National Geographic sets specials

Network announces nine on doc slate

With its documentary specials driving ratings to record heights and ad sales to double-digit growth, the National Geographic Channel has announced a slate of nine upcoming nonseries programs.

Slate includes “Inside the Iraq War” (working title), a two-hour docu from Towers Prods., which produced Nat Geo’s highest rated program of all time, “Inside 9/11.”

Also upcoming is “Garbage Moguls,” which follows a small, green-minded startup as it attempts to successfully launch mainstream consumer products made out of refuse, such as a messenger bag for OfficeMax comprising used billboard materials and seatbelts and a kite for Wal-Mart stores made out of Oreo cookie wrappers.

Exec produced by Matt Bennett and set for a April 22 Earth Day bow on the channel, this one-off could become a regular series, network officials said.

“We’re looking at this as a pilot,” said Bridget Whalen, VP of development for National Geographic. “If it works, we’ll definitely do more.”

Meanwhile, from Mike Mathis Prods., “Gallon of Gas” (working title) will track gasoline’s lifecycle from sediments on the ocean floor to tailpipe emission. “Plastiki” from Renegade Pictures will follow National Geographic emerging explorer David de Rothschild and his crew on an 8,000-mile journey in an eponymously monikered boat.

“Tribe in the Pictures” (working title) from Essential Prods. will explore the previously undiscovered Amazonian tribe that was popularized last year in widely published flyover photos.

Other specials in the National Geographic pipeline include “Big Sur” (working title), a look at the flora and fauna at the California wildlife hotspot, and “Egyptian Secrets of the Afterlife,” an exploration of ancient post-mortem belief systems. Both were produced internally by the channel.

National Geographic had its biggest month of primetime ratings ever in January, driven largely by specials including “On Board Air Force One,” which led all ad-supported cable programs in its timeslot with a 2.4 average household rating. For the month, the channel averaged a 1.9 household number and a 1.2 rating for its target demo of adults 25-54.

Meanwhile, the Washington, D.C.-based cabler announced earlier in the month at its upfront presentation that its ad sales were up 11% so far in the quarter.

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