal species and almost half the world’s active geysers, so there will be plenty of action during the live broadcasts. We specifically chose this date and time because it’s an especially active time of year for animals who are migrating and feeding…also because Yellowstone is a top American summer destination.  

We’ve assembled an elite team of the world’s greatest adventurers, photographers, filmmakers and researchers with decades of experience in the field, whose insight and instincts will bring cameras right into the action. Host Josh Elliott will be joined by zoologist and naturalist Chris Packham, who was also part of Earth Live, to once again share insight on the animals seen throughout the broadcast. We’ll also have our roving reporter Jenna Wolfe in the field interviewing people whose life and work are dedicated to maintaining the historic region. And of course, we have a few tricks up our sleeves as well. You’ll have to tune in!


Cynopsis: How do you think Yellowstone Live will surprise viewers?

Berman:Four million tourists flock to Yellowstone National Park each year, yet there are many parts of the Park and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem that most visitors don’t get to see. The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is one of the largest nearly intact temperate-zone ecosystems on Earth and contains about half of the world’s active geysers. Our cameras, over the four-night special, will use a thermal imaging camera to reveal Yellowstone’s thermal features; bring viewers aerial views of essential wildfires and wolf packs in remote wilderness areas; and showcase footage from inside a beaver lodge.


Cynopsis: What lessons did you learn from Earth Live that came in handy with this project?

Herman: We learned a lot from Earth Live and looked to expand on the areas that were really successful and add any elements we felt could enhance and dig deeper for Yellowstone Live. This time around, we’ve expanded the multiplatform feeds with more behind-the-scenes access of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem on National Geographic’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. With Earth Live we started with only an idea, then hired the best production team, and figured out how to do it. Now, with that under our belt, we have systems already in place that we can adjust to this particular location.

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