New Delhi: National Geographic Partners, an expanded joint venture between Rupert Murdoch’s media corporation 21st Century Fox and the National Geographic Society, is in the process of reinventing the brand globally. The company, which operates publishing, broadcasting, travel and licensing businesses across the world, recently rebranded its factual entertainment channel National Geographic Channel by dropping the word “channel” from its name and is also planning to redesign its magazine, website, digital and social media channels.
In an interview with Mint, Declan Moore, chief executive officer of National Geographic Partners, who was visiting India last week, talks about the changes in programming content, India operations and the channel’s first-ever scripted series. Edited Excerpts:
What is on the agenda for this visit?
We set up National Geographic Partners about 15 months ago and integrated all the storytelling on the domestic and international channels with the commercial activities of the National Geographic Society. Now, I am in the process of visiting key markets and we are working on how we can grow the brand.
We are looking at ways in which we can increase the digital experience for people, where we can enjoy a leadership position, and at how we can create products that are going to resonate with the markets here.
How big is National Geographic Partners globally?
We are in the television business. We publish five different magazines globally. We have a leadership position in social media where we are the number one brand on Instagram. Also, the brand reaches 730 million people across the world. We have tremendous media reach across different media platforms.
In India, we have four channels—National Geographic (standard definition and high definition), Nat Geo Wild (standard definition and high definition), Nat Geo Music and Nat Geo People which is a lifestyle channel.
You recently announced a global rebranding exercise. What does that entail?
With the rebranding exercise, we have increased our investment into storytelling. We are working with the best content creators in the world. We have rebranded the channel as National Geographic being an individual channel and as a brand that has a real purpose and that makes a difference.
27% of our proceeds from the entity go back into supporting and funding the next generation of scientists, explorers and educators. We are here to create additional programmes with partners and also find partners for different extensions of the brand.
Why did the company feel the need to rebrand the channels?
We realized that we were over producing some genres and we were not necessarily adding significant equity to the brand.
We are now positioning ourselves in the premium space. We are moving into the premium science, adventure and explorations space. We are introducing our first scripted series which we have not done before. The series called Genius features Geoffrey Rush as Albert Einstein. You will see more of scripted dramas and a science, adventure and exploration storytelling. We will roll out four scripted series this year, some of which will be short-form series.
What potential do you see in India?
Indian is a very important market for us. We are very excited about growing here over the coming years. We are looking at how do we build a vibrant community of people who are dedicated to environment.
This year, we will introduce additional original programming. We will add 20-25 hours of original programming globally. In India, we have 400 hours of original programming, out of which 25 hours are local programming. We are increasing our investments in India.