During a recent keynote presentation at the Realscreen event in New Orleans, Tom McDonald, who is the EVP of Global Factual and Unscripted at National Geographic, spoke about some of the upcoming shows they are developing but also confirmed that they have a lot less money to create new original content now.

Since Bob Iger’s return as the CEO of the Walt Disney Company, he has been on a campaign to reduce how much money is being spent, with over $5 billion in cuts.    With a focus now on profitability for its streaming business, we’ve seen a drastic reduction in how much is spent on creating new content across all the divisions.

Tom McDonald explained that while he was “really optimistic” about National Geographic’s upcoming slate and where it was heading,   he admitted that a lot has changed since he took over the job.

“Clearly, we have less money to spend than when I joined 18 months ago, that’s just the reality. There are a lot of buyers out who might not say it as boldly as I just said it but it’s the truth. But I still feel like we’ve got plenty of room to experiment, to take risks. But it does mean we’ve had to work really hard on our overall slate. We are not a volume player. I think of us as a prestige player,”

National Geographic is still one of the core linear television channels that Disney has been focused on.  Recently, it was one of only a handful of linear channels to still be offered as part of a new deal with Spectrum, which is expected to be replicated with other cable companies.   There were also reports last year that Disney was looking to potentially sell off the Nat Geo channel, but that rumour was quickly swept aside.

He also joked about how there are discussions about plans to incorporate National Geographic into the Disney Theme Parks.   No doubt, many theme park fans will instantly think National Geographic would be a perfect fit for the Animal Kingdom theme park in Walt Disney World; building a ride about “Life Below Zero” or “The Incredible Dr Pol” is unlikely.

With Tom joking about how some series just won’t make much sense at the parks, but he reveal that National Geographic is working on a number of new shows including one about the Jonestown Massacre, which is called “The Cult: One Day In America” and another series about the Boxing Day tsunami.

“We’re making a series about Jonestown Massacre [The Cult: One Day In America], we’re making a series about the Boxing Day tsunami [Tsunami], we are definitely not thinking about a theme park ride. However, I do think that the priority to us as we go forward is going to be how to bring these things to life in a bigger and broader way. I think that’s one of the things is unique about us, compared to Netflix or Apple for some of the other cable channels. I do think it is part of being part of the wider National Geographic and the wider Disney ecosystem and that feels like it’s not been wholly tapped into yet.”

Since Disney’s purchase of National Geographic in 2019, as part of the larger merger with 20th Century Fox, we’ve seen some integration between the brands, with Nat Geo becoming one of the major core brands of Disney+ and you’ll also find Nat Geo merch at Disney Stores etc.  But there is little doubt that there is a lot more integration that could be used across the company.

Many of the Hollywood studios are cutting back on how much original content they are creating and while Disney was chasing Netflix during the launch period of Disney+, across all of Disney’s studios, including National Geographic, there is major cost-cutting going on, as the boom to streaming has come to a close, instead focusing on creating a more curated lineup of original programming for linear and streaming together.

There has already been a massive shift in the amount of original programming created by National Geographic, specifically for Disney+, with almost every title now being shared across both linear and streaming. 

We will likely see fewer Nat Geo titles in the future, but we will likely know more about the upcoming slate at the next TCA event in February, where Nat Geo usually lines out its plans for the next few years.


Do you think National Geographic should make less?  Let us know on social media!



Source – Deadline

For the latest Disney+ news, follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Roger Palmer

Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom. Email: Roger@WhatsOnDisneyPlus.com Twitter: Twitter.com/RogPalmerUK Facebook: Facebook.com/rogpalmeruk

Related Article