Discovery Channel Bows Multi-Channel Content Play

Discovery Communications is launching ad-supported distribution channels for its content that will include broadband video and mobile platforms for its Discovery Channel and Travel Channel programming.

The first broadband channels, Discovery Channel Beyond and Travel Channel Beyond, are set to launch this weekend, with plans for broadband channels for TLC, Animal Planet and Discovery Health to follow in coming months. All of the broadband channels will be powered by Brightcove, which has been working with publishers and advertisers to develop broadband advertising initiatives.

Ads will be sold by Discovery by its existing teams. Ad units will include :15 pre-roll video and a 300×250 rich media companion ad that resolves to 300×60 during content play. Discovery will also offer interstitial sponsorship of content sub-sections of each channel, according to Discovery spokesperson Michelle Russo.

The broadband channels will feature content from their cable TV counterparts, as well as exclusive Web-only content that will build on popular TV-based series. Discovery Channel Beyond will focus on the core genres of exploration, science and natural history. Travel Channel Beyond content will focus on global destinations and vacation ideas, with additional integration with Travel Channel’s user-generated show 5 TAKES, which lets viewers craft the itinerary of five travel journalists on a journey around the world.

The site will also let users create their own short documentary films to be uploaded and displayed on the broadband channel. An ongoing user-generated pilot competition will let viewers compete to produce a Web-based series on one of the broadband channels with support from Discovery producers.

Discovery Mobile is expected to launch in the U.S. in the third quarter of 2006, and will feature content created specifically for the mobile platform. Some possibilities include short programs with travel-related content, science news, and other short-form knowledge-based content. Discovery expects to sell ads on the platform, but has not yet determined what format that will take, Russo said.

Programming will stick to Discovery’s core programming genres, like science, technology, travel, health, animals and nature. It will be broken into 30-second to 4-minute segments in 20-minute blocks. Discovery will target the 15- to 39-year old age group with its mobile content, believing that wireless content and services are consumed most by that audience.

Discovery Mobile is currently available in France, Sweden, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Ireland and the United Kingdom. In the U.S., Discovery Channel and TLC content is available via a deal with MobiTV; and customized Discovery content is carried on new devices through a global partnership with Nokia.

Discovery also plans to develop a “layer” for Google Earth that will let users find location-related information about national monuments, historic sites, and other destinations. Discovery has already made available several 2- to 4-minute videos for 10 U.S. National Parks on Google Earth, but that content is currently only reachable via a direct link from Discovery’s sites. Once the layer is integrated with Google Earth, it will be available for all users to add to the application.

While there will not be any Discovery-sold ads in the Google Earth interface, the video clips are hosted on Discovery sites, so sponsorships, pre-roll video, and companion ads will be shown there as with Discovery Beyond, Russo said.

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