National Geographic builds on momentum


NEW YORK -- National Geographic Channel plans to play to its strengths in the upcoming year's programming slate.

That will include such eye-popping documentaries as "The Incredible Human Machine," which highlights the inside-out workings of the body; "Six Degrees That Will Change the World," on the effects of global warming; and "Dino Autopsy," an in-depth look at a fully mummified 70 million-year-old dinosaur.

"We're building off our success and building on the National Geographic strengths in science, conservation, nature and contemporary culture," said Michael Cascio, senior vp special programming at the Washington-based network.

National Geographic Channel is coming off a stellar performance in January, which was its highest-rated month ever. This year, it has 10 shows with a 1 rating or better, compared with 12 during all of 2006.

"Human Machine" and another special, "The Living Body," are both two-hour programs that will air in the fourth quarter. "Six Degrees" will air as another two-hour special in early 2008. "Dino Autopsy" will be the subject of another two hours later this year or early next year. Details of the show are being worked on, but Cascio said, "It'll change the way we look at dinosaurs."

National Geo also will have a raft of new and returning series, including 13 episodes of "Critical Situations," which will break down such events as the 1997 North Hollywood shootout and the rescue of Air Force pilot Scott O'Grady after he was shot down over Bosnia in 1995. Another six-hour limited series with a California flair is "The Building," which will look at the inner workings of the construction of a Los Angeles condo with hours on how the plumbing, electrical and other systems are built.

Returning series include "Explorer," which this season will focus on the trade of human body parts and heroin trafficking worldwide, as well as "Dog Whisperer" and a renewal of "Taboo" for 13 episodes. "Fight Science," which was one of the network's youngest-skewing shows, will return for another season.

National Geo will not have a big New York-based upfront presentation this year, instead choosing like others to go to individual ad agencies. The network has had 100 new advertisers during the past year and a 100% year-to-year increase in ad revenue on linear TV and a 400% increase year-to-year on broadband and video-on-demand ad revenue.