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NatGeo Chief Talks Introducing New Programming While Retaining Core Audience at Variety’s Massive Summit

While outlining the goals of National Geographic’s new slate of programming, NatGeo Global Networks CEO Courteney Monroe was keen to emphasize the importance of pleasing the network’s existing audience, which primarily consists of facts-driven men.

“With this new strategy we are looking to expand our audience and to attract a broader audience — more women, more millennials, a more upscale audience,” explained Monroe. “That’s a lot of what this strategy is, but retaining our core male nonfiction fans is certainly something we’re focused on.” This core audience, Monroe explained, is men who consume fact-based television.

The network’s new strategy involves the release of three new shows: “Mars,” “One Strange Rock” and the Morgan Freeman-starring “The Story of God,” a six-part docu-series that will follow the Oscar-winning actor’s quest to explore religions and belief systems around the world. “Mars” — which Monroe describes as “emblematic of the scale, scope and level of creative emission” the network hopes to achieve with its new strategy — will mesh both half-scripted and half-unscripted elements to chronicle a mission to colonize Mars.

“If we continue to look for stories that feel really distinct and unique for National Geographic and that are about making a difference, I think the audience will come,” said Monroe.

She also discussed the challenges presented by the clutter and ever-expanding competition within the industry, which she characterized as “all the more reason to focus on being exceptional.” She continued: “We have to have content that people care about and view as being worth their time and worth paying for, then, ultimately, harnessing this portfolio so that we can touch consumers and engage with them across these platforms.”

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