Nat Geo boss Courteney Monroe has opened up about the network’s strategy of balancing its slate of Disney+ originals against its linear commissions, as well as why it abandoned its take on Mary Shelley and its plan to turn Barkskins and The Right Stuff into anthology series.
Nat Geo is responsible for two Disney+ originals — The World According to Jeff Goldblum and Magic of the Animal Kingdom — and Monroe revealed that its Sundance/SXSW documentary Science Fair would premiere on the forthcoming digital platform.
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Monroe, president of National Geographic Global Television Networks, told Deadline that Nat Goe has a number of other projects in development for Disney+ and that working with its sister company was a “tremendous opportunity” for its brand.
“To be one of only five brands to have prominent placement on that platform and to be alongside iconic brands like Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm gives us a tremendous advantage. It’s going to enable us to reach more consumers across every platform,” she said Tuesday at the summer TCA press tour.
Former HBO exec Monroe added that it would not impact the number of originals Nat Geo would debut on its linear network. “So we are producing shows exclusively for Disney+ but that in no way changes our programming strategy or our commitment to the linear channel business so we’re still producing as many hours [for linear]. We’re working really closely with the team from Disney+ to figure out what are the right projects, and we have several more in development. We just look at this as an opportunity to think really broad about our content. They’re all National Geographic shows,” she told Deadline.
Monroe also opened up about its decision to move away from Mary Shelley as its third iteration for its Genius brand. The Shelley story was originally developed but replaced by the story of Aretha Franklin. “We were super excited about Mary Shelley, a fascinating person, but we couldn’t find a way to crack it creatively for an eight- to 10-hour limited series. Our feeling was if we couldn’t do it in an excellent way, then we shouldn’t do it, and that’s what happened. We had it in development but we couldn’t crack it,” she said at the TCA press tour.
She added that Nat Geo hopes its forthcoming dramas Barkskins, based on Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Proulx’s 2016 bestselling novel, and The Right Stuff, which uses Tom Wolfe’s book as its starting point, will be recurring anthology series. Monroe said it was just embarking on this strategy.
“Both of those scripted dramas series, in success, could be recurring shows that extend over multiple seasons with recurring characters,” she said.