10:14am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Discovery, Science to Televise Live Moon Landing
Discovery and Science Channels are headed to the moon.
The sibling cable networks have signed on to chronicle the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition for privately funded teams to land an unmanned craft on the moon by Dec. 31, 2015.
The networks will chronicle the historic race with a miniseries event that follows teams from around the world as they race to complete the requirements for the grand prize: landing a craft on the surface of the moon, traveling 500 meters and transmitting live pictures and video back to Earth.
Science and Discovery will follow the entire process -- from testing and lift-off to live coverage of the winning lunar landing, estimated to take place in 2015.
"The $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE offers all the ingredients of fantastic television; stakes, competition, big characters and mind-blowing visuals. It's the perfect project for Science Channel and Discovery Channel to partner on," said Eileen O'Neill, group vp at Discovery Channel, Science Channel and Velocity. "When the winning craft touches down on the moon's surface, it's going to trigger buzz and inspiration all over the world. Our intention is to provide a live, front-row seat to history being made, just as we did with Nik Wallenda's Skywire event and the upcoming Everest Jump Live."
Added XPRIZE vice chairman and president Robert K. Weiss: "In addition to the technological breakthroughs catalyzed by the Google Lunar XPRIZE, we have an equally important goal of inspiring young scientists, engineers and space explorers. More than half the world's population has never had the opportunity to experience a live broadcast from the moon. Partnering with Discovery Channel and Science Channel will allow us to engage the public around this milestone event, creating an 'Apollo Moment' for the next generation."
STORY: Discovery to Strand Contestants in Wilderness for Live Reality Show (Exclusive)
The news comes as Discovery continues to push into the live space. The cable network on Tuesday ordered Survival Live, a survival series in which eight people will be stranded in the wilderness for 42 days with two episodes set to air each week. The cabler has also featured live episodes of American Chopper and other large-scale live events including Felix Baumgartner's leap from the stratosphere, which delivered massive ratings for Discovery.
Live events -- including awards shows -- have become increasingly valuable to both broadcast and cable networks in an era of increased competition and the DVR.