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Discovery to Screen Documentary on Facebook Before Putting It on TV

Discovery Communications plans to run a new TV program on Facebook before airing it on Discovery Channel, in another media-industry experiment with ways to get more attention for video content.

In this case, the show isn’t part of a new series on sharks, tornadoes or scientific phenomena but a documentary aimed at sparking social change that features an appearance by the president of the United States.

“Rise: The Promise of My Brother’s Keeper” is a documentary that examines an initiative introduced by President Barack Obama in 2014 that encourages communities to help young men of color move through school and youth programs toward education and careers. Discovery said the effort marks the first time Facebook has streamed the company’s longform content.

Facebook will stream the special starting Friday June 19 at 9 a.m. ET and have an exclusive social-media window to show it during Father’s Day weekend until 4 p.m, on Sunday, June 21. Cable, satellite and other distributors of Discovery will also have the ability to stream the program, said Josh Weinberg, VP of content strategy at Discovery Channel, in an interview. The special will air on Discovery Channel and OWN on Sunday, June 21, at 7 p.m.

The documentary’s aim to spark social change made it an appropriate piece of content to screen on Facebook. Weinberg said. “This is more than just a special,” he said. “We really wanted to start a conversation, get people engaged, get them aware to get them involved in the initiative.” Discovery will encourage people to post about the mentors in their lives, learn more about getting involved and sign up for special watch parties for the linear broadcast of the program.

The version of the program screened via Facebook will last 47 minutes and contain no commercials. The linear version shown on Discovery and OWN will last an hour and contain ads, Weinberg said.

Among the efforts featured in the documentary are Chicago-based Urban Prep Academies; the Halstead Academy of Art and Science in Baltimore County, Maryland; YouthBuild in rural northern California; and Youth Guidance’s Becoming a Man.

The documentary is produced by Discovery Studios for Discovery Channel. John Hoffman is executive producer, with Alexandra Moss as supervising producer. The film is directed and produced for Discovery Studios by Dawn Porter with James Barrat as producer. Mike Masland serves as executive producer.

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