National Geographic is a powerful brand with broadcasting channels that can be found around the world, which make valuable editions to any pay-TV platform. However, like most broadcasters, it is faced with a new set of challenges as it looks to monetize its various channels going forward. It has expanded its channel presence in recent years with the launch of Nat Geo Wild and Nat Geo Mundo.
David Lyle, CEO, National Geographic Channels (NGC) U.S., talks about how the company is working to deepen the presence of National Geographic content around the world, and where in terms of the broadcasting space the company goes next.
VIA SATELLITE: What are the main challenges facing NGC during the next 12 months?
Lyle: Our main challenge is to develop hit franchise TV series across the networks and across the world. We have had some successful series in the past, but it is a programming challenge first and foremost.
VIA SATELLITE: How are the costs of the production changing as you look to put content in multiple formats?
Lyle: As we provide much of our material on a global basis, we tend to be paying the entire production costs of that material. Splitting up the different platforms, rights and windows, doesn’t impact the way our production costs look, but it certainly impacts the backend costs.
VIA SATELLITE: Are you looking to launch any new channels?
Lyle: We are not looking to launch any new channels at the moment, but there are different language versions of channels you can choose to do or not. The engine for our growth is content, rather than pure platform-based initiatives.
VIA SATELLITE: How does NGC use satellite technology? How important is it in your overall operations?
Lyle: Satellite is part of our DNA. It is the spine that keeps our body together. Because of the global nature of the NGC, including the core channels, Nat Geo Wild and Nat Geo Mundo, there is not a corner of the Earth that does not have National Geographic somewhere. Satellite is important as a direct deliver to consumer in different parts of the world. Here in the United States, we deliver our programming from Los Angeles to the various MSOs by satellite and we also have Dish that carries us.
I am afraid I am not an evangelist for 3-D TV. I definitely reside on the other side of the street. It is a technology, not an end product.
VIA SATELLITE: With the emergence of the iPad and other tablets as viewing devices, what do you see as the revenue opportunities associated with these devices?
Lyle: The main company strategy for those devices involves authentication with our MSO partners. We allow the consumer to receive our linear signal on whatever devices they want, but through an authentication process. At the moment, with our libraries of material, we are mindful of those devices and we are looking to see how they grow. National Geographic Channels around the world are a co-venture between Fox and National Geographic Society as well as Sky, but the society itself has a lot of direct-to-consumer applications and extensions of the National Geographic magazine. At the moment, our path to these different platforms is going through the authentication path, as it allows us to monetize our advertising and C3 ratings.