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DISCOVERY CHANNEL: The world is just ... Awesome

"Discovery Channel, the second most widely distributed cable network in the U.S., is dedicated to creating the highest quality non-fiction content that informs and entertains its consumers about the world in all its wonder, diversity and amazement."[1] It is an American satellite and Cable television channel focused on providing documentaries on sciences, technology and history through entertainment. 

History [2] 

Discovery Channel was founded in June 1985 by John Hendricks, with partial funding from the BBC as a part of Hendrick's company Cable Educational Network Inc.  In 1986, upon receiving further funding from a number of cable operators, Cable Educational Network Inc. and The Discovery Channel became Discovery Communications, Inc. which still owns and operates Discovery Channel today. 

At its start, the channel had 156,000 subscribers in the United States and was only broadcasted for twelve hours a day in the afternoon and evening.  However, within five years, the channel's reach had extended to over 50 million households. Discovery Network International launched the first international broadcasting of Discovery Channel in the United Kingdom in 1989. The rapid expansion of the network continued in the following years with the launch of Discovery Channel in Asia and Latin America between January and February 1994. In the mean time, Discovery Channel's owner corporation, Discovery Communications acquired The Learning Channel (TLC) in 1991, and later in 1996, introduced six new sub-channels to Discovery Channel: Animal Planet, Discovery Science, Discovery Kids, Discovery Civilization, Discovery Home and Leisure and Discovery Wings. This expansion of the network culminated in 1998 when Discovery Communications formed a global joint venture with BBC in March 1998.

By then the Discovery Channel had created its place among cable channels. By 2000, It had reached 178 million subscribers households in almost 150 different countries. In March 2000, the channel premiered the documentary "Raising the Mammoth", and broke all time cable ratings records. In October 2001, Discovery Channel became the world's most widely distributed television brand, reaching 400 millions household worldwide, and reached a billion cumulative subscribers in 2004.

In the early 2000s, Discovery Channel registered a certain drops in its ratings, usually attributed to an over-broadcasting of shows that did not quite fit Discovery Channel's mission of educating the audience, such as Monster garage and American choppers. In response to this dip in ratings, Discovery Channel reformed its scheduling lineup in 2005 in an effort to shift its focus back toward educational programming that focused on popular science, history, and geography. 

Ownership, conglomeration and related channels  

Discovery channel is owned by Discovery Communications inc, which is publicly traded global media and entertainment company. Discovery Communication owns 13 US cable and satellite television network, including Discovery Channel, TLC and Animal Planet, Discovery Health, Science Channel, Discovery Kids, Investigation Discovery, Planet Green, Military Channel, FitTV, HD Theatre, Discovery en Espagnol and Discovery Familia. DCI's channels reach about 759 million cumulative subscribers according to its official website. It's official slogan is "The number-one nonfiction media company."

Discovery Channel is the flag channel of Discovery Channel Communication and has the highest number of subscriptions.[3]

DCI now also possess other ventures, outside of television, such as a professional cycling team, DC radio, online stores, websites such as and and a telescope. DCI also distributes BBC America and BBC World News to cable and satellite operators in the United States.

Roles in production, distribution and transmission

Discovery Communication inc produces a number of original program for its different channels, including Discovery Channel, but also purchases program from local and internationals producers, providing programming for DCI's international audiences' interests. For example, MythBusters, one of the channel's most popular TV shows, is produced by an Australian based company called Beyond Television production. Discovery Channel also owns Discovery Studios, a film and television studio based in Maryland. 

"Discovery Studios is Discovery’s internal production engine, creating innovative, high-quality original series, specials and short-form content for the family of Discovery networks and digital media, as well as theatrical documentaries released under the award-winning Discovery Films banner.

For 2008, Discovery Studios is slated to work on more than 300 hours of original series, specials and short-form content. These multiplatform projects are slated to appear across the family of Discovery networks, including Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Planet Green, Discovery Health and Military Channel, and will feature high-profile talent, such as Bill Nye, Howie Mandel, Dr. Mehmet Oz and more."[4]

Branding strategies

Discovery Channel sells itself as a nonfictional high quality channel providing educational programs, and so since its creation in 1985. Its image among viewers is that of a trust-worthy source of information about the natural world, technological advances and generally about everything that airs on the channel. According to the official website, Discovery Channel "provide[s] viewers with the highest quality nonfiction content that not only entertains and engages, but also enlightens, educates and inspires positive action."[5]

This was reinforced in 2008 when the compagny changed its slogan to "The world is just ... Awesome", followed by TV spot advertising the channel by showing hosts from popular shows signing around the world. Previous tag lines include "Explore Your World", There's no thrill like discovery" and "Entertain Your Brain", the latter being when Discovery Channel move away from purely educational content and adopt more reality based programming. In 2008, the logo was also redesigned. The globe that has always been part of the logo was moved from the lower half of the logo to overlap with the "D" of "Discovery". This moves reflects the direction's will to move Discovery Channel's program away from reality TV and more toward educational programs.

However, Discovery Channel still targets all type of audiences with programs ranging from documentaries to games (cash cab) to reality TV (the deadliest catch) to science entertainment (very popular Myth Buster). The target audience however is most definitely curious and looking to learn more, will it be through the quick question-answer format of the cash cab or through hours long documentary like Discovery Channel's acclaimed Planet Earth. Discovery Channel also has program more targeted toward a younger audience, especially through Discovery Kids.

Scheduling and promotional techniques

As already mentioned, Discovery Channel has mostly documentary type programming, on topic such as popular sciences, technology and history. Discovery Channel is not a news channel and thus does not covert any polemical issues and does not make investigation documentaries on current issues. The channel has also been increasingly broadcasting reality-based themes such as speculative investigation (Myth Busters, Best Evidence), automobiles shows (as for example the very popular American chopper) or shows about occupations (Dirty jobs, for example). 

Scheduling on Discovery Channel works the division of the day in 30 minutes unit, though most shows actually air for one or two hours. It is interesting to notice that the schedule for broadcasting during the day seems to be the same every day on week days, with hit show American Chopper taking all the afternoon on week days and reality game show Cash Cab taking the early evening. The evening line-up includes popular shows Man, Woman, Wild, MythBusters, Swords, and River Monsters. [6]

Those shows are definitely all part of Discovery Channel's signature programs. Most people associate Discovery Channel first and foremost with MythBusters. MythBuster was first aired in 2006, although the idea was first presented to Discovery Channel in 2000. Now, it is a highly influential show, the hosts having been invited to numerous talk shows and universities. 

Another very famous scheduling tradition at Discovery Channel is the summer Shark Week specials. It was first aired in 1987 and has been reprogramed every year ever since, during July or August. It is now a highly-rated event on the cable network.

-commercials: some commercials use unreleased mix of the song "Wonders Never Cease" by Morcheeba, from the album entitled The Antidote, Typical by MUTEMATH, and I Love the World, created by the 72andSunny agency, which contains amended verses and the refrain from the traditional campfire song "I Love The Mountains”.


  1. Discovery Channel
  2. Discovery Channel's HistoryfckLR
  3. Discovery Holding compagny
  4. Discovery Studios
  5. "Engaging and Enlightening with Mission-Driven Content"fckLR
  6. TV schedule weekly