Discovery adds online adventure channel to reach Web generation

Tue Mar 3, 2015 10:08am EST
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By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Cable network operator Discovery Communications Inc said it is boosting investment in original Web video with a new channel focused on adventurers, in an effort to reach younger audiences who have grown up watching media online.

The owner of The Discovery Channel and Animal Planet launched the ad-supported free online network called Seeker on Tuesday and will pitch it to advertisers in May during the newfronts, an annual showcase of digital content.

Michelob Ultra, owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev, has signed on as the channel's first sponsor.

Seeker will feature more than a dozen original series created specifically for the network. Many are produced and hosted by journalist Laura Ling, who was held captive in a North Korean prison in 2009.

That experience inspired "Rituals with Laura Ling," a series that will examine how people survive under pressure.

Major media companies such as Discovery are trying to connect with younger viewers who turn to the Internet and social media more often than traditional television, and are more likely to shun the pay TV subscriptions that fuel Discovery's core business.

Discovery believes those audiences crave uplifting stories that can be shared, a counterpoint to humorous "fail" videos that go viral, Colin Decker, general manager of Discovery Digital Networks, told Reuters in an interview on Monday. Seeker aims to fill that void.

"There is a very powerful appetite in this Web video generation for content that inspires," Decker said.   Continued...

The Discovery Communications headquarters building is seen in Silver Spring, Maryland December 3, 2009.    REUTERS/Brad Bower