The soaring, stately Refectory Room at NYC’s High Line Hotel, once an Episcopal seminary (chandeliers, stained glass windows), was the site for Nat Geo and Nat Geo WILD’s lively upfront presentations, where net luminaries like Jason Silva (Brain Games) and Dr. Jan Pol (Dr. Pol) nibbled on chicken and risotto alongside guests as the nets rolled out their slates of new series.
Nat Geo has come a long way, said net president Howard T. Owens, debuting six of its top ten series just last year, the most-watched ever. Owens promised a diverse slate of new shows that leverage the brand DNA, saying, “Our channel seeks to tap into the inner explorer that is inside all of us.”
New series include hidden-camera show Crowd Control, You Can’t Lick Your Elbow (“Brain Games for the body”), Cabin Fever (a building show, like “Lincoln logs on steroids”), cooking/travel series Meat Heads, turn-back-time docu-series The Primitives and survival format Remote Survival.
Events and specials include multi-part American Genius, showing the underside of the rivalries between some of America’s most brilliant minds, and special The Great American Sleep Project, offering secrets to getting a good night’s rest. (John Hoffman, founder and CEO of The Public Good Projects, partnering on the show, offered Cynopsis a tip: “Keep the screen in another room.” Turns out the blue light tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime.) Four-hour mini-series Killing Jesus is expected to premiere globally in 171 countries in 2015, Driving America explores the nation’s love affair with cars and miniseries Eat: The Story of Food delves into cuisine through the ages, part of a multiplatform initiative. Mini-series The ‘90s: The Last Great Decade? recalls “The decade that set the stage for the world we live in today.”
The net also showed the love for returning series Brain Games, None of the Above, Alaska State Troopers, Building Wild, Drugs Inc., The Legend of Mick Dodge, Life Below Zero, Life Below Zero: The Thaw, Ultimate Survival Alaska and Wicked Tuna.
At Nat Geo WILD, EVP and General Manager Geoffrey Daniels attributed the net’s success to “always putting animals first.” In addition to returning series The Incredible Dr. Pol (“old school cool”) and Dr. Oakley, Yukon Vet (premiering April 12, but already renewed), Daniels announced new programming including Dr. K: Exotic Pet Vet (wt) and Pond Stars, about backyard pond builders. Also on tap: another Big Cat Week, and “Dogs Rule,” a weekend dedicated to canines, starting with a global three-part special: Is Your Dog a Genius?