Fox Reality will become Nat Geo Wild; president admits network had identity problem

On March 31, the Fox Reality Channel will officially die and turn into Nat Geo Wild, a spin-off of the National Geographic Channel, which itself airs some strong unscripted TV.

Nat Geo Wild “will be a joint venture between Fox Cable Networks and National Geographic Ventures, [and] will concentrate on programs about animals in the wild,” The New York Times reports, adding that “[i]t is an extension of a network that has already found success internationally, with outlets in about 50 countries, including England, France and Germany.” Fox cable president Rich Battista said that while Fox Reality was profitable, “he expected Nat Geo Wild to be ‘highly profitable’ and more likely to add subscribers.”

The new network’s unscripted shows will include “a program about the naturalist Casey Anderson, who lived in a habitat in Montana with grizzly bears; a program called ‘Rebel Monkeys’ about rambunctious monkeys in India; and another called ‘Mystery Gorilla’ with Mireya Mayor, who was featured in this summer’s ‘Stanley and Livingstone’ reality series on the A&E channel.” That was Expedition Africa.

Meanwhile, Fox Reality president David Lyle admitted in an interview with RealScreen that the network, which was profitable, had an identity problem, and they’d been studying what to do with it. “We knew from the beginning of the year that we needed to stand for something else aside from general reality. With the explosion of reality or unscripted entertainment across all of cable, you couldn’t afford to be a generalist anymore. We did a large segmentation study to see if we were going to focus by ‘creep,’ or take one element and focus on that, and we even looked at going after a niche product or passion and making it our own,” he said.

Cable Channel Will Get New Wildlife Focus [New York Times]
Fox Cable Networks pulling plug on Fox Reality Channel [RealScreen]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.