Once, it wasn’t so easy being green. Today, all you have to do is turn on the TV.
Green TV programming has exploded in popularity, spawning not just a slew of eco-friendly shows around the globe, but programming blocks and now an entire green channel in the U.S.
While such content may just be the latest in a long line of trends, the intense and broad interest in environmental issues around the world has the potential to turn green TV into a perennial powerhouse.
U.K.-based research firm Havas Media will present at Mipcom the results of a global study that polled 11,000 consumers in the United States, U.K., France, China, India, Brazil, Germany, Spain and Mexico on their attitudes toward climate change and the challenges it poses for business.
The results were astonishing. A whopping 80% of the world’s consumers said they were attentive to, or absorbed by, climate change and sustainability issues — with more than half of the rest recognizing the need to change their lifestyles, says Guy Champniss, director of Havas Media Intelligence.
That represents a huge, expectant and intelligent audience potential for broadcasters, says Kavita Maharaj, Havas Media’s director of global corporate relationships. But they have to go about it right, which means incorporating environmental and sustainability issues into shows in an intelligent and entertaining way. Tackling green issues head-on or being preachy about saving the world is bad for business, she says.
“In the same way we advise brands not to lead on the ecological or green benefits in their messaging, so we say the same to program makers — look to make the sustainability or ecological messages relevant to the more primary needs of the audience. As we say, make it the ‘second story’ of the content,” she says.
That strategy is already showing its potential to satisfy both audiences and businesses. The idea of doing good for the world as well as doing good business is at least part of what inspired Denmark-based format distributor Nordisk Film TV World to get involved in a project titled “100 Places to Remember Before They Disappear.”
“The title almost says what it is,” says Jan Salling, head of sales and business development. “It is 100 small interstitials or clips that show and tell the stories of 100 places on a global basis that are going to disappear within the next generation, or the next few generations, if we don’t actively do something about climate change.”
The multiplatform project also includes websites, exhibitions, books, posters and newspaper articles. Salling says Nordisk will distribute the clips and allow purchasers to sell ads around them. It will contribute part of its proceeds to green initiatives.
“I hope it can be a win-win situation and do good for our brands and for other people’s brands,” Salling says. “I don’t see a contradiction between doing good (for the bottom line) and doing good.”
The largest green TV initiative to date is Discovery’s Planet Green channel, which launched to 50 million U.S. homes in June. Discovery describes the channel as a 24-hour lifestyle and entertainment network that is part of a wider initiative, including an HD version, a programming block for Discovery’s international channels and eco-lifestyle sites TreeHugger.com and PlanetGreen.com.
Discovery/Planet Green CEO and prexy David Zaslav will give a “green” keynote address at Mipcom to describe how the company launched the channel, which he says “builds on Discovery’s commitment to celebrate the planet and brings the green movement into peoples’ homes through lifestyle content that is informative and entertaining.”
Planet Green is young, but its programming is almost entirely original. It also crosses a number of genres, including cooking (“Emeril Green”), entertainment news (“Green Hollywood With Maria Menounos”) and reality (“Battleground Earth: Ludacris vs. Tommy Lee”).
How much potential there is for green TV to stick around past the fad stage remains to be seen. Maharaj says the depth of the world’s interest in these topics bodes well for broadcasters that can strike the right tone.
“The pure green play will only work for a niche audience,” she says. “But creating content that makes the move toward sustainability more aspirational and achievable can certainly run for the long haul.”