Discovery Networks International (DNI) is moving away from the “beards and bellies” of recent years and has called on the UK indie sector to deliver fresh ideas.
Elizabeth McIntyre, head of production and development, factual, for Western Europe, is spearheading a strategy to commission “many more hours” of content for the global broadcaster.
“There are a number of opportunities to make new programming for Discovery International - we are open for business,” McIntyre told the Edinburgh International TV Festival.
She stressed that DNI is hunting more “square-jawed characters” like James Cracknell or Bear Grylls, as opposed to the “beards and bellies” seen in hit shows such as American Chopper and American Loggers.
Offering more general guidance, McIntyre said she was commissioning for peaktime slots and had a range of budgets, dependant on the idea. Long-running returnable series and repeatable formats are a priority, and while Discovery skews male, the broadcaster wants to encourage co-viewing.
McIntyre highlighted three strands of programming that she was looking to order.
The first consists of classic, blue-chip specials that can be shown around the world, such as Norway Massacre: The Killer’s Mind, a fast-turnaround documentary from ITN Productions about July’s massacre in Oslo.
“We needed it to analyse the event and examine the killer’s mind rather than simply look at the tragedy,” said McIntyre. “It was a documentary that moved news events forward.”
The second features factual formats, such as X-Machines from UK indie Wag TV, that follow a journey with a witty narrative. “Process-driven programmes with plenty of factual takeout work well for us,” said McIntyre.
The final strand is character-led series that can travel, such as Gold Rush Alaska, made by UK indie Raw TV. “It is tough to get characters that are well received across the regions,” said McIntyre. “But everyone wants to find their own pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”