National Geographic winter 2017 TCA recap: ‘MARS’ gets Season 2, Nat Geo returns to producing documentaries, ‘Genius’ sneak peek


Following FOX and FX Networks and FX Productions, it was National Geographic’s turn to take center stage at the winter 2017 Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour in Pasadena, California on Friday. Highlights from the day include National Geographic greenlighting a second season of “MARS,” Nat Geo WILD’s new lineup for 2017 and a sneak peek at “Genius.”

Here’s an overview of National Geographic’s winter 2017 TCA activity:

“MARS” gets a second season

At the network’s TCA presentation, National Geographic announced that the global event series “MARS” will get a second season. It will air globally in 172 countries in 43 languages and in Spanish on Nat Geo Mundo.

“’MARS’ is emblematic of our new breed of premium programming — programming from superb creative talent, like Imagine Entertainment and RadicalMedia, that is unabashedly smart and highly entertaining,” said Courteney Monroe, CEO of National Geographic Global Networks. “With ‘MARS,’ we were able to truly harness the global power of the brand and amplify it across National Geographic’s media platforms and we are thrilled to be bringing it back for another season.”

The series has reached 36 million viewers globally and became the most DVR-ed show in the network’s history. Season 1 is available now in digital HD and is coming soon on DVD.

National Geographic gets back into producing documentaries

After a hiatus from producing feature-length documentaries, National Geographic is back in the game with a new banner, National Geographic Documentary Films.

“We abandoned the space for some reason, but now we are actively resuming our proper place,” Courteney told Variety. “We want to be making timely, issue-oriented, very provocative films with the very best documentary filmmakers in the business. Given the success of ‘Before the Flood’ and ‘He Named Me Malala,’ these are the types of stories we want to be telling.”

Four previously announced feature documentaries will be produced under the new banner, and Courteney estimates that National Geographic Documentary Films will produce four films a year.

Nat Geo WILD announces new lineup, Mashable partnership

Nat Geo WILD announced its 2017 lineup, which includes:

  • “Fish Bowl IV” on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 5, at 4/3c
  • 7th Annual Big Cat Week, which kicks off with the premiere of “Battle for the Pride” on Monday, Feb. 20, at 9/8c
  • “Safari Live,” the network’s first live series, airs Sunday nights at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT through Sunday, Feb. 19
  • The 100th episodes of “The Incredible Dr. Pol” on March 25 at 9/8c
  • “Cesar Milan’s Dog Nation,” premiering Friday, March 3, at 9/8c

The day before the network’s TCA day, Nat Geo WILD announced a partnership with Mashable to co-produce and co-distribute two original digital series, using vintage National Geographic footage, for each brand’s digital and social platforms.

“Nat Geo WILD is thrilled to partner with Mashable on this exciting new venture,” said Geoff Daniels, executive vice president and general manager of Nat Geo WILD. “By combining National Geographic’s 128-year legacy of adventure and exploration with Mashable’s innovative, best-in-the-business digital expertise, we are poised to create quality content that our audiences will love. The collaboration further strengthens our commitment to deliver fun, engaging content anywhere and everywhere for our viewers.”

Katie Couric talks gender

Katie Couric participated in wide-ranging TCA panel discussion for her upcoming National Geographic documentary “Gender Revolution: A Journey With Katie Couric,” which will premiere on Feb. 6, at 9/8c on National Geographic.

“I like to talk to people and convey their stories…it’s a story of personal journey and the science,” she said. “I don’t think we ever truly get to know the individuals that are really having an impact on public policy.”

Katie will host a live Facebook town hall meeting after the two-hour premiere.

“Genius” sneak peek

The extended sneak peek trailer for National Geographic’s first scripted series, “Genius,” was unveiled before its TCA panel Friday. The 10-episode series about Albert Einstein, set to premiere in April, stars Academy Award-, Golden Globe-, Emmy- and Tony-winning actor Geoffrey Rush. Ron Howard is the director and joins Brian Grazer as an executive producer.

Ron said the series derives its suspense from the pressure German-born Einstein faced during his life. “Brian and I have found, honest portrayals of these fascinating characters, including scientists and mathematicians, offers a lot of human drama and often danger, emotional and sometimes physical.”

“How to Survive a Plague” miniseries

National Geographic also announced that it’s developing a scripted miniseries titled “How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS.” Scott Rudin will executive produce the adaptation of David France’s book about the true story of a patient population taking control over their own care and treatment.

“This medical thriller about the community that fought AIDS through its own form of grassroots advocacy and scientific research is the perfect fit for National Geographic,” Courteney said. “With Scott and his team, we are honored to develop David France’s incredible book into a groundbreaking scripted series.”