×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Nat Geo Kids Digs Deeper Into Fiction, Digital to Reach Young Eyeballs

During a time in which competing for children’s attention is tougher than ever, National Geographic Kids is looking to expand its reach with a multi-platform approach that includes a deeper dive into fictional content and digital video offerings.

Brand-new middle-grade book (plus multimedia) series “Zeus the Mighty” launches this fall, National Geographic Kids and Family content VP Jennifer Emmett told Variety. The adventure series is a sophomore effort that follows last year’s debut of “Explorer Academy,” Nat Geo Kids’ initial foray into make-believe.

Publishing fiction might seem like an incongruous turn for the venerable scientific education brand, but it’s being framed as a new and different way to get kids interested in real-world science.

“What we’re trying to do here is not just enter the fictional world for the sake of storytelling alone, because plenty of people are doing that and doing it well,” said Emmett. “We’re trying to hook kids on exploration.”

“Zeus the Mighty,” published by National Geographic and distributed by Penguin Random House, is described as “Greek mythology meets ‘The Secret Life of Pets.'” The series stars Zeus the hamster, Athena the cat, Poseidon the puffer fish, and a pug named after Ares, the god of war, and is meant to educate kids about Greek myths and the culture and geography of ancient Greece. The first book in the series, “Zeus the Mighty: The Quest for the Golden Fleas,” hits shelves on Oct. 22, and will be followed by a new book every six months.

Calling fiction “a new adventure for us,” Emmett said that “Zeus,” like “Explorer Academy” before it, will be supported by multimedia content, including video, podcasts, a website, and magazine content.

“We’re really trying to be where kids are,” she said. In addition to revamping its U.S. kids YouTube channel last year, National Geographic has even launched a few Alexa skills aimed at engaging children.

“In video, we’re doing this short-form strategy, which then ties into our other platforms in digital and in publishing, so that we can advance this content strategy where we are bringing out content across all our platforms in a unified way,” she said.

National Geographic Kids reaches 260 million kids a month worldwide through a combination of TV, social media, the web, apps, and a radio partnership with Sirius XM. It also recently launched “Fearless Kids,” which the company describes as a “cross-platform family initiative to inspire fearlessness in children.”

Amid on-screen competition not just from popular peculiarities like “unboxing” videos YouTube, the brand also has to compete with licensed and original children’s programming from the likes of Amazon and Netflix.

That said, the more-than-130-year-old parent National Geographic brand will feature its video programming on the budding Disney Plus service later this year, after the close of Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets. It is not yet clear how much National Geographic Kids content will be funneled into the streaming service, which Disney is positioning as a family-friendly platform. But there is presumably opportunity to expand its digital reach even further.

“We’re incredibly excited about Disney, but we’re not really able to say any more than that,” said Emmett. “We’re looking forward to it.”

More TV

  • Neilsons Measurment Problems TV Digital

    WarnerMedia Pulls Out of Audience-Targeting Alliance Open A.P.

    WarnerMedia is going its own way when it comes to helping advertisers find specific groups of TV-watchers. The company, a founding member of the audience-targeting media alliance known as Open A.P., said Friday it would withdraw from the group, citing its desire to pursue its own strategy under owner AT&T. AT&T purchased Time Warner in [...]

  • BLESS THIS MESS - "The Chicken

    Listen: Lake Bell, Dax Shepard on Returning to Broadcast TV With 'Bless This Mess'

    Welcome to “TV Take,” Variety’s television podcast. In this week’s installment, Variety’s executive editor of TV, Daniel Holloway, chats with Lake Bell and Dax Shepard, stars of ABC’s “Bless This Mess,” which debuted on Monday. The show centers around a newly married couple, played by Bell and Shepard, who decide to ditch their shoebox New York City [...]

  • superstore renewed season 3

    'Superstore' Showrunner Justin Spitzer Steps Down as He, Gabe Miller, Jonathan Green Renew Overall Deals at UTV

    “Superstore” executive producers Justin Spitzer, Gabe Miller and Jonathan Green have all renewed their overall deals with Universal Television. In addition, Miller and Green will take over showrunner duties on “Superstore” while Spitzer–who also created the series–will shift to develop new projects for the studio beginning with the 2019-2020 season. “I can’t thank Justin enough [...]

  • THE EXORCIST

    'Exorcist' Star Max Von Sydow Doesn't Let Age Define His Roles

    Max von Sydow turned 90 this month, which is a milestone for most people, but age has always seemed incidental to the actor. When he played the elderly, frail Father Merrin in “The Exorcist,” von Sydow was 44 — meaning he was the same age Bradley Cooper is today. In the 1950s, von Sydow had [...]

  • Gentleman Jack Suranne Jones

    TV Review: HBO's 'Gentleman Jack'

    “Nature played a challenging trick on me, didn’t she?” Anne Lister (Suranne Jones) first utters this sentence with an arch amusement, but over the course of Sally Wainwright’s new drama “Gentleman Jack,” she repeats the sentiment with pride, exhaustion and defiance. Living in 1832 Halifax as a lesbian with a penchant for sweeping black suits [...]

  • Inside the Music of Netflix's 'Ingress:

    Inside the Music of Netflix's 'Ingress: The Animation' (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Ingress: The Animation” hit last fall in Japan, but the global release doesn’t hit Netflix until April 30, fortunately, it’s bringing a little something new to the show based on Niantic’s other popular video game. The global version of the show will feature a new musical score created by Jacob Yoffee (“Free Meek,” “Andi Mack”). [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content