by Michael dEstries
Categories: Film/TV.

planetgreen.gifWhen Discovery Channel announced their intentions to create an all-green network called PlanetGreen back in early April, nobody was too sure how serious to take them. After all, The Sundance Channel was already bowing with three hours of green television once a week later that month — while Discovery wasn’t planning on launching until early 2008. Green was (and is still) hot, but an entire network dedicated to sustainable programming?

It was announced that $50 million dollars would be committed for original content — a sizable investment. Additionally, Discovery would host a PlanetGreen Innovation Conference to “showcase the latest inventions and innovative technologies currently being developed around the world.” Corporate would walk the walk with company-wide sustainability initiatives and an advisory board of the brightest and most influential green mavericks would be formed. It sounded like serious business. Turns out, they weren’t kidding.

The acquisition of Treehugger.com this week for between $10-$15 million was a bold and unexpected move. It was not a first, however, for the network. Back in late 2006, they snatched up petfinder.com and paired it with their Animal Planet network to strengthen its online representation. Instead of creating something from scratch, why not just buyout the cream of the crop and cover all media fronts?

With regards to programming, we know a few tidbits. Here’s the latest on how the network is shaping up. Hit More to continue.

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Discovery’s greatest accomplishment yet (besides walking this road to begin with) has been landing Leonardo DiCaprio’s Eco-Town series. The cameras will follow the eco-friendly rebuilding of a town called Greensburg that was devastated by a tornado back in May of this year. Not only do they get the show (and probably Leo as a host), but the actor has also agreed to sit on their advisory board to help direct the network’s focus.

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Model Summer Rayne Oakes has an eco-fashion series in the works for Planet Green. Actor Adrian Grenier will also be either producing or starring in a “DIY” type show. Celebrity Chef Todd English is supposedly in contract to shore up the “green” cooking side of things.

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The Discovery Home Channel will now exist purely as Planet Green. Already we’re starting to see advertisements for the new network across Discovery’s programming. One I saw included a “Hey look, I’m using recycled jeans as insulation!” type feature. Just like Discovery Home, there will be plenty of welcomed DIY-type shows.

The acquisition of Treehugger will also allow the network to produce and air a large amount of short films called “Go Green” to a very large audience. Treehugger gets millions of eyeballs each month. If Discovery can reel them in with quality shorts, they might add to the already 50 million homes subscribed to the channel. Treehugger gets quality investors and cash to build their brand and Discovery gets immediate quality assurance and a loyal audience. It’s a win/win. What could go wrong?

Well, plenty. For one, this is a very large investment. It’s safe to say that Discovery is banking on green being a part of our lives from now on. With so much money on the line, it’s an excellent indicator that sustainability is becoming accepted and people are eager to learn more. Cool. Then again, there could be a massive backlash as people get sick of going green this and that and move on to the next hot thing. Socially, we’re very fickle this way. Will a show on DIY green be able to keep viewers glued for more than one or two seasons? What happens when stars like DiCaprio or Grenier move on?

I’m hopeful that there’s enough interest and information to make this network the channel for green information. I believe Discovery will have to stay on its toes with regards to original programming to keep people interested, but if their other brands are any indication, such quality and engaging entertainment should not be an issue. Stay tuned.

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

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  • http://www.cleannycnow.blogspot.com Trashy von Trashowitz

    Love the idea of this new network and love the idea of having a show that focuses on the cleaning and greening of NYC…or some other major city. The DiCaprio show is fascinating…but why not a show that shows small ways to make a big difference in a big city? Can profile park developments like the highline project and hopefully kick start some new initiatives…